Compound complex sentence masterclass

This lesson helps us understand what a compound-complex sentence is and how and when to use it.

What is a compound-complex sentence in English?

Compound-complex sentence definition: a compound-complex sentence is a combination of at least two independent and one dependent clause. It has the features of both a compound sentence and a complex sentence, and that’s why it is called a compound-complex sentence.

A compound-complex sentence is usually the longest type of sentence as it employs two types of sentences in it: compound and complex. It represents a way of bringing multiple clauses together and shows how they are connected with one another with proper use of punctuation and conjunctions.

Compound-complex sentence examples

Compound sentences

A compound sentence is a combination of two or more independent clauses joined with a coordinating conjunction. Both clauses here have the same value or importance and indicate a certain relationship between them.


  • Jon has two brothers, and both are engineers.
  • The flat is great, but it is not big enough for us.
  • I answered all the questions correctly, yet they didn’t select me.

Notice these sentences have two independent clauses in them that are joined with a coordinating conjunction (italicized). The conjunction establishes a certain relation between the clauses in these compound sentences.

Complex sentences

A complex sentence is a combination of one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. The dependent clause here starts with a subordinating conjunction and works as a noun, adjective, or adverb to a part of the independent clause.


  • I respect you because you have always been there for me.
  • If you are not happy with this job, find another job.
  • You can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.

The dependent clause in these sentences is italicized.

Compound-complex sentence examples

  • We sometimes get lost in the process and feel that nothing is working, but it is important not to lose hope and keep doing what got us so far.
  • I would not be the guy that I am today if I had not made the mistakes that I made, for it is your mistakes that teach you something and make you better.
  • I have come to realize that I have hurt your feelings, and I want to make it up to you for doing that.
  • What you are saying is something that is difficult for me to wrap my mind around, for I have never heard anything like this before.
  • When the meeting got over, our manager Anuj took us to a pub, and we had a lot of food and enjoyed ourselves.

The dependent clause or clauses in these compound-complex sentences are italicized for you to see them. Also, notice that all the sentences have at least one dependent clause and two independent clauses in them.

In the second example, two dependent clauses appear next to each other. I have underlined the second one so that you are able to make a distinction between them. Also, notice that the first works as an adjective by modifying the noun guy, and the second works as an adverb (conditional clause). There is another interesting thing in the second dependent clause that we should notice if we haven’t yet: it has another dependent clause in it (that I made), modifying the noun mistakes. Wait…there is another dependent clause in the sentence: that teach you something and make you better (working as an adjective by modifying the noun mistakes). This example shows us that there is no limit to how many clauses we can use in a compound-complex sentence; it is the least number of clauses (both dependent and independent) we have to keep in mind.

Commas in a compound-complex sentence

There is always at least one comma in a compound-complex sentence as we use a comma before the second independent clause.

  • We know what we need to do, and we are going to do it soon.
  • Some of us are doing more than what is required of us, yet we are not being recognized.
  • Let’s not talk about what happened yesterday, for he will get again angry.

If the sentence (compound-complex) starts with a dependent clause, we have at least two commas in it: one after the first clause (dependent) and the second comes before the last independent clause.

  • If you are not available for the project, we will talk to someone else, for the project has to be done within the deadline.
  • As soon as she gets to know that you are after only her money, she will throw you out of her life, and you will have to be back to being a nobody again.

There can be more commas in a compound-complex sentence. We can offset words and phrases with commas. Let’s study an example to understand this better and get familiar with it.

  • Fortunately, my business partner, a boxer, was there to help me fight the goons that we encountered the other day, and we got out of the situation unharmed.

The sentence starts with an introductory adverb, and it is offset using a comma like all introductory adverbs are offset using a comma (we use a comma after them). The subject of the first independent clause has a nonessential appositive after it, and that’s why we have used a comma before and after it and offset that piece of information. The next comma comes before the second independent clause.

The number of commas we can use in a sentence (of any type) is not limited by the grammar rules. The necessity of the situation and the type of information used in the sentence dictates that.

Talking about a compound-complex sentence specifically, we need at least one comma.

More examples of compound-complex sentences

  • I am so sorry that I left the party last night without informing you, but I had an emergency situation that I had to take care of.
  • Sometimes, you have to do things that you are not comfortable doing, for they take you where you want to be in life.
  • I have an interview next week, and I want to crack it badly as it’s a great company.
  • Most people don’t even know what they are capable of, and they waste their whole life without trying to know their inner selves.
  • I will give them what they came here for, but don’t expect me to be nice to them.
  • Though I am not a big fan of movies, I would not mind watching this movie, for it’s making a lot of noise.
  • The guy who is sitting next to Jon has amazing communication skills, and he can definitely help us get better.
  • I really don’t care if you don’t like me, for I don’t spend my energy on things that I can’t control.
  • Making mistakes is a part of the process of learning something, but you have to make sure that you learn from those mistakes and are not repeating them again and again.
  • You can say what you want about how I do my job, and you can even go to the boss and tell on me.
  • You have worked harder than most of us that are a part of the project, and we absolutely respect you for that as you don’t have to do some of the things that you do.
  • I am not going to let you punish yourself for something that you didn’t even do and be alone because you are like my brother, and you need me right now.
  • I haven’t tried alcohol before, nor do I want to try it as I know what it can do to my mind and body.

Now, we know what a compound-complex sentence is and everything about it. Feel free to share your question, doubt, or feedback in the comment section, and also, share the post with the people that need it.

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What is an example of a compound-complex sentence?

Some people are not happy with how you drink openly in society, and they want you out.
Independent clauses: 1) Some people are not happy with how you drink openly in society 2) they want you out
Dependent clause: how you drink openly in society

What is a compound-complex sentence?

A compound-complex sentence is a combination of two or more dependent clauses and one or more independent clauses. It has the features of both a compound and a complex sentence in it.

How many clauses does a compound-complex sentence have in it?

A compound-complex sentence has at least three clauses in it: 2 dependent clauses and one independent clause.

Is a compound-complex sentence the most lengthy sentence in English?

Yes, a compound-complex sentence is the most detailed, lengthy, and complex type of sentence in English and brings information together in the most sophisticated way.

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Ashish found his first love—the English language—a few years back. Since then, he has been immersed in the language, breaking down the language and teaching it to passionate English learners. He has a flair for listening to the English language (podcasts, sitcoms, stories), observing the nuances, and making it easy for English learners. He is known for breaking down complex English topics and making them easy to be understood.

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