A sentence has to have the two parts – subject and predicate – in order to express a complete thought. The subject can be someone or something. The predicate gives information about what the someone or something does or the state of being of the someone or something.
Order of sentence
Following the right order of a sentence improves the chances of writing a correct sentence. The common order of a sentence is: subject, verb, and, if there one, object. Each of these (subject, verb, or object) is not necessarily a single word. They can be two or more words.
Subject and verb
A simplest sentence consists of two words: a noun or pronoun as the subject and an action verb as the main verb. A sentence can have a compound subject of two or more subjects. A sentence can also have a compound verb when two or more verbs are used. A conjunctions are used in both cases.
Frogs croak. / She screams.
(A noun or pronoun in bold as the subject followed by a main verb)
Ray and Roy argue.
(Compound subject in bold)
We walk and talk.
(Compound verb in bold)
Direct and indirect objects
An object follows the verb. There are two types of objects: direct object and indirect object. A direct object is either a noun or pronoun, and it follows the verb. When an indirect object is introduced into a sentence, there must be a direct object present because the indirect object receives the direct object. The indirect object comes at the end of the sentence, or it comes before the direct object.
They caught a crocodile. / A bee stung him.
(Noun and pronoun in bold as direct objects.)
I gave some marbles to his kids.
(Direct object is marbles, and kids is indirect object coming at the end of the sentence.).
I gave his kids some marbles.
(Indirect object comes before direct object.)
Usual construction of a sentence
The following show five ways on which all sentences are constructed.
1. Subject + intransitive verb
The roof leaked.
2. Subject + transitive verb + direct object
Bonnie fed the pigeons.
3. Subject + transitive verb + direct object + object complement
The boys elected her their leader. (Object complement: their leader)
4. Subject + linking verb + subject complement
Her boyfriend is a morgue assistant. (Subject complement is noun phrase: a morgue assistant)
Its tail was short and bushy. (Subject complement is adjective phrase: short and bushy)
5. Subject + transitive verb + indirect object +direct object (+prepositional phrase)
He gave us a warning (about the strong currents in the river).
An adjective may be added to a sentence to describe the subject noun. The descriptive adjective, like most adjectives, comes before the noun.
The stray dog barks.
(The adjective stray describes the subject noun dog; no direct object.)
Those factory chimneys belch black smoke.
(There are two adjectives here: factory, a noun, acts as an adjective to modify the subject noun chimneys, and the adjective black modifies the object smoke.)
Adding adverb and adverbial phrase
An adverb describes or modifies a verb in a sentence. An adverbial phrase usually consists of more than one word and acts as an adverb.
She smiles happily.
(The adverb happily describes and follows the verb smiles.)
The nurse gently washed his wound.
(An adverb may come before a verb that it modifies: gently washed.)
An adverb (in bold) is usually placed between the subject and the verb.
- He often looks at the night sky for UFOs.
- She always grumbles about the weather and the rain.
- Tom seldom talks to anyone except his dogs.
Some adverbs can be used at the beginning or end of a sentence.
- Normally, she would say no, but this time she said maybe.
- Laughing whenever he likes is not behaving normally.
More about sentence
A sentence must not lack a subject or verb. They are essential components in a sentence, unless the subject is an implied one, in which case the subject is not mentioned on the sentence.
- No: Saw him running in the rain the other day. (No subject)
- Yes: I/We/He/She/They/Johnny saw him running in the rain the other day.
- No: You on a rollercoaster yesterday? (No main verb)
- Yes: You rode/rode on a rollercoaster yesterday?
- No: I feeling tired the whole day. (No auxiliary verb)
- Yes: I am feeling tired the whole day.
A sentence must not have the wrong form of verb used in it.
- No: That big woman fallen heavily to the ground just a while ago.
- Yes: That big woman fell heavily to the ground just a while ago.
- No: He has showed her how to catch big butterflies.
- Yes: He has shown her how to catch big butterflies.
Words and phrases should be put in their rightful places.
Time and place in a sentence
Time is usually placed at the end of a sentence.
- I remember the prime minister shook me warmly by the hand in 1999.
Time may also be placed at the start of a sentence.
- In 1999, I wanted to propose to her, but I was afraid of being rejected.
Place comes before time in all cases.
- No: I was imprisoned in 1999 in London.
- Yes: I was imprisoned in London in 1999.