A compound sentence has at least two independent clauses that have related ideas. The independent clauses can be joined by a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) or by a semicolon, as you can see in the compound sentence examples below.
Many compound sentences are made using coordinating conjunctions. To remember all the coordinating conjunctions, use the mnemonic FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). In this case, the sentence must contain a comma before the conjunction for correct punctuation. For example:
- She did not cheat on the test, for it was the wrong thing to do.
- I really need to go to work, but I am too sick to drive.
- I am counting my calories, yet I really want dessert.
- He ran out of money, so he had to stop playing poker.
- They got there early, and they got really good seats.
- They had no ice cream left at home, nor did they have money to go to the store.
- Everyone was busy, so I went to the movie alone.
- I thought the promotion was mine, but my attendance wasn't good enough.
- Should we start class now, or wait for everyone to get here?
- It was getting dark, and we weren't near the cabin yet.
- Cats are good pets, for they are clean and are not noisy.
- We have never been to Asia, nor have we visited Africa.
- He didn't want to go to the dentist, yet he went anyway.
You can also combine two sentences into one without a conjunction. In this case, you must use a semicolon to join your two independent clauses.
Examples of compound sentences with semicolons include:
- The sky is clear; the stars are twinkling.
- Joe made the sugar cookies; Susan decorated them.
- The waves were crashing on the shore; it was a lovely sight.
- Check back tomorrow; I will see if the book has arrived.
- I am happy to take your donation; any amount will be greatly appreciated.
- Malls are great places to shop; I can find everything I need under one roof.
- Italy is my favorite country; I plan to spend two weeks there next year.
- He turned in the research paper on Friday; he would have not passed the class otherwise.
- She bought a cheeseburger for her friend; she forgot the fries.
- He loved the dog; he gave it many treats.
To smooth the transition between clauses, use conjunctive adverbs (however, besides, therefore, meanwhile). Place these after the semicolon, and add a comma after the conjunctive adverb. Examples include:
- It was a difficult assignment; however, Kelly was up to the challenge.
- There were white-out conditions in the town; therefore, the roads were impassable.
- He said he was not there yesterday; however, many people saw him there.
- She only paints with bold colors; indeed, she does not like pastels at all.
- She works two jobs to make ends meet; at least, that was her reason for not having time to join us.
- You need to pack the appropriate things for camping; for example, a sleeping bag will keep you warm.
- I have paid my dues; as a result, I expect to receive all the privileges listed in the bylaws.
- He ate seven sandwiches for lunch; afterward, he felt ill.
- Her knees ached from jogging; moreover, her shoes were starting to wear out.
- His friends canceled dinner plans that night; on the other hand, he didn’t really want to go in the first place.
Compound sentences are common in both speech and writing. Here are examples of compound sentences used by famous public figures:
- "Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one." - Sam Rayburn
- "The drought had lasted now for 10 million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended." - Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey
- "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” - Ronald Reagan
- "I used to be snow white, but I drifted." - Mae West
- "I have often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can't get my wife to go swimming." - Jimmy Carter
- "I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it." - Gerald R. Ford
- "I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don't always agree with them." - George H. W. Bush
- "You can put wings on a pig, but you don't make it an eagle." - Bill Clinton
Each half of a compound sentence must stand on its own as a complete sentence. That means each half needs a subject and a verb. For example:
I want the sporty red car, but I will lease the practical blue one.
In the sentence above, the subjects are italicized and the verbs are in bold. The first half is a complete sentence because it contains the subject "I" and the verb "want." The second half that comes after the comma and coordinating conjunction (but) is also a complete sentence, with the subject "I" and the verb "will lease."
With a better understanding of compound sentence examples, you can expand your knowledge of sentence structures with: