Adverbial Clause & Complex Sentence

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Guysakar

New Member
English
I'm taking an online quiz, and it claims that the following sentence is complex:

What I learn is what I take with me the rest of my life.

To my understanding, a complex sentence has to have a dependent and independent clause (both containing a subject and predict). I cannot seem to locate them in this sentence.

Thank you in advance for any help.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes, I see your point: the basic structure of the sentence is a simple 'A is B', and you're used to thinking of a complex sentence as 'if X, Y' or 'X after Y' or some such, where the dependent clause is attached right next to the independent one. However, relative clauses also add complexity:

    I'm taking a quiz whose answers are unclear.

    That's a simple subject + verb + object sentence, but the object contains a dependent clause inside it. In your sentence, both A and B are of the form 'what' + complete clause. These are free relative clauses, like a relative clause but not attached to a simple noun like 'quiz'. The A and B both contain dependent clauses.
     

    Guysakar

    New Member
    English
    Thank you very much for your help.

    In your example, the independant clause is "I'm taking a quiz"". What is the independent clause in "What I learn is what I take with me the rest of my life."?


     

    Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    French
    I would say that it is a complex sentence insofar as you can only rephrase it with another complex sentence: I learn things that I take with me the rest of my life / I take things that I learn with me the rest of my life.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I'm tempted to say it's 'what is what'. More seriously, there's no reason that a sentence should split into two parts, each of which is grammatical by itself. The idea of a 'complex sentence' is only rough-and-ready. The grammar I go by, the up-to-date CGEL (Cambridge Grammar), doesn't use the concept. If we adjust my example a bit, we seem to get an independent half that can't stand on its own:

    I'll take whichever quiz you want me to.
     

    Guysakar

    New Member
    English
    Again, thanks for all of the help. I'm just starting out on this stuff and really do appreciate it.

    Everything I am seeing says that a complex sentence must have a dependent clause IN ADDITION to an independent clause.

    Here is the definition from dictionary.com

    complex sentence


    noun

    a sentence containing one or more dependent clauses in addition to the main clause, as When the bell rings (dependent clause), walk out (main clause).


     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The problem is, that's a simple definition, and they illustrate it with a simple example. Real sentences rapidly get a lot more complicated. The key thing about clauses is that they're recursive: they can contain other clauses, and those can also contain clauses, without any real limit. A sentence could easily be complex in three places and compound in four. They're not exclusive terms.

    When the bell rings or a fire marshal tells you to, walk out as quickly as you can but without running, and head for the fire assembly point where the marshals will count you once all the rooms have been checked and everyone is safely out of the building.
     
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