And what is the difference between coordinating and subordinating conjunctions? Is one kind of sentence (compound or complex) characterized by either a coordinating or subordinating conjunction, while the other kind is characterized by the other?

  • This might be a good place to ask, but I'm having trouble understanding what you are asking. Do you think you can make your question clearer?
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:37
  • @KitFox: Are coordinating/subordinating conjunctions used in compound/complex sentences or clauses? Do I have my terms "backward?" Examples? Sorry for the "matrix" format of this question but I think in those terms.
    – Tom Au
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


Yes, this is a good place. It's simple, really.

There are two ways to combine clauses. One of them is simply stacking together sentences, like

  • He went to the store and he bought some bread and he drove home but he left it in the car.

This is a compound sentence (not "compound clause", by the way); it contains only clauses that are linked together by the coordinating conjunctions and, or, and but. Compound sentences can be reduced by Conjunction Reduction, producing, for instance

  • He went to the store and bought some bread and drove home but left it in the car.

Compound sentences are easy; all the sentences are on the same level as main clauses, and none of them modify another clause.

Complex sentences — the other way to combine clauses — are not easy. A complex sentence has at least one subordinate clause, and there are a lot of different kinds of subordinate clause, each with their own set of rules and their own set of idioms and connotations.

  • 1
    OK, it seems like my basic idea was right. "Coordinate" =compound, "subordinate = complex, and those are the ways you make sentences out of clauses. The examples were helpful. +1 possibly an acceptance, but I like to wait a day or two for the latter.
    – Tom Au
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:51
  • Yeah, pretty much. But the names are irrelevant, really. Most sentences are complex sentences, and that's what syntax is mostly about. Apr 12, 2013 at 15:29

COMPOUND SENTENCES:- Having one or more main clauses.

SIMPLE SENTENCES:- Having a main clause.

COMPLEX SENTENCES:- Having one main and two or three subordinate clauses.

  • 1
    use citations in answers please. for example: Search Results Dictionary com·pound sen·tence noun plural noun: compound sentences a sentence with more than one subject or predicate. You will need to learn to format and cite you answers. Tutorials are on this forum.
    – lbf
    Mar 7, 2018 at 20:14

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