This page was first published on the 25th of March, 2017 and last updated on the 25th of March, 2017 by Patrick Carpen.
I mentioned in my article “Why Students Fail English” that the English textbooks do a lousy job of clarifying certain concepts in the English Language. One such case is Compound and Complex Sentences, which I will address here.
We are told that a sentence is compound when it contains two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction: and, or, but, yet etc.
For example. I wanted to go but I didn’t have any money.
So, a sentence is compound because it contains two independent clauses.
First, let me define the clause for you: a group of words that contain a subject and a verb.
Let me define independent clause: a clause that makes sense by itself.
Dependent clause: a clause that relies on an independent clause to complete its meaning.
So we are told that the sentence: I wanted to to but I didn’t have any money, is a compound sentence.
Here is the breakdown:
I wanted to go: independent clause
but: coordinating conjunction
I didn’t have any money: independent clause.
But let’s examine a complex sentence.
We left when the game was over.
We are told that this a complex sentence because it contains one principal clause and one dependent clause.
We left: principal clause
when: subordinate conjunction
The game was over.
Now tell if these two expressions don’t make sense by themselves:
1. We left
2. The game was over.
Of course they do.
So why label it a complex and not a compound sentence?
It’s a whole new ball game.
I think they should explain first of all that complex sentences are joined only by subordinate conjunctions and LIST exactly what the subordinate conjunctions are.
What really is theme in literature?