Strong and effective communication in English requires good sentence structure. Learning English sentence structure will improve your writing as well as your verbal communication. You need to know the parts of a sentence and fit them correctly.
Your sentence will simply fall apart if you do not know how to fit its parts together. Learning English sentence structures is a must to have strong and errorless communication.
It can be tempting to simply combine a subject and a verb and hope your listener understands. Take the time to create complete sentences if you’re actively practicing sentence structure. Even if they are incorrect, you will learn from the experience.
Every language has its own sentence structure rules. You will never be truly comfortable with English rules if you translate back and forth between English and your native language. So, try to form sentences by first thinking in English.
Learn some phrases and their structures by heart. With this, you won’t have to think about sentence structure rules every time you say a simple sentence. Choose a few sentences that you use frequently and memorize how to say them correctly.
Watching English videos can help you train your ears to recognize correct sentence structures. The more you listen and actively pay attention to how native speakers utter their sentences, the easier it will be to imitate and learn this yourself.
You can learn English online with a well-established language learning platform ‘italki’. The English tutors at italki make sure to train the learners to speak like native speakers. They enable the learners to form error-free English sentences with the right infuse of grammar and vocabulary. You can also book your lesson plans by visiting italki.
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Sentences are the basic building blocks of all languages. The rules of sentence structure and syntax in English are pretty easy to understand, apply and learn. So stick to this guide till the end.
Subjects and Predicates
The most fundamental English sentences usually consist of two parts: a subject and a predicate. The subject is the person or thing doing the action in the sentence. The predicate provides information related to or about the subject.
Let’s take the sentence “I walk the puppy.” In this sentence, “I” is the subject, because it refers to the person who’s performing a particular action. While “walk the puppy” is the predicate because it tells us what the subject (I) is doing.
Let’s have a look at a few other examples:
- I study at a private school.
- John works at a consulting firm.
- He likes the color blue a lot.
Independent and Dependent Clauses
A clause is a group of words that includes a subject and a predicate. There are independent clauses that can function as complete sentences on their own. There are also dependent clauses, which need to be attached to an independent clause in order to make sense.
- Independent clause: They went to the club.
- Dependent clause: If they went to the club…
Direct and Indirect objects
Subjects, predicates, and clauses can be found in any sentence, but direct and indirect objects can only be found in certain sentences. They are, however, extremely common, and it is critical to be able to recognize them when they are used.
The direct object is something on which the subject performs an action. The indirect object is who/what receives the action.
Okay, so it seems confusing, right? Know that every learner makes common English mistakes, especially those learners who are at the beginning stages. It is normal to make mistakes, all you are required to do is to learn from all your mistakes and keep them in your mind to design future English sentences.
Let us get it straight with the help of an example:
- Susan gives the card to her brother.
“Her brother” receives the card from Susan, so “her brother” is the indirect object. Since Susan performed an action on the card (“gives”), the card is the direct object.
Now that you know the major building blocks of English sentences, it is crucial for you to understand some basic types of English sentence structures and how to deal with them.
Sentences can be short and simple or long, rambling, and complex. Below are the various types and the rules for forming them.
Simple sentence: A simple sentence consists of a single independent clause.
“Susan finished the series” for example, has a subject and a predicate and can stand alone as a complete sentence.
Compound sentence: A compound sentence is formed by joining two or more simple sentences together, typically with conjunctions (e.g., and, or, but) or a semicolon.
The sentence “She stayed home and he went to the trip,” for example, is a compound sentence because it can be broken down into two simple sentences: “She stayed home.” and “He went to the trip”.
Compound sentence: A complex sentence contains both an independent and a dependent clause.
For example, the sentence “Susan finished the series even though she was getting late for work,” combines an independent clause (“Susan finished the series”) with a dependent clause (“even though she was getting late for work).”
Compound-complex sentence: A compound-complex sentence consists of at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.
“Even though I set my alarm last night, I didn’t hear it ring this morning, and I woke up late,” for example. Independent clauses are “I didn’t hear it ring this morning” and “I woke up late” while the dependent clause is “Even though I set my alarm last night”.
Start with simple sentences and then use conjunctions in English to form compound sentences as you learn and practice. You can start forming longer complex and compound-complex sentences once you have gained enough confidence.
Adjectives are always placed before the noun or pronoun they modify. Adverbs are typically placed after the verb they modify. For example, we never say “she wore a dress pink” but rather “she wore a pink dress.”
When adding details to your sentences, remember the rule of “place, manner, and time,” as information is generally organized in this order. For example, an English speaker might say, “I travel to her house (place) by bus (method) every weekend (time).” They would not likely say, “I travel by bus every weekend to her house.”
Of course, there will be sentences that do not follow this rule and are not grammatically incorrect, but this is the standard order. The word “time” is sometimes used at the beginning of a sentence to emphasize something.
When writing in formal English, avoid beginning sentences with conjunctions. Words like and, but, yet, or and because are examples of conjunctions. It is not grammatically incorrect, to begin with, a conjunction; however, it is a well-known practice among English speakers. When writing academic essays, many English professors, for example, may expect you to follow this rule. You are not required to adhere to it when speaking or writing informally.
Certain words are always used in questions in the English language. These are typically placed at the beginning of the sentence and include how, when, why, what, and where. For example:
- What is the shortest route to the bank?
- Where is the beauty salon in the town?
- How can I go to the grocery store alone?
These are some of the rules associated with English sentences and their structures. Remember them and try to incorporate them into your sentences. You can also learn suffixes in English to infuse them in your sentences.
Q. How to ask questions in English?
A. In English, the sentences asking questions always start from what, where, how, when and whom, etc.
Q. What is the key difference between direct and indirect objects?
A. The direct object is something on which the subject performs an action. The indirect object is who/what receives the action.
Q. What is the key difference between simple and compound sentences?
A. A simple sentence consists of a single independent clause while a compound sentence is formed by joining two or more simple sentences together, typically with conjunctions.
Learning English sentence structure is a gradual process. Remember you always learn from the mistakes you make. Try structuring your English sentences and look for the examples around you.
One of the best ways to learn sentences is to watch and analyze English content. You can watch movies, documentaries, and series to analyze how native speakers structure their English sentences. You can also read English books to learn sentences and their formation.