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Complex sentences: in-service training sessions


Complex sentences form a large area.  In this we are only covering the ideas listed below.
You should also consider the ways in which modification of nouns happens, catenation of verbs, fronting and much else.
There are guides to all these areas on this site.


The key ideas

This serves as an introduction to the ideas of coordination and subordination and the four possible types of sentence that result.

These are the areas on which these worksheets focus.  A session of between 2 and 3 hours should be enough to cover the essentials and give people the tools they need to focus on certain aspects of the area for an assignment.
It will not be enough in itself, of course.

  • Sentences types
    • simple
    • compound
    • complex
    • compound-complex
  • Conjunctions
    • coordinators
    • subordinators


Four types of sentence

This should be a reminder but it is not an area which is covered on all initial training courses.
Task 1 of the worksheet just asks people to identify the four sorts of sentence.  As a reminder:

  1. Simple sentences contain only one clause
  2. Compound sentences contain two coordinated clauses
  3. Complex sentences contain one main and one subordinated clause
  4. Compound-complex sentences contain a combination of subordination and coordination


Task 2 of the worksheet provides a list of coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.  The only coordinating conjunctions in the list are: and, or, but (the core coordinators) and for, so that, so, yet, nor (coordinators with some subordinating characteristics) All other conjunctions in the list are subordinators and some are correlative subordinators.  The conjunction so that can be coordinating when it means therefore and subordinating when it means so.  It is usually the latter.

Task 3 asks people to identify the clauses in sentences and state what kind they are.  Example 1 contains three coordinated clauses and one subordinate clause.  Example 2 contains an embedded subordinate clause between two coordinated clauses and a final subordinate clause.  Example 3 contains 3 coordinated clauses (and is a compound, not complex or compound-complex) sentence.

Task 4 is trickier so here's the key:


Related areas

The worksheets here cover a minimal amount but they are a place to begin.

The areas linked below are guides to other complex sentences.  The one to cleft sentences contains tasks that you may find helpful in a training session.  Please credit them in the usual way.

Related guides
complex sentences this is an introduction which considers other areas of complexity
coordination this focuses only on the main ideas of coordination and distinguishes between core and peripheral coordinators
subordination this guide does the same for subordinating conjunctions
relative pronoun clauses another form of complex sentence construction
cleft sentences and another
syntax for the in-service index to the whole area
A-Z index where you can find guides to or containing specific concepts and terms