- Exercise in Identifying Sentences by Structure
- Sentence-Imitation Exercise: Complex Sentences
- Basic Sentence Structures
- Main Clause
- Subordinate Clause
- Subordinating Conjunction
Examples and Observations:
- "[I]n the complex sentence John left when his sister arrived, the clause when his sister arrived is a dependent clause because it is preceded by the word when, which is a subordinating conjunction. Dependent clauses are not complete sentences; they cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. For example, *When his sister arrived cannot stand alone. Dependent clauses must be attached to independent clauses in order to form a complete sentence. In the complex sentence above, John left is the independent clause."
(Denise E. Murray and Mary Ann Christison, What English Language Teachers Need to Know. Routledge, 2011)
- Martina laughed when her mother dropped a pie upside down on the floor.
- "[W]hen my brother got his pants leg caught on the top of a high fence and hung upside down, weeping and muttering curses because his pants were newly torn and Mother would spank him for sure, no angel was with him."
(Gary Soto, A Summer Life. University Press of New England, 1990)
- "The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman stood up in a corner and kept quiet all night, although of course they could not sleep."
(L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1990)
- "Although volume upon volume is written to prove slavery a very good thing, we never hear of the man who wishes to take the good of it by being a slave himself."
(Abraham Lincoln, "Fragment on Slavery," July 1854)
- "Because he was so small, Stuart was often hard to find around the house."
(E.B. White, Stuart Little, 1945)
- "I learned a valuable lesson about cheating after I changed a mark on my report card in the third grade."
("Making the Grade")
- "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."
(Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854)
- "He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow."
(George Eliot, Adam Bede, 1859)
- Positioning Clauses in Complex Sentences
"[D]ependent clauses cannot be sentences on their own. They depend on an independent clause to support them. The independent clause in a complex sentence carries the main meaning, but either clause may come first. When the dependent clause comes first, it is always followed by a comma."
(A. Robert Young and Ann O. Strauch, Nitty Gritty Grammar: Sentence Essentials for Writers. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006)
- The Need for Complex Sentences
"Most of the sentences we use in writing or in continuous speech are complex. . . . There is a recurrent need to expound facts or concepts in greater elaboration than the structure of the simple sentence permits."
(Walter Nash, English Usage: A Guide to First Principles. Routledge, 1986)
- Complex Sentences and Metaphors
"Complex sentences can offer dramatic development, extending a metaphor, as Melville's Captain Ahab reminds us: 'The path to my fixed purpose is laid on iron rails, on which my soul is grooved to run.'"
(Philip Gerard, Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life. Story Press, 1996)