Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

What Is a Compound Sentence? (with Examples)

What Is a Compound Sentence? (with Examples)

A compound sentence has at least two independent clauses.

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

Examples of Compound Sentences

Below are examples of compound sentences. In each example, the independent clauses are shaded.
  • Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. (Albert Einstein, 1879-1955)

  • There used to be a real me, but I had it surgically removed. (Peter Sellers, 1925-1980)

  • Go, and never darken my towels again. (Groucho Marx, 1890-1977)
  • (Note: Go is the shortest sentence in English.)

  • Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do. (Dale Carnegie)

Joining the Independent Clauses in a Compound Sentence

In a compound sentence, the independent clauses are joined using one of the following methods:

The Four Types of Sentence Structure

A compound 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:
  • Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggie" until you can find a rock. (Will Rogers, 1879-1935)
A Compound Sentence. A compound sentence has at least two independent clauses. For example:
  • Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. (Joseph Heller, 1923-1999) (Jane Wagner)
  • (This example has three independent clauses.)
A Simple Sentence. A simple sentence has just one independent clause. For example:
  • A country can be judged by the quality of its proverbs. (German Proverb)
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.
Top Tip

Use a Comma before a Conjunction That Joins Two Independent Clauses

There is often confusion over whether to use a comma before a conjunction (i.e., a word like and and but). It is worth being able to spot a compound sentence because you should use a comma before a conjunction that joins two independent clauses. For example:
  • He is smart, and articulate.
  • (This is not a compound sentence. It does not have two independent clauses. There should be no comma before and.)
  • He is smart, and he is articulate.
  • (This is a compound sentence. It has two independent clauses. The comma before and is correct.)
Read more about commas before conjunctions.
Interactive Test