What is a complex sentence?

Why would authors use complex sentences?


Last week we read the book ‘Fox’ by Margaret Wild. She uses complex sentences in her writing. Today we are going to have a look at one of them, and discuss its structure.

  • In the evening, when the air is creamy with blossom, Dog and Magpie relax at the mouth of the cave, enjoying each other’s company.

– Circumstance of time

– Circumstance of manner

– Participant, Process, Circumstance of place

– Process


Mr. Andrew made a complex sentence that models the same structure as Margaret Wild’s.

  • During the afternoon, when the sun was brightly shining down, we kayaked around the huge deserted lake, paddling effortlessly through the calm and glistening water.


Here are some ideas that students came up with last year.

  • During the windy, wet and cold afternoon, when the sun was hiding behind the grey and foggy clouds, dad, Brandy and I went yabby fishing in the muddy forest, keeping track of each stick around the muddy water.
  • In the glistening morning, when the sun was rising, I was running effortlessly through the bush, amazed to see a beautiful unicorn across the river, staring at me.
  • In the morning, when the air was cold, I struggled out of bed, trying to open my eyes.
  • In the cold morning, when it was frozen like the arctic, we had to rush to the Melbourne airport, panicking that we would miss our flight to sunny Queensland.


Have a go at coming up with your own complex sentence, and post it as a comment. Think about using a personal experience to help you.


Below are examples of how students have used complex sentences in their writing.

During the afternoon, as the sky turned dull and the wind got powerful, the savage tornado ripped up the threatened town of Moore. The terrified people flee the area screaming and hoping they will survive. All I can think of is the huge tornado destroying everything in its path like an out of control freight train. I am trying to keep my balance as the powerful gusts pound into me like a wild rhino chasing its prey. My eardrums feel like they’re about to explode from the deafening sound of debris being slammed together. The crack of the thunder and the roar of the tornado sounds like hundreds of exploding petrol tanks. I can taste the devastation of innocent families as they lose everything they have ever loved and everything they have ever lived for. I’m so shocked as I stand here wondering why I’m still here, as I try my best to stay calm. The hailstones slam into me. I stand there feeling guilty knowing I can’t help the poor people being killed, injured and losing their homes.

In the stormy, devastating and grey afternoon, when the grey clouds were gathering together to make a huge and unforgettable storm, the tornado rose and created a huge and massive destruction around the city of Moore. Everybody screamed and evacuated like a huge pack of wolves. My eyes are visualising a terrible twirling twister creating huge destruction around the large city. Debris is lying around the giant and dangerous twirl of the wind. Everybody is horribly starting to shockingly scream and at the same, people are frantically driving away to avoid the terrible twirl made of wind. Hailstones are stomping down on my head; meanwhile extremely big clumps of rain are falling onto the hard ground.