Have you ever been stumped by a complicated sentence? Lost in a labyrinth of clauses and technical jargon? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In today’s fast-paced world, we’re bombarded with information that often comes in the form of long, convoluted sentences.

But fear not, because breaking down complex sentences can be a valuable tool for anyone looking to improve their comprehension and understanding. As the saying goes, ‘you can’t see the forest for the trees.’ Similarly, complex sentences can obscure the main point and leave you lost in a tangle of details. That’s where breaking them down comes in.

By identifying the main clause and looking for subordinate clauses, you can begin to make sense of even the most complicated sentences. In this article, we’ll explore some tips and tricks for breaking down complex sentences, simplifying technical language, and using reading tools to improve your comprehension.

So let’s get started!

Identify the Main Clause

You can easily identify the main clause with a simple trick! The main clause is the part of the sentence that contains a subject and a predicate and expresses a complete thought. It’s the backbone of the sentence, and everything else in the sentence depends on it.

To identify the main clause, you can ask yourself, “What’s the subject doing?” or “What’s happening in this sentence?”

For example, in the sentence “Although it was raining, the children played outside,” the main clause is “the children played outside.” This is because it contains the subject “the children” and the predicate “played outside.”

The subordinate clause “although it was raining” provides additional information about the circumstances, but it’s not essential to the main idea of the sentence. By identifying the main clause, you can better understand the focus and purpose of the sentence.

Look for Subordinate Clauses

1) Look for subordinating conjunctions to identify subordinate clauses. These are words like ‘because,’ ‘since,’ or ‘although’ that show a dependent relationship between clauses.

2) Understanding the relationship between the subordinate and main clauses is key to comprehending complex sentences. The subordinate clause provides extra information or context to the main clause, but it can’t stand alone as a complete sentence.

3) Practice breaking down sentences into their component clauses to improve your reading and writing skills. This’ll help you better understand the meaning and structure of complex sentences.

Identify the Subordinating Conjunction

Oh, sure, identifying the subordinating conjunction in a sentence is just a breeze for you, isn’t it?

All jokes aside, identifying the subordinating conjunction in a complex sentence is crucial for breaking it down into manageable parts. The subordinating conjunction is the word that connects the subordinate clause to the main clause of the sentence. It helps to identify the relationships between the different clauses and makes it easier for you to understand the meaning of the sentence.

To identify the subordinating conjunction, you need to look for certain words like ‘because,’ ‘although,’ ‘if,’ ‘since,’ ‘while,’ and ‘when.’ These words act as connectives between the subordinate clause and the main clause.

Once you have identified the subordinating conjunction, you can then break the sentence down into its parts. This will help you to see which part of the sentence is the main clause and which part is the subordinate clause. Imagine a bridge connecting two islands. The subordinating conjunction is like the bridge that connects the two parts of the sentence.

Think of the subordinating conjunction as a signal that tells you that the next part of the sentence is not as important as the first part. Picture a tree with branches. The subordinating conjunction is like a branch that extends from the main clause, connecting it to the subordinate clause.

By identifying the subordinating conjunction in a complex sentence, you can break it down into manageable parts and better understand its meaning. So, the next time you come across a complex sentence, don’t panic, just look for the subordinating conjunction, and you’ll be well on your way to comprehension.

Understand the Relationship Between Clauses

Understanding the relationship between clauses is key to making sense of the connections within a sentence. Sentences often contain multiple clauses, and identifying the relationships between them can help you better comprehend the meaning of the entire sentence. There are three main types of relationships between clauses: coordinating, subordinating, and correlative.

To understand these relationships, it can be helpful to use a table to visually organize the information. Here is an example table:

CoordinatingTwo clauses that are of equal importance and are connected with a coordinating conjunction.I went to the store, and I bought some milk.
SubordinatingOne clause that is less important and depends on the other clause for meaning, connected with a subordinating conjunction.Although it was raining, I still went for a walk.
CorrelativeTwo clauses that are equally important and are connected with a correlative conjunction.Either you can come with me, or I’ll go alone.

By understanding the relationship between clauses, you can better comprehend complex sentences. It allows you to break down the sentence into smaller parts and understand how they relate to each other. So, the next time you come across a complex sentence, take a moment to identify the relationships between the clauses and use that information to better comprehend the sentence as a whole.

Break Sentences into Smaller Chunks

You can improve your comprehension of complex sentences by breaking them down into smaller chunks.

One way to do this is by using punctuation to indicate breaks, such as commas or semicolons.

Another option is to use bullet points or numbered lists to clearly separate the different parts of the sentence.

Use Punctuation to Indicate Breaks

You can easily improve your understanding of written material by using punctuation marks like road signs, guiding you through the twists and turns of a sentence like a GPS navigating a winding road. Punctuation marks serve as visual cues that indicate when to pause, stop, or continue reading.

