Sentence Structure

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Earlier, you learned that a sentence is a group of words that contains at least one subject and one verb and expresses a complete thought. Now you will begin to learn about the different kinds of sentences in English.

There are four basic kinds of sentences in English: simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences.

A simple sentence is a sentence that has one subject-verb combination.

The subject in a simple sentence may be compound {My brother and

I are completely different). The verb may also be compound {They laughed and cried at the same time). What is important is that there is only one sub-ject-verb combination in a simple sentence.

These are simple sentences. Notice that no commas are used in them.

1. My younger sister speaks English well.

2. My mother and father speak English well.

3. My older brother is a lawyer and has a good job.

4. My mother and father speak and write English well.

The simple sentences above can be written as formulas.

S V—simple subject with simple verb

SS V—compound subject with simple verb

S VV—simple subject with compound verb

SS V V—compound subject with compound verb

The following sentences are not simple sentences because they have two subject-verb combinations. They are compound sentences, and their formulas look like this: SV, (connecting word) SV. You will learn more about compound sentences in Unit 2.

My brother lives in New York, and my sister lives in Paris.

My older brother is a college graduate, but he can't find a job.



| A. Work by yourself or with a partner. Identify the pattern in the follow-Simple Sentence ing simple sentences.

1. Underline the subjects with one line.

2. Underline the verbs with two lines.

3. Write S or V above each underlined word.

4. Finally, write the formula for the sentence in the numbered space below.


My grandfather loves to fish and often takes me with him to his favorite fishing place.

Formula: SVV

My Grandfather 'My grandfather is old in years but young in spirit. 2Every day, he swims a mile and works in his garden. 3He and my grandmother were married fifty years ago. 4They have four children and ten grandchildren. sMy grandfather loves parties and invites our entire family to his house for a big dinner on his birthday. 6A11 twenty of us eat and tell stories half the night. 7He never gets tired and is always the last to go to bed. 80n his last birthday, my brothers and I gave him a present. 9We all put our money together and bought him a video game system. l0Now he wants us to come over to his house every weekend.

U Unit

B. Work first by yourself, and then with a partner.

1. Write six simple sentences about your family or family members. Use each of these patterns twice: SV, SSV, SW.

2. Show your sentences to your partner. Ask your partner to identify the pattern in each sentence.


SVV My older brother goes to college and works part-time.

Often you need to connect words or groups of words in a sentence. One way to do this is to use a connecting word. Connecting words are called conjunctions.

There are many conjunctions in English. Two of the most common ones are and and or. They have different meanings.

and joins two or more similar things in positive sentences

I like Chinese and Italian food.

Swimming and waterskiing are my favorite summer activities.

We have class on Mondays,Wednesdays, and Fridays.

or connects two or more similar things in negative sentences

I don't like British or American food.

We don't have class on Tuesdays orThursdays.

I can't play tennis, ride a horse, or roller skate very well.

or also connects two or more choices or alternatives

I would like to go to Hawaii,Tahiti, or Fiji on my next vacation.

(I cannot go to all three places. I will choose one.)

Connecting Words: and, or

My father or my mother will meet me at the airport. (This sentence means that only one person will come to the airport. Compare: My father and my mother will meet me at the airport. This sentence means that two people will come to the airport.)

Use this chart to help you remember the meanings of and and or.

+ + and joins two or more positives

I love tacos, pizza, and egg rolls.

- - or joins two or more negatives

I don't like hot dogs or hamburgers.

T? F? or also connects choices

Is this sentence true or false?

Work with a partner. Combine the two sentences in each pair to make one sentence. Use and or or according to the meaning. Try not to repeat any words.

Example: I like chocolate ice cream. I like coffee ice cream.

I like chocolate and coffee ice cream.

1. I can speak English. I can understand English.

2. I can't speak Tagalog. I can't speak Vietnamese.

3. Blue is my favorite color. Yellow is my favorite color. (Be sure to make the verb and the word color plural.)_

4. Would you like soup? Would you like salad?(You can have only one.)

5. You can have rice with your meal. You can have potatoes with your meal. (You can have only one.)_

6. Helen Keller, a famous American woman, was blind. Helen Keller, a famous American woman, was deaf.__

7. She could not see. She could not hear.

Sentence Sentence combining is an exercise to improve your sentence-writing skills.

Combining When you do an exercise like the following, you combine several short sentences into one longer sentence. All the long sentences together make a paragraph. Your final product should be a paragraph.

There may be several correct ways to combine the sentences. However, there are a few rules to follow.

1. Don't repeat words if possible. For example, in the first sentence below, don't repeat lam a. You may omit words, but don't omit any important information.

2. You may change words. For example, you may change a noun to a pronoun or make a singular word plural.

3. You may add words. For example, in the second sentence below, you need to add the connecting word and.

Your goal is to write a smooth, grammatically correct sentence that contains all the information but does not repeat any of it.


b. I have a long white beard.

I am a famous figure. I have white hair and a long white beard._

lam a figure and I am famous is a grammatically correct sentence, but a native speaker would not write it because a native speaker would not repeat the words I am a.

Another possible sentence is lam a figure who is famous, but this sentence contains unnecessary words.

You must keep the word white in the expression long white beard because it is important information.

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