Exercise in Identifying Sentences by Structure

Identifying Simple, Compound, Complex, and Compound-Complex Sentences

Where the Sidewalk Ends

In terms of structure, sentences can be classified in four ways:

This exercise will give you practice in identifying these four sentence structures.


The sentences in this exercise have been adapted from poems in two books by Shel Silverstein: "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "Falling Up." Identify each of the following sentences as simple, compound, complex, or compound-complex. When you're done, compare your responses to the correct answers listed below. The name of the poem from which the example is taken is listed in parentheses after each sentence.

  1. I made an airplane out of stone. ("Stone Airplane")
  2. I put a piece of cantaloupe underneath the microscope. ("Nope")
  3. Oaties stay oaty, and Wheat Chex stay floaty, and nothing can take the puff out of Puffed Rice. ("Cereal")
  4. While fishing in the blue lagoon, I caught a lovely silverfish. ("The Silver Fish")
  5. They say if you step on a crack, you will break your mother's back. ("Sidewalking")
  6. They just had a contest for scariest mask, and I was the wild and daring one who won the contest for scariest mask—and (sob) I'm not even wearing one. ("Best Mask?")
  7. My voice was raspy, rough, and cracked. ("Little Hoarse")
  8. I opened my eyes and looked up at the rain, and it dripped in my head and flowed into my brain. ("Rain")
  9. They say that once in Zanzibar a boy stuck out his tongue so far that it reached the heavens and touched a star, which burned him rather badly. ("The Tongue Sticker-Outer")
  10. I'm going to Camp Wonderful beside Lake Paradise across from Blissful Mountain in the Valley of the Nice. ("Camp Wonderful")
  11. I joke with the bats and have intimate chats with the cooties who crawl through my hair ("The Dirtiest Man in the World")
  12. The animals snarled and screeched and growled and whinnied and whimpered and hooted and howled and gobbled up the whole ice cream stand. ("Ice Cream Stop")
  13. The antlers of a standing moose, as everybody knows, are just the perfect place to hang your wet and drippy clothes. ("A Use for a Moose")
  14. We'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow, and we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go. ("Where the Sidewalk Ends")
  15. If I had a brontosaurus, I would name him Horace or Morris. ("If I Had a Brontosaurus")
  16. I am writing these poems from inside a lion, and it's rather dark in here. ("It's Dark in Here")
  17. A piece of sky broke off and fell through the crack in the ceiling right into my soup. ("Sky Seasoning")
  18. The grungy, grumpy, grouchy Giant grew tired of his frowny pout and hired me and Lee to lift the corners of his crumblin' mouth. ("The Smile Makers")
  19. If you were only one inch tall, you'd ride a worm to school. ("One Inch Tall")
  20. The traffic light simply would not turn green, so the people stopped to wait as the traffic rolled and the wind blew cold, and the hour grew dark and late. ("Traffic Light")


  1. simple
  2. simple
  3. compound
  4. complex
  5. complex
  6. compound-complex
  7. simple
  8. compound
  9. complex
  10. simple
  11. complex
  12. simple
  13. complex
  14. compound-complex
  15. complex
  16. compound
  17. simple
  18. simple
  19. complex
  20. compound-complex
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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Exercise in Identifying Sentences by Structure." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/identifying-sentences-by-structure-1692194. Nordquist, Richard. (2023, April 5). Exercise in Identifying Sentences by Structure. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/identifying-sentences-by-structure-1692194 Nordquist, Richard. "Exercise in Identifying Sentences by Structure." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/identifying-sentences-by-structure-1692194 (accessed June 7, 2023).