The Complex Sentence: Lesson Plan for the High School English Class

The Complex Sentence: Lesson Plan for the High School English Class
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Types of Sentences: Simple, Compound & Complex

Simple Sentence

The simple sentence has a subject, a verb and a complete thought. This is also called an indepe

ndent clause.

Simple sentence example: Mark made a great cake.

  • Subject: Mark
  • Verb: made

Simple sentences can have compound subjects and compound verbs.

Compound subject example: Mark and Mary made great cookies.

  • Compound subject_:_ _Mark and Mary_

Compound verb example: Mark made a great cake and baked a dozen cookies.

  • Compound verb_: made_ and _baked_

Compound Sentence

The compound sentence has two independent clauses connected with a coordinator such as conjunction with a comma or semicolon. Commonly used coordinating conjunctions are as follows: and, but, for, so, yet, nor, or.

Compound sentence example:

Mindy wrote her essay last night, and she turned it in the next morning.

  • Coordinator: and
  • Independent clause #1_: Mindy wrote her essay last night_
  • Independent clause #2: she turned it in the next morning

Complex Sentence

The complex sentence has one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. A dependent clause is “dependent” on the independent clause because it is missing a subject, very or is not a complete thought. In addition, the complex sentence will include a subordinator, such as after, although, because, if, since, unless, though, while, when.

Complex sentence example:

When Martin made the cookies, he baked them too long.

  • Subordinator: when
  • Dependent clause: When Martin made the cookies
  • Independent clause: he baked them too long.

Student Practice

Once students understand the differences between simple, compound and complex sentences, students can complete the activity that focuses on the complex sentence.

Making Complex Sentences

The complex sentence activity asks students to pick from a “menu” to create their own complex sentences. Students should make five or more sentences from the list of independent clauses and dependent clauses. The most important part of the sentence should be in the independent clause.

Independent Clauses:

  • he brought doughnuts to the meeting
  • she looks like she is sick
  • Tommy likes to wrestle
  • Stephanie uses her cell phone to send thousands of texts each month
  • we make our own holiday cards
  • Bella loves to fetch her stuffed animals
  • the family watches television each night
  • Brent and Shawn work in the garage on their old car
  • she found a missing ring
  • Mark and Sharon cook diner
  • Rex runs around in circles
  • Marla runs in the morning

Dependent Clauses

  • after we finished dinner,
  • although he/she was running late,
  • because it is family tradition,
  • if anyone is paying attention,
  • since he/she has been gone,
  • unless it is a holiday,
  • though he/she sometimes spends too much time doing it,
  • while cleaning his/her room,
  • when they get home,
  • whenever he/she gets excited,

This lesson will help your students understand and begin writing complex sentences. Another spin on this activity is to just give the students either the dependent clauses or independent clauses and ask them to create their own sentences.


Photo reference: Kellie Hayden