As we talk about these grammar basics today, please take your own notes. Format your notes like this...
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As we talk about these grammar basics today, please take your own notes. Format your notes like this:. (key words in left column) complete sentence (notes/definitions in right column) has a subject and predicate and can stand on its own.

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(key words in left column) complete sentence (notes/definitions in right column)

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As we talk about these grammar basics today, please take your own notes. Format your notes like this:

(key words in left column)

complete sentence

(notes/definitions in right column)

has a subject and predicate and can stand on its own


The subject of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that is “doing” or “being” in the sentence.

Wild horses run on the beach.


The subject of a sentence is the person, place, thing, or idea that is “doing” or “being” in the sentence.

Wild horses run on the beach.

“Wild horses” is the subject.


The predicate of a sentence is the part of a sentence that contains the verb and describes something about the subject.

Wild horses run on the beach.


The predicate of a sentence is the part of a sentence that contains the verb and describes something about the subject.

Wild horses run on the beach.

“run” is the verb


The predicate of a sentence is the part of a sentence that contains the verb and describes something about the subject.

Wild horses run on the beach.

“run on the beach” is the predicate


A complete sentence has a subject and a predicate (the predicate is the part of the sentence that contains the verb) and can stand independently on its own. For example:

The cat slept.


The cat slept.

This is an example of a simple sentence—one that contains one subject and one predicate.


The cat slept soundly.

Is this still a simple sentence?


The cat slept soundly.

Yes! This is still a simple sentence—the adverb “soundly” is modifying the verb “slept,” but there is still just one subject and one predicate.


The cat slept soundly

on the rug in front of the fireplace.

Is this still a simple sentence?


The cat slept soundly

on the rug in front of the fireplace.

Yes! It is still a simple sentence because it contains only one subject and one predicate. “On the rug in front of the fireplace” is a prepositional phrase that tells us where the cat slept.


The cat slept soundly

and purred in its sleep.

What has happened to make this something other than a simple sentence?


The cat slept soundly

and purred in its sleep.

We’ve added another verb. This is called a compound predicate. A compound predicate is a predicate that has two or more verbs.


The cat and the kittens slept soundly.

What’s going on here?


The cat and the kittens slept soundly.

This sentence has a compound subject. A compound subject is a subject that has two or more nouns.


The cat slept soundly on the rug, and the dog ate its food in the kitchen.

What would you call this sentence?


The cat slept soundly on the rug, and the dog ate its food in the kitchen.

In this example, two simple sentences have been joined by a comma plus the conjunction “and” to form a compound sentence.


The cat slept soundly on the rug, and the dog ate its food in the kitchen.

A compound sentence is a sentence made of two or more independent clauses that could stand on their own as individual sentences.


There are other variations called complex sentences and compound-complex sentences, but we will save those for another day.


Three of the most common grammatical errors arise from problems with simple and compound sentences:

sentence fragments

run-on sentences

comma splices


Sentence fragments occur when an author tries to make an incomplete sentence stand on its own.

Explain why each of the following is a sentence fragment.


Made breakfast at home.


Made breakfast at home.

(no subject)


My sister and I.


My sister and I.

(no verb)


While Mom was at the store.


While Mom was at the store.

(this is a dependent clause that can’t stand as a complete sentence even though it has a subject and predicate)


Run-on sentences occur when an author tries to join two clauses into a compound sentences without any punctuation.


My sister and I rode our bikes

to the lake we went swimming.


You can correct a run-on sentence by using a semicolon between the two independent clauses OR by using a comma plus a conjunction OR by making two complete sentences.


My sister and I rode our bikes

to the lake; we went swimming.

My sister and I rode our bikes

to the lake, and we went swimming.

My sister and I rode our bikes to the lake. We went swimming.


A comma splice is like a run-on sentence, but the author has tried to join the two clauses into a compound sentence with just a comma.


My sister and I rode our bikes

to the lake, we went swimming.


Correction of a comma splice is the same as correction for a run-on sentence: join the two clauses with a semicolon or a comma plus a conjunction, or form two complete sentences.


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