Grammar for IELTS: How to write complex sentences

First of all, look at the sentence below. How many ways did I find to make it complex?

The most important thing is that you practise making your own sentences, not only in Task 1, but also in Task 2, which will result in your score being higher than you expected, as long as you use the examples accurately, ensuring that each one is 100% correct so that when the examiners read your essay, they will jump for joy despite the fact that even though your sentences make sense, they are extremely long, like this one!

Of course, this is far too long, but it shows a few of the simple ways you can extend and develop your sentences to make your writing more complex, formal and academic.

The following examples outline 10 different ways of making a simple sentence more complex.

Watch my video about complex sentences here:

‘This is a simple sentence’

1. This sentence is slightly more complex than the previous one. 


2. This sentence is complex, whereas the first one was simple. 


3. The previous sentences were more complex because they compared two things. 


4. We need to use complex sentences in order to make our writing sound more academic. 


5. Although these sentences are more complex, they are still easy to understand.


6. If you use complex sentences, you will get a higher score. 


7. Whenever examiners see complex sentences, they jump for joy. 

time phrases

8. Starting your sentence with an ‘-ing’ form is another way of making your writing more formal.

‘ing’ nouns

9. What you really need to do is ensure that you use a variety of complex sentences.  


10. You could try extending your points with a relative clause, which will certainly make your sentences longer.

relative pronouns

1. Make comparisons

This sentence is slightly more complex than the previous one. 

  • This sentence is far more complex than any of the sentences that I have used before.
  • This sentence is twice as complex as the previous one, because it compares two things.
  • The more variety you use, the higher your score will be.

2. Make contrasts

  • Some people argue that zoos are educational, whereas others are of the opinion that keeping animals in cages is cruel.
  • Sales of e-books have increased dramatically, while sales of paper books have plummeted.
  • Proponents of GM food claim that it will eradicate famine. However, others believe it threatens the food chain.

3. Give reasons

  • The climate is changing because of human activity. [because of + noun]
  • The planet is warming due to the fact that we continue to release carbon into the air by burning fossil fuels for energy. [due to the fact that + sentence]
  • As/Since there are few affordable alternatives, this situation will only get worse.

4. Show purpose

  • The factory was demolished in order to make way for more housing.
  • The factory was knocked down so that more houses could be constructed.
  • Many people argue that keeping old buildings and repairing them is better because by doing this, the character of the town will be preserved.

5. Show concession

  • Although/even though/though we are aware of the problem, we do little to solve it.
  • Despite/In spite of the fact that we are aware of the problem, we do little to prevent it. (S-V-O)
  • Despite/In spite of being aware of the problem, we do little to tackle it. (+ ing)
  • Despite/In spite of our awareness of the problem, we do little to address it. (+ noun)

6. Make conditional sentences

  • You won’t get a higher score unless you use conditionals!
  • Using conditionals could increase your score dramatically.
  • If the government had acted more quickly, the situation could have been avoided.

7. Use time linkers

  • When considering a ban on advertising, we need to bear in mind the benefits.
  • As soon as the government introduces this legislation, the situation will improve.
  • As more local businesses close down, different types of workers (shop floor staff, managers, cleaners) are having to find jobs elsewhere.

8. Use the ‘ing’ form to start sentences

  • Starting a sentence with a noun/’ing’ form can make your writing more formal.
  • Selling food in bulk could be one way of reducing plastic packaging.
  • Being easily contactable has real advantages for business people and for working parents.

9. Add emphasis

  • One of the main reasons why people disagree with zoos is because of animal welfare.
  • The most powerful argument in favour of mobile phones is that they can be used to call for help in the most inaccessible places, for example when a car breaks down in a remote area.

10. Extend sentences

You could try extending your points with a relative clause, which will certainly make your sentences longer.

  • There are many creative professions where clothes convey a sense of style, which is very desirable in many companies.
  • People prefer to shop online, where they can find everything they need without having to leave the sofa.

You can also extend your points with ‘for example’ and ‘such as’, and ‘like’.

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