To identify a complex sentence, one needs to be able to understand what a complex sentence is composed of. A complex sentence is one which contains both an independent and a dependant clause. A dependant clause is a grouping of words which contains a subject and a verb, but does not express a complete thought. An independent clause is a grouping of words that contains a subject, a verb, and does express a complete thought--basically, a complete sentence.
For example, the following is an independent clause:
- Alice was able to find all of the things she needed.
An example of a dependant clause is:
- Because she went shopping at the mall.
This is not a complete sentence given the grouping of words does not complete a complete thought. The reader is left with the question: What happened when Alice went shopping at the mall?
Therefore, a complex sentence will look something like this:
- Because she went shopping at the mall, Alice was able to find all of the things she needed.
An example of a complex sentence found in the novel Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is:
We had buried her the year before, when the first roses bloomed.
The independent clause is: "We had buried her the year before."
The dependant clause is: "when the first roses bloomed."
(This sentence is found on page five of the Atheneum Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 21, 2008).)