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Sentence Structure
Sentence Structure
A sentence is a group of words that is a complete thought on its own. Every sentence must have a
subject and a predicate. The subject is who or what the sentence is about, while the predicate is what
is said about the subject. The subject is always a noun, pronoun, or group of words that functions in
the same way as a noun. The predicate must contain a complete verb, but it can also contain any
amount of extra information that gives more meaning to the verb.
Sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark (a full stop, a question mark, or an
exclamation mark).
Each sentence should consist of a complete thought and be able to stand alone and make sense.
Each sentence must have a subject (the person or thing doing the action).
Each sentence must have a predicate with at least one verb (doing word).
My daughter
Mary and John
The room
Moving house
Collecting wood for the fire
Looking after the animals
Operators of machines
Predicate (includes a complete verb)
arrived home today.
bought a new car yesterday.
went on a camping holiday in the South Island.
is good for the soul.
had been cleaned recently.
can be very stressful.
took a long time.
was Jane’s responsibility.
should be given further training.
The above sentences are called simple sentences.
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A compound sentence is one in which two or more simple sentences are joined together, often by the words
and or but.
For example:
My daughter is coming home today and the two boys will arrive tomorrow.
Drivers think cyclists are a menace on the roads, but cyclists think drivers don’t give them enough room.
A complex sentence is one in which one or more subordinate clauses (giving extra information) are added to
the sentence.
For example:
The old man, who was looking very ill, limped slowly along the footpath.
Although they are bad for me, I love eating chips.
Make your writing more interesting for the reader
by using a variety of sentence structures.
Ask yourself these questions to determine whether a group of words is a sentence:
Do the words make sense on their own?
Are the words a complete thought?
Does the sentence begin with a capital letter and end with an appropriate punctuation mark?
Finally ask yourself: Are the grammar and punctuation correct?
(Adapted from Murphy, E. M. (1989). Effective writing: Plain English at work. Melbourne, Australia: Longman
Want more information?
974 8000 ext 6045
[email protected]