The rules of grammar are unlimited and it takes a good depth of time and effort to learn and understand them all. To start learning English, the first thing to start with is learning the grammar rules to make a proper sentence. You can go to the advanced level only if you have learned the art and grammar of sentence making. Let me help you with that. Let’s start by understanding all the basics related to sentence formation.
How to construct a sentence in English
First of all, you must understand what a sentence in the English language is? A sentence is:
- A group of words.
- It starts with a capital letter and ends in a full stop, exclamation mark or question mark.
- It contains at least two parts – subject and predicate.
Before giving the example of a sentence, let me explain what are subject and predicate.
Subject: A subject is a person or thing about which a sentence is ‘about’. For e.g. let us take the sentence - ‘I drink water.” In this sentence subject is ‘I’. Because this sentence is about ‘I’. In a sentence, a subject is very easy to identify. Actually, the subject is a noun phrase. It is followed by a verb most of the times.
Predicate: The part of the sentence which talks about the subject is the predicate. For e.g. in the sentence – ‘I drink water.’ ‘Drink water’ is the predicate, as it talks about the subject ‘I’.
So, ‘I drink water.’ is a complete sentence which has all the three properties of the subject defined above.
The next question is if we make any sentence keeping in mind all the three features of the sentence delineated above, is it a complete sentence? No, it is not so. Actually, the grammar of any subject is complicated. Just putting the words together in a proper order does not always make sense. It is necessary for a sentence to convey some sense. There are certain rules to be followed for putting the words in a proper sequence to make a sense. In order to understand the basics of sentence formation, we have to know the types of sentences and what it is used for.
TYPES OF SENTENCES ON THE BASIS OF ARRANGEMENT OF WORDS:
On the basis of how words are arranged in a sentence, there arise three types of sentences:
- Simple Sentences
- Compound Sentences
- Complex Sentences
Let us understand, all of them one by one:
1. Simple Sentences:
As the type suggests, this sentence has the simplest of a structure with only one subject and predicate. It has one verb and a single subject, idea, thing or person about which it talks about. For e.g.
It has only one subject i.e. Mahika and a single verb ‘reads’.
Note: There is a definite property of the simple sentence. In a simple sentence, even if you add some prepositional phrase, adverb or adjective, etc. it doesn’t change itself to a complex sentence. Moreover, it will not get altered even after its conjunction with many types of nouns or verbs. For e.g.
Stars twinkled and shined brightly. or
The cat with white fur always meows loudly.
Both of these are simple sentences only, as there are only one subject and one verb in both of these sentences.
2. Compound Sentences:
Compound sentences are formed by joining two simple sentences with some conjunction. I hope, that you already know what is a conjunction? The conjunction is a word or group of words that help to join two sentences. The common conjunctions used to join two simple sentences are and, but and or.
Rodger left home and Nadal returned home.
In the above sentence, you can notice that there are two simple sentences ‘Rodger left home’ and ‘Nadal returned home’, which were joined together with the conjunction ‘and’ to make a compound sentence. One similar e.g. is
I enjoyed the movie, but my sister didn’t like it.
3. Complex Sentences:
The characteristics of a complex sentence are:
- It talks about more than one idea, thing or person.
- It has more than one verb in it.
- It has more than one clause. At least one of the clause is dependent on the other.
I carry only those things in my luggage which are easy to handle.
TYPES OF SENTENCES ON THE BASIS OF PURPOSE:
On the basis of the purpose for which a sentence is used, sentences are of four types:
- Declarative Sentences
- Imperative Sentences
- Interrogative Sentences
- Exclamatory Sentences
1. Declarative Sentences:
Declarative sentences are the sentences which are used to express some definite information. The use of declarative sentences is most common in day to day conversations. These type of sentences always ends with a full stop. For e.g.
Honesty is the best policy.
2. Imperative sentences:
Imperative sentences are actually used to order someone or give a command or make some request. These sentences also end with the sign of period. For e.g.
Go to the rooftop.
3. Interrogative Sentences:
They are the sentences that are formed to interrogate someone i.e. to ask questions. They do not end with a period sign, but with a sign of question mark. For e.g.
Did you order her to leave the room?
4. Exclamatory Sentences:
These sentences are used to express feelings or emotions. These sentences are not very often used in academic writing. Literary works make use of these sentences only when they tend to convey very strong emotion. These type of sentence always end with a mark of exclamation. For e.g.
She is amazing!
I think you must now be very clear about what a sentence is and what its type is?
English sentence structure rules
PARTS OF SPEECH:
Now, let us move towards developing an understanding of the anatomy and parts of a sentence. You cannot make appropriate sentences if you don’t know the part of speech and tenses. Let us now understand the basic parts of speech one by one.
Noun: Noun is the basic entity of grammar. It is the name of place, thing, idea, feeling, activity, animal or quality. For e.g. Ram, Cat, Pencil are all noun. The noun can be further of three types: possessive, singular or plural.
