Types of Sentences and Clauses

Contributor: Allegra O'Neill. Lesson ID: 13017

If you're building a house, would you use only cheap material to build it? You wouldn't use only one dull color to paint a portrait. The same is true of writing: one kind of sentence can be booooring!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter, Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Sentences are the materials you use to build your writing. Think about the different ways you could build with words and what makes them different.

tweet or speech

What is the difference between writing a tweet and writing a speech to persuade the president of the United States? For one, a tweet only needs 280 characters; whereas a speech for the president would need many, many more words to be effective! Also, the audience is different. While a tweet can be informal and simple, a speech needs to sound professional and use the best kinds of sentences to persuade the president!

Similar to the materials you use to build a stepladder versus a whole house, what you use to build a tweet or a whole speech matters. It is important to know what kinds of sentences and materials you need to incorporate into what you are writing.

step ladder and house

Think about all of the different things you write in a week: tweets, Facebook posts, essays, emails, texts, etc. What makes them all different? Which ones need more complicated sentences, and which ones can use quick sentences to get your ideas across?

Discover which ones are tweet-worthy and which ones are a better fit for someone more important, like the president!

  • Do you have your list of different types of writing?

You can start with the ones you may use more often, like tweets and texts.

  • These are usually short thoughts, right?
  • Are they quick details about dinner plans, or maybe thoughts on your favorite TV show that you want to tweet out?

Since tweets and texts are short, they would use the simplest sentences.

These are called, not surprisingly, simple sentences! Simple sentences are best for when a shorter and more concise sentence is needed. They are great for tweeting! Simple sentences are the simplest way to get your ideas across!

A simple sentence is also considered an independent clause because it has a subject and a verb and is a complete thought.

  • Example: That episode tonight was so crazy!

This type of sentence is also great for texts!

  • Example: I will be at your house at 6:00 PM.

girl on phone

A simple sentence is a quick and easy way to get your ideas across while still being a fully-complete sentence.

  • What about when you write an email?

Emails are very important in modern day communication because they are one of the most common ways that people communicate. Yes, tweeting and texting are communication forms, but emails are how you communicate with your teachers now and your bosses when you are working full-time. Therefore, getting email etiquette correct is important.

teacher reading email

For emails, sometimes a simple sentence is needed! Less is often more, but sometimes you need to write a more eloquent email based on the audience (Remember, tweet versus speech for the president). If someone important is reading this email, you want to use sentences that flow better.

The green sentence flows better because the reader does not need to start and stop after every few words. "I appreciate your help, and I will be there." is an example of a compound sentence.

A compound sentence contains two independent clauses joined by one of these coordinators:

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

A compound sentence is two simple sentences put together with a comma and a coordinator. In the above example, "I appreciate it" and "I will be there" are both independent clauses that are simple sentences. By using a comma and the coordinating conjunction "and," you are able to turn two small sentences into one more professional sounding sentence. It is like taking two text messages and making one formal sentence for a more important audience.

Finally, if you are writing an essay — or that persuasive speech for the president — you want to use your best and most-impressive language. You will want to use compound sentences and complex sentences, so that your writing is as impressive as possible.

A complex sentence has an independent clause joined by one or more dependent clauses. A complex sentence always has a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun.

  Subordinating Conjunctions Relative Pronouns
  • because
  • since
  • after
  • although
  • when
  • that
  • who
  • which


You know about independent clauses, but dependent clauses may be new to you! A dependent clause is not a complete thought. It may have a subject and a verb, but it cannot stand alone. This combination of dependent and independent clauses allows your sentences to be more sophisticated, which we need when speaking to the president or someone else important! Here is an example of a complex sentence that may appear in a speech about the importance of recycling:

"Although it may not be enforced everywhere, recycling is a crucial habit for everyone to adopt."

In this sentence, "although it may not be enforced everywhere," is the dependent clause because it cannot stand alone. "Recycling is a crucial habit for everyone to adopt" is the independent clause because it can stand alone as a simple sentence.

Finally, compound sentences and complex sentences can be combined to make compound-complex sentences!

Think about a topic that would make a great persuasive speech.

  • If you could stand in front of the president and persuade him or her about an issue that is important to you, what would it be?
  • How would you write that speech?

Continue on to the Got It? section to practice using these different sentence types and think about your persuasive speech topic!

Elephango's Philosophy

We help prepare learners for a future that cannot yet be defined. They must be ready for change, willing to learn and able to think critically. Elephango is designed to create lifelong learners who are ready for that rapidly changing future.