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
Nirvana Uploads Full Live and Loud Concert to YouTube: Watch | Consequence  of Sound
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 !

Love and Chaos Part 4(C) Chris 1

23rd December 2020

Berlin 2020 with the Cathedral (left) and the TV Tower. Photo by Martin O’Shea

Part Four. Berlin. Summer 1994

Chris wore a cotton top with white and purple horizontal stripes, faded black jeans and Converse All Star sneakers. Richard wore his slim-cut blue Levi’s and a light, dull-green, woollen jumper with brown leather waistcoat that Chris had picked up from one of Berlin’s many second-hand clothes stores. They looked cool and felt cool, Richard thinking he looked a little like Kurt Cobain on the ‘Unplugged’ show, and planned to grow his hair out. Possibly bleach it.

They met Monika at a bar for brunch at the area Richard now knew as the Wasserturm, or Water Tower. The Sunday afternoon pavements were covered with chairs and tables, children running and dogs hunting stray food. All the bars were busy, but Monika had saved two seats and waved to them.

Richard had been in Berlin for just over a week and had been out drinking with Chris nearly every night. The previous Friday, The Gang had meet up, this time going around the bars in the northern part of Prenzlauer Berg, around Schönhauser Allee U-Bahn, where Chris lived. Gabi had driven over with Lorelei, both seeming relieved to be away from their boyfriends. Andreas was there with Silke and Nice Guy Kai. Some other friends had turned up, and it seemed that Monika knew every waitress and barman in Berlin and that all the women were really cute, and all the men were really friendly. Richard mentioned this to Andreas;

“You haven’t been here long. Just wait.”

There was only one downer. How to behave to Lorelei, because there was no sense in hiding it; he was totally in love. Meeting her caused all the emotions to collide like a ‘super-charged particle accelerator’ as he himself described it. There was the initial excitement that almost caused his heart to burst, the gasping for air, as the tension grabbed him by the throat. Then came the terrifying doubts, wondering how she felt and how he should act and react to her. How to play it cool, when he just wanted to go over and confess his love and throw himself at her cute little, painted toenailed feet. And he wanted to kiss her so much, he thought he would go crazy.

The subject of today’s lunchtime summit.

“You know how I think it went ?” asked Chris, referring to the previous evening, “Brilliantly. She digs you. Big time.”

“But the boyfriend ?”

“No, I don’t think you have to worry. They are like flatmates. They share a bed, but make nothing.”

Richard thanked Monika for the information, before Chris continued,

“And she laughed at all your jokes. Even the ones I didn’t even get.”

“She was just being polite.”

“Oh, right. C’mon, she’s into you like a train.”

“I hope so.”

Monika silently ate her lunch, then was relieved to be able to change the subject.

“Oh, next Saturday, Erika is giving a performance. I said we’d go.”

“Sure.”

“Yeah, cool. Who’s Erika ?”

Chris answered,

“Barmaid slash performance artist. Does … kinda improvised … what would you say, Moni ?”

“Performances.”

“Exactly ! She … ah, you’ll see. Oh, Arizona may come. He wants to hang out with us.”

“Arizona ? Oh, from your studio. Don’t think I met him last time.”

“No, he’s cool. Little bit older than us, mid-thirties. Bit of a character. You’ll see.”

After a lunch of sausage and eggs, fruit and the obligatory Sekt, Monika left, as she had to get home to work on some dress she was making. One of several ways she earned money. Chris explained, as they took a stroll,

“Some mornings she gets up and cleans a bar, sometimes works the door in a club, sometimes hands out flyers, sometimes does check-out in a small supermarket, sometimes does dressmaking, alterations, sometimes does haircuts . . . you know.”

“How do you keep up ?”

“It’s not easy. I need something like a periodic table, like all those chemistry dorks used to have on their walls.”

They walked up Rykestr, turning around and seeing the TV Tower loom over the Wasserturm, through the trees of the park. Then a turn into the main Danziger Str, and one block east to the Ernst Thälmann park with its massive statue.

“These girls are amazing,” said Richard. “Silke, Gabi, Moni … Lorelei. Oh, man ! They should form a band. Just look at them: Moni with short, black hair, Silke; spikey, Gabi; curly, dirty blond and Lorelei’s luscious locks. Forget All Saints, it would be the hottest chick band, ever !”

“I know. Amazing, isn’t it ? I thought after Ute, that’s it. But it worked out just fine.”

“Advice, c’mon, spill; how do I get Lorelei ? What moves did you pull on Moni ?”

“Oh, it was a breeze, baby, couldn’t be easier. Ute dumped me. There I was, allein in einer grossen Stadt (alone in a big city), got a shitty job, no money, live in squalor and just lost the love of my life. Began going out with some of the Biberkopf staff after work, drinking. At one bar, I meet Monika. She asks why I’m looking so sad. Got so much sympathy … that, my friend, is how to get women.”

“Act all pathetic and make them pity you ?”

“Hey, I’m the one with the girlfriend, remember ?”

