Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today we begin a new grammar series!

We will focus on the only grammar rules that matter for your IELTS grammar score.

There’s a lot of complicated, difficult grammar that you shouldn’t waste time on!

A lot of those rules take time to master that most IELTS students don’t have!

In this series, we will share specific rules and advice that will improve your grammar score.

Why are compound sentences important?

You need a variety of sentence structures to get a 7+ on IELTS Writing.

This doesn’t mean you need a lot of complicated sentences.

In fact, that can hurt your score, as it makes it easy to commit mistakes!

Instead, master 3 types of sentences:

  • simple
  • compound
  • complex

If you perfect these 3 structures and can use them without mistakes, you will get a higher grammar score.

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What is the difference between compound and complex sentences?

A compound sentence has two independent clauses.

  • independent clause: complete thought with a subject and verb

These independent clauses are joined by a comma and a conjunction.

A complex sentence has one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.

  • dependent clause: a group of words that also contains a subject and a verb, but it is not a complete thought

How can you remember this difference?

The word compound is used to describe a cluster of buildings where families live together

The Kennedy Compound consists of three houses on six acres of property on Cape Cod.

It wouldn’t be considered a compound unless at least 2 independent families live there.

Similarly, a sentence isn’t compound unless it has two independent clauses.

#1: Compound sentences using conjunctions

 You need to join the two independent clauses with a conjunction

  • and
  • or
  • but
  • nor
  • so
  • yet
  • for

Example: Teenagers spend too much time on smart phones, and they also waste time playing video games.

You wouldn’t want these to be separate, simple sentences.

  • Teenagers spend too much time on smart phones.
  • Teenagers waste time playing video games.

Instead, use a conjunction to combine them into a compound sentence!

Punctuation: use a comma after the conjunction

If you don’t have the subject after “and”, it’s no longer a compound sentence!

  • Teenagers spend too much time on smart phones and waste time playing video games.

As you can see, the comma is eliminated here because it’s not a compound sentence.

For more information about comma usage, check out IELTS Energy episode 804.

#2: Compound sentences using a transition in the middle

There are many transitions you can use to make compounds sentences.

  • therefore
  • in addition
  • furthermore
  • otherwise
  • nonetheless
  • nevertheless
  • however
  • thus
  • similarly
  • then
  • also
  • consequently 

Punctuation: when it is in the middle of a sentence, you need a semicolon before the transition and a comma after.

Many people are stocking up on household items; therefore, stores are quickly selling out of toilet paper and paper towels.

#3: Compound sentences with transitions at the beginning

To create variety, you can also use these transitions at the beginning of sentences.

Punctuation: for these, the comma comes after the transition.

  • Because people are scared of the pandemic, stores are empty. 

When grading writing, students often omit the comma or semicolon.

This negatively affects your grammar store, so pay attention to punctuation!

Practice exercises!

  • Add punctuation to the following sentences, and then check the answers in the comments.

Some feel that this phenomenon should not be our highest priority however I agree with those who believe that such drastic change is a detriment.

Overall foods ingested for dinner have a great deal of sodium at 45% while breakfast items boast a meager amount with 15%.

For instance high speed trains cost significantly more than freeway construction but they create far less pollution.


In order to get a 7 or higher on Writing, you need a variety of sentence structures.

Don’t overcomplicate this, or your score could go down.

Master simple, compound and complex sentences and you will be all set!

Today’s lesson on compound sentences gives you all the information you need to write them.

Practice using them in practice essays with correct punctuation in order to get a high Writing score!

For more strategies and every grammar point you need, sign up for the 3 Keys IELTS Success System!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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