Year 6

English Support Materials

English snapshot: Complex sentences

English/Language/Expressing and developing ideas

Content Description Relevant aspects of the Achievement Standards

Investigate how complex sentences can be used in a variety of ways to elaborate, extend and explain ideas

Students understand how the use of text structures can achieve particular effects. They analyse and explain how language features, images and vocabulary are used by different authors to represent ideas, characters and events.

Students demonstrate understanding of grammar, make considered choices from … punctuation for clarity and make and explain editorial choices.

Nature of the assessment

Teacher observation of students’ sentences

Purpose of the task

 To check students’ ability to write a complex sentence

Stage in the teaching sequence

Following on from a reading activity and to inform the start of a teaching cycle on complex sentences


During the lesson the class had analysed a newspaper column arguing against the use of plastic shopping bags. The teacher used a sentence from the column as the stimulus for a quick assessment of students’ ability to construct a complex sentence. 

Assessment task

The teacher wrote the following sentence on the board.

After witnessing the horror of all that plastic pollution, I determined to do my best to halt the unconscious usage of Australia’s own white poison.

She then wrote the following sentences up:

I was nearly knocked over by a bus.
I decided to campaign for a pedestrian crossing.

The students were asked to convert the two sentences into one sentence. They had to add an adjective and include the phrase ‘do my best’. The teacher suggested that they use the first sentence as model. 

The students wrote their new sentence on a card and handed these in at the end of the lesson.

Using the information

Although the task was demanding for this group of students, the teacher was pleased that many students were able to construct a complex sentence. She began the next lesson by using the students’ sentences to revise the concept of main clause and subordinate clause. She spent a few minutes identifying and explaining errors common in some students’ sentences. She then proceeded with her planned lesson looking at how complex sentences are often used in persuasive texts.