Do Complex Sentences Need Commas?

When dealing with multiple clauses in a complex sentence, you…

When dealing with multiple clauses in a complex sentence, you might ask yourself. Do complex sentences need commas?

Supposedly, you’re familiar with the concept of independent clauses connected by a conjunction in a single sentence. You call this a complex sentence. From the word itself, it’s “complicated”, meaning, it has many words.

Writing complicated sentences can sometimes be confusing when you can’t differentiate it with a compound sentence. However, you just have to look for an independent clause, connected to an independent clause, and connected to a dependent clause; and so on. It doesn’t end.

There’s an important rule you should keep in mind when trying to connect two independent clauses and more. It’s knowing whether you should add a comma or not. Since there are coordinating conjunctions, should you do so, or not?

By reading this article, you will discover the answer to your question: do complex sentences need commas.

What are Complex Sentences?

First, let’s talk about what this kind of sentence is. Two clauses are incorporated into complex sentences. A sentence like this can have two independent clauses (each with a subject and a predicate). Also, it can have an independent clause and dependent clause (without a subject or predicate).

An independent clause has the ability to stand alone as a sentence.

Dependent clauses are clauses that cannot stand as sentences in their own. Such as the clause: “before I left the parking lot”.

What are Compound Sentences?

Meanwhile, compound sentences are sentences with two or more independent clauses connected by a comma and coordinating conjunction.

As well as using a comma, a compound sentence also utilizes conjunction. It uses the FANBOYS conjunctions, or namely: For, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

In a compound sentence, a writer joins two complete thoughts.

Do Complex Sentences Need Commas?

Now for the ultimate question. Do complex sentences need to contain a comma?

Well, it depends on the structure of your complex sentence.

If the dependent clause comes before the independent clause, you might need the help of a comma.


Because I felt bad about my work, I told myself to keep striving to do better next time.

Notice that the example has a comma after the dependent clause. The comma serves as the bridge between the dependent clause and independent clause. You may also notice that “because” served as a subordinate, although it didn’t directly connect the independent and dependent clauses.

By the use of a conjunction, you can either get rid of or write the comma in your complicated sentence. As long as the subject and the verb can still serve its purpose.

One rule you can keep in mind is that, a comma can be placed in a sentence like this. Only if the dependent clause precedes the independent one. Both clauses will still join one another whether by the use of a coordinate conjunction which may contain a comma.

If you separate this example, you will get a phrase and a sentence. Notice how the subject and verb remained the same.

DEPENDENT: Because I felt bad about my work.

INDEPENDENT: I told my self to strive to do better next time.

You Can Do it The Other Way Around

To begin with, you’ll notice that if you do it the other way around, you will receive this result:

I told myself to keep striving to do better next time because I felt bad about my work.

You might recognize that the punctuation mark has disappeared. In English grammar, it isn’t really essential to add a comma or semicolon to a complicated sentence. You just have to let the coordinating conjunction do its job.

However, it’s still acceptable to write a comma if the structure tells.

Bonus Tip: Compound Sentences Require Commas

On the other hand, compound sentences actually need a comma and conjunction.


I went to the zoo, while Zoe met her friend at the National Museum, during my field trip.

You might notice that whichever way you write this sentence, you will still need a comma.

Unlike in a complicated sentence, you have the option to not input a comma. However, in a compound sentence, it’s essential.

To Wrap Up

Now that you’ve learned the answer to the question tackled in this article, it might get easier for you now. Remember that a complicated sentence doesn’t require a comma, although it’s still acceptable to put one. On the other hand, it’s imperative to put one or more in a compound sentence.

Frequently asked questions

Where should you place commas in a complex and compound sentence?

A compound-complex sentence contains at least one dependent clause and two or more independent clauses. If a sentence begins with a dependent clause that applies to two independent clauses that follow, insert a comma between the dependent clauses, but do not insert commas between the independent clause.

How do you write a complex compound sentence?

  • Your main clauses should be chosen. There is always a double-clause sentence structure in compound complex sentences.
  • Dependent clauses can be selected.
  • Add a conjunction to the clauses.
  • Add your punctuation

What is a complex comma?

What are 5 examples of complex sentences?

Obviously, he was late again, so he would lose a day’s salary. While I love basketball, I prefer football. While she was considered smart, she failed all her exams. When it rains, I enjoy wearing a blue coat.

Do you always need a comma in a complex sentence?

Dependent clauses are clauses that cannot stand as sentences in their own right, like before I left the parking lot. If a complex sentence includes a dependent clause, like this one, a comma cannot be used unless it precedes the independent clause.

What are the rules for a complex sentence?

Subordinate (dependent) clauses are added to the main (independent) a complex sentence using conjunctions or relative pronouns. In a simple sentence, a clause is a condition. Only one clause (verb group) is included in simple sentences. It is common for complex sentences to contain more than one clause (verb group).

How do you know where to put a comma?

  • Commas separate independent clauses when they are joined by any of the seven co-ordinate conjunctions: and, but, for, nor, so, yet.
  • Commas are used after introductory a) clauses, b) phrases, or c) words preceding a main clause.

Do complex sentences need conjunctions?

There are two main clauses to a complex sentence, each connected to each other through a subordinate clause. Academic writing incorporates subordinate conjunctions, which can be helpful for indicating complex relationships between concepts.

How do you punctuate complex sentences?

A semicolon relates two closely related or parallel independent clauses. The independent clause; the independent clause. The transition between two independent clauses should start with a semicolon and run with commas after it. Commas may not be necessary in the case of short transitions.

What are 10 examples of complex sentences?

  • Even though we were rich, we still drive antique cars.
  • He did not want to go to the dentist, even though he is very sick.
  • Ali wants to participate in this meeting, but her family issues hinder him.
  • I will start reading loudly as soon as Adam leaves the class.
  • It is impossible for him to come with you, he has to go to office.
Do Complex Sentences Need Commas?

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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