AN ENIGMA GAVE A PARADOX A VERY SPECIAL HUG (melayneseahawk) wrote in fandom_grammar,
AN ENIGMA GAVE A PARADOX A VERY SPECIAL HUG
melayneseahawk
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Grammar 101: Basic Sentence Structure

Grammar 101: Basic Sentence Structure with examples from Supernatural

We've been talking about individual words for the last few weeks, but now it's time to put them together: into sentences.

Parts of a Sentence
Sentences have two basic parts: the subject and the predicate. The subject is who/what the sentence is about (usually a noun or pronoun), and the predicate gives information about the subject, often in the form of an action.

Sam / runs.

Sam and Dean / run away from the vampires.
Sam-and-Dean are the subject of the sentence, even though there are two sets of nouns.

Run!
This looks like it's just a predicate, but there is an implied subject (the person(s) to whom the command is directed). Imperatives like this have an implied second person (you) subject, so it's really like this: "You, run!"

Why did / Sam and Dean / run?
In this case, the subject (Sam-and-Dean) is actually inside of the predicate.


A simple sentence consists of just a subject (in this case, a noun: Sam) and a predicate (a verb: run). A sentence can be more complicated, with modifiers added to the subject and/or predicate.

The big vampire / ran.
"Big" modifies the noun in the subject.

The vampire / ran quickly.
"Quickly" modifies the verb in the predicate.

The big vampire / ran quickly.
Both subject and predicate are modified.


A compound subject has more than one noun in the subject, connected by "and" or "or".

Sam / runs.
vs.
Sam and Dean / run.


The same concept applies to the compound predicate.

The vampire / ran.
vs.
The vampire / ran and hid.


Clauses
A clause is a thought with a subject and a predicate. Independent clauses can stand on their own.

Dean stopped digging and put down his shovel.

The ghost looked like Marilyn Monroe.


A dependent clause may be a complete thought, but is grammatically reliant on the rest of the sentence and cannot stand alone. It needs more context to be a complete sentence.

When Dean stopped digging and put down his shovel...

...because the ghost looked like Marilyn Monroe.


Compound and Complex Sentences
Simple sentences are just that: simple. Too many of them in a row, and one's writing looks childish. So, a writer has the choice to string clauses together (carefully!) to make more interesting structures.

Compound sentences are made up of at least two independent clauses joined by a conjunction.

Dean put down his shovel, and Sam looked up.


It seems simple enough, but some thought has to go into combining independent clauses.

Wrong:

Dean stopped digging and put down his shovel, and Sam started to say something, but Dean shook his head, and he listened.


Too many clauses strung together! (Think of a little kid trying to tell a whole story with only one breath.) Some of these simple sentences can be combined, but pay attention to the subject and make sure the sentences belong together logically.

Right:

Dean stopped digging and put down his shovel. Sam started to say something, but Dean shook his head, and Sam listened.


All the ideas are still there, but a combination of simple and compound sentences is used to express them.

Complex sentences are made up of at least one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

When Dean put down his shovel, / Sam looked up.


For more on clauses and compound and complex sentences, momebie wrote a great Feature about clauses, which can be found here.

Also, katiefoolery wrote a great Answer that touches on another aspect of clauses: restrictive vs. nonrestrictive.

And that wraps it up for basic sentence structure. A sentence can be a single word or a paragraph, but as long as it expresses a complete thought you're good to go.
Tags: !feature, author:melayneseahawk, grammar101, pos:clauses, structure:sentences, usage, writing tips:structure
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