May it also ask a question? Interrogative
THE SENTENCE Use it to give an order. Imperative
What great emotion it can express! Exclamatory
As you add words to modify the subject and verb, you will create longer
sentences, some with phrases, others with clauses. Quite simply, a phrase is a group
What exactly is a sentence? of words containing no subject—verb combination and usually acting as a modifier
(prepositional phrase, participial phrase, infinitive phrase). A clause is a group of
words containing a subject—verb combination; sometimes the clause expresses a
Like sign language, the beat of drums, or smoke signals, sentences are a means of
complete thought, but not always.
communicating. They may express emotion, give orders, make statements, or ask
questions; but in every case they try to communicate.
In most sentences there are two parts that follow a basic pattern: INDEPENDENT CLAUSE makes a complete statement
Subject || Verb communicates an idea by itself
Occasionally, a sentence may be a single word: DEPENDENT CLAUSE modifies a unit in another clause
does not communicate a complete thought may be a
What? Nonsense! Jump. unit in another clause.
In certain contexts "What?" and "Nonsense!" may communicate a complete thought. These two types of clauses combine to form various types of sentences; the most
"Jump," as you can see, has an implied "you" as its subject. common are these:
Now let's break up each of two very simple sentences into their two parts.
The bees are swarming. SIMPLE makes a single statement
is an independent clause
bees II are swarming. has only one subject—verb combination
The zebras stampeded.
zebras II stampeded COMPOUND makes two or more statements
has two or more independent clauses has two or more
Try making up your own example following the pattern above; box the subject (or the subject—verb combinations
subject noun phrase) and the verb (or the predicate verb phrase), and insert a pair of
vertical lines between these two basic parts of the sentence. Only two slots are COMPLEX has an independent clause
necessary—the S (subject) slot and the V (verb) slot. has one or more dependent clauses
functioning as modifiers
Now let's add modifiers to the subject, to the verb, or to both. Note that you still
have but two slots and need only one pair of vertical lines:
COMPOUND COMPLEX has two or more independent clauses
The agitated killer bees II are swarming in the apricot trees. has two or more subject—verb combinations
The startled zebras II stampeded the white hunters. has one or more dependent clauses functioning as
Combining the S slot and the V slot, you can construct the most common sentence
patterns. Each one has a traditional name, describing its purpose and the task it The subject—verb combination is the heart of each sentence you write. With
performs: this combination you can build an infinite variety of intricate sentence patterns. In
TASK NAME analyzing, note that each new subject—verb combination will require a new pair of II
A sentence may make a statement. Declarative lines. Longer sentences may have only one S and one V slot with one pair of vertical
lines. Sometimes there will be only one subject in the S slot; sometimes there will be include several subject—verb combinations, all having modifiers. Distinguish main
two or more subjects, all in the same S slot, because they precede the vertical lines clauses by putting II between the S and the V in a main clause and I between the S
separating S from V. Similarly, the verb slot may have one verb or several verbs. and the V in dependent clauses; then put brackets around dependent clauses
Elizabeth and Mary Tudor II were sisters but hated each other.
NOTE: Throughout this chapter one line will underline a subject; EXAMPLES: Long or short sentences II can sometimes communicate
underline and italics, a verb. effectively the most difficult ideas in the world, (simple)
Sentences often have an added attraction—something after the verb that is
neither a modifying word nor a phrase—yet even these sentences may have but one S Sterling silver [that I may cost $800 a place setting] and
and one V slot If the verb is transitive, you will find a direct object following it. A small kitchen appliances like can openers or toasters [that I
transitive verb describes an action that the subject performs—in the examples below, are considered too basic] II are no longer popular wedding
Ben's forgetting or Agnes's ignoring and continuing. A direct object receives the gifts, (complex)
action of the verb and answers the questions "what?" or "whom?" Each of the
following examples (both simple sentences) has one or more direct objects.
Now let's break a whole sentence into its parts. When making a mechanical
DO analysis of any sentence, use the following labels to identify the
EXAMPLES: Ben II forgot his galoshes. various parts:
DO S subject C connector (conjunction) M modifier
Agnes II ignored her teacher's glares and continued her
V verb O object of preposition IO indirect object
DO object of infinitive OC object complement
SC subject complement P preposition DO direct object
If the verb is linking, however, there may be subject completers (subject The following sentence illustrates the type of analysis you might practice:
complements). A subject complement may be either a noun, a pronoun, or an M M M S V M SC PM O
adjective that renames or describes the subject. The following sentences illustrate the The rundown, dirty shoes appeared unbelievably incongruous on the model.
single S—V combination with one or more subject complements. Both sentences The following chapters will help you write more effective sentences and will
have being verbs (am, is. are, was, were, be, being, been). Other linking verbs are give you clues to spice up dreary prose. Sentences come to life as a writer plans
appear, seem, become, and verbs of sensation (feel, taste, etc.). them; in fact, very few fine sentences are spontaneous. The following pages have
SC models to imitate and use. The patterns presented are basic, but by no means are they
EXAMPLES: Anne Boleyn II was Henry VIII's second wife. the only ones. As your writing matures, you will discover additional patterns. As you
master the ability to analyze and to compose sentences, you will be justifiably proud
Bargain basement sales II may be ___________or of your improving style.
_____________, ___________, or ___________, ___________, or ____________. And now you're off ... on the way to creating better sentences, more polished
(YOU try filling in the blanks above!) paragraphs.
To almost every part of the sentence you may add modifying words and phrases.
You may retain the single subject—verb combination or else expand your sentence to