Sentence Fluency: Sentence Length

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12619

This lesson is good. It will help you. You will learn. It's about sentence length. This is important. Enough boredom! Learn how to write sentences that are more interesting and fun for your readers!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Do you know anyone who can make quilts like these pictured above? Looks like a lot of work went into them. How are your sentences?

  • Have you ever watched someone make a quilt?

A lot of work goes into making one, from selecting a pattern, to finding the perfect fabrics, and to sizing it just right. Once you have the fabric and dimensions, you have to cut out all the pieces, measure and sew them together, sew the entire quilt together, and then quilt it. Most ladies or men who quilt love to vary the patterns they work with and the color choices they make; it is interesting to see how the colors and patterns they use seem to flow together to make the finished quilt beautiful.

Writing works in much the same way as quilting. When you write, you use various words to make your writing descriptive and meaningful. You use a variety of sentence styles and lengths to make your writing flow smoothly and clearly from one idea to the next. Proper selection of words and sentences creates reader interest and flow, or sentence fluency, which is the topic of this series of lessons.

Learning Rocks! Writing Trait, Sentence Fluency! is a fun song that will explain a little more about the types of things you will learn in this series:


Building effective sentences is an important part of sentence fluency. There are three main types of sentences: simple, compound and complex.

  • A simple sentence is a sentence that contains one independent clause. An independent clauseis a group of words that forms a complete thought all on its own. It may contain a compound subject (two subjects connected with a coordinating conjunction) or compound predicate (two predicates connected with a coordinating conjunction). Simple sentences are most often seen with only a simple subject and simple predicate. An example of a simple sentence is:
    • The dog ran across the street.
  • A compound sentence is a sentence that has two or more independent clauses. These clauses are combined by a comma and a coordinating conjunction, or by a semicolon.

Here's a list of coordinating conjunctions:

  • and
  • but
  • for
  • or
  • nor
  • so
  • yet

An example of a compound sentence is:

  • The children knew the song, but they did not sing it.

Each group of words before and after the word “but” is an independent clause, meaning they are both complete sentences joined by the coordinating conjunction “but.”

  • A complex sentenceis a sentence that contains an independent clause and a dependent clause. A dependent clause is a clause that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. The dependent clause may go at the beginning of the sentence or at the end. They may contain a relative pronoun, such as "that," "which," and "who." They might also contain a subordinating conjunction, such as "after," "because," "until," and "when." An example of a complex sentence is:
    • After I came home, I made dinner.

Take out a piece of paper and pencil. As you watch Sentence Types by Shmoop, write down the three types of sentences, a definition of each, and any other clues that might help you identify each type:


Remember, using a variety of sentence types helps make your writing more interesting. It also helps create clarity and flow for your reader and your listener.

Try this

  1. Have a conversation with someone in your household for five minutes.
  2. Set a timer, or your phone, or another device for five minutes.
  3. During this five-minute conversation, use only simple sentences. Don't let the person know that you're doing this on purpose, and take note of his or her reaction.
  4. When the time is up, talk to the person about his or her impression of the conversation, then share your thoughts about what it was like to talk that way.
  • Was it difficult for the other person to understand you?
  • Did you feel like you were speaking naturally?
  • Why do you think it's important to write with a variety of sentence types?

Continue to the Got It? section to practice identifying the different sentence types.

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