IELTS: Complex sentences practice

15th January 2021

Two young Asian woman studying on the desk — Stock Photo © hans3513  #17626271

Being able to use complex sentences, effortlessly, is vital in attaining a respectable IELTS score. With that in mind, this blog is to help students practise.

Quite simply, give more information about your subject.

Extra exercises and vocabulary may be found on a previous blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/23/ielts-introduction-to-complex-sentences/

Without further ado, let’s dive right in !

Tips To Ace All Bands In Your IELTS Test - Skoolmates

To form a complex sentence, we simply need to combine two pieces of information in one sentence, linked by a relative pronoun.

As with all grammar exercises, it makes far more sense to show than tell:

10 Awesome Facts About Rabindranath Tagore Which Show His Prominence

This is Rabindranath Tagore. He was a poet. He was born in Kolkata, India. He won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.

So, we have several pieces of information. Let’s start by making a long but simple sentence:

Rabindranath Tagore won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.

As you see, we start with the subject (Rabindranath Tagore) therefore we don’t need the pronoun ‘he’ in this new sentence.

To make this sentence complex, we just add a further piece of information about the subject, by using a relative pronoun:

who = for a person // which for a thing // where = for a place // whose = possession

The name is clearly not English, so let’s talk about his background:

Rabindranath Tagore, who was born in Kolkata, won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.

Rabindranath Tagore won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913 is our main clause (clause being part of a sentence containing a subject and a verb).

who was born in Kolkata gives extra information but it makes no sense on its own. Therefore, it needs the main sentence to give it meaning. In grammar, this is known as a subordinate clause.

Now – we could develop this further:

Rabindranath Tagore, who was born in Kolkata which is in India, won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.

The first subject was Rabindranath Tagore, so we used ‘who’ to give more information.

The second subject was the city, Kolkata ‘which’ is in India.

Confusion by New Order - Songfacts

Yes, confusion ! Kolkata is a place so why use ‘which’ and not ‘where’ ?

Good question; it depends on the clause:

Kolkata which is in India

India is not a person, therefore we treat it as a thing and use ‘which’. Again, show don’t tell:

London, where I was born, is the capital of the UK. [object is ‘I’, a person, so we use ‘where‘.]

London, which is the capital of the UK, is where I was born. [object is ‘capital’, not a person, so we use ‘which‘]

Let’s get back to our Indian poet. The third subject is the Noble Prize … you could add more information here (awarded every year in Sweden).

Naturally, one could write endlessly, constantly adding more information about subjects but, for this exercise, just focus on a main clause and a subordinate clause.

NOW … Your turn

Subject (comma) + relative pronoun + (comma) main clause starting with a verb:

Rabindranath Tagore, who was born in Kolkata, won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.

Make complex sentences:

Stockholm. Capital city of Sweden. Is very expensive. Is very cold in winter.

Louise Glück. Born in 1943. Born in New York, USA. Won Noble Prize for Literature in 2020. She is a poet.

Starbucks is a coffee chain. Company founded in 1971. Company started in Seattle in north-west USA. Starbucks is the world’s largest coffeehouse chain (information from Wikipedia).

Seattle is in USA. Seattle is famous for Grunge music. Many bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden came from Seattle.

Mozart. A famous composer. Born in Austria. Died in 1791. Buried in a common grave.

Vincom Centre. In District 1 by Hotel Continental. Largest shopping mall in Sai Gon. Has many international brands such as Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren.

Frida Kahlo was an artist. She was born in Mexico. She was born in 1907. She painted many portraits and self-portraits.

Sergei Eisenstein is a famous film director. He was born in Latvia (then part of Russia). In 1930 he began a film in Mexico. It is about the Day of the Dead festival. This festival is every year at the beginning of November.

Louise Glück wins Nobel Prize in Literature 2020
Louise Glück – Noble Prize winner 2020
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Nirvana
How a Horrific Bus Accident Changed Frida Kahlo's Life - Biography
Frida Kahlo
Films > Sergei Eisenstein
Day of the Dead, Mexico. Film by Sergei Eisenstein.
Asian Woman With Thumb Up Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image.  Image 42574102.
Good luck !