A sentence is an independent clause that consists of a group of any number of words expressing a complete thought. It contains a subject and verb, and can be a long sentence or as short as a one-word statement. Every sentence is divided into two main parts: the subject and the predicate.
Words are used and arranged grammatically to construct a sentence. The ways in which words can be arranged to form a sentence are limitless. Words are categorized into parts of speech. To write a sentence, one has to be familiar with the parts of speech, which are noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. There are eight of them. Sometimes, determiner is added as a part of speech to bring the total to nine. A word can belong to more than one part of speech. Part of speech indicates how the word functions in meaning in a sentence.
Sentence and clause
A sentence is a type of clause. The independent clause is the only complete sentence. It can also be referred to as a main clause. Other clauses which are not independent clauses are dependent clauses, also called subordinate clauses. A dependent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb, and because it does not express a complete thought, it cannot stand on its own as a sentence. If it is made to stand on its own, it becomes a sentence fragment, more of which will be explained later.
What we should know about a sentence
1. A sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop (period), a question mark, or an exclamation mark. It expresses a complete idea or asks a question.
EXAMPLE: The sun rises in the East. / What is your name? / You did it!
2. A sentence must be able to stand by itself and make sense. To ensure it does, the subject-verb agreement must be complied with.
EXAMPLE: That new car.
This is a subject following a determiner and a modifying adjective, but there is no verb which does not make it a complete sentence. Every sentence must have a verb for it to be complete. Complete sentence: That new car runs fast. (= predicate in bold)
3. A sentence can be a single word, two words, or a short one used to express a strong feeling such as excitement, anger or surprise, and is called an exclamatory sentence. Although the subject is not displayed in such a sentence, it is still accepted as a sentence because it can stand alone, and it does make sense, and its meaning is clear.
EXAMPLE: Welcome! Stop it!
The subject is implied and is always the second-person pronoun: you. The implied subject is supposed to be understood. A verb is always used to begin the sentence: You welcome! You stop it! An exclamatory sentence ends with an exclamation mark.
Where the subject is implied, the sentence can also be an imperative sentence. An imperative sentence gives a command to someone to do something. It often ends with an exclamation mark, but it may also end with a full stop (period).
One-word sentence: Stop! Go!
Two-word sentence: Look out!
Short sentence: Put these over there and those over here.
4. A sentence can also be a combination of two or more clauses. One of the clauses must be an independent clause, and the other clause can either be an independent or a dependent clause. It is important to know about clauses in order to construct complete sentences.
One-clause sentence: I cannot sleep.
Two-clause sentence: She cooks and I eat. (Joined by conjunction and)
The last example is made up of two clauses: She cooks; I eat. Each has a subject and a verb (subject: She / I; verb: cooks / eat) which most sentences must have.
5. A sentence can be joined to another sentence without the use of a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) with the help of the present participle, which is the –ing form of a verb; for example, cry – crying; look – looking; walk – walking. The sentence can also be made negative by using the negative word not. The negative word is placed in front of the verb ending in –ing.
I saw the blue sky. I decided to jog in the park. (Two complete sentences)
I saw the blue sky and I decided to jog in the park. (Conjunction is used)
Seeing the blue sky, I decided to jog in the park. (No conjunction used)
EXAMPLE: Not finding a place to park, I decided to go elsewhere.
Basic elements of the sentence
The sentence is made up of two basic parts: the subject and the predicate. The predicate may be simple or it may be extremely complicated with its component parts.
A. The subject: The simple subject is the noun or pronoun that identifies the person, place, or thing the sentence is about. The complete subject is the simple subject and all the words that modify it.
B. The predicate: The predicate contains the verb that explains what the subject is doing. The simple predicate contains only the verb; the complete predicate contains the verb and all that follow, which can be direct object, indirect object, complement, modifier, phrase, or clause.
C. Phrases: prepositional phrases; verbals*; infinitive phrases; gerund phrases; participial phrases
D. Clauses: noun clauses; adjective clauses; adverb clauses
*When a verbal is used as the subject of a sentence, a gerund is used. The infinitive is grammatically correct, but it sounds unusual.
Beginning a sentence with because
A sentence can begin with because if there is an independent clause that follows it. Without the independent clause¸ it is a dependent clause (subordinate clause) which is not a sentence and is known as a sentence fragment.
Because her boss was evil, Margaret found a job elsewhere. (Dependent clause + independent clause)
Because I said that it is time to go. (Fragment) – no independent clause coming after the 'because clause.’