TYPE OF SENTENCE
The type of sentence is determined by the number and type of clauses it contains. It falls into one of the following:
A simple sentence conveys a single idea. It has only one subject and one verb.
Sheis my girlfriend. / I am bored. / That is a fat monkey.
The verb in each sentence is in bold.
A complex sentence has one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. The independent clause is called the main clause, and the dependent clause is called the subordinate clause. These clauses are joined by conjunctions which include:
as, as if, even if, if, because, unless, etc.
As she is a big bully, I stay away from her. / I will do it if I have the time.
The main clauses are in bold; the subordinate clauses are not.
Compound sentence is composed of at least two clauses or sentences joined together by a conjunction, i.e. words like: and, but, for, nor, or, so, therefore, either … or, neither … nor, not only … but also, etc., or punctuated by a semi-colon. A compound sentence consists of at least two Independent or Main Clauses and verbs. The subordinate or dependent clause may or may not be present in a compound sentence. It is possible for a compound sentence to have three, four or more independent clauses. But commonly, it contains only two clauses.
EXAMPLE:I am skinny and you are obese. (Two main clauses joined by a conjunction.)
I know what you know. (Main clause: I know; subordinate clause: what you know)
I always tell you what I know but you never tell me what you know.
The last example shows a sentence with two main clauses and two subordinate clauses.
A compound-complex sentence has at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.
Although the car is old (Dependence Clause), it still runs well (Independence Clause), and we intend to keep it (Independence).
PROPER SENTENCE CONSTRUCTION
Time is usually placed at the end of a sentence.
I visited the Eiffel Tower in 1999.
Time may also be placed at the start of a sentence.
In 1999, I visited the Eiffel Tower.
Place comes before time in all cases.
I visited the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1999. I visited the Eiffel Tower in 1999 in Paris. (INCORRECT)
An adverb (in bold) is usually placed between the subject and the verb.
- He often looks at the sky.
- She always grumbles about the weather.
- Tom seldom talks to anyone.
Some adverbs can be used at the beginning or end of a sentence.
Normally I go to the library with her. Sometimes I feel tired for nothing.
A modifier is a word or a group of words that provide you with more information about a word or noun in a sentence. Modifiers can be adjectives, adverbs or phrases. They give sentences the exactness and accuracy of expression or detail that would otherwise be lacking. With the use of modifiers, we know how fast a duck walks, how fierce that dog is and how colourful the flowers on display are.
As mentioned, a modifier can be:
An adjective: All her friends know she has a nasty temper.
An adverb: I smiled sweetly at her, but she didn’t smile back.
A phrase: How many of you love that monkey with the longest tail in the zoo?
DIRECT AND INDIRECT OBJECTS
As mentioned, a sentence has to be clear in its meaning. If I say “I saw“, my meaning is not clear to you. You may want to know what I saw. When I say, “I saw a ghost“, I named the thing or object that I saw, and my meaning becomes clear. The word “ghost” is the Direct Object of the verb “saw.” The object is the part of the sentence that undergoes the action of the verb, which in this case is saw. The direct object generally comes after the verb. (The verb saw is called a Transitive Verb. A transitive verb needs an object to complete a sentence and make its meaning clear.
Some sentences have a subject and a verb. But most sentences have an object. The subject comes before the verb and the object comes after the verb.
The dog barks. (subject: dog; verb: barks. No object present).
The dog barks at him. (subject: dog; verb: barks: object: him).
An object always comes after the verb.
A cat catches mice.
Some verbs are not followed by an object.
His train departed at teno’clock. (No object).
Some verbs have two objects a direct object and an indirect object. An Indirect Object is easily identified by its position in the sentence. It always comes before the direct object. It usually tells us why something is done.
He bought her a puppy. (A sentence that contains two/both objects.)
In the example, the indirect object is her and the direct object is a puppy.
COMMON ERRORS IN CONSTRUCTING…
a) A common error is joining two sentences or two independent clauses incorrectly with an improper punctuation mark instead of using a correct punctuation mark which is the semi-colon, or using a conjunction as the following example shows.
EXAMPLE: We don’t have a telephone, you will have to come round to the house.
The two independent clauses in the sentence are incorrectly joined by a comma.
We can correct the sentence in the following ways:
Treat the two clauses as separate sentences with the use of a full-stop (period) for each sentence.
We don’t have a telephone. You will have to come round to the house.
We can use a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet) to create a compound sentence.
We don’t have a telephone, so you will have to come round to the house.
We can turn one of the two clauses into a subordinate or dependent clause. Since we don’t have a telephone, you will have to come round to the house.
We can use the semicolon to create a compound sentence.
We don’t have a telephone; you will have to come round to the hous
EXAMPLE: I helped them all I could, I even brought my tools to speed up the work. (INCORRECT) I helped them all I could; I even brought my tools to speed up the work. (CORRECT) I helped them all I could and I even brought my tools to speed up the work. (CORRECT)
b) A type of sentence error known as sentence fragment is a group of words that used together does not form a complete sentence.
A dependent clause is being used as a sentence.
INCORRECT: Because she was the best candidate.
INCORRECT: Since ten o’clock this morning.
CORRECT: She got the job because she was the best candidate.
CORRECT: I’ve been here since ten o’clock this morning.
The wrong form of a verb is used.
INCORRECT: He eaten his lunch just a while ago.
INCORRECT: He has showed her how to catch butterflies.
CORRECT: He ate his lunch just a while ago.
CORRECT: He has shown her how to catch butterflies.
c) Words and phrases should be put in their rightful places.
The policeman is a very brave man who caught the thief. (INCORRECT)
The policeman who caught the thief is a very brave man. (CORRECT)