From A+ Club Lesson Planner & Study Guide


  • = is from the Greek "art of letters" (words)
  • technically, grammar is
    • phonology = sounds that create word parts and words)
    • morphology = how words are formed and interact with each other
    • syntax = rules for the arrangement of words to create meaning
      • syntax defines the semantical purpose (meaning) of language

Article purpose

  • this article focuses on sentences and sentence parts, including:
    • sentence definition
    • clauses & phrases
    • types of nouns, verbs, adjectives and modifiers & their use in a sentence

Note: "punctuation" and "parts of speech" are sub-categories of "grammar"

Other related categories:

Note on abbreviations

  • IC = "independent clause"
  • DC = "dependent clause"
  • SV = "subject + verb"
  • SVO = "subject + verb + object"
  • CB = College Board

Sentence[edit | edit source]

  • a complete and grammatically correct thought that contains at a minimum a subject (or an implied subject) and a verb or predicate
    • i.e., "I shop." = a complete sentence and thought.
    • "Go!" = the subject, usually, "you" is implied
      • this form of a command is called an "imperative" or "exclamatory" sentence.
  • sentence complexity is created around the core Subject Verb Object/Predicate by adding:
    • clauses
    • modifiers
    • phrases
    • prepositions, etc.

Constituents[edit | edit source]

  • constituent = a word or words that creates a unique grammatical unit in a sentence
    • word origin:
      • con- = with
      • stitu = from PIE -sta and Latin statuare for "to stand"
      • -ent = having the condition of (the suffix indicates a noun)
  • constituent parts of a sentence are those that we can consider coherent elements or groupings within a sentence
    • constituent parts operates as an hierarchy
      • i.e,. "Sam and I" = noun phrase that is made up of a noun + a conjunction + a noun

Categories of sentence purposes[edit | edit source]

  • declarative sentence
    • makes a statement
    • most sentences are declarative in that they state something
  • exclamatory sentence
    • = a statement of urgency or emotion
      • also called an "exclamation"
    • ex. "That really hurt!"
  • interrogative sentence
    • = a question or a request
    • ex. "Is it raining?"
    • may include rhetorical questions, such as, "Why does it have to rain now?" which may also be considered declarative
  • imperative sentence
    • = a or command
      • ex., "Get to work!"
    • may also be an exclamatory statement
      • ex. "No!"

case[edit | edit source]

  • case = circumstance or situation
  • dictionary definition of "case"
    • Inflected forms of a noun, adjective or pronoun that express the semantic relation of the word to others in the sentence
  • in grammar, then, case is the "circumstance" of a word, how it is "situated" in a sentence
    • case indicates the form and relationship of certain words
    • case regards nouns, adjectives and verbs
    • "inflected" means changed or emphasized
    • word "inflections" are changes in a word according to chase
      • who v. whom, or I go v. he goes
      • the change at the end of the word, its stem, is an inflection

subjective v. objective case[edit | edit source]

  • subjective = a point of view, an opinion
  • objective = without opinion, a universal point of view

common errors of subjective v. objective case[edit | edit source]

  • "between you and I"= incorrect
    • "between" is a preposition, which uses the objective case of the noun
    • thus it should be, "between you and me"
  • "she told you and I to be quiet" = incorrect
    • "she" = subject, "you" = the object ("she told you" or "she told me")
  • "who do you love = incorrect and kinda correct
    • "who" is an object, so should be "whom"
    • however, common use of this expression has made "who do you love" an idiomatic expression

Subject[edit | edit source]

  • one of two parts of a sentence or a clause
    • subject + predicate (verb)
  • the subject is the "doer" of the
  • here we will look at the roles and forms of a subject in a sentence

subject complement[edit | edit source]

  • adds information to a subject following a linking verb (is, seems, sounds, etc.)
    • the word that follows the linking verb "complements" or "completes" the subect
      • "It was late"
      • "Gillian is a doctor"

subject phrase[edit | edit source]

