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Complex sentences in English and types of complex sentences

Reading and understanding complex sentences in English may seem challenging at first, but with practice you will be able to understand them more easily. This article will explain the main types of complex sentences and provide examples of each type so that you can learn how to use them correctly. Keep reading to discover more!

What is a Complex Sentence?

A complex sentence consists of a main clause and one or more subordinate clauses. The subordinate clause is dependent on the main clause for its meaning. There are five types of complex sentences in English: subject-copular verbs sentences, adverbial clauses, noun clauses, conditional sentences, and mixed clauses.

Types of Complex Sentences.

Subject-Copular Verbs Sentences – This type of sentence is used to describe a person or thing, for example, The house stands on a hill. Here the subject of the sentence is house and the verb is stands. Verb stands is a copular verb as it connects the subject with a predicate, i.e. a descriptive phrase.

Example: The police officer was on duty at the border. Adverbial Clauses – An adverbial clause is a subordinate clause that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.

Example: She is happy to have received the scholarship. The adverbial clause is happy to have received the scholarship which modifies the verb has received. Noun Clauses – A noun clause is a subordinate clause that functions as a noun or as a modifier in a sentence.

Example: The reason for her absence is unknown. The noun clause for her absence is the reason for her absence. Conditional Sentences – A conditional sentence expresses a condition or a hypothetical situation.

Example: If I had more time I would travel around the world. Mixed Clauses – This type of sentence has a combination of two or more clauses.

Example: The man who lives next door has three children. Here the main clause is The man who lives next door, and the subordinate clause is has three children.

Type 1: Subject-Copular Verbs Sentences

Subject-copular verbs sentences are used to describe a person or thing. Copular verbs are verbs that connect the subject with a predicate, i.e. a descriptive phrase.

Example: The house is white. Copular verbs can be either be-verbs or have-verbs.

Examples: be is, appear seem, become become, become seem, look appear, remain remain, smell smell, sound sound, stay stay, turn turn, become become, and turn turn. Subject-Copular Verbs Sentences – This type of sentence is used to describe a person or thing.

Example: The house is white. (Here the subject of the sentence is house and the verb is is white.)

Type 2: Adverbial Clauses

Adverbial clauses are used to modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. If a sentence contains an adverbial clause, it’s likely that you will find a relative pronoun or relative adverb within the clause.

Example: She is happy to have received the scholarship. The adverbial clause is happy to have received the scholarship which modifies the verb has received. Adverbial Clauses – An adverbial clause is a subordinate clause that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.

Example: She is happy to have received the scholarship. The adverbial clause is happy to have received the scholarship which modifies the verb has received.

Type 3: Noun Clauses

Noun clauses are used to create complex sentences. They are also known as subordinate clauses with a comma. The subordinate clause can be identified because it begins with a subordinating conjunction such as because, if, until, whether, etc.

Example: I know that she was not at fault. The noun clause is that she was not at fault which modifies the noun I. Noun Clauses – A noun clause is a subordinate clause that functions as a noun or as a modifier in a sentence.

Example: I know that she was not at fault. The noun clause for she was not at fault is that she was not at fault.

Type 4: Conditional Sentences

Conditional sentences are used to express a condition or a hypothetical situation.

Example: If I had more time I would travel around the world. The conditional clause is if I had more time which modifies the verb would travel around the world. Conditional Sentences – A conditional sentence expresses a condition or a hypothetical situation.

Example: If I had more time I would travel around the world. The conditional clause is if I had more time I would travel around the world.

Type 5: Mixed Clauses

This type of sentence has a combination of two or more clauses.

Example: The man who lives next door has three children. Here the main clause is The man who lives next door and the subordinate clause is has three children. Mixed Clauses – This type of sentence has a combination of two or more clauses.

Example: The man who lives next door has three children. Here the main clause is The man who lives next door and the subordinate clause is has three children.

How to recognise complex sentences in English?

While reading, if you come across a main clause and an independent clause immediately after each other, it’s likely that one of these types of sentences is being used.

  • Look for a relative pronoun (such as who, which, that, where, when, whose, etc.) or a relative adverb (such as where, when, why, etc.) within the clause that follows the main clause. If this is the case, then you know that the sentence you’re reading is a complex sentence.
  • If you’re not sure about the type of sentence being used, try substituting the relative pronoun or adverb in the subordinate clause with the word that. If the sentence still makes sense, then you’re dealing with a complex sentence.

A complex sentence for each day

For each day of the week, there is a sentence that you can read and understand as a warm-up exercise. They are easy to read, and you can use them to practice reading and understanding complex sentences. Read one each day, and you are guaranteed to improve your reading comprehension skills in just seven days! Enjoy!

Monday – The yellow house is on the corner of the street.

Tuesday – I don’t know why he is so angry.

Wednesday – It is important to understand your situation.

Thursday – It is easy for children to lose track of time.

Friday – The earthquake was strong enough to make the ground shake.

Saturday – I don’t know where to start with this project.

Sunday – It is important to be there for your friends.

Conclusion

Complex sentences are useful structures to know how to use. They are often found in formal English, so knowing how to identify and understand them will help you improve your proficiency with the language. If you want to improve your English, you need to practice reading and understanding as many English texts as possible. The more you read, the more exposure you will have to different types of English sentences vocabulary.

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