Complex Sentences

The use of complex sentences are necessary to score band 7+. We give you an overview of their use here.


Welcome to the page dedicated to complex sentence use in the writing section of the IELTS!

Here will discuss how complex sentences will help you achieve a score of band 7, 8 or 9! After all, that is what we want to help you achieve!

OK, lets dive right in…

What exactly is a ‘Complex Sentence’?

A complex sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause AND one or more dependent clauses. Basically, it is just two or more short and simple sentences put together.

The term ‘complex sentence’ might make you feel like you want to run for the hills (great example of an idiom!) but the good news is that it is much easier than you think!

So what? Do I actually need to worry about using complex sentences?

The simple answer is YES!

In order to achieve a Band 7+ in the IELTS exam you will need to use complex sentences. Again, it all boils down to what the examiner wants you to do. The band descriptors require that you use complex sentences to get a band 7+ score, so if you don’t use them, you wont get that score.


Don’t use them too much! If you overuse them, your writing will look out of place and incorrect.

The big mistake most students make is trying to use too many complicated words that they often don’t understand, which will not impress the examiner. You will need to use complex sentences to achieve the higher band scores, but you should not make every sentence complex!

The key to success is to use a mixture of both simple and complex sentences, and to understand exactly what you are writing. If you try to use words and structures you don’t understand, your answer will not sense and you will lose marks.

Let’s break it down further:

Simple vs. complex sentences and Independent vs. dependent clauses

An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence.

A dependent clause cannot stand alone even though it has a subject and a verb.

Let’s look at this example:

‘I went to the cinema.’  This is an independent clause because it makes sense as a stand alone sentence.

‘Because I really wanted to watch the new Avengers film.’ This is a dependent clause because it does not make sense on its own. It ‘depends’ on another sentence for it to make sense.

If we combine these two simple sentences we have created a complex sentence.

‘I went to the cinema because I really wanted to watch the new Avengers film.’  This is the complex sentence.

There is nothing complicated about the sentence, but it shows the examiner that you can write correct ‘complex’ sentences. Easy!

So now we’ve taken the fear out of complex sentences, why don’t you have a go at creating your own and see how easy it really is.

We cover complex sentences in more detail in our premium IELTS writing study guides. If you feel you need more help, click the button below & become a complex sentence guru!

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