Basic Grammar Rules: English Sentence Structure

We’ll look at some common elements of English sentence structure. As well as some grammar rules. If you find these ideas difficult, don’t worry. As your English improves, you’ll learn to recognize these patterns. And this will give you a deeper understanding of not only English but also your own language.

Rule #1: A complete sentence must include a noun and a verb.

    • The bird flew.

Rule #2: A complete sentence must include a subject and a predicate.

    • The angry bird flew quickly across the sky.

Rule #3: The only exception to the above rules is the imperative sentence.

    • Go away!

Rule #4: Adjectives can go directly before the noun they describe, or after it, if separated by a verb.

    • The angry bird flew.
    • The bird is angry.

Rule #5: A compound subject includes two or more simple subjects.

    • The bird and the plane flew.

Rule #6: A compound predicate includes two or more predicates.

    • The bird flew and sang.

Rule #7: A compound sentence includes more than one subject or predicate.

    • The bird sang and the plane flew.

Rule #8: An independent clause consists of a subject and a predicate, like a complete sentence.

    • The plane flew.

Rule #9: A dependent clause cannot form a complete sentence without additional words.

    • The plane flew when the bird sang.

Rule #10: The direct object is the noun being acted on by the verb.

    • The bird ate seeds.

Rule #11: The indirect object is the noun which receives the direct object.

    • The bird gave the seeds to me.

Rule #12: When written in passive voice, the object of the verb becomes the subject of the sentence.

    • The bird ate seeds.
    • –> The seeds were eaten by the bird.

Rule #13: Conjugations of the verb “to be” are essential to passive voice.

    • The seeds are being eaten by the bird.

Rule #14: Sentences written in passive voice can omit the subject of the acting verb.

    • The seeds were eaten.

Rule #15: In passive voice, the subject of the acting verb is connected by a prepositional phrase.

    • The bird ate seeds after lunchtime.

Rule #16: Prepositional phrases are sometimes separated by commas.

    • The bird, which belonged to my mother, ate seeds.

Rule #17: Adverbs function like prepositions.

    • The bird ate seeds quickly.

Rule #18: A subject compliment describes the subject of the sentence.

    • The bird is green.

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