In this lesson we are going to talk about how to write complex sentences. As you know, in your writing especially in Task 2 you are asked to write complex sentences and this is really important for IELTS marking. The thing is that most of you try to write in a complex way and this eventually counts against you because you end up with too many mistakes. So, if you are not 100% sure about something don’t write it. Better be simple, than sorry!
Today, however, I’m going to show you how to write a complex sentence and be correct at the same time!
1.) First things first, what do we mean by saying a simple sentence? A simple sentence consists of a subject and a verb. For example,
“Mary is happy”
“The dog ate his food”
“Mary” and “the dog” are the subjects and “is” and “ate” are the verbs. That’s it! These are simple sentences that they can totally stand on their own, that’s why we call them independent; they don’t need anything else!
Note: IMPORTANT PUNCTUATION TIP!
If you have two simple sentences together, you cannot use a comma between them! For example,
“Mary is happy, her mum is happy, everyone is happy” –> This is wrong! We never use a comma in this case; we use a semi-colon:
“Mary is happy; her mum is happy; everyone is happy”.
2.) What is a compound sentence?
Again, nothing to confuse you. A compound sentence consists of two or more simple (independent) sentences that are connected together this time not with a semi-colon but with another word. For example,
“Mary is happy and the dog ate his food”
“Her mum baked a cake but it wasn’t tasty”
These connecting words are called FANBOYS in grammar. Why? Because you can easily remember them in this way:
Again, to recap, a compound sentence is made up of two simple sentences connected with a “fanboy” word.
3.) What is a complex sentence?
A complex sentence consists of a simple sentence and a sentence that cannot stand on its own, that is a dependent sentence. For example,
“Because the cake isn’t tasty, Mary is unhappy”.
As you can see, the simple sentence can stand on its own BUT the dependent sentence cannot: it doesn’t make sense! It needs the simple sentence. Simple and dependent sentences are connected together with linking words and usually a comma. Such words are: “while, although, even though, unless,whereas, since, as, if, when” and the like. Another example:
“Even though the cake is tasty, Mary is unhappy”.
Now, let’s use what we’ve just learnt to write down IELTS examples. We will take simple sentences randomly:
“Prisons are overcrowded”
“Prisons do not seem to work”
“People who are released do not seem to be properly rehabilitated”
“They end up being locked up again”
And we will connect them in order to form one single complex sentence:
“Prisons are overcrowded and they do not seem to work as people who are released do not seem to be properly rehabilitated since they end up being locked up again”.
We connected the first two sentences with “and” and we made it a compound sentence and then we added connecting words and made the other two dependent. This is very useful when you have written down notes with similar ideas and reasons and you don’t know how to connect them in a single paragraph.
Check out the video lesson here: