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.

 

Section: 

Comments

Hello Oloap,

There is some inconsistency in the way different writers or publishing houses use commas, so if you've seen different rules in different sources, that may be why. There's a section on how to use commas to separate clauses on this Cambridge Dictionary page which might answer your questions. Please take a look and then feel free to ask us if you have any further questions.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

When I utter something and someone asks me to repeat it, do I use say or said. E.g. if I say, "he doesn't understand." and someone asks, "what did you just say?," do I say, "I said" or "say".

Hello Timmosky,

There may be some situations when 'I say' would be correct, but the vast majority of the time you should say 'I said'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk, i hope you are well.

I have another question.

Why is the following sentence with likes and not like since the subject is plural (they)

1. Neither of my two best friends likes going shopping at all.

Also I thought Nether goes with singular noun so why two best friends. Can I say:

2. I want neither fruits.
3. I want neither fruit.
4. I want neither a chocolate cake nor an ice cream. I want a slice of pie.

Either: can I say:

5. Do you want an apple and a banana?
6. I don’t want both. I only want an apple.
7. I want both fruits.

I apprecate you help yet again.

Have a great day.

Best regards
Alyson

Hello Alyson,

The quantifier 'neither' goes before singular countable nouns, but 'neither of' is followed by a plural noun. Even though 'neither of' precedes a plural noun, the verb following it can be singular (and also plural).

Sentence 2 is not correct, but 3 and 4 are not. Sentences 5 and 7 are correct, but 6 is not -- we use 'either' in a negative sentence instead of 'both': 'I don't want either'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk thank you for the information. Is this a correct interpretation:

1.Neither of my two best friends likes going shopping at all.
2 .Neither of my two best friends like going shopping at all.

Both are correct?

3. What fruit do you want? I want both an apple and a banana.
4.Do you want an apple and a banana? I don’t want the banana. I only want an apple./ I want both fruits.
5. Which desserts do you want? We want both a cake and an ice cream./ We want both desserts. /We want both desserts.
6. What fruit do you want? I want either an apple or a banana.
7. Do you want an apple and a banana? I don’t want either. I want only an apple./ I don’t want either fruit.
8. Which dessert do you want? We want either a cake or an ice cream./We don’t want either dessert.
9. Do you want an apple or a banana? I want neither an apple nor a banana.
10. Do you want either an apple or a banana? I want neither. I want a pear./Neither. I want a pear.
11.Do you want either a cake or an ice cream? We want neither a cake nor an ice cream./We want neither.
12.Neither of them came home last night.
13. Both of us have brown hair.
14. You can take either of them (sweaters) with us. I like both of them (sweaters).

15.Neither the sweater nor the hat fit.
16.Both of these dogs have brown hair.
17. You can take either the shirt or the dress with us. I like both of them.

Also I one more question regarding New Year:

18. Is it on New Year or at New Year?
19. on New Year's Day
20. on New Year's Eve
21: on weekdays.

I really appreciate all of your help. I just want to make sure I understand this both, either and neither

Have a great day. and best wishes
Alyson

Hello Alyson,

Yes, both 1 and 2 are correct. 3 through 17 are also correct, though instead of using an affirmative verb + 'neither' (as in 9, 11 'I want neither an apple ...') we usually use a negative verb + 'either' ('I don't want either').

19-21 are all correct. I can't really say much re: 18 without knowing the context, but perhaps you mean 'Is it in the new year?' For example, I tell you I'm going to see a performance of the Nutcracker. You could ask me 'Is it soon? Or is it in the new year?'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Hi Kirk thank you so much for you help. Can I use this for neither and nor:

1. Do you want a cake and an ice cream? We want neither a cake nor an ice cream./We want neither./Neither. We want a slice of pie.

I guess I am having problems finding a good question and answer for Neither and nor.

I appreciate your help yet again.

Best wishes
Alyson

Hi Alyson,

Yes, those are all correct. I'd say the most natural response in an ordinary informal situation would be 'Neither, we want a slice of pie'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk and Peter, my question is in two parts: writing and spoken English. The first is : "what do you need, John?", and the second is: "sit down, Tom!" is it accurate to always have a comma before names in any form of sentence?
2. In the first conditional "if", why is it that will is always used to show that something is likely but not guaranteed? Can you use may instead of will?

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