Grammar: Complex sentences
In previous steps, you have learnt about the different item types in the speaking section of PTE Academic and how oral fluency and the content you choose to include are important to successfully answer these. In this step, you will learn about how you can recognise complex grammatical structures in the items and use them in your responses.
A clause is a group of words which includes a subject and a verb. Clauses are the basic building blocks which we use to form sentences. There are two types of clauses: independent clauses and dependent clauses. Look at the following clauses. Are they independent or dependent clauses?
|1) The graph is a bar graph.||2) Because it has developed.|
Did you say that the first is an independent clause and the second a dependent clause? If so, you are correct. Do you know why?
Independent clauses contain a whole idea or express a complete thought which can stand alone. When we read the first sentence, it does not need further explanation.
Dependent clauses do not contain a whole idea or express a complete thought and cannot stand alone. When we read the second sentence, we need more information and wonder what has developed.
Simple sentences contain one independent clause.
Compound sentences contain two independent clauses linked by a coordinator in the middle of the sentence. The coordinators are for, and, not, but, or, yet, so.
Look at these examples of compound sentences and identify the relationship between the clauses. What is the meaning of the coordinator?
The number of people studying Spanish increased, but the number of people studying Russian decreased.
There were a number of trials so the researchers could determine the treatment’s effectiveness.
What did you think? Did you say that but shows contrast and so shows reason?
It is important to be able to recognise compound sentences in the item types as you should pause briefly between the two clauses. Read these sentences aloud with a short pause before the conjunction.
Complex sentences are sentences which include an independent clause and a dependent clause linked by a subordinator. Look at the following sentence. Can you identify the subordinator and the dependent clause?
- The bridge collapsed because the engineers failed to adequately reinforce it.
The subordinator used is ‘because. The dependent clause is the clause after this subordinator.
There are three types of dependent clauses which you can use to construct complex sentences, and they always begin with a subordinator. Let’s have a look at them.
Adverb clauses are clauses which function as adverbs in sentences. They are used to add detail to the action (i.e. verb) of the independent clause by saying how, why, when or where it occurs. Main types of adverb clauses
|time||when an event occurs||before, after, as, when, while|
|reason/cause||why an event occurs||because, as, since|
|purpose||why an event occurs||so that, in order that|
|condition||how an event occurs||if, whether, unless|
|concession/contrast||opposition||even though, although|
Adjective clauses are clauses which function as adjectives. They are used to provide extra information about nouns.
Main types of adjective clauses
|which/that||things||The project’s objective is to maintain real-time solar wind monitoring, which is crucial for weather alerts and forecasts.|
|who/whom||people||What is someone who doesn’t eat any meat called?|
|where||places||The largest changes can be seen in Brisbane and Canberra where the average work day increased by 20 minutes.|
|when||times||The day when the explosion happened was a rainy day.|
|why||reasons||The reason why the class was cancelled was the teacher’s illness.|
|whose||belongings||The student whose essay was late lost 10 percent of their grade.|
Noun clauses are clauses which function as nouns. They can be subjects of sentences, objects of sentences, or objects of prepositions.
Main types of noun clauses
|that||things||He said that these are used in advertisements.|
|how||manners||Scientists are still not sure how to solve the issues with the experiment.|
|what||things||We need to know what the company is going to do.|
|who||people||It isn’t clear who will be negatively impacted.|
|if/ whether||options||We still don’t know if the drug is safe for humans.|
|why||reasons||It must also outline why the existing behaviour is detrimental to the viewer’s health.|
|when||time||We are not sure when the project will start.|
Conditionals are complex sentences which use the subordinator if.
There are four main types of conditionals and they differ depending on the time (past, present or future) and on how likely the event or state is.
Look at the following examples. What is the structure of each type? What type of event does each type discuss?
If a student fails the course, they do not progress to the next level.
If the book is returned late, you will receive a fine.
If I had more time, I would edit my essay again.
If the student hadn’t handed the essay in late, he wouldn’t have failed.
How did you go? Let’s see how can you make each type of conditional.
Note: The if clause can be the first clause in the sentence or the second clause.
|conditional||if clause||main clause||example||use|
|zero||present simple||present simple||If you stand in the rain, you get wet.||facts and truths|
|first||present simple||future||If you study hard, you will pass.||future possible events|
|second||past simple||would||If I won the lottery, I would quit my job.||future unlikely events|
|third||past perfect||would + have||If I hadn’t copied, I wouldn’t have lost marks.||past impossible events|
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