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What is a Compound Sentence?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated: May 23, 2024

A compound sentence is a sentence which has two independent clauses linked together. A compound sentence has to have the two clauses linked together by a conjunction of some sort. This may take the form of a correlative conjunction, a coordinating conjunction, or a semicolon functioning as a conjunction. A comma is often used to help offset the two independent clauses as well, although it is not usually needed grammatically.

One can contrast the compound sentence with both the simple sentence and the complex sentence. A simple sentence is a sentence in which there is a subject and a predicate, and in which a complete thought is expressed, allowing it to stand alone. For example, We run outside every day. is a simple sentence, as is The moon is white. A complex sentence, on the other hand, includes both an independent clause and a dependent clause. For example, the sentence, When stars fall, I like to make wishes. is a complex sentence, with stars fall the dependent clause, and I like to make wishes the independent clause.

To form a compound sentence, you take two independent clauses, which could serve as simple sentences by themselves, and link them with a conjunction. The most common type of conjunction used is the coordinating conjunction. There are seven coordinating conjunctions in English: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. These seven can be easily remembered by the mnemonic FANBOYS, with each letter representing the first letter of each coordinator.

For example, we can take two simple sentences: Jane likes to watch football. and Bob learned to knit. We can then connect them with a coordinating conjunction to create a compound sentence like: Jane likes to watch football, and Bob learned to knit. or Jane likes to watch football, so Bob learned to knit. The coordinating conjunction we use determines the meaning of our compound sentence, and of course not all coordinators work for all independent clauses, but all independent clauses need to have at least one conjunction to be joined together.

A compound sentence can also use a pairing of words that help each other out, known as correlative conjunctions. There are four common pairings of correlative conjunctions: both and and, not only and but also, either and or, and neither and nor. For example, we can take the independent clauses: The moon is full. and The stars are out. We can then join them together using one of our pairings to get: Both the moon is full, and the stars are out. or Neither the moon is full, nor the stars are out.

A semicolon can also act as a conjunction to form a compound sentence. For example, we can take the two independent clauses we just used, and join them together with a semicolon to form: The moon is full; the stars are out. In this way we link the two clauses more closely than if we were to have them as fully independent simple sentences, but we don’t link them more explicitly than that.

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Discussion Comments
By anon295916 — On Oct 08, 2012

I need a compound sentence using the word football and using two possessive nouns.

By anon292232 — On Sep 18, 2012

Can someone give me a example of a compound sentence for a maid?

By anon245779 — On Feb 06, 2012

Example: Tommy wanted to go to the store, but he had to finish cleaning the house.

The comma separates the sentences into phrases:

Tommy wanted to go to the store.

He had to finish cleaning the house.

Each phrase has a noun and a verb.

That means that a compound sentence must have a verb and a noun on each side of the comma (if there is one).

By Ollie204 — On Mar 20, 2011

Thanks for all of the help guys. This website is really good.

By anon139158 — On Jan 03, 2011

complex sentence: 1)The teacher returned the homework after she noticed the error.

2)The students are studying because they have a test tomorrow.

compound sentence: 1)I tried to speak Spanish, and my friend tried to speak English.

2)Enrique played football, so Maria went shopping.

By anon130705 — On Nov 29, 2010

Examples: I tried to speak Spanish, and my friend tried to speak English. Or: Shannon played football, for Maria went shopping. Compound sentences always use the words: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. The beginning letter of each of these words spell: "Fanboy!" To remember easily.

By anon80626 — On Apr 28, 2010

Uses an independent clause.

By anon72641 — On Mar 23, 2010

no no no a compound sentence is this: i love the color pink, but my friends like purple. Or: I don't like to study math, although i have to do it. You have to combine it with a conjunction like but, and, although, the, meanwhile, well and more.

By anon54601 — On Dec 01, 2009

OK i get what a compound sentence is, but can you please give some examples to make sure i really get it? Thank you!

By anon49321 — On Oct 19, 2009

Is this a coupound sentence? My sister and I think my brother is our maid.

By anon40122 — On Aug 06, 2009

please give more examples of the complex and compound sentences.

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