Sentence structure
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Sentence structure. Getting down to the nuts and bolts. What is a sentence?. A complete sentence includes a subject and a verb, also known as a predicate. Example: “You write.” A complete sentence may also include a pronoun, adjective, adverb, article, preposition, and conjunction.

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Sentence structure

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Sentence structure

Sentence structure

Getting down to the nuts and bolts


What is a sentence

What is a sentence?

  • A complete sentence includes a subject and a verb, also known as a predicate.

    Example: “You write.”

  • A complete sentence may also include a pronoun, adjective, adverb, article, preposition, and conjunction.

    Example: “You write furiously, hoping that your heartfelt essay will earn you an ‘A’ in English but fearing that it may not.”


Let s break it down

Let’s break it down

  • Noun: Name of a person, place, thing, or idea.

    Example: Many students work full time.

  • Pronoun: Replacement for a noun.

    Example: They work full time.


Let s break it down contd

Let’s break it down, contd.

  • Verb: Shows action, occurrence, or state of being.

    Example: Many students work full time.

  • Helping verb: Combines with another verb to become a verb phrase.

    Example: The student has worked full time.


Sentence structure

  • Adjective: Describes, names, or quantifies a noun or pronoun.

    Example: Many students work full time.

  • Adverb: A word that modifies a verb, adjective, other adverbs, or whole clauses.

    Example: The grammar workshop was surprisingly painless.


Sentence structure

  • Article: Precedes a noun. “A” and “an” are indefinite articles; “the” is a definite article.

  • Example: The grammar workshop wasn’t as painless as the presenter imagined.

  • Preposition: Describes relationships between parts of the sentence.

    Example: Students nodded off during the grammar workshop.

  • Conjunction: Connects words.

    Example: Please stay awake or at least pretend to be.


What is a gerund

What is a gerund?

Gerund phrases use “ing” words as nouns.

Example: Getting students interested in sentence structure [subject/gerund phrase] is not as easy as it looks.


What is an independent clause

What is an independent clause?

  • An independent clause is a word group that makes up a complete sentence.

    Example: You brought an umbrella to school.


What is a dependent clause

What is a dependent clause?

A dependent clause (also known as a subordinate clause) contains a subject and verb. But it is considered a sentence fragment on its own because it starts with a subordinating conjunction (such as “because” or “although”).

Example: When [subordinating conjunction] it rained [dependent clause], [comma]you brought an umbrella to school. [independent clause]


What is santa claus

What is Santa Claus?

Santa Claus [subject] is a jolly fat guy [appositive] who is no relation [relative pronoun] to the grammatical clauses.


What is parallel structure

What is parallel structure?

With parallel structure, we balance single words with single words and clauses with clauses.

Wrong: Katie had big plans for her future: to graduate, to land a job, and teaching effectively.

Right: Katie had big plans for her future: to graduate, to land a job, and to become an excellent teacher.


What is a sentence fragment

What is a sentence fragment?

Fragments are parts of sentences that are punctuated as though they are complete sentences. We avoid these in academic writing.

Examples:

  • A sleepy student who can’t concentrate.

  • Sentence parts discussed willy-nilly.

  • Because learning grammar is about as exciting as watching the grass grow.


Sentence structure

A complete sentence needs a subject and verb. It often includes other parts, too.

Example: A sleepy student [subject] who can’t concentrate [appositive renaming the subject] must get [verb phrase] more sleep [direct object].

A complete sentence needs a complete verb.

Example: Sentence parts [subject] are [helping verb] discussed [verb] willy-nilly [adverb].


Sentence structure

If a sentence starts with a subordinating conjunction (also known as a dependent clause), it should end with a word group that makes up a complete sentence (an independent clause).

Example: Because learning grammar is about as exciting as watching the grass grow [subordinate clause/dependent clause], the presenter includes plenty of clip art in her PowerPoint [independent clause].


What is a run on sentence

What is a run-on sentence?

A run-on—or “fused”—sentence is two independent clauses joined without any punctuation or connecting word linking them.

Example: You wrote a fused sentence [independent clause] the Writing Center S.W.A.T. team will show up on your doorstep. [independent clause]


First solution

First solution

1. Turn one independent clause into a dependent clause and add a comma.

Example: Because you wrote a fused sentence [dependent clause], [comma] the Writing Center S.W.A.T. team will show up on your doorstep.


Second solution

Second solution

2. Use a period to separate the two independent clauses into two sentences.

Example: You wrote a fused sentence. [complete sentence]The Writing Center S.W.A.T. team will show up on your doorstep. [complete sentence]


Third solution

Third solution

3. Attach the independent clauses with a comma and coordinating conjunction.

Example: You wrote a fused sentence, [comma] so [coordinating conjunction] the Writing Center S.W.A.T. team will show up on your doorstep.


Fourth solution

Fourth solution

4. Attach the independent clauses with a semi-colon.

Example: You wrote a fused sentence; [semi-colon] the Writing Center S.W.A.T. team will show up on your doorstep.


Fifth solution

Fifth solution

5. Transform two clauses as one independent clause.

Example: The S.W.A.T. team will turn up on your doorstep now that you’ve written a fused sentence. [independent clause]


What is a comma splice

What is a comma splice?

A comma between two independent clauses is a comma splice.

Incorrect: The Writing Center should chill out [independent clause], [comma splice] comma splices are not a criminal offense. [independent clause]


The same 5 solutions will fix it

The same 5 solutions will fix it

  • Turn one independent clause into a dependent clause and add a comma.

  • Use a period to separate the two independent clauses into two sentences.

  • Attach the independent clauses with a comma and coordinating conjunction.


Same 5 solutions contd

Same 5 solutions, contd.

  • Attach the independent clauses with a semi-colon.

  • Transform two clauses into one independent clause.


Why does sentence emphasis matter

Why does sentence emphasis matter?

Your most important point should appear as the subject/verb of an independent clause.

Example: As Lindsey glided down the hallway [dependent clause], all the young men’s jaws dropped. [independent clause]


Which sentences should we combine

Which sentences should we combine?

Short, choppy sentences can be combined for improved flow.

Wrong: John went to school. Women followed him. He was puzzled.

Right: After John arrived at school, he was puzzled by the women following him.


How do we vary sentences

How do we vary sentences?

Add variety by changing sentence openings, sentence length, and sentence order.

Wrong: Kara likes to wrestle crocodiles. She likes to bungee jump. She likes to sky-dive.

Right: Kara likes to wrestle crocodiles. In addition, she enjoys bungee jumping and sky-diving.


Switch sentence order

Switch sentence order

Inverting sentences is another way to achieve sentence variety.

Instead of:

Holly wrote obsessive fan mail to Jack Black in the house across from the post office.

Try:

In the house across from the post office, Holly wrote obsessive fan mail to Jack Black.


Why does all this matter

Why does all this matter?

We judge on appearances. By conforming to standard English when appropriate, you exude a sense of scholarship and professionalism.


References

References

  • Hacker, D. A Writer’s reference (5th ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

  • Lunsford, A. A. (2003). The St. Martin’s handbook (5th ed.) Boston: St. Martin’s.

  • Purdue University. (n.d.). Independent and dependent clauses. Retrieved May 5, 2008, from Purdue University, Online Writing Lab Web site: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_clause.html


References contd

References, contd.

  • Purdue University. (n.d.). Sentence fragments. Retrieved May 5, 2008, from Purdue University, Online Writing Lab Web site: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_frag.html


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