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Complex sentences

Complex sentences are simple sentences with dependent or subordinate clauses added to them. Paige and Rosie explain how to spot them and use them in this video. 

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  • blobby green style avatar for user Scott Anderson
    Why are compound sentences usually taught with the coordinating conjunction as its own entity, yet when complex sentence are taught the subordinating conjunction is part of the dependent clause? If we taught compound sentences the same way (including the conjunction) it also wouldn't stand on its own.
    (30 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Courteney
      Technically, even if you include the conjunction with compound sentences, both would still be considered independent clauses. It's not the preferred method, but it is okay to start a sentence, as long as it still has a subject and predicate, with a conjunction. For example, both of these sentence configurations are technically correct:

      *Suzy wanted to stay and chat, but she also didn't want to be late.*
      *Suzy wanted to stay and chat. But she also didn't want to be late.*

      Children are generally discouraged from making sentences like my second example, but since the second sentence of that example still is a coherent sentence, it's fine.

      However, with complex sentences, you can never separate the two clauses into individually coherent sentences. For example, look at these:

      *Whenever Suzy stays and chats, she also ends up being late.*
      *Whenever Suzy stays and chats. She also ends up being late.*

      The second example in this set doesn't make sense any way you look at it. You're right in that most people look at coordinating conjunction as a separate thing, but the sentences could each stand on their own, even if you did include the conjunction. With subordinating conjunctions, there's just no way to properly separate them.
      (76 votes)
  • female robot ada style avatar for user sealelena1
    I still don't understand complex sentences?
    (0 votes)
    • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Rosie Friedland
      A complex sentence is an independent clause (a sentence that can stand on its own) with 1 or more dependent clauses added (dependent clauses can't stand on their own as a sentence).

      Example: "Even though I hate chocolate, I'm going to eat it anyway." Which one of these parts of the sentence is a dependent clause and which is independent?

      The two parts of the sentence are separated by a comma. Let's take this apart. "Even though I hate chocolate." This is a dependent clause because it can't stand on its own. "Even though I hate chocolate ... what?" We don't have enough information in this clause to have a full understanding of an idea.

      Let's look at the second part of the sentence: "I'm going to eat it anyway." This sentence functions as an independent clause and can stand on its own because it contains a complete idea. Granted, it makes a lot more sense with the dependent clause added, but this second part still could function as its own sentence. We have a clear action being performed and we don't have any subordinating conjunctions like "even though," "although," or "because" that often signal a dependent clause.

