Sentences are the basic building blocks of communication. A sentence is a series of words that communicates a complete thought. Sentences have a defined structure (they have a subject and a predicate). They can fall into four different types (enunciative, interrogative, exclamatory or imperative). Finally, sentences can be simple, complex, or compound.
Part 1 of 3: Decompose the Elements of Sentence Structure
Step 1. Know the basic parts of a sentence
A complete sentence must begin with a capital letter, must contain (at least) one independent clause, and must end with a punctuation mark. An example of a complete sentence might be "Dogs bark."
Step 2. Identify the subject
In all types of sentences, the main clause must have a subject and a predicate. The subject is a noun or pronoun, like the word "dogs" in the example "Dogs bark." The subject describes who or what the sentence is about.
Step 3. Identify the predicate
The predicate is an action verb, like the word "bark" from "Dogs bark." The predicate of the sentence describes what the subject of the sentence does.
Step 4. Make sure there is a complete thought
A set of words that does not express complete thoughts is called a "phrase." The sentence "Dogs bark" is a complete thought; on the other hand, phrases like "on the beach" or "in the morning" are not.
Another way to ensure that the sentence expresses a complete thought is to check the verb. If the verb is transitive, then the sentence is probably not expressing a complete thought. For example, if the sentence were "The dogs want," then it would be incomplete, since the verb "want" is transitive. Readers need to know "what" the dogs want to complete the sentence. Do the dogs want food, water, or out? However, "barking" is intransitive, which means it has a subject and an action. Therefore, "Dogs bark" is a complete sentence
Step 5. Sentences must end with a “punctuation mark”
Punctuation marks include the period (.), Question mark (?), And exclamation point (!). Punctuation is a useful tool for identifying sentences.
Part 2 of 3: Identify the type of sentence
Step 1. Determine the purpose of the sentence
The first step in identifying a sentence is figuring out what it is trying to accomplish. Try to find out if a certain sentence is explaining something, asking something, exclaiming something, or giving a command.
- For example, "Dogs bark" explains something about what dogs do, while "Stop barking!" it is an order that is given to a dog.
- Prayers can also have dual purposes. For example, the sentence "I enrolled my dog in an obedience course because it won't stop barking!" explain and exclaim something.
Step 2. Classify the “declarative sentences”
Declarative sentences make a statement and end with a dot, as in the example "Dogs bark." A period indicates the moment when a thought stops.
Another example of a declarative sentence might be "I take my dog on an obedience course twice a week."
Step 3. Identify the “question sentences”
The types of interrogative sentences ask the reader something and are written between question marks. As the name suggests, the question marks indicate that it is a question mark. An example of an interrogative sentence (or question) might be "Do dogs bark?"
A more complex example might be something like "Why do dogs bark?" or "How do you make a dog stop barking?"
Step 4. Identify the "exclamatory sentences"
Exclamatory sentences indicate an urgency or strong emotion. These types of sentences are written between two exclamation points.
For example, you can exclaim "Quick! Catch the dog!" or "It bothers me a lot that the dog won't stop barking!"
Step 5. Identify the "imperative sentences."
Imperative sentences imply an order, a directive or a command. For example, "Dog, stop barking" is an imperative sentence. When identifying imperative sentences, it is worth noting that they can end with a period or an exclamation point.
Another example of an imperative sentence might be "Susan, please go and see why the dog is barking."
Part 3 of 3: Distinguishing Simple, Compound, and Complex Sentences
Step 1. Evaluate the construction of the sentence
In addition to determining the type (or end) of a sentence, it is also useful to analyze the construction of the sentence. You can do this by breaking it down into parts. You must identify separate clauses, as well as whether these clauses are "independent" or "dependent."
- Clause. It is a group of related words that contain a subject and a predicate.
- Independent clause. It is a clause that contains a complete thought, such as "Dogs bark."
- Dependent clause. It is a clause that does not contain a complete thought, such as "When a stranger arrives."
Step 2. Identify the simple sentences
A simple sentence is made up of just one independent clause. The example "Dogs bark" is a simple sentence.
Step 3. Classify compound sentences
Compound sentence types combine two independent clauses and use a conjunction to connect them (for example, "for", "and", "neither", "or", "but" or "then." convert into a compound sentence using a conjunction: "The dogs bark and play."
You can also create a compound sentence using the semicolon. If you use the semicolon, then the ideas must be similar and related. For example, "Dogs bark to alert if they suspect danger; they bark to protect people."
Step 4. Identify complex sentences
Complex sentences combine an independent clause with one or more dependent clauses. Dependent clauses have a subject and a predicate, but they do not convey a complete thought. "When a stranger arrives" is a dependent clause, which can be combined with the independent clause from the previous example to form a complex sentence "Dogs bark when a stranger arrives."
A "dependent clause" does not convey a complete thought. When you hear the phrase "when a stranger arrives" you do not have the complete information. What happens when a stranger arrives?
Step 5. Identify complex compound sentences
Complex compound sentences are a combination of complex and compound sentence structures. These types of sentences can have many independent and dependent clauses. An example of a complex compound sentence is "Dogs bark when a stranger arrives, but they do not bite." This example uses an independent clause ("they don't bite") separated by a conjunction ("but") to create the new sentence.