  • the subject of a sentence may not logically be a single word
    • a phrase = 2 or more words that do not contain a finite verb (verb that has a subject)
  • a "subject phrase" is two or more words that collectively act as the "doer" or subject of a sentence
    • ex. "The conditions are poor" is a complete sentence and thought, but lacks important details as to "conditions" of what?"
      • so a more complete "subject phrase" might be,
        • "The weather conditions are poor"
        • "The conditions of those teams are poor"
        • "Being smart helps on that test"

subject clause[edit | edit source]

  • just as a subject may be a compound phrase ("Getting there is the best part of the trip"), a noun clause (contains a finite verb) may act as a subject (or object).
  • noun clauses tend to use "that" as a subordinating conjunction that creates the noun clause
  • ex.
    • The team that played smarter, not harder, won.SUBJECT | VERB |<---------------- subject clause --------------> |
    • A question I thought about beforehand escaped me when it was time to ask itSUBJECT | VERB |<---------------- subject clause ---------> |

Object[edit | edit source]

  • the recipient of the actions
  • objects follow "transitive" verbs, which indicate an action that necessarily "acts" upon something
    • ex. "I hit the ball"
      • hit = transitive verb (requires an object)
      • ball = the recipient of the action

object complement[edit | edit source]

  • a word that modifies a direct object
    • that is, it adds information to a direct object
      • as opposed to a subject complement, which adds information to a subject
    • usually a noun, pronoun or adjective
  • object complements follow verbs that express both an object of an action and a recipient of that action
    • such as, appoint, call, choose, create, declare, direct, elect, make, name, tell
      • ex. to appoint:
        • The committee appointed her.
          • her = the recipient of the action (direct object)
    • if we add a complement to the object, we are describing what she was appointed to:
      • The committee appointed her president.
        • note that "president" is not an indirect object
          • it is not the recipient of "appoint" therefore it is a "complement" to the object
        • ex.
          • The teacher considers the student worthy (object complement adjective)
          • The workers painted the wall white (object complement noun)
  • object complements can also come in the form of phrases or clauses
    • My mom declared the cookies out of bounds (prepositional phrase)
    • The team selected the player who was the best (relative clause object complement)

Predicate[edit | edit source]

  • from Latin praedicatum for "something declared"
    • in logic, the "predicate" is the underlying claim or basis for a contention or proposition
  • there are several definitions of "predicate" in grammar
    1. the verb of a subject, also called a a "simple predicate"
    2. the verb of a subject and additional direct information about the subject
    3. everything in a complete sentence except the subject, also called a a "complete predicate"
  • generally, the predicate expresses the action of the subject and the result of that action

Verb[edit | edit source]

  • the subject is the "doer" of the
  • see Parts of Speech for list of sentence parts
  • here we will look at the roles and forms of a subject in a sentence

linking verb[edit | edit source]

  • "link" a subject to something about that subject that is not a direct action
  • linking verbs are:
    • "to be" and all of its "auxiliary verb" forms, am/is/are, was/were, has/have been, is/are being, might be, could, should, might, must
    • to become, to seem
  • ex.:
    • "Thank God it is Friday!"
    • "The kids are hungry"

Clause[edit | edit source]


  • = a part of a sentence that has a subject and a verb
    • and may or may not be a complete sentence or thought

What a clause is and is not[edit | edit source]

  • a clause is part of a sentence
    • a sentence is a grammatically correct and complete thought
      • i.e., it contains a subject and a verb and completes a thought
        • ex. "I go." = a sentence bc it contains and subject and verb and completes a thought
        • whereas, "I send" contains a subject and verb but is not a complete thought
          • "send" is a transitive verb that requires an object, as in "I send a letter"
      • a sentence may contain one or more clauses
    • phrase = a part of a sentence that has two or more words but does not have both a subject and a verb
      • if a sentence part contains a subject and a verb, it is a clause
  • note: Santa is not a clause
Description Grammatical unit Is a clause Is not a clause
a grammatically complete thought without another clause Sentence
a grammatically complete thought that is part of a larger sentence that contains another clause independent clause
the main clause of a sentence is independent clause
two independent clauses combined by a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS) coordinate clauses (both independent)
a part of a sentence that contains a subject & a verb but is not a complete thought dependent clause
a part of a sentence that contains two or more words but does not have both a subject & verb (not a finite verb) phrase
Rides a sleigh driven by reindeer through the air to deliver Christmas presents proper noun

main or dominant clause[edit | edit source]

