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English GrammarBasic English Grammar - Compound Sentences

Basic English Grammar – Compound Sentences

A lot of people have difficulties constructing correct sentences, which may be the most critical part of their English learning journey. Think about it: You need to construct sentences when writing in English; You need to create a verbal sentence when speaking English; Of course, you need to understand the sentence structures in Reading and Listening. Moreover, you keep texting your friends with sentence creations every day! Basically, sentences are the body cells of English. In this tutorial, I am going to share with you everything about sentence structures, including clauses, parts of speech, grammar, phrases, etc, from the very basic down to the advanced level. 

The English language is an art. You can’t just use simple sentences repeatedly to express yourself. Take a look at the below Simple Sentences:

I am fine. You are good. I go to school by bus. I love to travel. You are nice. 

Alright, technically the above simple sentences are correct. However, you can tell there is “something wrong”. Great communication through the English language should consist of a variety of sentence structures. Not only will it look more sophisticated but also more meaningful.

What are Compound Sentences? 

Basically, compound sentences are formed with at least 2 independent clauses, with related ideas, connected by a conjunction. With the help of compound sentences, we can construct more meaningful sentences with a variety of vocabulary and phrases. 

Technically, each part of a compound sentence consists of a subject and a verb, see the example below:

5 Compound Sentence examples:

I really need to go to school, but I am too tired to wake up.

My dog is a good pet, for he is loyal and helpful. 

Hong Kong is a lovely place, with lots of great food there.

Johnny does not only love to play the piano but also loves to play guitar. 

You can take the bus to head downtown, or take the MTR instead. 

Also, the two or more clauses that construct the compound sentences should be closely related or have similar meanings, otherwise, the compound sentence may not be suitable. Let’s take a look at the below demonstration:

Nathan intended to study Computer Science. Nathan’s mom loves watching movies. 

The above two simple sentences are not suitable to form a compound sentence, since they are not related or does not have similar meanings. You can tell they do not make sense to combine together. 

One more criterion for forming a compound sentence: The two or more simple sentences should be grammatically correct and be self-complete when used alone. Like the below example, each simple sentence has a complete implication, but they can be combined since they have related meanings. 

Anna wanted to go shopping. Peter wanted to go hiking. 

Rephased to a Compound sentence:

Anna wanted to go shopping but Peter wanted to go hiking instead. 

Alright, now you should know the basics of what a compound sentence is. Now, we should move on to how to construct compound sentences in an effective way with different types of conjunctions. 

What is a conjunction?

The primary purpose of a conjunction is to link up different phrases, clauses, or words, to construct a more complex sentence. Below, I tried to list out the commonly used types of conjunction:

  • Correlative conjunctions
  • Coordinating conjunctions
  • Subordinating conjunctions

Let’s see how to create a compound sentence with correlative conjunctions first.

What are correlative conjunctions?

Sometimes we call it paired conjunctions as correlative conjunctions always comes as a  pair, which is needed to connect the two simple sentences together meaningfully. 

I have summarized the commonly used pairs in below table:

Correlative Conjunctions Table:

Neither …Nor …
Either …Or …
Not …But …
Not only …But also …
Just as …So …
Whether …Or …

How do I construct compound sentences with correlative conjunction?

Different paired conjunctions work in different situations. You need to pay attention to the logic and implication of the connectors.

Neither / Nor Examples:

The conjunctions are usually used for connecting both implications that show negative meaning. (False & False)

The smartphone you are using is neither reliable nor safe. 

Most people neither save money nor invest in the stock market. 

Neither Australia nor Canada is a host city for the Olympic Games. 

Either / Or examples:

This is used for picking options for one of the two things. Note that both options should be in the same grammatical type. 

You can stay in either Italy or Germany for the rest of your journey. 

Either you go to school by my ride or you may get a taxi as it’s already 8:30 am. 

Your homework deadline is either tomorrow or next week. I really can’t remember.

Not / But examples:

This pair is used to declare the negative choice and then emphasize the positive one. Usually, it starts with NOT (the negative option) followed by the BUT (the positive option) as a result the two simple related sentences are connected together. 

The purpose of the assignment is not for the score, but for your own understanding of the history. 

Tiffany has not one BMW but five! Her family is literally rich. 

You are not allowed to eat but you can drink at the event. 

Not only / But also examples:

This correlative conjunction is used to emphasize the first and the second statement together. It should be noted that both parts should belong to the same parts of speech. 

Youths meet new friends not only in the classroom physically but also through online games virtually. 

I really love dessert: Not only the tiramisu but also puddings. 

Not only is he responsible but also helpful. 

Just as / so examples:

This paired conjunction is used to show the two corresponding phrases that the second phase is likely to be the consequence of the first phrase. 

Just as the parents are addicted to Whatsapp so the kids are addicted to mobile games. 

Just as you are scared of the examination so do I. 

Just I love basketball so does my sister love volleyball. 

Whether / Or examples:

Sometimes we do not know which of the two possibilities is correct, we use the “Whether … Or …” conjunction to connect the two phrases. 

I didn’t know whether you would come back early or late tonight, so I already finished dinner myself.  

You can choose whether you want beef or chicken for the Airline meal. 

Everybody needs to leave immediately whether he comes or not, as the train will depart in 3 minutes. 

What are coordinating conjunctions?

Did you know that children know how to naturally join simple sentences together starting from the age of age 3-4 years old? Usually, they begin with “And” / “Or”. You can use coordinating conjunctions to construct compound sentences easily, usually preceded by a comma in the second clause. There is a total of SEVEN conjunctions you need to remember found with the acronym FANBOYS. Each coordinating conjunction has its own situation to use, so please fully understand their usage.  In the following table, you can see all of them with a simple explanation, followed by examples. 


Forintended to be given to
Andused to join two words, phrases, parts of sentences, or related statements together
Norused before the second or last of a set of negative possibilities, usually after “neither”
Butusually something that is different from what you have said before
Orused to connect different possibilities
Yetstill now yet to happen
Soto such a degree

FANBOYS sentences examples:

Peter won’t work in a company for the money only

Alice picked the burger and coca-cola in the fast-food shop. 

The CEO is going to promote neither Edison nor Eric to the team.

Everything is so amazing in the North Pole but the weather. 

When you travel to Canada, you can take Cathay Pacific or Air Canada. 

My Amazon orders have not been delivered yet

The air pollution is serious, so please wear a mask. 

So by now you should know that your sentences’ complexity can be highly increased using coordinated conjunctions, like how to contrast the situations, express the consequences, connect clauses together, etc. Next, we will explore what subordinating conjunctions are. 

What are subordinating conjunctions?

Basically, joining the main clauses to the secondary sub-clauses is the main purpose of subordinating conjunctions. There are a few words that are commonly used like “Because”, “Although”, “That” and “When”. Let’s take a look at the following examples:

Mary was so happy. Tom bought her a ring. 

Above are two simple sentences. The second one tries to explain the reason for the first one. So we can construct a compound sentence like below:

Subordinating conjunctions examples:

Mary was so happy because Tom bought her a ring. 

Additional examples:

Although the examination questions were so hard, he tried his best to answer all of them. 

The door was opened when Ethan arrived home last night. 

Her daughter believed that John should be a better man.

Many people do not really understand why the drone can fly. 

I am not sure how the musicians performed so well. 

Susan did not take the class as she was sick. 

My son was not able to speak English until he met his great English teacher. 

Though they tried so many times to debug the software programs, it seems to have failed. 

I know he can be successful if he tries a few more times. 

Jonathan is good at swimming as he lives near the beach. 

The policeman came to me as soon as I entered my house last night. 


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