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Language Arts, Writing, Grammar

Grade 5- 8


Students learn about and practice using clauses.


A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a predicate. The subject of a clause may be expressed or understood.
There are two types of clauses.
A main clause (independent clause) contains the main thought of the sentence and makes sense standing alone.
Examples: I spoke to the teacher who is our football coach.
The dog that was barking chased me across the lawn.
A subordinate clause (dependent clause) cannot make sense standing on its own. To make a sentence, a subordinate clause must be added to a main clause.
Examples: I saw the dog when I came home.
They went to the store so they could buy ice cream.
Subordinate clauses add information to a sentence and function in the same way as adjectives, adverbs, or nouns.
The woman who received the prize is my mother. (adjective)
Our class stops working when the bell rings. (adverb)
I think that we should always do the right thing. (noun)
Sentences are analyzed by finding and naming the clauses.
Simple sentences consist of one clause.
Horses run.
(b) Complex sentences have more than one subject-verb combination and thus have more than one clause. A complex sentence has at least one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses. A subordinate clause is introduced by a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun.
Example: I was resting while he was swimming laps.
Compound sentences consist of two or more main clauses (independent clauses) joined by a conjunction.
Example: I washed the dishes, and Billy dried them.
Teaching Strategies
The main thing
Provide students with practice in finding the main clause in a sentence by having them search through a photocopy of a familiar story, circling the main clauses. Remind them that a main clause can stand alone and contains the main thought of the sentence. Point out that a simple sentence is, in fact, one main clause.
Main clause beep
Have children sit in a circle. Choose a child to say a word to start a clause. Each child in turn then adds a word to build a main clause. When the clause is complete, the next child says "Beep." The game can be extended to add a subordinate clause to the main clause.
Act the clause
Organize children in groups of four. Tell groups that the first child is to provide a verb, the second child is to provide a subject, the third child is to arrange the verb and subject to make a clause, and the fourth child is to act out the clause. Ensure that all children get a turn in each role.
Clause match-up
Have children match main clauses to subordinate clauses. This is also an excellent reading activity.

These are the brave boys because he was feeling ill.
Bill did not come where the bus stop was.
The bus driver didn't know who rescued the drowning child.

Clause call-out
Write a main clause on the chalkboard and challenge children to call out appropriate subordinate clauses.
We went to the park when we had eaten lunch.
where the banana tree grows.
because we wanted to play.

Verb search
Write some clauses on the chalkboard. Have children search for and identify the verb in each clause.
I saw the boy who broke the glass.
Add the verb
Have children orally add missing verbs to clauses.
I saw the boy who ten goals.
I saw the boy who kicked ten goals.
The police arrested the thief who the jewels.
The police arrested the thief who stole the jewels.


  • Clauses activity pages
  • pencils
  • paper

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