      Does that help clarify? Please let me know if you have further questions!
      (49 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Fred Gray
    what is a clause
    (5 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user JoshuaDV
      A clause is a group of words that contains a noun and a verb. Some clauses (like independent clauses) can just be plopped onto a page without needing anything else added to them, but some clauses (dependent clauses) require an independent clause attached to them to make sense. If a group of words does not have both a noun and a verb, then it is simply called a phrase, rather than a clause. To give one quick example, in the first sentence I wrote above, "A clause is a group of words" is a clause (subject: clause, verb: is), and it's independent because I could just leave it at that and nobody would blink. However, the rest of the sentence "that contains a noun and a verb," while it's also a clause (subject: that, verb: contains), couldn't stand on its own; it needs that first independent clause. If I just walked up to you and said, "that contains a noun and a verb," you'd look at me funny, right? That's the basics, but there's a lot more to be explored!
      (23 votes)
  • starky ultimate style avatar for user Adhyaan Goolla
    Rosie earned her B.A. in History from the University of California, Irvine in 2011. She is the Regional Director of Resident Services for a non-profit affordable housing corporation, where she finds and creates resources for residents who need them. (*This is rosie's backstory if you want to know! Also, upvote if this is helpful!*)
    (13 votes)
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  • marcimus purple style avatar for user edmundjosephkelley
    why no David?
    (8 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      In the summer of 2016, when this video was made, Paige Finch was doing an internship at Khan Academy, learning from David Rheinstrom how to make instructional videos. She was, at the time, a student at the University of California in Berkeley. Doing a video all by herself was a learning project. I think she did well, don't you?
      (7 votes)
  • starky sapling style avatar for user deezs caydens
    why is there no david
    (6 votes)
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  • starky tree style avatar for user 🐸☆V!0LET L!NK☆🐸
    where. did. David. go.
    (9 votes)
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  • duskpin sapling style avatar for user Dhatrid ; )
    I haven't seen Rosie in any other video before
    (5 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Michelle Cekala
    Oh no where is David
    (6 votes)
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  • starky sapling style avatar for user ITZ_KAZI
    So... a complex sentence is a sentence that has one independent clause and one ore more dependent clause
    (2 votes)
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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello, grammarians. Hello, Rosie. - [Voiceover] Hi, Paige. So in this video we're gonna talk about complex sentences. We've talked in another video about simple and compound sentences, so, that is like one independent clause or two independent clauses. And with a complex sentence, we're gonna introduce something called a dependent clause. So a sentence needs at least one independent clause to function as a sentence. But with complex, we're gonna add this dependent clause. So, Rosie, what's an example of a complex sentence? - [Voiceover] When we buy his birthday cake, we have to make sure it's lemon. (chuckles) - [Voiceover] So this sentence, when we buy his birthday cake, we have to make sure it's lemon, is made up of two clauses, and I've written them in different colors here. So, the second one, the pink one, can stand on its own as a sentence. We could just say, we have to make sure it's lemon. - [Voiceover] It functions as an independent clause, as its own sentence. We have some information that might be missing from this sentence, because we don't necessarily know what it's is, but we do have all the components of an independent clause here. We've got a subject, we, and a verb, have, have to, and well we have multiple verbs. (laughs) - [Voiceover] (laughs) Yeah, got a lot of have to make sure. - [Voiceover] So the sentence is relying on some information that's not provided, but it does still stand as its own sentence. - [Voiceover] Right, like we can have a sentence before it that's like, we're gonna go buy a birthday cake, we have to make sure it's lemon, right, those can be two separate sentences. In this case we have this other clause, this what's called a dependent clause. We can't just say when we buy his birthday cake as a sentence, that doesn't really stand on its own, it doesn't convey the information that a sentence needs to convey. So we could have an independent clause or a sentence that's just we buy his birthday cake. It's kind of a weird construction, I don't know that I would say that, you could maybe say, we are buying his birthday cake. But we buy his birthday cake still works as a sentence. It has a subject we and a verb buy, and it expresses a complete idea, it's an action that's happening and it tells you who's doing it. But we add this thing called a subordinating conjunction, that's this word when, here, and that makes this into a dependent clause, it can't be a sentence by itself, so it depends on the latter clause, we have to make sure it's lemon, to be part of a sentence. Okay, so, Rosie, what's another example of a complex sentence. - [Voiceover] Although our tent was zipped up, the sound of hyenas in the distance still frightened us. - [Voiceover] So again, this sentence starts with a dependent clause, although our tent was zipped up. This would be independent if it said our tent was zipped up, but again, we have this subordinating conjunction, although, at the beginning. And there's kind of a whole bunch of different subordinating conjunctions. They're sort of just something that you need to remember, but essentially their job is to connect clauses and sentences, but also make things into dependent clauses. - [Voiceover] One other thing, we were showing you two sentences where the dependent clause is coming before the independent clause, but that's not necessarily always gonna be the case. Like for example, we could've said, the sound of hyenas in the distance frightened us even though our tent was zipped up. - [Voiceover] Right, that would still be a complex sentence, it would be an independent clause and a dependent clause, but just in a different order, they don't have to be in this order that we've done twice. Okay, so Rosie, what if I do something like this? Like, when we buy his birthday cake, we have to make sure it's lemon, because it's his favorite. I think because it's his favorite is a dependent clause, right? - [Voiceover] That's right. And this sentence still completely works as a complex sentence, because you still just have this one independent clause, we have to make sure it's lemon, but the thing about a complex sentence is is you can add more than one dependent clause if you want and it's still considered a complex sentence. - [Voiceover] Okay, so it has to have just one independent clause. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] But I guess, as many dependent clauses as you want? - [Voiceover] Yeah, you can go crazy. - [Voiceover] Okay, cool. So I think that's complex sentences. It's an independent clause that can be a sentence by itself and one or more dependent clauses which can't be sentences by themself all put together in one big sentence. Does that sound right, Rosie? - [Voiceover] Sounds good to me, Paige. - [Voiceover] Cool. You can learn anything, Paige out. - [Voiceover] Rosie out.