An Introduction to Simple, Compound, and Complex Sentences
Students will be able to differentiate between three different sentence structures.
- Display a piece of chart paper and divide it into three equal horizontal sections or rows. (Note: this chart can be prepared before the lesson.)
- In the top section, write a simple sentence and read it aloud (i.e., "The smart kids read books every night.").
- In the second section, write a compound sentence and read it aloud. (i.e., "The kids read books every night and then they go to bed.")
- In the bottom section, write a complex sentence and read it aloud (i.e., "The kids read books at night before going to bed.").
- Explain that each of these sentences gives similar information, but they are structured differently.
- Tell students that today they will be learning about three sentence structures.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(10 minutes)
- Refer to the first example and explain that this sentence is called a simple sentence because it has one complete thought. Simple sentences have a subject and a predicate (verb phrase) and can contain description words.
- Label the first section on the chart "simple sentence" and provide another example like, "Dogs and cats make great pets."
- Point to the second section on the chart and tell students that this is called a compound sentence because it has two complete thoughts that are combined by a conjunction. Remind students that conjunctions are joining words like "and," "but," or "so" (circle the conjunction in the sentence). Compound sentences have two verbs (underline the two verbs in the sentence).
- Label the second section on the chart "compound sentence" and provide another example like, "I love elephants, but I don't like the zoo."
- Refer to the third section on the chart and explain that this is called a complex sentence because it has one complete thought and a dependent clause, which is a descriptive phrase that cannot stand alone. A complex sentence always has a subordinate conjunction like "although," "before," "because," or "if" (circle the subordinate conjunction). Sometimes the independent clause and dependent clause are separated by a comma.
- Label the third section on the chart "complex sentence" and provide another example like, "After dinner, we can watch a movie."
Guided Practice(10 minutes)
- Write a sentence on the board that reads, "I am allergic to milk, so I can't have ice cream."
- Instruct students to turn to an elbow partner to determine what type of sentence it is (answer: compound).
- Call on a student to tell what type of sentence it is and how they know (answer: it contains a conjunction and two complete thoughts)
- Repeat with several sentences:
- "I always ride the roller coaster at the amusement park." (simple)
- "We ran downstairs and went outside." (compound)
- "If she's done with her homework, she can play." (complex)
- "They went swimming yesterday." (simple)
- "He's bringing chips even though the party is over." (complex)
Independent working time(10 minutes)
- Hand out the short story "Jason and the Gameshow" on the Main Character worksheet. (Note: students will only need the text for this exercise. You may choose to cut off the questions and title before making copies.)
- Instruct students to read the text and find at least one example of each type of sentence.
- Tell students that they should underline a simple sentence in red, a compound sentence in yellow, and a complex sentence in blue. Write these instructions on the board for student reference.
- Circulate and offer support as needed.
- Review subjects and predicates so that your students are familiar with the basic parts of a sentence (see resources).
- Provide additional practice with identifying sentences in a text (see optional materials).
- Ask students to combine simple sentences to improve a piece of writing (see optional materials).
- Have students practice writing different types of sentences (see related media).
- Use a projector to show the digital exercise Types of Sentences.
- Read the first sentence aloud as students follow along.
- Instruct students to identify which type of sentence it is and write their answer on a personal whiteboard.
- Tell students to hold up their answers. Scan student responses to gauge understanding.
- Call on a student to read their answer aloud before moving on to the next sentence in the exercise.
Review and closing(5 minutes)
- Do the "high-five hustle" to review the lesson:
- Ask students to stand up, raise their hands and high five a peer. This will be their short-term hustle buddy.
- When everybody has a partner, tell students to come up with a simple sentence about pizza and tell their hustle buddy. Make sure both buddies have a turn.
- Solicit answers from a few students.
- Then ring a chime or play a song, like "The Hustle," as a signal for them to raise their hands and high five a different partner for the next question.
- Continue doing the hustle and asking students to come up with complex and compound sentences about various subjects (i.e., the sun, elephants, lunch).