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Sentence and Sentence Structure

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What Is a Sentence?

  • A sentence is a set of words that gives a complete thought.
  • A complete sentence expresses one or more ideas and consists of at least one subject and one verb.
  • Each idea in the sentence is expressed by a clause. Each clause MUST contain a subject and a verb.

For example:

This is just one clause. It has one subject [the farmer] and one verb [planted].

  • The farmer planted a tree.
  • The farmer planted a tree, and it grew to be tall and strong.

There are two clauses here, each of which has a subject [the farmer, it] and a verb [planted, grew].

Types of Clauses

There are two types of clause: Independent clause and Dependent clause.

Independent Clauses

  • Independent Clauses express a complete thought and contain a subject and a verb.
  • These clauses can form a sentence on their own, or can be combined with other independent Clauses to form compound sentences.
  • You can form a compound sentence by using a semicolon (;) to combine two independent but related clauses.
  • You can also combine two or more independent Clauses by using a comma and a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).

For example:

Each of these sentences is an independent clause.

Two independent Clauses are combined using a semicolon.

  • The farmer planted a tree.
  • The tree grew to be tall and strong.
  • People loved to sit in the tree's shade.
  • The farmer planted a tree; it grew to be tall and strong.
  • The farmer planted a tree, and it grew to be tall and strong, so people loved to sit in it's shade.

All three independent Clauses are combined using a comma and the coordinating conjunctions "and" and "so."

Dependent Clauses

  • A dependent clause is a clause that isn't a complete thought, so it can't stand alone, even though it has a subject and verb.
  • It MUST be attached to an independent clause to form a sentence.

For example:

  • Because it is such a nice day...
  • When we got home...
  • If you forget your backpack again...
  • Dependent Clauses can act as adjective clause, adverb clause, or noun clause.

This is an adjective clause because it describes the farmer.

This is an adverb clause because it tells when something will happen.

  • The farmer who planted the tree was wearing overalls.
  • The farmer planted the tree as soon as spring began.
  • Whoever planted the tree should have planted it closer to the water.

This is a noun clause because it is the subject of the sentence.

Summary
  • complete sentence expresses one or more ideas and consists of at least one subject and one verb.
  • Each idea in the sentence is expressed by a clause. Each clause MUST contain a subject and a verb.
  • Independent Clauses express a complete thought and contain a subject and a verb.
  • dependent clause is a clause that isn't a complete thought, so it can't stand alone, even though it has a subject and verb.
  • Dependent Clauses can act as adjective clause, adverb clause, or noun clause.

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