In English writing, sentences can vary in length. Whether they are short or long, all sentences have a subject and a verb. This guide gives you an overview on basic sentence components, sentence types, connectors, punctuation, and common sentence errors.
Understanding the basics of how to construct a sentence will help you become a better editor and guide you in constructing clear sentences. Also, it will help you avoid writing run-on sentences and sentence fragments.
Click each tab to learn more about how to construct sentences and try the exercises in each section! If you have a question about any of the exercises, come see an English Language Tutor.
|anybody/one||everybody/everyone||nobody/no one||somebody/someone||one another|
Verbs are commonly known as action words. A verb usually is an action (i.e. run, drive, study, etc.), but a verb can also identify a state of being (i.e. is, are, am, become, appear, etc.).
Words that identify the action that the subject carried out.
A good way to identify the verb in a sentence is to ask “what” after the subject. In the first example above, if we know “Anne” is the subject, we can ask “Anne what?” and the answer is the verb “leaped”.
Verbs are not always actions. Often, they are a state of being, a feeling, or what something is. They describe “a state” so they are also called “stative” verbs.
Some stative verbs:
Many of these verbs can be both action verbs and stative verbs depending on how they are used. Let's consider the word "taste":
Exercise 1: Find the action verbs in the sentences.
Exercise 1 Answers:
Exercise 2: Determine whether the verbs in the sentences are action verbs or "state of being verbs".
Exercise 2 Answers:
The object is the person or thing affected by the action. Some simple sentences do not have objects (for example, “John relaxed”), so they only have subjects and verbs , but many some simple sentences have subjects, verbs, and objects.
|The mail deliverer||delivers||mail.|
Note: This section just covers direct objects. There are also indirect objects and prepositional objects. Check out the link on objects in the resources box to the right for more information.
Exercise: Complete the sentences by adding objects.
Example: Can you pass the salt?
1. His accident ruined _________.
2. The children found __________.
3. Laura enjoys ____________.
4. They studied _____________.
5. The travelers forgot ____________.
6. The music students played _____________.
7. The federal government mailed out _____________.
8. Modern technology affects _____________.
9. The professor emphasized _____________.
10. The manager saw __________.
1. His accident ruined his sports career.
2. The children found the Easter eggs.
3. Laura enjoys watching movies.
4. They studied philosophy.
5. The travellers forgot their passports.
6. The music students played string instruments.
7. The federal government mailed out a census form.
8. Modern technology affects the job market.
9. The professor emphasized the deadline of the paper.
10. The manager saw the accident.
An indirect object is the recipient of the direct object.
Its function is to tell the reader to whom or for whom something is done.
John handed Monika the bottle.
Here's another way to write this sentence:
John handed the bottle to Monika.
The Bottle is the direct object of the verb handed because it is the object that was handed.
Is there a recipient for the direct object the bottle? Yes, Monika.
Thus, Monika is the indirect object of the verb "handed."
As in the examples above, the indirect object usually can be written as part of a prepositional phrase that begins with to or for.
Joe passed the note to us.
The note is the direct object of the verb passed.
who is the recipient for the object the bear? us.
A simple 3 step process to find the indirect object.
The author gave his character a mustache.
1 what is the verb?
2 what receives the action of the verb?
gave what? A mustache.
3 who/what received this object?
Who or what received a mustache? The author’s character.
Exercise: Find the indirect objects.
Example: She gave me a present.