For example, a comma tells you to take a breath and separates clauses or items in a list. A period tells you to stop and marks the end of a sentence. A colon introduces a list or an explanation, and a semicolon connects two related clauses.

Using punctuation marks can also help you identify the main idea, supporting details, and the logical flow of a text. By breaking a sentence into smaller chunks, you can focus on each part and understand how they relate to each other. You can also identify where the author places emphasis, and where they want you to pause for effect.

In addition, using punctuation marks can help you avoid misinterpreting a sentence. For instance, a missing comma can change the meaning of a sentence, as in “Let’s eat, grandma” versus “Let’s eat grandma.”

In conclusion, using punctuation marks is an easy and effective way to improve your comprehension of written material. By using them as road signs, you can navigate through complex sentences and arrive at a clear understanding of the author’s message.

So, next time you read a sentence that seems long or confusing, take a moment to look for the punctuation marks and let them guide you to a better understanding of the text.

Use Bullet Points or Numbered Lists

Now that you know how to use punctuation to indicate breaks in complex sentences, let’s move on to another technique that can help you better comprehend them.

This technique involves using bullet points or numbered lists to break down the information into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Bullet points and numbered lists are great tools for organizing information and making it easier to read and understand. They allow you to present information in a clear and concise manner, without overwhelming the reader with too much text.

By breaking down complex sentences into bullet points or numbered lists, you can highlight the most important information and make it stand out. This can help you better understand the main ideas and concepts being presented, and make it easier to remember them later on.

So, the next time you come across a complex sentence, try breaking it down into bullet points or numbered lists to see if it helps you better comprehend the information.

Simplify Technical Language

Let’s make technical language easier to understand by simplifying it. Technical terms and jargon can make a sentence needlessly complex and difficult to comprehend. If you’re reading a technical document or a scientific article, it’s important to understand the language used in it.

Here are three ways to simplify technical language:

1. Use analogies or real-world examples: Technical terms can be confusing, but using an analogy or real-world example can help the reader understand the concept better. For example, if you’re writing about a complex algorithm, you could explain it by comparing it to a recipe. Just like a recipe has a set of instructions to follow, an algorithm has a set of steps to follow.

2. Avoid acronyms and abbreviations: While acronyms and abbreviations may be commonly used in technical writing, they can also lead to confusion. If you must use them, make sure to define them first and use them consistently throughout the document.

3. Break down complex sentences: Technical writing often involves long and complicated sentences that can be difficult to follow. Breaking down these sentences into smaller, more manageable ones can help the reader understand the content better. Use clear and concise language, and avoid unnecessary words and phrases.

Read Aloud or Use a Reading Tool

Improve your understanding of technical language by using a reading tool or reading aloud. These methods can evoke a sense of clarity and ease in your comprehension.

Reading aloud can help you hear the words, which may make them easier to understand. It can also help you identify words that you may not be familiar with, but that you can look up later.

A reading tool, such as a text-to-speech program, can help you hear the words as they are spoken, which can make them easier to understand. Additionally, a reading tool can help you identify key terms and concepts, which can help you better understand the material.

Reading aloud and using a reading tool can also help you better understand complex sentences. Complex sentences often contain multiple ideas or clauses, which can make them difficult to understand. By breaking down these sentences, you can better understand the individual components and how they relate to each other.

Additionally, a reading tool can help you identify the different parts of a sentence, such as the subject, verb, and object, which can help you understand the sentence structure. By using these methods, you can improve your comprehension of technical language and better understand complex sentences.


So, there you have it – breaking down complex sentences can be a tricky process, but by following these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to better comprehension.

Remember to identify the main clause first, then look for any subordinate clauses that may be complicating the sentence. From there, break the sentence down into smaller chunks and simplify any technical language that is hindering your understanding.

For example, let’s say you’re reading a scientific article about the effects of climate change on ocean life. The sentence reads: ‘As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, ocean acidification becomes an increasing threat to the survival of many marine species, as their shells and skeletons begin to dissolve.’

Breaking this sentence down, we can identify the main clause as ‘ocean acidification becomes an increasing threat.’ The subordinate clause is ‘as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise,’ which provides context for the main clause.

By breaking the sentence into smaller chunks, we can understand that marine species are at risk due to their shells and skeletons dissolving. Simplifying the technical language, we can conclude that increased carbon dioxide levels are causing harm to ocean life.

In conclusion, breaking down complex sentences is an essential skill for anyone looking to improve their reading comprehension and understanding of technical language. By following these steps and practicing regularly, you’ll be able to tackle even the most complicated sentences with ease.

So don’t be afraid to dive into that research paper or scientific article – with a little patience and persistence, you’ll be able to understand even the most complex ideas.