Complex sentence

Complex sentence

A complex sentence is a sentence with one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.


  • I ate the meal that you cooked. (I ate the meal is an independent clause and that you cooked is a relative clause.)
  • I enjoyed the apple pie that you bought for me. (I enjoyed the apple pie is an independent clause and that you bought for me is a relative clause.)
  • I ate breakfast before I went to work. (I ate breakfast is an independent clause, and before I went to work is a dependent clause, meaning it cannot stand alone as a sentence.)

Examples of sentences that have more than one clause but are not complex sentences include the following:

  • I was scared, but I didn't run away. (Both clauses are independent. Therefore, this is a compound sentence but not a complex sentence.)
  • The dog that you gave me barked at me, and it bit my hand. (This is a compound-complex sentence with two independent clauses [The dog barked at me and It bit my hand] and one dependent clause [that you gave me].)

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