How to Identify a Compound Sentence

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  • 0:04 Twins
  • 0:41 Facts About Sentences
  • 1:50 Building a Compound Sentence
  • 4:15 Finding Compound Sentences
  • 5:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

The sentence is a basic building block of English writing. To write well, you should know how to use different types of sentences. In this lesson, you'll review the parts of a sentence and learn how to identify a compound sentence.


Jake and Matt are identical twins. They are the same age and the same height. They both have brown hair and brown eyes. Their physical make-up is very similar. But in some ways, they are different. Jake likes running, while Matt prefers swimming. Matt likes reading mysteries, and Jake prefers comic books.

In English grammar, a compound sentence is a bit like twins. There are two parts. Each part is equal in structure, but different in the details. In this lesson, we will explore compound sentences. Before we do, let's review some facts about sentences.

Facts About Sentences

Here are some of the most important facts about sentences:

1. A sentence begins with a capital letter.

  • Matt read a book about detectives.

2. A sentence ends with a punctuation mark: a period ( . ), a question mark (?), or exclamation point (!).

  • Did Jake read the same book?

3. A sentence expresses a complete thought.

  • Sentence: Jake won a race.
  • Not a sentence: won a race

4. A sentence must have a subject: the subject tells who or what the sentence is about.

  • Matt swims every day. (The subject is 'Matt.')

And finally,

5. A sentence must have a verb. The verb can be an action verb, telling what the subject does. It can also be a linking verb, telling what the subject is by connecting the subject to a subject complement. A subject complement is a word that renames or describes the subject.

  • The pool is cold. (This is a linking verb.)
  • Matt shivers. (This is an action verb.)

Building a Compound Sentence

Now that we have reviewed sentences, it's time to learn about compound sentences. A compound sentence consists of two or more independent clauses joined by a comma and a coordinating conjunction. Let's examine the parts of this definition.

Independent Clause

An independent clause is a group of words with a subject and verb that expresses a complete thought.

  • Independent clause: Jake ran two miles (Our subject is 'Jake' and our verb is 'ran.' This expresses a complete thought.)
  • Not an independent clause: when he got home (The subject here is 'he,' while the verb is 'got.' This doesn't express a complete thought.)

We should note that an independent clause only contains one subject/verb pairing, but it can contain a compound subject or verb. Look at these independent clauses.

  • Compound subject: Jake and Matt live in Texas. (The subjects are 'Jake and Matt,' while the verb is 'live.')
  • Compound verb: Their grandma lives and works in Montana. (The subject is 'grandma,' while the verbs are 'lives' and 'works.')

Coordinating Conjunction

Let's now look at coordinating conjunctions. Our definition of a compound sentence said that two or more independent clauses are joined by a comma and a coordinating conjunction. We may know that a comma ( , ) is a punctuation mark that shows a pause. A coordinating conjunction is a word that connects words, phrases, or clauses that are parallel in structure. There are seven coordinating conjunctions:

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

The acronym FANBOYS can help you remember these conjunctions.

Let's put the sentence together:

1. Jake got new running shoes, but Matt got new swimming goggles.

This is a compound sentence. Look:

  • Independent clause #1 is: 'Jake got new running shoes'
  • Independent clause #2 is: 'Matt got new swimming goggles'
  • Joined by a comma and coordinating conjunction: ', but'

2. Jake won a race, so Matt was jealous.

This is also a compound sentence.

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