The Simple Sentence Sentence Fragments Clear Sentences In conversation, you do not always have to use complete sentences. You can answer a question with a word or two: Yes. No. My dad. You can ask a question without using a complete sentence: Whose car? Which girl? What time? In writing, however, you must use complete sentences to make your meaning clear, because the reader is not at hand to ask you to repeat, to explain, or to fill in words you have left out. Building a Sentence • You may not think of yourself as a mechanic. However, speaking and writing English is somewhat like building an engine. • Like a mechanic working on an engine, a good writer carefully combines parts to build a complete sentence. Building a Sentence • An engine is composed of pistons, shafts, and cylinders. A sentence is made from its separate parts, too – subjects, verbs, modifiers, and complements must work together to convey meaning. • When the parts of an engine are put together properly, the car will run smoothly. A well puttogether sentence is also smooth and efficient. Complete Sentences The surest way to get your meaning across is to use complete sentences. A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought. By “complete thought” we mean the clear and entire expression of whatever you want to say. Which of the following groups of words express a complete thought? Caitlin Found a kitten Caitlin found a kitten. Subjects and Predicates Every sentence has two basic parts: the subject and the predicate. The subject tells whom or what the sentence is about. The predicate tells something about the subject. It usually tells what the subject is, what the subject did, or what happened to the subject. Subject Predicate (Who or what) (What is said about the subject) Hungry dogs bark constantly. A cold rain fell all through the night. My brother laughed at me. Subjects and Predicates All sentences express a complete thought. All of them tell something (predicate) about a person, place, or thing (subject). An easy way to understand the parts of a sentence is to think of the sentence as telling who did something, or what happened. The subject tells who or what. The predicate tells is, did or happened. Subjects and Predicates Subject Predicate (Who or what) (Is, Did, or Happened) The runner crossed the finish line. My parents planted a garden. The car skidded on the wet pavement. The bike needs air in its tires. The subject of the sentence tells who or what the sentence is about. The predicate of the sentence is the idea expressed about the subject. Simple Subjects and Verbs In every sentence certain words are more important than others. These essential words are the basic framework of the sentence. Look at these examples: SUBJECT The volcano PREDICATE erupted again. A reporter from the paper interviewed the mayor. My best friend became a graphic artist The subway riders raced for the doors. Simple Subjects and Verbs All the words in the subject part of the sentence are called the complete subject. Within the complete subject is a key word, the simple subject. The complete predicate is all the words that express an idea about the subject. The key word within the complete predicate is the simple predicate, or verb. Simple Subjects and Verbs My best friend became a graphic artist. The complete subject of this sentence is My best friend. The simple subject is friend. The complete predicate of this sentence is became a graphic artist. The verb is became. The key word in the subject of a sentence is called the simple subject. It is the subject of the verb. The key word in the predicate of a sentence is called the simple predicate. The simple predicate is the verb. From now on, we will use the word verb rather than the phrase simple predicate. The Parts of a Verb A verb may consist of one word or of several words. It may be made up of a main verb and helping verbs. In naming the verb of any sentence, be sure to name all the words that it is made of. HELPING VERB + MAIN VERB = VERB might have gone might have gone will see will see are driving are driving should be going should be going The Parts of a Verb Sometimes the parts of a verb are separated from each other by words that are not part of the verb. In each of the following sentences, the verb is underlined. The words in between are not part of the verb. I have never been to California. We did not see the accident. The bus has often arrived late. The Parts of a Verb Some words are joined with other words to make contractions. In naming verbs that appear in contractions, name only the verb. The word not is an adverb. It is never part of a verb. CONTRACTION VERB hasn’t (has not) has weren’t (were not) were I’ve (I have) have We’d (we had or would) had or would Subjects in Unusual Positions Many sentences begin with the word there. Sometimes there is used as an adverb modifying the verb to tell where something is or happens. There stood the boy. (They boy stood there.) There is our car. (Our car is there.) In other sentences, there is only an introductory word to help get the sentence started. There is no candy in the machine. (No candy is in the machine.) There are some mistakes here. (Some mistakes are here.) In most sentences beginning with there, the subject comes after the verb. To find the subject, first find the verb. Then ask who or what. Subjects in Unusual Positions The usual order of words in a sentence is subject-verb. In many sentences, however, the subject comes after the verb or between parts of the verb. Sentences Beginning with Here Here is the stapler. (The stapler is here.) Here are your keys. (Your keys are here.) Unlike there, the word here is always an adverb telling where about the verb. Subjects in Unusual Positions Questions Are you leaving? Has the mail come? (You are leaving?) (The mail has come?) Sentences Beginning with Phrases or Adverbs Onto the field dashed the team. (The team dashed onto the field.) Finally came the signal. (The signal finally came.) Imperative Sentences In imperative sentences, which state commands or requests, the subject is usually not given. Since commands and requests are always given to the person spoken to, the subject is you. Since the you is not given, we say that it is understood. (You) Bring me the newspaper. (You) Wipe your feet. (You) Get out your homework. Sentence Fragments A group of words that is only part of a sentence is called a sentence fragment. A sentence fragment is a group of words that does not express a complete thought. A fragment is confusing because something is missing from the sentence. Sometimes the subject is left out, and the reader wonders who or what the sentence is about. At other times the verb is omitted. Then the reader wonders what happened? or what about it? Sentence Fragments Shifted into a lower gear. (Who shifted?) The quarterback near the ten-yard line. (What happened?) In the middle of the road. (Who or what is in the middle of the road? What is happening there?) Finding the Verb and Its Subject The verb and its subject are the basic framework of every sentence. All the rest of the sentence is built around them. To find this framework, first find the verb. Then ask who or what before the verb. This will give you the subject. My mother’s cookies melt in your mouth. Verb melt What melts? cookies Simple Subject cookies You will be able to tell a fragment from a sentence easily if you keep your eye on subjects and verbs. Sentence Fragments The trucker shifted into a lower gear. (Sentence) The quarterback fumbled near the ten-yard line. (Sentence) The car stalled in the middle of the road. (Sentence) Fragments Due to Incomplete Thoughts What’s missing in each of the following? In our neighborhood Scampered up the oak tree in the front yard The horoscope in the daily paper Draws with charcoal or ink Fragments Due to Incomplete Thoughts When a writer is in a hurry, he or she sometimes jots down only bits of ideas. The writer’s pen doesn’t keep up with the flow of ideas. Often the writer understands these fragments of ideas. However, they will probably seem unclear to a reader because at least part of the subject or the predicate is missing. Fragments Due to Incorrect Punctuation All sentences end with punctuation marks. The mark may be a period, a question mark, or an exclamation point. Sometimes a writer uses one of these punctuation marks too soon. Because the idea is incomplete, a sentence fragment results. Fragments Due to Incorrect Punctuation Cars with brake problems. Were recalled by the manufacturer. Are you going? To Cedar Point? A diver freed a dolphin. From a fishing net.