Sentence Structure

This isn’t to be a post to tell you how to write. It’s to give you some structure, or pieces that you can pick up and re-arrange in your mind. I think some of us (myself included) tend to fall back on a reliable, repetitive style, where it can get quite boring reading the same thing again and again and again…but this post doesn’t tell you how to do it. Merely give you the awareness to think on it.

EXAMPLE PART DEFINITION PHRASE
When Marker  Word signals at the beginning of a dependent clause. EX: after, although, because, before, though, since, when, while Dependent Clause
she Noun/Subject  A subject is who/what the sentence is about, the thing using the verb. EX: she. A noun is a who/what. EX: she, crack, sidewalk
quickly Adverb  A word that modifies a verb or adverb, usually explaining how someone does something. EX: quickly, hurriedly, slowly, extremely, painfully
ran, Verb  An action of the subject, such as what the subject does. EX: ran, hiccuped, jumped, is, has, does
she Noun Independent Clause
missed Verb
the Article  A word that works like an adjective by describing the noun as a specific or general object. EX: a/an, the
giant Adjective  A word that modifies a noun, usually to describe it. EX: giant, small, crooked, tilted, oblong
crack Noun
spanning Participle A verb used as an adjective, ending in -ing or -ed. EX: running, swallowed, danced
the Article
sidewalk, Noun
and Conjunction A connecting word between two independent clauses. EX: and, but, or, so, yet, nor, for Independent Clause
she Noun
tripped Verb
and Conjunction
fell Verb
on Preposition A word that describes the time or location between nouns. EX: on, below, above, beside, in, to, by
her Possessive This is a possessive adjective that shows who owns something. EX: his, her, my, their
knees. Noun

Gerund –  A verb that ends in -ing that can function as a subject, noun, or subject complement (basically acts as a noun or ~adjective). EX: The dog is lying down. Running is my favorite form of travel. 

* This is different from a participle because while one acts as an adjective, one acts more like a noun.

Infinitive – Another form of verbs, usually its root form, that can act like a noun, adjective, or adverb. EX: to go…to fly…to learn…

  • Sentences require a subject+verb. If it doesn’t have both, it’s a fragment.
  • You can have a maximum of two independent clauses within a sentence or it becomes a run on.
  • You can have as many dependent clauses as you want.
  • You can mix the order of independent and dependent clauses, although if dependent is first, you add a comma after its last word to signal the following independent clause.
  • Verbs basically have three tenses: present, past, future. There’s also a “perfect” form of each of these, which is the more complicated version of a verb aided with an auxiliary.

These are some of the rules, but the thing about writing style – you don’t have to follow any of them. You can make them up as you go! But, these are the norms when writing, and the most comfortable way to read, so consider breaking the rules when you want something to stand out or hit hard, when you don’t want the reader to feel comfortable. Otherwise, being average is okay!

This isn’t a complete list, and please refer to the Purdue Owl if you have any questions! These offer more insight and exercises for practice.

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