“But I’ve got no one to dump me.”

“Well, that can be easily solved.”

“Could always leak it that I was dumped in London … came here to forget my pain … ?”

“See … now you’re thinking. And that, Amigo, calls for a drink.”

Chris had taken some days off from Biberkopf to be with Richard, but was now working five nights a week, as well as occasional days at the studio. The following Saturday, after seeing Erika’s performance, Lorelei asked Richard,

“What do you do all day ?”

They had meet at a new café in one of Prenzlauer Berg’s back streets. It was the familiar converted shop space, a plain room with large, wooden tables, and just candles and ashtrays for decoration. Soundgarden on the CD player. The barman with two or three friends at the bar. It was very quiet, but was still very early for Berlin.


The gang, on the night of Erika’s show, was without Silke, who was working, but with Nice Guy Kai and one of his new girlfriends.

From the bar, they drove to Kreutzberg, Pearl Jam pounding out of Monika’s car stereo as she twisted and turned around Alexanderplatz.

Another Hinterhof, south of the river. A mixture of junk and broken furniture, some sorry-looking plants, broken glass, empty beer crates and cigarette butts. Twenty or so people, standing around, drinking, smoking, laughing, shouting.

Erika’s show was through one of the doors that led off into a basement, but was locked. It was Berlin, performances were not expected to start on time.

The Gang all got another drink, passed around cigarettes and talked. Richard was unable to get any idea of what the performance would involve, but enjoyed seeing the individual reactions, Andreas and Kai appearing very cynical, Monika supportive and Chris nonsensical.

A man walked into the Hof, alone, dressed in leather trousers, with a mauve T-shirt and bottle-green, velvet jacket. He wore yellow-tinted glasses, had thick sideburns and a four-day growth of beard. He looked around, then waved to Chris.

Arizona Al.

Introductions were made, then a door opened and people began paying the entrance and descending into the converted performance space.

Inside, the walls were painted bright orange with various murals showing scenes derived from Bruegel and Bosch; sinners being devoured by demons, or put into lakes of fire. Arizona Al was somewhat taken aback and was particularly struck by one group in a corner, showing four men who appeared to be musicians, though their instruments were more like weapons. There was a blond woman next to them, who appeared to be in severe discomfort. He pointed it out to Chris and asked what it was.

“Don’t know. Kinda spooky, isn’t it ?”

“Yeah, like, man, what’s going on ? This some kinda devil-freak joint ?”

Chris was about to mention the illustration to the others, when the background music abruptly cut out. People began turning to face the small, central stage area, and moving forward.

Erika marched onto the stage, commanding everyone’s attention. She had curly, auburn hair, which was moused and thick. Her face was brightly made-up, thick, red lips and long lashes. She wore a black and white basque, fishnet stockings and high heels.

She made sure everyone was looking at her, before walking around the stage, striking a pose, and clicking her fingers. On cue, the music began, Marlene Dietrich numbers, which she mimed along to, or acted out.

During ‘Kisses Sweeter Than Wine’, she was joined onstage by a friend, also in lingerie, but with short, brown hair and a few layers less of make-up. They performed a mime about falling in love and raising a happy family, Erika taking the male role.

The opening line, about a young man who had never been kissed, brought sighs of sympathy from Gabi and Lorelei, and made Richard feel uncomfortable, in case The Gang thought it applied to him.

Arizona Al, like Chris, Richard, Kai and all the other men in the audience, was just enjoying the sight of what he referred to as “Two smokin’ babes,” cavorting around.

After twenty minutes, the show was over and Eighties German pop music helped to clear the space.

Outside, people got drinks from a bar area and stood around in small groups. That was when Lorelei asked Richard how he spent his days.

“I get up early, fix myself breakfast, and go back to bed. I read a lot, walk around, wait for Chris to come back, then go to the local bars. Of course, I spend a lot of time thinking about you.”

Lorelei smiled, then turned away.


Erika came up to them, dressed as she had been on stage, but with a leather jacket now over her shoulders.

They all told her how much they had enjoyed the show.

“Very nice,” said Chris, with a knowing glance at Monika.

Al introduced himself, then had some questions about the practicalities of performing, whom to ask, how much could be made.

“Yeah, don’t want to monopolize you, know you got a lot of people to see, just one more question, don’t know if you’d know, but there’s this picture in the corner, it’s like four dudes and some blonde chick and, I don’t know, it’s kinda … weird, you know, like … “

He made a gesture of terror and fear. The others had all stopped talking to hear, and see, Al’s own performance, knowing that Erika only had basic English. She was silent for some seconds, trying to process the inquiry, then she understood, and looked to Kai for confirmation.

“Oh, Ja, that’s based on an old German folk … “

“Legend. Folk tale.” Kai to her aid.

“Genau (exactly) a folk legend.” Kai took over,

“It’s from the Medieval times, from the Black Forest area. It’s called The Concert Of Grotesques. Do you know it ? It’s a great story … “