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.



May I know why is THEN considered a coordinating conjunction? I know that THEN is either a noun, an adjective, or an adverb, but not a conjunction. 
Also, why is FOR not enumerated in the list of coordinating conjunctions? 

Hello btdjr,
You are correct that 'for' can be a co-ordinating conjunction with a similar meaning to 'because':
'He telephoned the police, for that was what he had been told to do in such situations.'
However, this is a rather archaic and stilted-sounding form in modern English, which appears to be slowly disappearing from use.
Your other question is more difficult.  It is true that 'then' is not a co-ordinating conjunction but rather a conjunctive adverb which usually requires a semi-colon before it.  However, in modern English 'then' is starting to be used as a conjunction quite frequently - it is an example of ongoing linguistic change, which is always difficult for descriptive grammars to keep up with (the use of a preposition at the end of that sentence is another example!).
Thank you for your useful and interesting questions.  I will forward them on to the people responsible for the pages and they will consider whether any alterations are needed.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Please help me to find the iregular verbs

First of all, I would like to thank for this excellent page, and would you please tell me how I can get more information about conjunctions?

Hello sir,

I hope you can provide some enlightenment about the inversion of normal word order. As I read from some inversion, I found the use of adverb is always put in the beginning of sentence followed by either auxiliary or verb and subject in the last. The use of inversion for active and passive sentence is also different. example:
1. Only when air and water seep through its outer coat does a seed germinate
2. In the northern and central parts of the state of Idaho are found majestic mountains and churning rivers
3. In a honeybee hive are several vertically aligned honeycombs with hexagonal wax cells stacked close together

Thanks in advance.

Hello radina,

Leaving aside subject-auxiliary verb inversion in question forms, inversion like that found in your sentences is mostly used in rather formal English. For example, inversion is regularly used when a negative adverbial expression (e.g., not until) or restrictive expression (e.g., only when) is used at the beginning of a sentence for emphasis - this is the reason for the inversion in your first sentence. Inversion is also common (again mostly in formal English) when an adverbial expression of place comes at the beginning of a sentence - this is the reason for the inversion in your second and third sentences.

In neutral or informal English, subject-verb inversion is normally used only after short adverbs (e.g., here, there) and adverb particles: Here's Freddy! or The ball broke the window and away ran the children, and is also used with reporting verbs in story telling: "I'll go with you," said Thomas.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi guys,
I'd just like to know if you have a lesson about tense sequence. I think this part is what esl learners find it hard. How important is it in speaking? thanks...

Hi black_fever,

I'm not sure what you mean by 'tense sequence'.  Do you mean how tenses operate together in sentences?  If so, then I think you can find information on that in some of the grammar sections.  For example, to see how different past forms work together in sentences you could look at this section.  There, you can find examples of past simple and continuous and past perfect simple and continuous operating together in sentences, plus an exercise to practise it.  You can find similar pages on other verb forms (present, perfective, continuous and more) on this grammar page.

I hope those links are useful.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

We stayed behind and finished the job.
Is the above a compound sentence?
This is the example from your web site.
I think it is a simple sentence and the co-ordinate conjunction meerly joins two
verb phrases.