Search form

Independent and Dependent Clauses (Grammar—Grade 8)

Subject:  Grammar

Grade: 8

Lesson Objective: To understand what independent and dependent clauses are, their differences, and how to use them. 

Common Core Standard:  CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.8.1 - Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.


  • Self-made cards with one dependent or one independent clauses written in them
  • A whiteboard or a blackboard
  • Colored whiteboard markers



Say: Do you know what a clause is? 

Allow students to answer. See if any of the students give the right definition of a clause. After you explain a clause's definition, pass out the cards to the students (one card per student). You need to have an even number of cards, half of them with dependent clauses and half of them with independent ones—the clauses must go together to make sense and make one complex sentence.



Say: Now that all of you know what a clause is, can you guess what a dependent one is? What about an independent clause? 

Allow students to answer.

Say: Well, to really understand what those types of clauses are, let's play a game! 

If you haven't given the students the cards yet, do it now.

Say: Each one of you has a card with one clause—it may be a dependent or an independent one. The first part of the game is simple: you must decide if the clause you have is dependent or independent. To do that, you must know the difference between them, right? Although a dependent clause has a verb and subject, it needs some extra information to make sense. And what do you think that "extra information" is called?

Wait to see if any of the students give the right answer—an independent clause.

Say: Unlike dependent clauses, independent ones aren't "needy." They have full meaning by themselves. You can think of dependent and independent clauses like babies and adults. Babies are dependent on their parents and need help from them. Adults are independent and can live on their own. Does anyone have any questions? 

Answer questions and give an example of an independent clause if need be.

Say: So first, let's see what type of clause you have. 

Have each one of the students read their clause and have them identify its type. If they answer incorrectly, see if another student knows and explain why they are correct.

Say: The game's goal is to find the person who has the clause that matches the one on your card. Go and try to find your matching clauses! 

Let students play the game, and after they all find their match, read all of the complete sentences aloud. Check if they are right or wrong as a class.


Ask the following questions to your students to check for understanding.

  • Let's check if all of you understood today's subject. First of all, what is a clause? 
  • Which type of clause doesn't have complete meaning on its own?
  • What can complete a dependent clause? 
  • Does an independent clause need a dependent one? Or does it make sense by itself?


Written by Maria Tozello

Education World Contributor

Copyright© 2021 Education World