Grammar: The Sentence Structure

What is a sentence?
A sentence is a group of words that makes complete sense. For example:

  • She is studying Linguistics.
  • I will fly to Canada.
  • Get out of here!

The Structure of a Sentence
The building blocks of a sentence are:

Subject (doer),
Verb (action or state) and
Object (receiver of an action).  For example:

  • He killed a snake.  He (Subject = doer of an action) Killed (Verb = Action) a snake (Object = receiver of an action)
  • I broke the glass. I (Subject = doer of an action) Broke (Verb = Action) The Glass (Object = receiver of an action).

The Object can be direct or indirect. A direct object receives the action of the subject directly and the indirect object receives the action of the subject indirectly.

An indirect object answers the question of to whom, for whom, or for what.
A direct object answers the question of who(m) or what. For example:

  • Ali gave me the book. Book is the direct Object and Me is the Indirect Object.
  • He threw him the ball. Ball is the direct object and Him is the Indirect Object.

The Predicate of a Sentence

Each sentence has two parts: Subject and Predicate. Predicate gives information about the Subject of what the subject has or does. The purpose of the predicate is to complete an idea about the subject, such as what it does or what it is like. For example:

  • He likes football. He (Subject) likes football (Predicate)
  • I watch TV. I (Subject) watch TV (Predicate)

Functional Types of Sentences

There are four notional, functional and discourse types of sentences:

  • Declarative: (Makes a statement)  For example: I speak English. I don’t speak French.
  • Interrogative: (Asks a questions) For example: Do you live in this area?
  • Imperative: (Makes an order, request or advice) For example: Go and get me a glass of water!
  • Exclamatory: (Shows sudden emotions) For example: What nice weather!

The English Phrase and Clause
A Phrase is a group of words which gives incomplete sense. For example:

  • On the table (Incomplete sense) but There’s food on the table (Complete sentence)
  • Along the road (Incomplete sense) but I was walking along the road. (Complete sentence)
  • Early in the morning (Incomplete sense) but She gets up early in the morning (Complete sentence)

A Clause is a group of words having its own subject and verb. A Clause is a meaningful group of words. Basically, a clause is a part of a sentence. For example:

  • I waited for him, but he did not come. (Two clauses but one sentence)
  • They laughed all day. (One sentence and one Clause)

Types of Clauses

Thus there are two main Types of Clauses:

(1) Independent Clause also called Main Clause.
(2) Dependant Clause also called Subordinate Clause.

Independent Clause has its complete meaning so it can stand on its own as a sentence but Dependant Clause cannot express complete meaning it needs another clause to complete its meaning. For example:

  • I saw a man who was crying. (In dependant Clause has complete meaning without ‘who was crying’)
  • I saw a man who was crying. (Dependant Clause cannot express a complete meaning without ‘I saw a man’)

Structural Types of Sentences

There are three structural or formal Types of Sentences. For example:

  • Simple Sentence:  The bus was late.
  • Compound Sentence: I waited for the bus but the bus was late.
  • Complex Sentence: I watched a movie in my cell phone while I waited for the train.

A simple sentence has the most basic elements that make it a
sentence: a subject, a verb, and a complete thought.

A compound sentence refers to a sentence made up of two independent
clauses (or complete sentences) connected to one another with a coordinating
conjunction
, for example:

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

They are generally called  “FAN BOYS“. For example:

  • I looked for you at the bus station, but you arrived at the station before night and left on the bus before me.
  • You left on the bus before I arrived, so I did not see you at the bus station.

A complex sentence is made up of an independent clause and one or more
dependent clauses connected to it.

Dependent clauses begin with subordinating conjunctions. Below are some of the most common subordinating conjunctions:

  • after
  • although
  • as
  • because
  • before
  • even though
  • if
  • since
  • though
  • unless
  • until
  • when
  • whenever
  • whereas
  • wherever
  • while

When the dependent clause comes first, a comma should be used to separate the two clauses. 
For example:

  • Because I was in the main room, I did not see the guests coming. 
  • While I waited at the bus station, I realised that the bus was late. 
  • After I left on the bus, you realised that I was waiting at the train station.