  • main or dominant clause = an IC (independent clause)
  • the "main" clause is the clause the creates the "main idea" of the sentence
    • = that part of the sentence that makes the complete and most important, or "dominant" thought of the phrase
      • i.e., the main clause or part of the sentence that states its primary purpose or idea
    • everything else is additional information
  • for the SAT test, the "dominant /main clause" is that core idea of a sentence that is the focus of the sentence
    • SAT tests measure #Emphasis shift
    • emphasis shift measures if the correct form of the sentence "emphasizes" the core or main idea of the sentence
    • passive voice de-emphasizes the dominant clause
    • dominant /main clauses employ direct voice, i.e. SVO

independent clause[edit | edit source]

  • Independent Clause (IC)
  • = a sentence part that can stand as a complete sentence and thought
    • it is a clause because it is attached to or has another clause/s attached to it (otherwise it'd just be a sentence)
  • IC contains SUBJECT + VERB at a minimum (SV)
  • IC usually contains SUBJECT VERB OBJECT (SVO)
  • since SUBJECT VERB OBJECT form the core of a sentence there is no punctuation separating them, with the following exceptions:
  1. parenthetical information (commas, dashes and parentheses) can separate SVO from each other
    • i.e., S (parenthetical info) V (parenthetical info) O
  • click EXPAND for examples of parenthetical separation of S from V and O:

  • parentheses: S (parenthetical info) V (parenthetical info) O
  • commas: S, parenthetical info, V, parenthetical info, O
  • dashes: S -- parenthetical info -- V -- parenthetical info -- O
  • ex. "Alex, an experienced pilot, landed the plane expertly."
      • S= Alex V= landed O= plane
    • other parenthetical punctuation:
    • "Alex (an experienced pilot) landed the plane expertly."
      • "Alex -- an experienced pilot -- landed the plane expertly."
    • two commas, two dashes or two parentheses = parenthetical phrase
      • ex. Alex, and experienced pilot, landed, for the second time that day, the plane expertly.
          • this is an awkward sentence but using it here to demonstrate how commas can separate a SUBJECT VERB OBJECT if used parenthetically
      • compare this construction:
        • "Alex, an experienced pilot, landed the plane expertly." to:
        • "The experienced pilot, Alex, landed the plane expertly"
        • "The experienced pilot Alex landed the plane expertly"
      • each form creates a different emphasis
        • in this case, the parenthetical construction emphasizes that it was Alex who landed the plane and that
      • if, for example, Alex was an inexperienced pilot, we might prefer a construction that emphasizes it, so,
        • instead of, "Alex, an inexperienced pilot, landed the plane expertly."
        • we might say, "The inexperienced pilot, Alex, landed the plane expertly" or "The inexperienced pilot Alex landed the plane expertly"

  • click EXPAND for example of SVO lists:

  • S, S V O
  • S, S and S V and V O
  • S, S and S V, and V O
  • S, S and S V, V and V O and O
  • S, S and S V, V and V O, O and O
    • note that with commas that separate a subject, verb, and/or object the final word in the list must not be separated from the related S V or O
  • ex.
    • "Alex, Nia, and Joan are all experienced pilots"
    • "Alex, Nia, and Joan relied on, used, and proved their skills by landing their planes expertly"

dependent clause[edit | edit source]

  • "Dependent Clause" (DC) is a sentence part that contains a subject and a verb but does not complete a thought
  • also called "subordinate clause" (see below)
  • DC clauses are attached to an IC
    • DC clauses add information to but are not necessary for the IC to make sense
  • Note: a sentence part that does not contain both a noun and a verb is a phrase
    • yet some sources call non-IC sentence parts "dependent clauses" when they are actually "phrases" since they do not contain a subject + verb
  • types of DC:
    1. subordinate clause: an IC that has been "subordinated" into a DC by a "subordinating conjunction"
    2. adverb or adverbial clause: a subordinate clause that specifically modifies a verb, usually in terms of time, duration, extent, or condition (if)
    3. noun clause: acts as a noun
    4. relative clause: acts as an adjective to define a noun; can be restrictive or non-restrictive (see below)

