Complex sentences are made up of two or more simple sentences. The simple sentences that complex sentences are composed from are called clauses. In between the clauses a comma or a semicolon is used to represent a pause in spoken language. For example,
- 你点一个荤的，我点一个素的。 You order a meat dish, I will order a vegetarian dish.
(The two clauses have a logical connection.)
- 他篮球打的好，（他）足球也踢的好。 He plays basketball well and [he] also plays soccer well.
(If the clauses have the same subject then it is only necessary to write it once.)
- 因为现在是高峰，所以路上的车很多。 Since it is peak hour, so there are a lot of cars on the road.
Correlatives (关联词) are
- Conjunctions that connect clauses
- Adverbs with a connecting function
Complex sentences can be divided into the two types coordinate complex sentence and subordindate complex sentences.
Contracted sentences express the content of a complex sentence with the syntax of a simple sentence. For example,
- 我头疼不去。 I have a headache, I am not going.
- 我想说就说。 If I feel like saying something then I will.
(The conjunction 如果 is omitted.)
并列复句 Coordinate Complex Sentences
A coordinate complex sentence is composed of clauses with coordinate relations. In a coordinate complex sentence all the clauses are equal, there are no primary-secondary relations. For example,
- 不是我不想帮助，而是我不会。 It is not that I don't want to help, it is that I don't know how.
(This is a coordinative relation where the clauses each explain two different matters.)
- 孩子下课以后，我到学校接他。 When the child finishes class, I will go to school to pick him up.
(Successive relation, there is a sequence in the arrangement of the clauses.)
- 这个下猴子不但聪明，而且能干。 This young man is not only clever but is very capable.
(Progressive relation, the second clause progresses a step beyond the first clause.)
- 你想吃米饭，还是想吃面？ Would you like to eat rice or eat noodles?
(Alternative relation, the two conditions cannot coexist.)
Attention needs to be given to the position of correlatives in coordinate complex sentences:
- 不管我们是朋友，但是我还得给你提醒这件事。 Even though we are friends, I have to remind you about this matter.
(If the subjects of the clauses are different then conjunctions should be placed before the subjects.)
- 咱们俩不但是同事，而且是朋友。 Not only are the two of us coworkers but we are also friends.
(If the clauses have the same subject then the conjunctions should be placed after the subject.)
- 咱们先吃饭，我以后才出去买东西。 Let's eat first, afterwards I will go out to buy some things.
(Adverbs are always placed after the subject.)
偏正复句 Subordinate Complex Sentences
A subordindate complex sentence is composed of clauses with a subordinate relation. Between the clauses there is a primary and a secondary. For example,
- 尽管我早晨六点到了售票处，但是我还没买到票。 Even though I arrived at the ticket office at 6 am, I was still not able to buy a ticket.
(Contrasting relation — the first clause is the subordinate clause and and the second clause is the main clause.)
- 因为我的电视机坏了，所以没办法看冬奥会。 Because my television was broken, there was no way for me to watch the Winter Olympics.
(Causative relation — the first clause [the subordinate clause] explains the reason and the second clause [the main clause] explains the result.)
- 如果不小心，意外会发生的。 (If you are not careful, an accident may happen.
(Supposition or conditional relation — the first clause explains the condition and the second clause explains the result if the condition is satisfied.)
Often encountered correlative conjunctions in subordindate complex sentences include: 宁可、与其、就是、即使、假如、如果、要是、除非、只有、无论、不论、不管、既然、由于、因为、尽管、虽然、但是、为的是、因此、and 所以. Frequently encountered correlative adverbs in the main clauses of subordindate complex sentences include: 才、就、也、都、即、反而.