Free Lessons

Lesson ID: 71

Download the Activity

Complex Sentences Made Easy

Language Arts, Writing, Grammar

Grade 5- 8



Objective

Students learn about complex sentences.

Directions

A complex sentence is a sentence in which at least two ideas are combined into a single sentence. What's so "complex" about that? For example, look at the following sentence:
Because he forgot his wedding anniversary for the tenth straight year, Roger spent a week sleeping on the porch.
The two ideas expressed in the sentence are:
  1. Roger forgot his wedding anniversary for the tenth straight year, and
  2. Roger spent a week sleeping on the porch.
The two ideas could be expressed as two separate sentences, but they are more effectively expressed in a complex sentence. In a complex sentence the two ideas can be combined in a way that shows their cause-and-effect relationship. Notice how the word because explains to the reader the cause of Roger's problems. What follows the cause is the effect: Roger spent a week sleeping on the porch.
In the sentence about Roger, the word because is called a subordinating conjunction. That might sound like a puzzling term, but it is simply a type of word that will help you show the relationships between your ideas. Adverb clauses always begin with subordinating conjunctions.
Subordinating Conjunctions
Time Cause and Effect Contrast
after because although
before since while
as soon as if though
as even though whereas
when unless
until
while

Here is another example of two simple sentences that might be combined into a single complex sentence with an adverb clause:
Simple Sentence
The jury didn't believe the woman.
The woman said that she killed her husband to prevent aliens from
torturing him.
Combined Sentence
The jury didn't believe the woman when she said that she killed her husband to prevent aliens from torturing him.
As a writer, you have a choice to open a sentence with an adverb clause or end your sentence with an adverb clause. Notice that when the adverb clause comes at the beginning, you use a comma to separate it from the rest of the sentence; but when the adverb clause comes at the end of the sentence, no comma is necessary.

Resources

  • Complex Sentences Made Easy activity sheet