Sentence Structures in English
In English, there are many different sentence structures and they are using in many different situations, in this lesson, we only talk about the normal /typical sentence structures. Let’s look at the following to learn about parts of English sentence.
Normal Sentence Structures in English:
|John and I||ate||a pizza||last night.|
|We||studied||“to be”||last week.|
The subject is the agent of the sentence in active voice; it is the person or thing that performs or is responsible for the action of the sentence, and it normally precedes the verb. Note: Every sentence in English must have a subject. ( in the case of commands, the subject [you] is understood. The subject may be a singular noun.
- Coffee is delicious
- Milk contains calcium
The subject may be a noun phrase. A noun phrase is a group of words ending with a noun.(It CAN NOT begin with a preposition).
- The book is on the table.
- That new red car is John’s.
More Examples of SUBJECT:
- We girls are not going to that movies.
- George likes boats.
- Mary, John, Tim and I went to a restaurant last night.
- The weather was very bad today.
- The bank closed at 2 o’clock.
It can act as a pronoun for a noun or can be the subject of an impersonal verb. As the subject of an impersonal verb, the pronoun is not actually used in place of a noun, but is a part of an idiomatic expression.
- It rains quite often here in the summer.
- It is hard to believe that he is dead.
In some sentences, the true subject does not appear in normal subject position. There can act as a pseudo-subject and is treated like a subject when changing word order to a question. However, the true subject appears after the verb, and the number of the true subject controls the verbs.
- There was a fire in that building last month.( subject = a fire)
- Was there a fire in that building last month?
- There were many students in the room. ( subject = many students)
- Were there many students in the room?
The verb follows the subject in a declarative sentence; it generally shows the action of the sentence. NOTE: Every sentence must have a verb.
The verb may be a single word.
- John drives too fast.
- They hate spinach.
The verb may be a verb phrase. A verb phrase consists of one or more auxiliaries and one main verb. The auxiliaries always precede the main verb.
- John is going to Miami tomorow. ( auxiliaries = is ; main verb = going )
- Jane has been reading that book. ( auxiliaries = has, been; main verb = reading )
More Examples of verbs and verb phrases:
- She will go to Boston next week.
- Jane is very well.
- She must have gone to the bank.
- Joe has gone home.
- Mary is watching television.
- It was raining at six o’clock last night.
A complement completes the verb. It is similar to the subject because it is usually a noun or noun phrase; however, it is generally follows the verb when the sentence is in the active voice.
NOTE: Every sentence does not require a complement.
The complement CAN NOT begin with a preposition. A complement answer the question what? or whom?
Examples of Complement:
- John bought a cake yesterday. ( What did John buy?)
- Jill was driving a new car. ( What was Jill driving? )
- He wants to drink some water. ( What does he want to drink? )
- She saw John at the movies last night. (whom did she see at the movies? )
- They called Mary yesterday. ( Whom did they call yesterday? )
- He was smoking a cigarette. ( What was he smoking? )
A modifier tells the time, place, or manner of the action. Very often it is a prepositional phrase. A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with a noun.
NOTE: A modifier of time usually comes last if more than one modifier is present.
Examples of the prepositional phrases:
- in the morning
- at the university
- on the table
A modifier can also be an adverb or an adverbial phrase:
- last night
- next year
More Examples of modifiers:
- John bought a book at the bookstore. ( Where did John buy a book? )
- Jill was swimming in the pool yesterday. ( in the pool = where was Jill swimming?; yesterday = When was Jill swimming? )
- He was driving very fast. ( How was he driving?)
- The milk is in the refrigerator. ( Where is the milk?)
- She drove the car on Main street. ( Where did she drive?)
NOTE: The modifier normally follows the complement, but not always. However, the modifier, especially when it is a prepositional phrase, usually can not separate the verb and the complement.
- INCORRECT: She drove on the street the car.
- CORRECT: She drove the car on the street.
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