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Complex Essay Example

How to Get a Sentence in a Complex

by Owen Fourie

If you live in a complex, you do not want to do anything that can burn it down because that will get you a long sentence in jail. Writing a long complex sentence in grammar is a safer activity that should not get you into trouble.

The opening paragraph has two complex sentences. Let’s understand more about this particular sentence structure in our series in which we have already looked at the simple sentence and the compound sentence.

Sentences: from simple to compound to complex

For a moment, let’s see how two simple sentences are transformed into a compound sentence and then a complex sentence:

  • The silver car has new tires. It has spongy brakes. (simple sentences)
  • The silver car has new tires, but it has spongy brakes. (compound sentence)
  • Although the silver car has new tires, it has spongy brakes. (complex sentence)

What is a complex sentence?

The word although at the beginning of the above complex sentence is a subordinating conjunction, a part of speech that is used in this sentence structure.

A subordinating conjunction introduces a dependent clause, an essential element of a complex sentence.

A complex sentence must have an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

Complex sentences may also be indicated by the presence of relative pronouns—who, that, which—introducing relative clauses:

The silver car, which they bought in Chicago, has new tires.

Clauses: independent and dependent

In the last example, the independent clause is in two parts, and its completion comes at the end of the sentence:

  • The silver car
  • has new tires.

The dependent clause is “which they bought in Chicago.”

An independent clause, such as “the silver car has new tires,” can stand on its own as a sentence and make complete sense.

A dependent clause cannot stand on its own. It is an incomplete thought: “which they bought in Chicago.” When it is attached to an independent clause, a complex sentence is formed.

Subordinating conjunctions

Here is a partial list of subordinating conjunctions:

after, although, as, because, before, if, since, though, unless, until, when, whenever, whereas, wherever, while, …

When you use these words in a sentence, you are introducing a dependent (or subordinate) clause, one of the essential elements of a complex sentence.

Dependent clauses can go first in a sentence

Here are examples where the dependent clause is placed first in a complex sentence with an independent clause following it:

  • Although the vehicles were not badly damaged, repairs would still be costly.
  • As it entered the intersection, the motorcycle collided with the silver car.
  • Before the accident occurred, the silver car had been in our driveway for a short time.
  • Wherever you find a four-way stop, you should be cautious.

Whenever a dependent clause is placed at the beginning of a sentence, it must be followed by a comma. Notice this in the above examples and in the previous sentence.

Independent clauses can go first in the sentence

Here are examples where the independent clause is placed first in a complex sentence with a dependent clause following it:

  • Repairs would still be costly although the vehicles were not badly damaged.
  • The motorcycle collided with the silver car as it entered the intersection.
  • The silver car had been in our driveway for a short time before the accident occurred.
  • You should be cautious wherever you find a four-way stop.

There is no comma following an independent clause that is placed at the beginning of a sentence. Observe this in the above examples and in the previous sentence.

Effective use of a complex sentence

Putting a dependent clause at the beginning of a complex sentence turns it into what is known as a periodic sentence. This is a tool of rhetoric—the art of using language effectively and persuasively.

By placing the independent (or main) clause, or the completion of that clause, at the end of the sentence, you can create the effect of suspense:

The driver of the silver car, who began to look apprehensive, could produce neither his license nor his insurance papers.

Let’s conclude with the earliest set of examples in this article:

  • The silver car has new tires. It has spongy brakes.
  • The silver car has new tires, but it has spongy brakes.
  • Although the silver car has new tires, it has spongy brakes.

Only the last of these sentences—the complex sentence—indicates what is important, that the silver car has spongy brakes.

Complex sentences are usually more effective than compound sentences and simple sentences because they give the reader a better grasp of the relationship of ideas and their order of importance.

In the concluding article of this series on sentence structure, we’ll look at the compound-complex sentence.


Do you have any special technique to help you to produce a good mix of sentence structures in your essays? If so, please tell us what you do to achieve this. Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

Here are more articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

Copyright © 2011 by English Essay Writing Tips

There are many fascinating events that are happening around us all the time. Sometimes, we can’t help but stop to think, “How did that happen?” In essence, this is what a complex process is defined as. You have to find out about what is happening or how something works; this is just human curiosity and this is what makes this complex.

When you are writing a complex process essay for college, it requires you to write something exploratory. You should be able to share your unique knowledge on a complex process.

Just in case you need some inspiration, this is a short list of some excellent topics to write for your assignment!

  • How does a Car Engine Work?
  • Pretty self-explanatory – all you have to do is research on what makes an engine work and how is it able to move the car.

  • How does a gun fire a bullet?
  • Firing a gun involves a complex process, making this great topic to discuss. The technology involved is sophisticated and if you are interested in weapons, then it’s great!

  • What is inside a computer?
  • There are tonnes of different components in a computer and yet, if one part is missing, the computer wouldn’t function. It quite amazing, isn’t it? Explore the idea and see what you can find out.

  • How do we make lake water drinkable?
  • Again, the process of purifying water and making it drinkable is complicated. The same applies to desalination of salt water. This topic benefits mankind as a whole, so it would be worth investigating.

  • How do we refine petroleum?
  • As you may be aware, petrol is the source of fuel that we use almost every day. However, crude petroleum (oil) can’t be readily used.

  • How does a computer operating system (OS) function?
  • Whether this is your Mac or Windows doesn’t matter, try and figure out how they work. The software included and technologies used are interesting to discover.

  • How do airport traffic control function?
  • This is a very complex issue indeed and would make a perfect essay topic. There are hundreds of planes flying in the air; how do the control towers make sure they don’t get into trouble?

  • How does data get recovered when it’s lost?
  • You probably see this on T.V. all the time, but how do people recover ‘lost’ data?

  • How do calculators function?
  • You must wonder how calculators work, as they are so complex! Try and investigate it.
  • Is simplicity or complexity better?
  • This is some sort of antimony; you probably won’t get an answer but it’s something you can discuss and come up with many possibilities.

    This is a quick top-10 list of complex process essay topics and it should inspire you to write a great essay!

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