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.



Hello bsingh1969,

A compound sentence is one comprised of two or more independent clauses - i.e. clauses which could stand alone as sentences.  The examples you provide are indeed compound sentences but are slightly tricky because they contain examples of ellipsis - missing words out which are not needed or which would be repetitive.  You can think of the sentence as 'We stayed behind (first clause) and we finished the job (second clause'. 

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

I have asked the same question on different websites of English grammar, all are saying that it is a simple sentence, not a compound.
I am still helpless.

Hello bsingh1969,

I'm afraid I can't comment on what other sites may or may not say.  I can only repeat that the sentence contains ellipsis - words being omitted to avoid repetition.  If we add those words then the sentence reads:

We stayed behind and we finished the job.

Written like that, the two clauses are clear:

1. We stayed behind

2. we finished the job

Two clauses joined by a co-ordinating conjunction: a compund sentence.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear LearnEnglish team,
I am looking for a comprehensive guide for grammatical devices and was wondering if there is a section on this site for them.
I have just finished going through the English Grammar pages and am really happy with the clear lesson layouts.
With thanks.

Hello jejsas,

I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'a comprehensive guide for grammatical devices', to be honest.  Our grammar pages are quite comprehensive, but it seems that you have worked through those already.  Could you explain what you mean, exactly, and then I'll try to point you in the right direction if at all possible?

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Apologies for any confusion.
Commas, colons, full stops, use of paragraphs...
Thank you.

Hello jejsas,

These are examples of punctuation rather than grammar, and we don't as yet have a section on this.  Use of paragraphs is mainly an issue in writing, so you might like to have a look at our academic writing section, Writing for a Purpose.  In addition, we are going to add more material on writing in the future, so watch this space for that!

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

As we know, a compound sentence consists of 2 independent clauses joined by a coordinator, which means if we remove the coordinator we will have two meaningful sentences that can stand on their own. Fore example " Many scientists believe in the extraterrestrial life, but others disagree." when I remove the coordinator" but" I feel the 2nd sentence " others disagree" cannot stand on its own; the meaning is not complete. In other words, if I say to a person " others disagree" the meaning will not be clear! he will ask me " whom are you talking about? and what are they disagreeing with?" however if I say "Many scientists believe in the extraterrestrial life." the meaning will be clear.

Thanks in advance

Hi everyone.

who can tell me what is the differance of bitween can & could?


Hi Tharindu lakshan,

That's quite a big question!  Fortunately, we have some pages on just this topic.  You might start by looking at this page on when we use can & could.  After that, you might try this page on 'can', 'could' and 'could have'.

I hope those links are useful,

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team