Complex Sentences: 50 Examples

What is a complex sentence?

complex sentence contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.

An independent clause contains a subject and verb, and can stand alone as a complete sentence:

  • Independent clause: I love going outside.

dependent clause also contains a subject and verb, but it cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. Instead, it ADDS information to the sentence:

  • Dependent clause: when the weather is warm.

One independent clause + one dependent clause = a complex sentence:

  • I love going outside when the weather is warm.

Complex sentences have an independent clause and a dependent clause

Dependent clauses often start with subordinating conjunctions, for example:

  • as
  • since
  • although
  • provided that
  • because
  • unless
  • once
  • while
  • when
  • where
  • before
  • after
  • until
  • whenever
  • wherever

Subordinating conjunctions often show a cause-and-effect relationship or a relationship of time/place:

  • Cause and effect relationship: The baseball game was canceled because it was raining.
  • Time relationship: When I get home from work, I always take off my shoes.
  • Place relationship: Make sure to put on sunscreen wherever your skin is exposed.

Learn more about subordinating conjunctions.

Difference between a compound sentence and a complex sentence

compound sentence contains two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, so, yet):

  • I’m happy, but my kids are always complaining.
    “I’m happy” can be a complete sentence. “My kids are always complaining” can also be a complete sentence. They are joined by the coordinating conjunction “but”)
  • The blue jacket cost over $100, and he wears it every day.
    (“The blue jacket cost over $100” is a complete sentence. “He wears it every day” is a complete sentence. They are joined by the coordinating conjunction “and”)

complex sentence contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses, joined by a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun (that, who, which):

  • I’m happy because we won the game.
    (“I’m happy” can be a complete sentence. “Because we won the game” cannot be a sentence by itself.)
  • The blue jacket, which I gave him for Christmas, cost over $100.
    (“The blue jacket cost over $100” is a complete sentence. “which I gave him for Christmas” is NOT a complete sentence. They are joined by the relative pronoun “which”)

Difference between a compound sentence and a complex sentence

Difference between a dependent clause and a prepositional phrase

Words like before, after, since, and until can begin either a dependent clause or a prepositional phrase.

The main difference is that a dependent clause has a subject and verb, but a prepositional phrase does not:

  • I’ll wait here until you get back.
    (dependent clause: you = subject, get = verb)
  • I’ll wait here until 5:30.
    (prepositional phrase: no subject/verb after “until”)
  • He’s never been the same since he broke up with his girlfriend.
    (dependent clause: he = subject, broke up = verb)
  • He’s never been the same since the car accident.
    (prepositional phrase: no subject/verb after “since”)

Complex Sentences: Simple Present Tense

The independent clause in bold, and the dependent clause is underlined:

  1. Although he works long hours, he always finds time to spend with his family.
  2. She always wears jewelry that matches her outfit.
  3. While my brother enjoys spicy food, I prefer milder flavors.
  4. Several crops grow here, even though it rarely rains in this region.
  5. Though he is talented, he often underestimates his own abilities.
  6. Although the company faces tough competition, it continues to thrive in the market.
  7. I think you’d like this book, since you love historical fiction.
  8. He always studies a lot before he takes a test.
  9. I sometimes walk to work, as long as the weather is good.
  10. My mother stays up late, whereas my father goes to bed early.

Complex Sentences: Simple Past Tense

  1. After she finished her studies, she traveled around Europe for six months.
  2. Although they were tired, they stayed up late to finish their project.
  3. He immediately called for help when he saw the accident.
  4. My kids often misbehaved whenever they had a babysitter.
  5. Since he sold his car, he had to take the bus to work.
  6. She didn’t ride the roller coasters, even though she was old enough to do so.
  7. When they arrived at the restaurant, they realized it had already closed.
  8. I stayed awake until my husband got home from work.
  9. Before he left his job, he wrote a number of training manuals.
  10. She performed very well on stage, though she was quite nervous.

Complex Sentences: Future Tenses in the Independent Clause

  1. After I finish my degree, I will pursue a career in environmental conservation.
  2. She will visit her grandparents next weekend, as she hasn’t seen them in months.
  3. Once the project is complete, the company will launch its new product on the market.
  4. By the time I graduate, I will have traveled to at least five different countries.
  5. We’re going to clean the bathrooms after we’re done cleaning the kitchen.
  6. They will be driving to Florida since flights are too expensive.
  7. Electric cars will become more popular in a few years, even though they’re not very common now.
  8. I’m going to start preparing dinner before I leave for work.
  9. Once the renovations are finished, the house will be even more beautiful.
  10. I won’t lend you any more money until you pay me back.

Complex Sentences: Continuous Verb Tenses in the Independent Clause

  1. While I was studying for my exam, my friends were watching a movie.
  2. They will be traveling to Europe while we are attending the conference.
  3. As the sun was setting, the children were playing in the park.
  4. I was cleaning the house all evening after I saw how dirty it was.
  5. I’ll be waiting for you at the café until you finish your meeting.

Complex Sentence Examples: Mixed Verb Tenses

  1. When I finish my work, I will join you for dinner.
  2. I had cleaned the whole house before we left for vacation.
  3. He couldn’t go to the party because he was feeling sick.
  4. I’m not buying anything else this month since I’ve already spent too much.
  5. As soon as they receive the necessary materials, they will start the project.
  6. Once she finishes her degree, she plans to travel the world.
  7. I was exhausted because I had been working all day.
  8. Now that the rain has stopped, we can go outside.
  9. He will buy a new car once he saves enough money.
  10. Since she doesn’t have any prior experience, she decided to take a training course.

Complex Sentence Examples: Conditionals

Some of the most common complex sentences are conditional sentences like the examples below. Again, the independent clause (result) is in bold, and the dependent clause (condition) is underlined.

  1. If it rains tomorrow, we will stay indoors and watch movies.
  2. She won’t pass the exam unless she studies a lot.
  3. If I won the lottery, I would travel around the world.
  4. He would have gone to the party if he hadn’t been so tired.
  5. If I had known about the event, I would have attended.
  6. She will be late if she doesn’t catch the early bus.
  7. If the children finish their chores, they can go to the park.
  8. We won’t eat a big dinner if we’re not very hungry.
  9. If you eat too much junk food, you will gain weight.
  10. She could earn more money if she had a better job.

Learn more about first conditional and second conditional.

More examples of sentence structures:

Master the details of English grammar:


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