Pronoun: Pronoun is something that calls the noun or takes its place. For e.g. I, they, we, etc.
Verb: A verb is a word that is used to express or show an activity. For e.g. walk, sit, run, see, raise, etc. are all verbs. There is a quality of verb – the verb is also used to show a tense by changing its form. All three tenses can easily be represented with the help of a verb. For e.g. while the word walk denotes the present tense, the word ‘walked’ is the past form of this verb.
Adverb: When some words tell or talk about the verb, they are said to be adverbs. For e.g. when, why, how, where, etc.
Adjective: Whenever there needs be any requirement of qualifying a noun, we use an adjective. For e.g. ‘She was wearing a red dress.’ ‘Red’ word is here qualifying or adding some quality to the noun, so it is an adjective here.
Proposition: A preposition relates nouns or pronouns. For e.g. in, on, beside, ahead, apart are all prepositions. It is used to express various things like reason, motion, time, etc.
Conjunction: As the proposition connects nouns/pronouns, conjunction connects two phrases or words. E.g. and, or, but, etc.
Interjection: Interjection is a word which expresses an emotion. For e.g. Alas, hurray, yippee, etc.
Articles: It is a word which modifies a noun. Articles are used mostly to refer to a noun.
PUNCTUATIONS TO BE USED IN A SENTENCE:
No sentence is ever complete without using punctuations. A full stop in itself is punctuation. Some of the punctuations used commonly are:
Capitalization: It is known to all the basis English knowers that each sentence starts with a capital letter. For e.g., Ram is a good boy. In this sentence, ‘R’ of Ram is capital because it is from this letter that the sentence is starting. Apart from the first letter of the sentence, name of books, people, special places, countries, etc. are all capitalized.
Question mark: Whenever a sentence is proposed to ask a question, it ends with a question mark. For e.g.
‘How do you do?’
Period/Full Stop: A usual sentence ends with a period. Naturally, a sentence which doesn’t end with an exclamation mark or question mark, it ends with a period. For e.g.
My name is David.
Colon: It is used to separate a sentence in two parts, especially when one part explains the second one. There is a semicolon (;) as well which is sometimes used in place of conjunction. You will find its common use before words like ‘therefore’ or ‘however’.
‘The parts of speech are Adverb, Verb, Noun, etc.
Commas (,): These are used in the sentence where there is any need for a pause in the sentence. These are also used to separate the different things, day of months, etc. For e.g.
‘She bought many things like apple, banana, pencil, cup, etc. ‘
Apostrophes (‘): It is used to show possession or in contractions. E.g.
There is one more rule for the use of an apostrophe. An apostrophe is used with s, if the noun is singular. And an apostrophe alone is used when the noun form is plural.
So, now you know all, parts of speech, punctuations, and types of sentences. The more you will practice making the sentences with them, the more you will get a hold on them.
Sentence formation in English with grammar
Let us now understand some more advanced grammar related terminologies that help in constructing a sentence as well as understanding the structure of the sentence.
With subject and predicate, there is one more thing worth learning i.e. object. The object is the thing or the person upon which the verb acts. E.G. will make it more clear.
The singer is singing a song.
Here the object is ‘song’. It is the thing upon which the verb is relying. The verb singing depends on the thing song.
2. Transitive/Intransitive Verbs
These are simple to identify verbs. If any verb has an object attached to it, it is called transitive verb.
‘She sang a song.’
So in this sentence, the verb ‘sang’ has an object ‘song’ attached to it. So the verb and is a transitive verb. Now let us take the next example.
Here the verb ‘consent’ doesn’t have any object attached to it. The sentence is not clarifying that the subject ‘She’ consented for what. So it is an intransitive verb for sure.
The confusion arises when a verb seems to be both transitive and intransitive. For e.g. the verb ‘sing’ gave rise to such confusion sometimes.
The adverbial works in line with an adverb i.e. it qualifies the verb. But the only difference is that an adverbial instead of qualifying the verb with a single word, it expresses in detail about how the action in the verb is/was done.
‘He spoke very politely.’
In this sentence, ‘politely’ is an adverb, but ‘very politely’ is adverbial.
As the adverbial talks more about the verb, the complement talks more about the subject. It sometimes even talks in detail about the object also. Let us learn by example. The example of the complement talks about the subject.
‘She became a doctor.’
In the following sentence, the complement talks about the object.
‘She painted the wall red.’
Sometimes, we get confused between the adverbial and the compliment. With utmost care and precision only will you be able to differentiate between these two.
So, in this section, I have tried to explain all the basic terminologies, patterns, punctuations, etc. used to make a common sentence that doesn’t involve the complex use of the tense structures. Later, I am going to discuss the tenses as well. Till then learn, practice and understand the above-defined concepts well.