As explained in the previous page, complex sentences are made up of a main idea (or independent clause) and one or more additional clauses (subordinate or dependent clauses) that provide extra information, joined by subordinating conjunctions.

Example: I went to hospital after I broke my leg although I am afraid of doctors.

The main idea is “I went to hospital”. The other parts of the sentence give you more details about this action in dependent or subordinate clauses. Here the dependent or subordinate clauses are “after I broke my leg” and “although I am afraid of doctors”. “After” and “although” are subordinating conjunctions.

Other examples of subordinating conjunctions are: “because”, “before”, “if”, “since”, “unless”, “until”, “when”, “whereas”, “while”, “inasmuch”, “provided that”, “as soon as”, “as though”, “whenever”, “wherever”, “even though”, “as long as”, “as much as”.

The main or independent clause can go first, or the dependent (subordinate clause) can go first. In the following examples, “I didn’t see you at the movie” is the independent clause.

Examples: I didn’t see you at the movie because we sat right in front.
Here, the independent clause is first.
Because we sat right in front, I didn’t see you at the movie. Here, the subordinate clause is first. When the subordinate clause is first, a comma separates it from the main or independent clause.