English Grammar

Compound-Complex Sentences

by Eugene R. Moutoux

A compound-complex sentence is a sentence that has more than one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

Letís examine a few of the many possible combinations:

- Two independent clauses and an adverbial clause dependent on one of the independent clauses: The mouse was walking nonchalantly towards the cat, but it scampered away when it caught sight of its archenemy.

- Two independent clauses and two dependent clauses (an adjective clause modifying a word in the first independent clause and an adverb clause subordinate to the second independent clause): The mouse was walking nonchalantly towards the spot where the cat lay, but it scampered away when it caught sight of its archenemy.

- Two independent clauses and a noun clause used as a direct object in the second independent clause: Betty left immedi- ately, and Jim opined that all of us ought to consider heading for home.

- Two independent clauses, a noun clause used as a direct object in the second independent clause, and an adverb clause dependent on both main clauses: When the clock struck twelve, Betty left immediately, and Jim opined that all of us ought to consider heading for home.

- Two independent clauses with a noun clause used as an adverbial objective in each: Witherspoon is afraid that he will strike out, and Armstrong is sure that he will hit every pitch.

- Two independent clauses, the first with a noun clause and an adverb clause, the second with a noun clause and an adjective clause: Witherspoon is afraid that he will strike out if the pitcher throws a fast ball, and Armstrong is sure that he will hit every pitch that comes within a foot of the strike zone.

- Two independent clauses, each with an adjective clause and a noun clause, and an adverb clause dependent on both main clauses: Because it had snowed hard during the night, the adults who were headed for work were conscious of the fact that they must drive with heightened caution, but the children who were headed for school were aware only that they could be the target of well-directed snowballs.

- Two independent clauses, each with an adjective clause, a noun clause, and an adverb clause; and an adverb clause dependent on both main verbs: Because it had snowed hard during the night, the adults who were headed for work were conscious of the fact that they must drive with heightened caution if they and others were to arrive safely, but the children who were headed for school were aware only that they could be hit by well-directed snowballs if they did not remain alert.

- Three independent clauses, each with an adjective clause: The guy who had a ticket to Indianapolis traveled to Nashville instead, and the guy who had a ticket to Nashville traveled to Indy instead, but the guy who had a ticket to Louisville actually went to Louisville.

- Three independent clauses, each with an adjective clause and an adverb clause: The guy who had a ticket to Indianapolis traveled to Nashville instead because he wanted to visit the Grand Olí Opry, and the guy who had a ticket to Nashville traveled to Indy instead because he wanted to see the Colts play, but the guy who had a ticket to Louisville actually went to Louisville because he wanted to see the Mohammed Ali Museum, the Louisville Slugger Museum, and the Kentucky Derby Museum.

- Three independent clauses and an adverb clause that depends on all three main verbs: Because the weather has become quite cold, leaves have begun to fall from the trees, birds have begun to fly south, and people have begun to shop for Christmas.

- Three independent clauses, each with an adjective clause, and an adverb clause that depends on all three main verbs: Because the weather has become quite cold, leaves, which only a few weeks ago were still green, have begun to fall from the trees; birds, which only a few weeks ago were chirping merrily, have begun to fly south; and people, who only a few weeks ago were buying patio furniture at Walmart, have begun to shop for Christmas.

- from the teacher's enlarged edition of my book Diagramming Step by Step: One Hundred and Fifty-one Steps to Diagramming Excellence

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