English Grammar Lessons

Introduction to Sentence Structure

The two fundamental parts of every English sentence are the subject and the predicate. A simple sentence can also be described as a group of words expressing a complete thought. Subjects can be described as the component that performs the action described by the Predicate.

Subject + predicate = sentence

A simple sentence or independent clause must have a verb. A verb shows action or state of being. The subject tells who or what about the verb.

Subject + verb = sentence

Sentence Structure Vocabulary

The sentence format consists of a subject and a predicate.

The subject names the topic and the predicate tells about the subject.

A sentence with one subject and one predicate is called a simple sentence.

The receiver of actions is called the object.

A group of words used as a single value without subject or predicate is called a phrase.

A clause is a group of words with a subject and predicate.

Principal or independent clauses can form sentences.

A compound sentence contains two or more principal clauses.

A clause which cannot form a sentence is called a dependant clause.

A complex sentence contains a principal clause and one or more dependant or subordinate clauses.

A compound-complex sentence contains two principal clauses and one or more subordinate clauses.

Four Kinds of Sentences

Four kinds of sentences: declarative, imperative, interrogative, and exclamatory.

1. A declarative sentence makes a statement.
Example: The hockey finals will be broadcast tomorrow.

2. An imperative sentence gives a command or makes a request.
Example: Pass the puck to the open man.

3. An interrogative sentence asks a question.
Example: Do you know the rules of hockey?

4. An exclamatory sentence shows strong feeling.
Example: Stop that man!

Declarative, imperative, or interrogative sentences can be made into exclamatory sentences by punctuating them with an exclamation point.

The Six Basic Sentence Construction Patterns

1. No Verb Complement
The simplest structure is one without a verb complement. In traditional grammar, all verb complements are either nouns or adjectives.
Examples 1. Canada wins.

2. Direct Object Verb Complement
The defining characteristic is the presence of a direct object.
Example: Boys love hockey.

3. Indirect and Direct Object Verb Complements
Both indirect and direct objects are present. Indirect objects are placed immediately after the verb. Direct objects that are noun phrases follow the indirect object.
Example: Dad gave [(me)(a puck)].

4. Predicate Nominative Verb Complement
The predicate nominative verb complement is a noun or a pronoun that redefines, renames, or classifies the subject of the sentence. The verb in a predicate nominative sentence pattern is always a linking verb, such as be, seem, or become.
Example: He became a coach.

5. Predicate Adjective Verb Complement
The predicate adjective is an adjective that modifies the subject of the sentence. The verb is always a linking verb, such as be, seem, smell, look, taste, or become.
Example: The game became difficult.

6.Direct Object and Objective Complement
The verb complements are a direct object and an objective complement. An objective complement is a noun or an adjective that occurs after the direct object and describes the direct object.
Example: The class made [(me)(bilingual)].

Simple sentences and configurations

Simple subject and predicate
Example: Fred slept.

Understood subject (for commands, directives)
Example: Sit!

Questions
Examples: What are you throwing?

Interjection
Examples: Man, that hurt!

Compound predicate
The bear howled and scratched ferociously.

Compound subject and predicate
Fred and Mary worked hard and then rested.

Three subjects
John, Fred, and Cameron are working.

Direct object
Ted sent the letter.

Compound direct objects
Ted sent cards and letters.

Three direct objects
Ted sent posters, cards, and letters.

Compound predicate with direct objects
Jessica cooked lunch and ate it.

Compound predicate with one direct object
Sam proofreads and edits his essays.

Indirect object
The teacher gave the children homework.

Compound indirect objects
The teacher gave Tess and Sam quizzes.

Predicate noun
John is a coach.

Objective Complement
Johnny painted his front porch white.

Direct address
Harold, tell the class now.

Adjective
Athletic moves excite the crowd.

Compound adjectives
The little old lady hit the tall and distinguished gentleman.

Predicate adjective
The engine was powerful.

Compound predicate adjectives
The engine was powerful but expensive.

Comparative Adjective
Joe is considerably older than his brother.

Adverb
Fred works quickly.

Adverbs modifying other adverbs
My dog wags its tail quite often.

Compound adverbs
The cat waited patiently and quietly at the door.

Passive Verbs
The ball was kicked.

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