Understanding complex sentences and knowing how to write them is crucial for IELTS.
The examiner will not award you above a band 5 for 'grammatical range and accuracy' if you cannot write them or if you have a very limited ability to write them.
This is the marking criteria for a band 6 for grammar:
- Uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms
- Makes some errors in grammar and punctuation but they rarely reduce communication
So you must have a mix of complex sentence forms, though some errors in them are acceptable.
If, for example, you learned a couple of complex structures and used the same ones throughout your essay, this would not demonstrate a 'mix'.
For the higher band scores, you will need to show a greater range and more accuracy.
In order to understand a complex sentence, you need to understand independent and dependent clauses (look at this previous lesson on clauses if you are unsure what they are).
What are independent and dependent clauses?
A clause is a group of words with a subject and verb. This is adependent clause:
...because it was raining so hard.
If something or someone is 'dependent' then it needs or relies on something else for aid, support, life etc.
For example, a baby is dependent on its mother. Without the mother the baby cannot survive.
In a similar way, a dependent clause cannot 'survive' on its own. It relies on something else. The clause above "....because it was raining so hard" cannot be used on its own as a sentence because it does not make sense.
In order to function, it needs an independent clause. An independent clause can function on its own as a sentence:
I took my umbrella.
This has meaning so is ok on its own. It makes a simple sentence.
If we now join this independent clause with the dependent clause, we have a complex sentence that has meaning:
I took my umbrella because it was raining so hard.
Types of complex sentence
Complex sentences have three types:
- Adverbial Clauses
- Relative Clauses
- Noun Clauses