Exercises on Simple, Compound, Complex, and Compound-complex Sentences

This post contains fifteen exercises on sentence structure, asking you to identify simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences.

Learn the four types of sentences in detail:

The crux in identifying the four types of sentences is to spot dependent and independent clauses in a sentence, which, as you’ll see in several examples, can sometimes be tricky. If you struggle with any of the sentences in the exercises, you’ll most likely find the concept behind in one of the four resources linked above.

Let’s get into the exercises, which have been divided into four sections, with the level of difficulty increasing from the first to the last in each section.

Each exercise is followed by answers. In the answers, all dependent clauses have been underlined as they can be challenging to identify. Unless mentioned otherwise, all compound and compound-complex sentences in the exercises contain exactly two independent clauses.

Note: Dependent clauses have been underlined in answers for ease of identification.

Which of the following is a simple sentence?

If the sentence contains one independent clause and no dependent clauses, it is simple.

Exercise 1

1. After the change in senior management, the company failed miserably.

2. Scientists believe that Covid is going to stay with us for at least few years.

3. Despite opposition from the overworked train drivers, the transport department is planning to bring back trains under repair to ease crowding, a move snowballing into a controversy, with some politicians jumping on to the side of drivers.

4. Despite opposition from the overworked train drivers, the transport department is planning to bring back trains that have been under repair to ease crowding, a move, with some politicians jumping on to the side of drivers.

5. While watching television, I had my dinner.

Answers to Exercise 1

Note: Dependent clauses have been underlined.

1. Simple

2. Not simple. It contains a dependent clause, implying a complex sentence.

Scientists believe that Covid is going to stay with us for at least few years. [Noun clause]

3. Simple

4. Not simple. It contains a dependent clause, implying a complex sentence.

Despite opposition from the overworked train drivers, the transport department is planning to bring back trains that have been under repair to ease crowding, a move, with some politicians jumping on to the side of drivers. [Relative clause]

5. Simple. While watching television is not a dependent clause as it doesn’t contain both subject and verb.

Exercise 2

1. Although groomed in the best possible way, the tycoon’s son struggled to take the business any further.

2. Exasperated by the pigeons dirtying my balcony, I installed a protective net.

3. Tom lives in the town I live in.

4. After coming back from the office, I proceeded to take bath.

5. The helicopter went down apparently because of bad weather and misjudgement on part of the pilot.

Answers to Exercise 2

1. Simple. Although groomed in the best possible way is not a subordinate clause (adverb clause) and hence is just a phrase. Although he was groomed in the best possible way is a subordinate clause.

2. Simple

3. Not simple. It contains a dependent clause, implying a complex sentence.

Tom lives in the town I live in. [Relative clause]

4. Simple

5. Simple. Here, because of is a preposition. Even if you assume because to be a subordinating conjunction starting a subordinating clause (adverb clause), there is no subject-verb combination in because… part of the pilot, which is a prerequisite for a clause.

Which of the following is a compound sentence?

If the sentence contains two or more independent clauses and no dependent clauses, it is compound.

Whether compound or not, the sentences in the two exercises may be incorrectly punctuated with comma. Correct punctuation as well.

Exercise 3

1. He looked for his lost pen everywhere, but he couldn’t find it.

2. James went to the market, and then to the hospital.

3. The dog ate the food in his bowl and the food in my bowl.

4. It looks like the controversial actor has rubbed yet another colleague the wrong way.

5. The administration did not enforce wearing of masks nor did they take serious interest in testing.

Answers to Exercise 3

The three non-compound sentences (2, 3, and 4) are simple sentences.

1. Compound

2. Not compound. Comma is not required.

3. Not compound

4. Not compound

5. Compound. Comma is required before nor.

Exercise 4

1. We ate pizza for dinner, and had ice cream for dessert.

2. Rich have gotten richer by investing their riches; poor have gotten poorer with little assets to work.

3. At G-20 summit, some agreements have been made on climate and taxes but skeptics doubt their effectiveness.

4. I never went back to the place I lived in 80s, but I plan to go there soon.

5. Bears and wolves live in the mountains and in forests.

Answers to Exercise 4

1. Not compound. It’s a simple sentence, with comma not required.

2. Compound

3. Compound. Comma is required before but.

4. Not compound. It contains a dependent clause, implying a compound-complex sentence.

I never went back to the place I lived in 80s, but I plan to go there soon. [Relative clause]

5. Not compound. It’s a simple sentence.

Which of the following is a complex sentence?

If the sentence contains one independent clause and at least one dependent clause, it is complex.

