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.
Examples of Compound SentencesBelow 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 SentenceIn a compound sentence, the independent clauses are joined using one of the following methods:
- A conjunction with a comma (e.g., ", and")
- I like tea, and he likes coffee.
- A semicolon
- I like hot chocolate; it sends me to sleep.
- A colon
- I know one thing: I love that girl. (This is rare because the words after a colon are not often an independent clause.)
- A dash
- I know you're here — I can smell your perfume.
- A conjunction with a semicolon (e.g., "; and")
- After the lights went out, I could hear you whispering; and I know you were talking about me. (This is rare because it's an outdated style.)
The Four Types of Sentence StructureA 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)
- 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 country can be judged by the quality of its proverbs. (German Proverb)
- I stopped believing in Santa Claus when he asked for my autograph in a department store, but I still want to believe in him.
Use a Comma before a Conjunction That Joins Two Independent ClausesThere 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.)