A new plate triangle based on Reissner–Mindlin plate theory is proposed. The element has a standard linear deflection field and an incompatible linear rotation field expressed in terms of the mid‐side rotations. Locking is avoided by introducing an assumed linear shear strain field based on the tangential shear strains at the mid‐sides. The element is free of spurious modes, satisfies the patch test and behaves correctly for thick and thin plate and shell situations. The element degenerates in an explicit manner to a simple discrete Kirchhoff form.