What Is a Complex Sentence? (with Examples)

What Is a Complex Sentence? (with Examples)

A complex sentence has one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

An independent clause (unlike a dependent clause) can stand alone as a sentence.
complex sentence

Examples of Complex Sentences

Below are examples of complex sentences. In each example, the independent clause is shaded. The dependent clause is unshaded.
  • Stay in the bath until the phone rings.
  • The car swerved to miss Mrs Jackson, who had slipped off the pavement.
  • Both the cockroach and the bird would get along very well without us, although the cockroach would miss us most. (Joseph Wood Krutch, 1893-1970)
  • Leave while you can.
  • When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. (Arthur C. Clarke)
  • (This is two complex sentences.)

The Four Types of Sentence Structure

A complex sentence is one of four main sentence structures, all of which are shown below. In these examples, the independent clauses are shaded.

A Complex Sentence. A complex sentence has an independent clause and at least one dependent clause. For example:
  • The human brain never stops working until you stand up to speak in public.
A Compound Sentence. A compound sentence has at least two independent clauses. For example:
  • I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific. (Jane Wagner)
A Simple Sentence. A simple sentence has just one independent clause. For example:
  • Curiosity killed the cat.
A Compound-Complex Sentence.  A compound-complex sentence has at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. For example:
  • I stopped believing in Santa Claus when he asked for my autograph in a department store, but I still want to believe in him.

See Also

What is a sentence? What are independent clauses? What are dependent clauses? What is a compound sentence? What is a simple sentence? Glossary of grammatical terms