Difference Between Compound and Complex Sentences

Main Difference: The difference between Compound and Complex Sentences is that Compound sentence is a sentence that has multiple independent clauses, but no dependent clause. Complex sentence is a sentence that has one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

What is a Compound Sentence

A Compound Sentence is made up of two or more independent clauses. An independent clause is a clause that expresses a complete thought or idea. For example,

He cried.

She drank milk.

In a compound sentence, the clauses are connected by a coordinating conjunction. There are only seven coordinating conjunctions in English. They are, For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet and So. Look at the examples below to understand the formation of a compound sentence before.

The train was late – Independent Clause 1                               SO= coordinating conjunction

I took the bus – Independent Clause 2

The train was late, so I took the bus = Independent Clause 1 + coordinating conjunction + Independent Clause 2      


We waited for 2 hours, but he didn’t come.

My mother prepared lunch, and I helped her.Difference Between compound and complex sentences

What is a Complex Sentence            

A complex sentence is made up of an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses connected to it. A dependent clause is a clause that does not express a complete thought.

Examples of dependent clauses:

while he waited for the drink

although they share some similar properties

whenever he talks about that experience

In complex sentences, the clauses are connected by subordinating conjunctions. Some common subordinating conjunctions include when, until, because, while, if, although, after, as, before, whenever, since, and whereas.

An independent clause is joined with one or more dependent clause by a subordinating conjunction to form a complex sentence.

Independent clause: He realized that the bus was late

Dependent Clause: While he was waiting at the bus station

Complex sentence: He realized that the bus was late while he was waiting at the bus station.

You can construct a complex sentence by including the dependent clause first, followed by the independent clause.

When I told him that I was resigning from the job, he was shocked.

You can also write the independent clause first, followed by the dependent clause, as given below.

He was shocked when I told him that I was resigning from the job.

Note that a comma should be used at the end of the dependent clause if you are writing the dependent clause first. However, if you are including the independent clause first, a comma should not be used. You can observe this difference in the two examples above.

I realized that there were many mistakes in the accounts after he resigned from the job.

When I gave my mother her present, she hugged me tight.

I didn’t visit her as she doesn’t like visitors.compound vs complex sentences

What is the Difference between Compound and Complex Sentences

Definition of Compound and Complex Sentences

Compound Sentence: Complex sentence is a sentence that contains multiple independent clause, but no dependent clause.

Complex Sentence: Compound sentence is a sentence that contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clause.

Characteristics of Compound and Complex Sentences

Independent clause

Compound Sentence: A compound sentence contains more than one independent clause.

Complex Sentence: A complex sentence contains only one independent clause.

Dependent Clauses

Compound Sentence: Compound sentences do not have any dependent clauses.

Complex Sentence: Complex sentences have one or more independent clauses.


Compound Sentence: The two clauses are combined by a coordinating conjunction.

Complex Sentence: The two clauses are combined by a subordinating conjunction.

Beginning of the sentence

Compound Sentence: A coordinating conjunction cannot be used at the beginning of the sentence

Complex Sentence: A subordinating conjunction can be used at the beginning of the sentence.

About the Author: de Silva

N. de Silva is a graduate, specializing in Sociology. She also works as a part time language educator. With an immense love for language, literature, and psychology she aspires to be a writer who can blend in subject material with linguistic mastery

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