Any language including English Language is there for a purpose. From vowels to the each single letter of alphabet, through the single word, phrase, clause, to the full sentence, language learners need to put these parts together in order to purposely and meaningfully communicate with others.
To write well in English Language and literature, students and other language and literature learners have to master how to put sentences together. Students have to exercise their writing skills in their exercise books, diaries and other note taking tools. By mastering various grammatical sentence structures, the students and other learners will keep themselves on the right track of professionalism as far as language and literature are concerned. In this article, we will discuss definition of a sentence, components of a sentence and varying sizes of sentences as well as some exercises on subjects and predicates in English Language.
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By definition, a sentence (noun) is a group of words which expresses a complete thought. In other words, a sentence is a group of words that make sense. It is also defined as meaningful linguistic unit or a group of words or a single word that expresses a complete thought, feeling, or idea. A sentence usually consists of a subject and a predicate that contains a finite verb.
Look at the following words:
house good is my
Four words above do not make a sentence because they don't make any sense to us. But we can make them bring sense by combining them together using some grammatical structures and patterns.
Now look at the following words below:
My house is good.
The words above make up a grammatically correct sentence and they bring sense to us.
This is how a sentence is made.
PARTS/ COMPONENTS OF A SENTENCE
What does a sentence need? Obviously, a sentence needs various components to make it sensible and complete. The following are the components of a sentence:
- A sentence needs a subject. The subject of the sentence can be a person, a thing, a noun, a pronoun, etc. Examples of subjects are: John, I, he, she, they, the School, students, etc.
- A sentence needs a predicate. The predicate of the sentence gives information about the subject of the sentence. Encarta Dictionary 2009 defines predicate as ‘a word or combination of words including the verb, objects, or phrases governed by the verb that make up one of the two main parts of a sentence’.
In other words, after the subject, the sentence may have one or both of the following sentence aspects in predicate:
- A sentence needs a verb. It needs a 'doing word' that sets the sentence's action. Examples of verbs are: run, cook, write, speak, etc.
- A sentence also needs a complement. Examples of complement are: by car, by car, on Monday, next week, etc.
- A sentence needs an object. Both direct and indirect objects.
- A sentence has to start with a capital letter and end with a full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark.
TASK: Identify Subjects and Predicates
In the following table, identify subjects and predicates, then construct ten (10) correct sentences from the table:
is going to school
is going to give a speech today
are studying in the class
Ali and Hassan
is in the class
will announce results
VARIYING SIZES OF A SENTENCE
A sentence can have various sizes. There are three sizes of sentences:
- Short sentence. A sentence can be short, such as 'I am here'. A sentence can be made of one word as well, such as 'Come!', 'Hurray!', 'Hey!', etc.
- Long sentence. A sentence can be long, such as ' I am here to you that I am going to teach you how to write an official letter'
- Very long sentence. A sentence can also be very long as in this example: 'John is not only here to tell you that he is going to teach you how to write an official letter, but also he is here to teach you how to be good students at school all the time'.
TASK: Construction of Sentences of Various Sizes
The students should be guided by the teacher to practice how to compose short, long, and very long sentences.
In groups, students should compete to compose sentences of various sizes. For example, as a practice, the teacher can give the students the task of composing 5 short sentences, 5 long sentences, and 5 very long sentences for each group.
Note: A teacher can use any text that can be appropriate and use it to test students on identifying the particular sentence structures. Even text about literature can be used. The teacher should scan the text first to see if it contains the right or target grammatical practice for students. It may be a passage from the newspapers, and online content, or any excerpt of the book.
The writing process starts when you start thinking about writing. You think about the subject, about the words, about the kind of writing (description, composition, letter, e-mail, report, essay), about the best way to put the words together. Students should be encouraged to write freely including keeping a diary for themselves.
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