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Compound Sentence

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Compound Sentence

We all know what sentences are, but do you know the different types of sentence structures and how to form them?

There are four different types of sentences in English; simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences. This explanation is all about compound sentences.

Keep reading to find out more, and see some examples of compound sentences. (p.s that's a compound sentence!)

Compound sentence meaning

A compound sentence is a sentence that consists of two or more independent clauses. This is easy to remember, as the word 'compound' means something composed of two or more elements!

We categorise sentence types based on the number and type of clauses they contain. In the case of compound sentences, they:

  • Are made up of two or more independent clauses

  • Do not contain any dependent clauses

  • Join together independent clauses with a comma and a coordinating conjunction or with a semicolon (;).

Clauses are the building blocks of sentences. There are two types of clauses: independent and dependent clauses.

Independent clauses work on their own, and dependent clauses rely on other parts of the sentence. Every clause, independent or dependent, must contain a subject and a verb.

First, we're going to look at how compound sentences are formed and provide some examples. Then, we will use this information to identify compound sentences and distinguish them from other kinds of sentences.

Compound sentence structure

A compound sentence is made up of two or more independent clauses joined together by a comma and a coordinating conjunction or with a semicolon (;). Compound sentences do not contain any dependent clauses. Below, we can see the structure of a compound sentence:

Independent clause + connective (comma and a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon) + independent clause

I like Italian food, but my partner likes Chinese food.

In the above example, the two independent clauses are 'I like Italian food' and 'My partner likes Chinese food.' Both clauses make sense as standalone sentences.

Compound sentence, Image of Chinese food, StudySmarterI love Chinese food, and I'm not afraid to show it! - Pixabay

Joining independent clauses in compound sentences

As previously mentioned, compound sentences are formed by joining two independent clauses together. It's very easy to make a mistake here, so let's try and clear up any confusion and address the common mistakes that are made when creating compound sentences.

First, make sure you are joining two independent clauses. Independent clauses can be easily confused with dependent clauses or with phrases.

An independent clause must:

  • Include a subject and a verb. They can also include an object and/or a modifier.

  • Work on their own. Unlike dependent clauses, they don't rely on another clause to make sense.

Ask yourself, 'can these clauses work as sentences on their own?' Compound sentences are generally made by joining two or more simple sentences together.

I was walking the dog. I was restless.

If we replace the full stop that separates the sentences with a comma and a coordinating conjunction, these two sentences become one compound sentence:

I was walking the dog, for I was restless.

Each clause must have a subject and a verb; otherwise, it is not a compound sentence. In the above compound sentence, you can see two subjects (I and I ) and two verbs (walking and was).

The following example is not a compound sentence as it only contains one subject.

I am tired and need to sleep. (not a compound sentence)

However, if we add a subject and use the appropriate connectives, we can form a compound sentence like so;

I am tired, and I need to sleep. (compound sentence)

Imperative sentences and subjects

In imperative sentences (sentences which give a demand, e.g. sit down) the subject is often assumed rather than physically spoken or written. Although we cannot see the subject, it is still there, and imperatives can still be considered independent clauses. For example, 'Sit down, or else you'll be in trouble.' In the first clause, the subject is you, i.e (you) sit down.

Coordinating conjunctions in compound sentences

You'd heard us say a few times now that compound sentences are formed by joining two independent clauses together with coordinating conjunctions but what exactly are they?

Coordinating conjunctions are joining words that join clauses together that have equal weight, i.e. two independent clauses rather than an independent and a dependent clause. An easy way to remember coordinating conjunctions is with the mnemonic FANBOYS.

  • For

  • And

  • Nor

  • But

  • Or

  • Yet

  • So

Compound sentences and punctuation

Using the correct punctuation is an important part of forming compound sentences. There are two correct ways to use punctuation;

  • A comma followed by a coordinating conjunction (e.g. Peter has a bike, and Ana has a scooter.)
  • A semicolon without a coordinating conjunction (e.g. Peter has a bike; Ana has a scooter.)

Comma splices

A common grammar mistake many people make when forming compound sentences is the comma splice. A comma splice is when two independent clauses are joined together with only a comma - this is incorrect and should be avoided! For example, 'Spiders have eight legs, they are arachnids.' is a grammatically incorrect sentence. When joining two independent clauses, we must use a comma alongside a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon. E.g. 'Spiders have eight legs; they are arachnids.'

Compound sentence, Image of paper and pen, StudySmarterBe careful with punctuation when forming compounding sentences - Pixabay

Examples of Compound Sentences

Here are some examples of compound sentences. Try to spot the subjects, verbs, and links between each one.

  • I like drinking tea, and Mandy likes drinking coffee.

  • Our car broke down, so we arrived last.

  • John went to the party; I went home.

