Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!

Home > English > Reading > Sentences




Compound sentences

So far, we have identified two types of sentence - simple and complex.

The other main type of sentence that a writer may use is called a compound sentence. Compound sentences contain two or more pieces of information and the pieces are linked by connectives. Connectives are words such as:

  • but

  • whereas

  • therefore

Here are three examples of compound sentences with the connectives written in bold:

  • The boys walked down the road and their parents waved from the house.

  • The dog came rushing in so the cat ran upstairs.

  • My friend gave me a lift because it was raining.

One advantage of compound sentences is that a writer can build more detail into their writing. However, one problem is that some writers can get carried away and write long rambling sentences:

My mate came round and said, "Do you want to go out?" and I did so we went to the park and sat around for a bit and then these other girls came over who we knew from school so we started talking to them and then we felt hungry so we...

Did you spot the problem? Remember, care needs to be taken with connectives. Two in a sentence is usually enough, and they don't need to be used in every sentence.


Writers sometimes don't use full sentences. Fragments often help to emphasise a point, create drama or show surprise:

  • She looked as carefully as she could, but found nothing. Absolutely nothing.

  • Help! Please help!

  • Imagine this. You're trapped. It's dark. It's cold.


Repeating a word or phrase can emphasise a point, or make sure it's fully understood:

His head was drooping as if it weighed a ton, but it was held up by a sharp band around his throat that was almost choking him. He tried to reach up and tear the band away, but there were sharp bands round his wrists as well. He tried to move his feet, but there were more cold, sharp bands around his ankles.

'Urn Burial' - Robert Westall

Westall refers to the bands around Ralph's body four times. This isn't because he couldn't think of another phrase. He is emphasising how tightly Ralph is trapped to create a sense of fear and tension. He also allows us to build up a picture gradually, just like Ralph does as he is regaining consciousness. Bit by bit, both Ralph and the reader realise that every part of him is tied up - there is no chance of escape.


Sentences activity

Learn more about sentences.


Whack Attack

Whack and zap mad professors and aliens!

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.