Exercise 5

1. I didn’t go to office today because I’ve to go to the airport to see my parents off.

2. I worked hard but failed in the exam.

3. Never write a letter when you are angry.

4. Don’t ask questions that people can’t or don’t want to answer.

5. The findings of this committee are not too different from what earlier committee recommended.

Answers to Exercise 5

1. Complex

I didn’t go to office today because I’ve to go to the airport to see my parents off. [Adverb clause]

2. Not complex. It’s a simple sentence.

3. Complex

Never write a letter when you are angry. [Adverb clause]

4. Complex

Don’t ask questions that people can’t or don’t want to answer. [Relative clause]

5. Complex

The findings of this committee are not too different from what earlier committee recommended. [Noun clause]

Exercise 6

1. I lost my friend forever when, in a fit of anger, I used quite harsh language with him, even dragging his other friends and family.

2. Remove the pan that’s on the third burner or the dish will overcook.

3. The man you’re talking about is no more.

4. What would happen if we reduce the budget by 10 percent this year?

5. I came across the job description on social media and was excited to find that my academic accomplishments meet all of the necessary requirements.

Answers to Exercise 6

1. Complex

I lost my friend forever when, in a fit of anger, I used quite harsh language with him, even dragging his other friends and family. [Adverb clause]

2. Not complex. It contains two independent clauses (Remove the pan and the dish will overcook), with the first being an imperative, the one that has you as its implied subject. Hence, it’s a compound-complex sentence. Note that the comma was deliberately omitted in the question.

Remove the pan that’s on the third burner, or the dish will overcook. [Relative clause]

3. Complex

The man you’re talking about is no more. [Relative clause]

4. Complex

What would happen if we reduce the budget by 10 percent this year? [Adverb clause]

5. Complex

I came across the job description on social media and was excited to find that my academic accomplishments meet all of the necessary requirements. [Noun clause]

What type of sentence is this?

Identify each sentence as simple, compound, complex, or compound-complex.

Exercise 7

1. Cats are ruling the roost on YouTube, yet again.

2. I have always been interested in fashion industry; therefore, I decided to join a fashion design course and pursue fashion designing as career.

3. What is not cast in stone is budget.

4. What is not cast in stone is budget; we’re flexible on it.

5. Don’t get taken in by his beautiful face because beauty is skin deep.

Answers to Exercise 7

1. Simple

2. Compound

3. Complex

What is not cast in stone is budget. [Noun clause]

4. Compound-complex. An independent clause has been added to sentence #3.

What is not cast in stone is budget; we’re flexible on it. [Noun clause]

5. Complex

Don’t get taken in by his beautiful face because beauty is skin deep. [Adverb clause]

Exercise 8

1. The tongue is but three inches long, yet it can kill a man six feet high.

2. In March 2020, several countries imposed lockdown, or Covid virus would have infected people at an even faster rate.

3. How hard you try matters more than whether you win.

4. If you’re upset with someone for some reason, make peace before the end of the day.

5. I have a very keen interest in advertising, and lately, I noticed that now everything is turning into digital.

Answers to Exercise 8

1. Compound

2. Compound

3. Complex

How hard you try matters more than whether you win. [Noun clause/ Noun clause]

4. Complex

If you’re upset with someone for some reason, make peace before the end of the day. [Adverb clause]

5. Compound

Exercise 9

1. With your permission, I would leave.

2. Do what you’ve been doing, and you’ll succeed.

3. I’m not sure if having so many things on the plate is a wise thing to do because undertaking too much seldom succeeds.

4. The company had to lay off some employees or reduce salaries of all.

5. Leave now, or you’ll miss the train.

Answers to Exercise 9

1. Simple

2. Compound-complex

Do what you’ve been doing, and you’ll succeed. [Noun clause]

3. Complex

I’m not sure if having so many things on the plate is a wise thing to do because undertaking too much seldom succeeds. [Noun clause/ Adverb clause]

4. Simple

5. Compound

Exercise 10

1. This statement can be debated endlessly, but from a practical perspective, he is probably right.

2. Finally, we come to the consequences of environmental degradation, for it can paint a clear picture of the damage that can be caused and can inspire us to think of the ways to rectify it.

3. The government officer was quite cold to my father but did the job when I made a polite request.

4. He bought a new laptop because his current laptop crashed and lost all his work files.

5. Many kingdoms have fallen to enemies not because of strength of the enemies but because of betrayal of friends and insiders.

Answers to Exercise 10

1. Compound. The second independent clause contains the introductory phrase, from a practical perspective.

2. Compound-complex

Finally, we come to the consequences of environmental degradation, for it can paint a clear picture of the damage that can be caused and can inspire us to think of the ways to rectify it. [Relative clause]

3. Complex

The government officer was quite cold to my father but did the job when I made a polite request. [Adverb clause]

4. Complex

He bought a new laptop because his current laptop crashed and lost all his work files. [Adverb clause]

5. Simple. Note that because of is a preposition. Here, because doesn’t start a dependent clause.

Exercise 11

1. Unfortunately for the government, the pandemic hit just when the economy was looking up again.

2. Where to get vaccinated and how to book a vaccination slot are commonly asked questions.

3. As I got older, my love for software increased and motivated me to prepare for a STEM college.

4. Without online result to check, how do I know if I’ve been selected?

5. I won’t be able to work for two days, for my laptop has gone dead, and unfortunately, I don’t have a spare laptop.

Answers to Exercise 11

1. Complex

Unfortunately for the government, the pandemic hit just when the economy was looking up again. [Adverb clause]

2. Simple. Note that Where to get vaccinated and how to book a vaccination slot look like noun clauses but are not since they don’t contain the subject-verb unit.

