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 Kirk

Happy 2018. I have a few sentence structures for relative clauses. I am not sure if I fully understood the information on this website. Do you miind reviewing and letting me know if my interpretations are correct?: Thank you and I appreciate all of your help.

1. “who/that” for people = The woman sold me the coat. The woman is the salesclerk.
The woman who/that sold me the coat is the salesclerk.
2.“where” for places = This is the restaurant. The restaurant has no electricity.
This is the restaurant where there is no electricity.
3.“which/that” for things = I bought a new car. The car is very fast.
I bought a new car which/that very fast.
4.“when” for time = I remember singing. I remember singing at 4 years old.
I remember singing when I was 4 years old.
5.“whose” for possession = There's a boy in grade 8. His father is a tennis player.
There's a boy in grade 8 whose father is a tennis player.

6. Can leave out who, which and that She is the salesclerk. I bought the coat from the salesclerk.
when, these words are not the She is the salesclerk I bought the coat from.
subject of the relative clause = She is the woman. I saw her yesterday.
She is the woman I saw yesterday.

7. clause after object of the sentence = She has a son. The son is a doctor.
(object becomes subject in 2nd clause) She has a son who/that is a doctor.
We bought a house. The house is 200 years old.
We bought a house which/that is 200 years old.

8. clause after the subject of the sentence = The man phoned me. The man is my brother.
(subject in both clauses) The man who/that phoned is my brother.
The camera costs £100. The camera is over there.
The camera who/that costs £100 is over there.

9.clause after the object = She loves chocolate. I bought her chocolate.
(object in both clauses) She loves the chocolate which/that I bought/She loves the chocolate I
We went to the village. Lucy recommended the village.
We went to the village which/that Lucy recommended. / We went to the
village Lucy

10. clause after the subject = The bike was stolen. I loved the bike.
(subject becomes object in 2nd clause) The bike which/that I loved was stolen.
The university is famous. She likes the university.
The university which/that she likes is famous.

Hi Alyson Brown,

I've read all of the sentences and there is only one mistake. The verb is missing from one sentence:

3.“which/that” for things = I bought a new car. The car is very fast.
I bought a new car which/that is very fast.


Please note, however, that we generally do not provide this kind of help. The comments sections are for brief questions on particular topics, not long lists of examples. We are a small team and we have to answer many questions each day so please consider this in future. We provide as much help as we can, of course, but we have many thousands of users and many comments to read and answer every day.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter, I fully understand and I appreciate you taking the time out to help me in this instance. I promise to stick to the guidlines. I have a question regarding this one sentence:

1. Should I use which/that or where?

We went to the village which/that Lucy recommended. /We went to the village where Lucy recommended.

The village is both a thing and a place.

I appreciate you help with this. Have a nice Sunday.

Hello Alyson,

Only 'which' or 'that' work in the sentence you ask about. 'where' is used as a relative pronoun when it refers to the place as a location of action. You can test this by saying to yourself 'in which' instead of 'where' ; if the sentence still makes sense, you can use 'where'. If not, then 'where' doesn't work as a relative pronoun there. In this case, 'We went to the village in which Lucy recommended' doesn't make sense -- the village is the direct object or 'recommend', not the place of action.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk

Thank you so much again for your help. I have a question. for compoud nouns which is correct?

1 negotiation session or negotiating session

Thank you.

Best wishes

Hi Alyson,

I think the phrase you probably need is the second one (negotiating session). The reason I say probably is that both are possible but the first has a meaning which is rarely needed:

a negotiated session = a session which was negotiated earlier (i.e. we had to negotiate in order to agree on a time/place/format for the session)

a negotiating session = a session at which we negotiate


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter

The reason why I ask this is that in a book I am looking at it reads this:

1. To make a compound noun using a verb use the verb+-ing "working party", "negotiaing skills", but if there is a corresponding noun use the noun: "application form", "selection board" not "applying form", "selecting board".

This is fine. I understand, but isn't negotiation a corresponding noun to negotiating or am I incorrect.

I appreciate your continued feeback.

Best wishes

HI Alyson,

I can't comment on the book you are referring to but I would say that generally rules such as this are guides rather than fixed right/wrong choices. In this case there is a clear difference in meaning as I described. There are many such cases. Partly this is because the concept of a compound noun is itself a flexible one. There is no clear point at which a common adjective-noun pairing becomes a strong collocation, or a strong collocation becomes a compound noun. These are terms we use to describe use and they are based on frequency of use rather than grammatical rules.

'Negotiation' is a noun and 'negotiating' is an adjective. I would not say that 'negotiating session' is a compound noun, but rather a noun modified by an adjective which together create a noun phrase in the sentence.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter, thank you for the clarification. I appreciate it. I do have another question regarding present perfect continuous passive:

1. Active sentence: I have been making a cake. vs. Passive sentence: A cake has been being made (by me)?

Is this correct? If not how should this sentence read in Present perfect continuous passive?

Thank you so much for your help. Best wishes, Alyson

Hi Alyson,

Yes, your passive sentence is grammatically correct, though please note that it would be extremely unusual for someone to actually use this grammar in either speaking or writing.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team