  • They spoke with him in French, but I spoke with her in German.

Below, we have broken each sentence down. The subjects are in bold, the verbs are in blue, and the links are in red.

  • I like drinking tea, and Mandy likes drinking coffee.

  • Our car broke down, so we arrived last.

  • John went to the party; I went home.

  • They spoke to him in French, but I spoke to her in German.

Why are compound sentences used?

We use compound sentences in both spoken and written English. They are used to link independent ideas together. By having multiple independent clauses in the same sentence, we can link ideas that would have otherwise been separated.

Furthermore, by combining what would otherwise be lots of simple sentences in one text, compound sentences can make writing more interesting.

Here is an example passage that only uses simple sentences:

I went for a walk. I was tired. I came home. I decided to have dinner. I cooked pasta.

Notice how, with all the sentences being simple, the passage begins to feel boring and repetitive. Now, here's the same passage again but with compound sentences:

I went for a walk, but I was tired, so I came home. I decided to have dinner, so I cooked pasta.

By linking the simple sentences together and making them into compound ones, the short passage has become much easier to read and doesn't seem as dull!

How to identify a compound sentence

We can identify compound sentences by considering the type and amount of clauses in that sentence.

There are always multiple clauses in compound sentences, and these clauses are always independent. So, if you are trying to identify whether a sentence is a compound sentence - check for multiple independent clauses!

Compound Sentence - Key takeaways

  • A compound sentence is one of four types of sentences. The others are simple sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences.

  • A compound sentence comprises two or more independent clauses. Each independent clause contains a subject and a verb and can work on its own.

  • Compound sentences are useful when trying to link together multiple ideas.

  • You can identify compound sentences by looking at the number and type of clauses. If they are all independent clauses and there is more than one clause, you know it's a compound sentence.

Frequently Asked Questions about Compound Sentence

A compound sentence is a sentence that consists of two (or more) independent clauses.

Here is an example of a compound sentence: 'The men are chatting, and the women are fighting.'

A compound-complex sentence is the fourth sentence type. As the name suggests, it is a mix of both the compound sentence type and the complex sentence type. It contains at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.

'Compound sentence' means a sentence that joins together multiple independent ideas - it is made up of two or more independent clauses.

A compound sentence contains two or more independent clauses. A complex sentence has at least one independent clause and one dependent clause.

Final Compound Sentence Quiz

Question

What is a compound sentence?

Show answer

Answer

A sentence that contains multiple independent clauses.

Show question

Question

Which sentence types contain dependent clauses?

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Answer

Complex sentences and compound-complex sentences.

Show question

Question

How can you identify a compound sentence?

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Answer

If a sentence contains multiple independent clauses and no dependent clauses, it is a compound sentence.

Show question

Question

 Which of the following sentences is a compound sentence?

  1. I ran on the treadmill.

  2. I ran on the treadmill because I wanted to.

  3. I ran on the treadmill and I had some water.

Show answer

Answer

c. I ran on the treadmill and I had some water.

Show question

Question

Why do we use compound sentences?

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Answer

To link different ideas together.

Show question

Question

What is the formula for a compound sentence?

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Answer

independent clause + link + independent clause.

Show question

Question

True or false: Compound sentences are one of two types of sentences that contain a dependent clause.


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Answer

False. A compound sentence doesn't include a dependent clause.

Show question

Question

True or false: Compound-complex sentences are a type of compound sentence.


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Answer

False, as they are their own sentence type.

Show question

Question

Is this a compound sentence?: The cow jumped over the moon.


Show answer

Answer

No, it is a simple sentence.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is not a compound sentence?

  1. Connor was rich, but Amanda was richer.

  2. David went to the beach while it was sunny.

  3. Andrew bought a dog, but he didn’t keep it.

Show answer

Answer

b. David went to the beach while it was sunny. This is because it is a complex sentence.

Show question

Question

True or false: Compound sentences could be separated into multiple simple sentences as they are made up of independent clauses.


Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

What do independent clauses have to contain?

Show answer

Answer

A subject and a verb.

Show question

Question

What can an independent clause contain?

Show answer

Answer

An independent clause could contain a modifier and/or an object.

Show question

Question

Is this a compound sentence?: Everybody loves Lucy, but she is quite dull.


Show answer

Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

True or false: Compound sentences are made from simple sentences, as they contain lots of dependent clauses.


Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

Question

What is a comma splice?

Show answer

Answer

A grammatical mistake that involves joining two independent clauses together with only a comma.

Show question

Question

What does FANBOYS stand for?

Show answer

Answer

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

Show question

Question

True or false, independent clauses can be joined with a semicolon?

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

When does an independent clause not have a subject?

Show answer

Answer

When it is an imperative sentence. The subject is implied.

Show question

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