When the independent clause comes first, a comma should not be used to separate the two clauses. For example:

  • I did not see the guests coming because I was in the main room,
  • I realised that the bus was late While I waited at the bus station.
  • You realised that I was waiting at the train station After I left on the bus.

Exercises

1. Do as directed.

1. I don’t want to go with you.
    (Find Verb and Object)
2. What nice weather!
    (What is the type of this sentence?)
3. Do you think you can learn English?
    (What is the type of sentence?)
4. What did she buy from the market?
    (Find Verb)
5. Please tell me your name.
    (Tell the type of sentence and Find-verb- object)
6. May you win the game!
    (Find Subject/Verb/Object)
7. It was raining heavily so I couldn’t come to college yesterday.
    (Find the Predicate)

2. Supply grammatical terms against the short definitions.

1. A word that works as head of the sentence and performs an action is a —————————
2. A groups of words that makes incomplete sentence is called a ——————————-
3. A word that is affected by the action of the subject is called ———
4. A predicate has two parts:————————
5. A group of words that contains a predicate but is a part of a sentence is called a: —————-
6. The Clause which needs no words to express its meaning is called an ————————–
7. Imperative Sentences are used to make:—————————————————————
8. The Object has two kinds————————-
9. An exclamatory Sentence is one that makes…………..

3. Read the sentences and do as directed!

1. We don’t want to play tennis this time.
    (Find: Phrase)
2. The shopkeeper gave me a pretty story book.
    (Find: Indirect objects)
3. The problem of overloading is killing.
    (Find: subject-predicate)
4. I couldn’t meet him because he was not home.
    (Find: Dependant and Independent Clauses)
5. The human brain never stops working until you stand up to speak in public.
    (Find: Dependant and Independent Clauses)
6. She is going to the movies, or she is going to the mall.
    (Find: Coordinating Clauses)
7. She doesn’t drink milk, nor does she eat butter.
    (Find: Coordinating Clauses)

2 thoughts on “Grammar: The Sentence Structure”

  1. 1. Do as directed.

    1. I don't want to go with you.
    WANT and GO are VERBS and YOU is OBJECT
    2. What nice weather!
    This is an EXCLAMATORY SENTENCE
    3. Do you think you can learn English?
    THIS IS AN INTERROGATIVE SENTENCE
    4. What did she buy from the market?
    Buy is the VERB
    5. Please tell me your name.
    This is an IMPERATIVE SENTENCE. Tell is the VERB and Name is the OBJECT
    6. May you win the game!
    You is the SUBJECT, Win is the VERB and Game is the OBJECT
    7. It was raining heavily so I couldn’t come to college yesterday.
    The PREDICATE in the first part of the sentence is RAINING HEAVILY and in the second part is COULDN’T COME TO COLLEGE YESTERDAY.

    2. Supply grammatical terms against the short definitions.

    1. A word that works as head of the sentence and performs an action is a SUBJECT.
    2. A groups of words that makes incomplete sentence is called a PHRASE.
    3. A word that is affected by the action of the subject is called OBJECT.
    4. A sentence has two parts: SUBJECT and PREDICATE.
    5. A group of words that contains a predicate but is a part of a sentence is called a: CLAUSE
    6. The Clause which needs no words to express its meaning is called an INDEPENDENT CLAUSE
    7. Imperative Sentences are used to make COMMANDS, ADVICE and REQUESTS.
    8. The Object has two kinds DIRECT and INDIRECT.
    9. An exclamatory Sentence is one that makes SUDDEN EMOTIONS.

    3. Read the sentences and do as directed!

    1. We don't want to play tennis this time.
    THIS TIME is the PHRASE
    2. The shopkeeper gave me a pretty story book.
    ME is the INDIRECT OBJECT
    3. The problem of overloading is killing.
    IS KILLING is PREDICATE.
    4. I couldn’t meet him because he was not home.
    First is INDEPENDENT CLAUSE and second is DEPENDENT CLAUSE.
    5. The human brain never stops working until you stand up to speak in public.
    First is INDEPENDENT CLAUSE and second is DEPENDENT CLAUSE.
    6. She is going to the movies, or she is going to the mall.
    Both are COORDINATING CLAUSES
    7. She doesn’t drink milk, nor does she eat butter.
    Both are COORDINATING CLAUSES

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