The basic sentence structure in English is simple enough. No, I’m not going to call this a beginner’s guide. I’ve seen too many advanced students, who knew how to use clever words and ideas, but nevertheless couldn’t get a single English sentence right. As a result it was impossible to understand them, and they suffered from this in their daily jobs.
Start with the subject: the person or thing that is doing something.
Examples: the man, she, Mrs. Thompson, the little boys, my neighbours from upstairs, my friends and I, I, you.
Then you have the verb: the word that describes what the subject is doing. The verb can be in different tenses, but you don’t need to bother with that for now.
Verbs look like this: talk, should remember, can, would like, is taking, will read, might have been followed, is being served.
Subject + Verb = Sentence
Put the two together and presto! You have your sentence.
The man talks.
She should remember.
Mrs. Thompson is being served.
The rest of the sentence is just frills.
You can have an object. That is the thing or person that the subject does something to or for.
Here are some examples:
Neil told me a story.
Both me and a story are objects.
Vanessa is having a shower.
a shower is the object.
You can also add details, such as the time when the events in your sentence take place, or a place. This is called adjunct.
Adjunct are usually placed after your object(s). Or you can put them at the beginning of the sentence, with a comma (,).
Neil told me a story on Wednesday afternoon. (adjunct: on Wednesday afternoon)
At the weekend, Fran and Morris built a tree house. (adjunct: at the weekend)
Vanessa is having a shower at her health club. (adjunct: at her health club)
After work, we took out some sushi. (adjunct: after work)
Decide whether the following strings of words are sentences or not:
Just a reminder again: A sentence is when there are a subject and a verb. If one of them is missing, it’s not a sentence.
1 To buy a present for my friend’s birthday.
2 Whom he saw in the café.
3 The storm blew over Montana.
4 Three bananas, a kilo of apples, and half a kilo of carrots, please.
5 You’re my favourite sister!
6 The waterfalls continue over 3 kilometers.
7 Yellow and pink you better than black and grey.
8 They danced together.
9 All evening, they fun.
For the Answers: scroll down.
Numbers 3, 5, 6, and 8 are sentences.