sentence structure


Simple sentences:

A simple sentence has only one clause:

The children were laughing.
John wanted a new bicycle.
All the girls are learning English.

Compound sentences:

A compound sentence has two or more clauses:

(We stayed behind) and (finished the job)
(We stayed behind) and (finished the job), then (we went home)

The clauses in a compound sentence are joined by co-ordinating conjunctions:

John shouted and everybody waved.
We looked everywhere but we couldn’t find him.
They are coming by car so they should be here soon.

The common coordinating conjunctions are:

and – but – or – nor – so – then – yet

Complex sentences:

A complex sentence has a main clause and one or more adverbial clauses. Adverbial clauses usually come after the main clause:

Her father died when she was very young
Her father died (main clause)
when (subordinating conjunction)
she was very young (adverbial clause)

She had a difficult childhood because her father died when she was very young.
She had a difficult childhood (main clause)
because (subordinating conjunction)
her father died (adverbial clause)
when (subordinating conjunction)
she was very young (adverbial clause).

Some subordinate clauses can come in front of the main clause:

Although a few snakes are dangerous most of them are quite harmless
Although (subordinating conjunction)
some snakes are dangerous (adverbial clause)
most of them are harmless (main clause).

A sentence can contain both subordinate and coordinate clauses:

Although she has always lived in France, she speaks fluent English because her mother was American and her father was Nigerian
Although (subordinating conjunction)
she has always lived in France (adverbial clause),
she speaks fluent English (main clause)
because (subordinating conjunction)
her mother was American (adverbial clause)
and (coordinating conjunction)
her father was Nigerian (adverbial clause).

There are seven types of adverbial clauses:

  Common conjunctions
Contrast clauses  although; though; even though; while;
Reason clauses because; since; as
Place clauses where; wherever; everywhere
Purpose clauses so that; so; because + want
Result clauses so that; so … that; such … that
Time clauses when; before; after; since; while; as; as soon as; by the time; until
Conditional clauses  if; unless; provided (that); as long as

Complete the sentences with conjunctions

Match conjunctions to functions



Hi The Learn English Team,
Should we use comma for every conjuction sentences and also start with small letter?
She speaks fluent English, although she has always lived in France, because her mother was American and her father was Nigerian.This is also correct?

Hello sassha,

The use of commas is not so rule-bound as that. Though there are some grammatical constructions which always have commas (non-defining relative clauses, for example), for the most part in English the use of commas is quite flexible. Some linking devices are often used without commas (for example 'and', 'but', 'so', 'because'), while others often or always have commas around them (for example 'however', 'nevertheless', 'in addition') - you need to learn this on a case-by-case basis.

Your example sentence is correct.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team.

Thanks Kirk, Which one of those sentences is correct and why? - Our intention is to be on site this afternoon or our intention to be in site this afternoon. If for example I say John smiled, does this means he smiled on the past or it means he is right now smiling

Although a few snakes are dangerous most of them are quite harmless . Why we used the article a before few while snakes are plural

Hi Dragon,

'a few' can mean 'some', is used with countable nouns and has a positive meaning, whereas 'few' has a more negative or restrictive meaning, something like 'almost none'. You can see an explanation of this on our Countable & Uncountable nouns 2 page and in the dictionary entry for 'few' and 'a few'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Kindly advice on the appropriate use of comma between the (sub-ordinate/co-ordinate) clauses. HOw to judge when it is considered to be a comma splice or not?

Hello Habib,

I'd recommend you consult the Online Writing Lab's excellent pages discussing comma splices as well as the section on the use of commas.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Is there any place around the site where I can look at conjunctions or connectors as "it being the case that" and "whereas that"? Examples of usage will be helpful.

The usage of Being the case that is the same that including "it" at the begining of the connector?


Hello MayelaM,

The first phrase seems fine to me, though it is quite formal. The second phrase ('whereas that') does not strike me as a natural English phrase. Do you have an example of its use?

I don't think we've got a page devoted to those phrases in particular. We do have pages dealing with other linking phrases, such as this page, however.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team


Trying to use "whereas that" as in a comparision, I'm wondering if I might say:

Why is the increase proposed by the Comission a 60% of the total whereas that proposed by the individual is only 30% ? or it is better to say : Why is the increase proposed by the Comission a 60% of the total whereas the one proposed by the individual is only 30%?

Looking around on the internet for conjunctions, I read the phrases:

"It is we who supervise, whereas that is not the case with the President of the Council." In this case, has whereas that the same meaning that whereas? that's means, "that" is the subject and not part of the conjunction?

Why is it that the Commission is proposing for Portugal, for example, 40 % aid whereas that proposed for Spain or Italy is 60 % of that proposed for Greece?

In the above phrase, I understand that the Portugal might receive 40% of the 100% of the aid acording the Commission; Greece proposed X amount from which Spain or Italy proposed only a 60%. Is this a right understanding? or is "that" part of the conjunction and give a different meaning to the phrase?

Just wondering whether "whereas that" exits as conjunction ...