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.
In either case, each half of the sentence must be able to 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 is also a complete sentence, with the subject "I" and the verb "will lease."
Compound Sentences with Coordinating Conjunctions
As you've seen above, many compound sentences are made using coordinating conjunctions. 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.
Compound Sentences With a Semicolon
It's also possible to join compound sentences simply by combining two complete sentences into one long sentence without any additional words. In this case, you must use a semicolon to join your two independent clauses. For example:
- Joe made the sugar cookies; Susan decorated them.
While this is grammatically correct, it's also possible to smooth the transition from one clause to the other with conjunctive adverbs such as however, besides, therefore and meanwhile. To use these properly, place them after the semicolon and add a comma after the conjunctive adverb. For example:
- It was a difficult assignment; however, Kelly was up to the challenge.
Observe additional compound sentence examples joined by semicolons below:
- The sky is clear; the stars are twinkling.
- The waves were crashing on the shore; it was a lovely sight.
- There were white-out conditions in the town; therefore, the roads were impassable.
- Check back tomorrow; I will see if the book has arrived.
- He said he was not there yesterday; many people saw him there.
- I am happy to take your donation; any amount will be greatly appreciated.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Compound Sentences in Quotes
Compound sentences are quite 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." - Lyndon B. Johnson
- "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
- "Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them." - 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
- "Tell the truth, work hard, and come to dinner on time." - 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
Don't Forget the Punctuation
Now that you have seen different examples of compound sentences, you can confidently add them to your writing. One advantage of compound sentences is that you can build more detail into your writing. Just be careful to follow the punctuation rules described above and avoid run-on sentences.