The word ‘sentence’, in general sense, has these dictionary meanings: ‘the punishment given to a person by a court of law’, ‘to say officially in a court of law that a person is to get a particular punishment’, but in English grammar:
“A sentence is a group of words which has a subject (one or more) and a predicate (one or more), and gives complete sense.”
When we write a sentence, we must begin it with a Capital Letter and end it with either a full stop [.] or a question mark [?] or an exclamation mark [!]
depending on the context.
Stop. [= You stop.]
He is a boy.
She goes to school and (she) studies very hard.
I returned home early because I was tired.
Do you like this book?
What a beautiful garden it is!
The six groups of words given above are six complete sentences.
A sentence must have a Subject part and a Predicate part: a subject part must have a noun or pronoun; a predicate part must have a main verb.
e.g. Our children are playing in the park.
subject part predicate part
children – noun are playing – main verb
Kinds of Sentences
according to construction according to expression
1. Simple Sentence 1. Statement or Declarative
2. Compound Sentence 2. Interrogative or question
3. Complex Sentence 3. Imperative
4. Compound-complex sentence 4. Exclamatory
‘according to construction’ = depending on the number of subject parts and predicate parts used in the sentence
‘according to expression’ = depending on whether some information given; a question asked; an order given, or a surprise , wonderment or fright expressed in the sentence
Any given sentence must belong to any one of the kinds according to the construction, and any one of the kinds according to the expression.
Are all the boys singing and (are) all the girls dancing?
This sentence is:
a Compound Sentence according to construction
an Interrogative Sentence according to expression.
Before going any further into the KINDS OF SENTENCES in detail, it is essential for us to know about ‘phrases’ and ‘clauses’ which play an important role in sentence building.
A Phrase is a group of words which has no subject and no predicate of its own but gives some meaning on its own and forms a part of a large group of words which is either a clause or a sentence.
e.g. Jane is standing at the table near the window.
‘at the table’ = a phrase ‘near the window’ = a phrase
In this sentence ‘at the table’ is a phrase: it gives us some idea where Jane is standing, but on its own it cannot give us complete sense, in other words, without the other group of words “Jane is standing…”, we cannot understand what this group of words stands for.
There are several different kinds of PHARSES – categorical and functional.
We, at this basic level, limit ourselves to some of the most important ones that help us in understanding the Sentence building.
The common kinds of Phrases are (categorical):
Different grammarians use different names for the same kind or the function of a group of words; therefore, we are advised not be confused over the names given to it, but to pay attention to the actual function and the purpose it serves.
We will understand those differences better when we have learnt the following simple rules and important points.
The common kinds we discuss now are (functional):
The Noun Phrase: does the work of a noun…
e.g. We never expected defeat.
We never expected to lose the match.
noun phrase – with ‘to-infinitive’
The Adjective Phrase: does the work of an adjective…
e.g. She is a famous woman.
She is a woman of great fame.
adjective phrase – prepositional phrase
The Participle phrase: does the work of a participle…
[go-went-gone-going = ‘gone’ is the Past Participle form and ‘going’ is the Present Participle form of the verb word “go”]
The thief jumped over the wall. He ran away.
main verb – simple past tense
Jumping over the wall, the thief ran away.
present participle phrase
The noise frightened the baby. It started to cry.
main verb – simple past tense (frighten – frightened – frightened)
Frightened by the noise, the baby started to cry.
(frighten – frightened – frightened)
past participle phrase
For more on position of ‘Participle Phrases’, refer to SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT.
Adverb phrase: does the work of an adverb…
He drove away quickly.
He drove away with great speed.
adverb phrase – prepositional phrase