3. Complex

As I got older, my love for software increased and motivated me to prepare for a STEM college. [Adverb clause]

4. Complex

Without online result to check, how do I know if I’ve been selected? [Noun clause]

5. Compound. This has three independent clauses.

Exercise 12

1. Books and friends should be few but good.

2. Do not lengthen the quarrel while there is an opportunity of escaping.

3. Before asking this question, I should have remembered: ask no questions and hear no lies.

4. He feared when there was no danger and cried when there was no sorrow.

5. When the going was smooth, they relaxed, and when the going was tough, they still relaxed.

Answers to Exercise 12

1. Simple

2. Complex

Do not lengthen the quarrel while there is an opportunity of escaping. [Adverb clause]

3. Compound. A colon can also join two independent clauses. The one after the colon is an imperative, with an implied subject you.

4. Complex

He feared when there was no danger and cried when there was no sorrow. [Adverb clause/ Adverb clause]

5. Compound-complex. Unlike the previous sentence, this sentence contains two independent clauses.

When the going was smooth, they relaxed, and when the going was tough, they still relaxed. [Adverb clause/ Adverb clause]

Exercise 13

1. Don’t fear the enemy that attacks you but the fake friend that hugs you.

2. Eat and drink with your relatives but do business with strangers.

3. The answer you get depends on your question.

4. The town was put under curfew after yet another incident of arson.

5. The baby was crying, for she was tired, but she couldn’t sleep since it was noisy outside.

Answers to Exercise 13

1. Complex

Don’t fear the enemy that attacks you but the fake friend that hugs you. [Relative clause/ Relative clause]

2. Compound. The two independent clauses are imperatives, with implied subject you. The comma before but was deliberately omitted to make it look like a simple sentence.

3. Complex

The answer you get depends on your question. [Relative clause. The relative pronoun that has been omitted.]

4. Simple

5. Compound-complex. The sentence has three independent clauses.

The baby was crying, for she was tired, but she couldn’t sleep since it was noisy outside. [Adverb clause]

Exercise 14

1. That’s yet another reason for why we should get vaccinated.

2. Mining companies have been accused of degrading the local ecology, but after being mandated by a new law, they’re undertaking plantation and other steps.

3. Mining companies have been accused of degrading the local ecology, but of late they’re undertaking plantation and other steps in places where they mine.

4. Mining companies have been accused of degrading the local ecology, but of late they’re undertaking plantation and other steps in places they mine in.

5. The author delves in great detail on religions worshipping one god while denying the existence of other gods, but doesn’t explain reasons for some religions such as Buddhism not following any deity.

Answers to Exercise 14

1. Complex

That’s yet another reason for why we should get vaccinated. [Noun clause]

2. Compound. The introductory phrase, after being mandated by a new law, is part of the second independent clause.

3. Compound-complex

Mining companies have been accused of degrading the local ecology, but of late they’re undertaking plantation and other steps in places where they mine. [Relative clause]

4. Compound-complex

Mining companies have been accused of degrading the local ecology, but of late they’re undertaking plantation and other steps in places they mine in. [Relative clause. This is a conversion of the previous relative clause. Many recognize where they mine as a relative clause because of the marker word where, but few recognize they mine in as a relative clause.]

5. Simple. Though long, the sentence contains just one independent clause and no dependent clause.

Exercise 15

Identify the type of five sentences in this paragraph:

We want our children to be happy, but we’re often too indulgent to bring them happiness. We take care of slightest of their problems and, in the process, make them too dependent on elders, a trait which may carry on later in their lives. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, while narrating his growing-up years, mentioned how he learnt resourcefulness from his grandfather, who could perform small maintenance tasks at his farm on his own. Bezos, in fact, mentioned that he would rather see his children lose a finger or two and become resourceful than become too dependent. This line (paraphrased) from the book Sapiens sums this up well: “You love your children more than evolution requires”.

Answers to Exercise 15

We want our children to be happy, but we’re often too indulgent to bring them happiness [Compound]. We take care of slightest of their problems and, in the process, make them too dependent on elders, a trait which may carry on later in their lives [Complex]. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, while narrating his growing-up years, mentioned how he learnt resourcefulness from his grandfather, who could perform small maintenance tasks at his farm on his own [Complex]. Bezos, in fact, mentioned that he would rather see his children lose a finger or two and become resourceful than become too dependent [Complex]. This line (paraphrased) from the book Sapiens sums this up well: “You love your children more than evolution requires” [Compound].

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