Click EXPAND for examples of DC:

  • "Since I ate breakfast late, I'll skip lunch"
    • "Since I ate" = an incomplete thought and so not an IC
  • example of a phrase that is not a clause as it does not contain a verb:

  • Dependent clauses are introduced by a "dependent word"
Type of Dependent Clause Dependent word Dependent word type
Subordinate or Adverb clause after, although, since, etc. subordinating conjunction (adverb)
Relative clause that, which, who, whom, whose relative pronoun
Noun clause that, what, whatever, who, whoever pronoun

subordinate clause[edit | edit source]

  • a clause that is formed by adding a subordinating conjunction
    • which "subordinates" or turns an IC clause into a dependent clause
  • some sources refer to all dependent clauses as "subordinate clauses"
    • in the sense that a subordinate clause is "subordinate" to an independent clause
  • here will refer to subordinate clauses as those that add additional and not required, or requisite, information to the main clause
    • in this sense, subordinate clauses are preceded by "subordinating conjunctions" (see below)
  • note also that "adverb clauses" are subordinate clauses

subordinating conjunction[edit | edit source]

Subordinating Conjunctions

after although as as if as long as as much as as though because before by the time even even if even though

if if only if when if then in case in order to just just as now now that

once provided that rather than since so that supposing than though till unless

when whenever were whereas where if whenever wherever whether while whose whoever why

note: that, which and who are relative pronouns that can act as subordinating conjunctions in some cases
  • subordinating conjunction "subordinates" an IC into a DC
    • i.e, (SC) renders or turns an IC into a DC
    • the reason is the the SC creates the need for additional information after the SVO
    • ex. "I love baseball" = a complete sentence and thought
    • by adding a SC to the sentence, it is no longer a complete thought:
    • ex. "Since I love baseball"
      • "Since" = SC and it "subordinates the IC "I love baseball" by creating the need for additional information in order to complete the thought:
      • "Since I love baseball, I watch it every chance I get."

relative or "adjective" clause[edit | edit source]

  • = a dependent clause that contains a subject-verb, but provides additional information and is not a complete sentence of thought by itself
  • the "subject" of the clause is a pronoun (thus "relative," as pronouns relate to a noun)
  • relative clauses are introduced by a relative pronoun (see table)
  • relative clauses can be either restrictive or non-restrictive, per below
relative pronouns
Pronoun For Rule
that people or things - subject or object: adds required information (restrictive, so no punctuation)

- acts as the subject of the relative clause

what things - object (acted upon)
which things - subject or object: adds additional information (can be restrictive or non-restrictive)

- acts as the subject of the relative clause

who people subject (does the action): he, she, we, they (restrictive, so no punctuation)

- acts as the subject of the relative clause

whoever people - subject or object of the relative clause
whom people - object (acted upon): him, her, us, them

- creates but is not the subject of the relative clause

whose people or things possessive form of whom: his, her, us, their
* Source:

restrictive relative clause[edit | edit source]

  • goes by various names: adjective, necessary, requisite or defining clause
    • "adjective clause" since it describes a previously stated (antecedent) noun or idea
    • "necessary" or "requisite" = the idea is the clause or phrase is necessary
    • "defining" = the meaning of the sentence is defined by the clause
      • or: the sentence is not a complete thought without the clause
  • restrictive clauses are not separated by punctuation
    • i.e.: since the information is necessary, there is no pause
    • ex.: "Glue that sticks to both my fingers and the paper is a pain"
      • vs. "Glue, that sticks to both my fingers and the paper, is a pain"
        • since the parenthetical phrase is "non-defining" (can be removed), that would leave us with only "Glue is a pain" which lacks the defining information as to what type of glue is a pain, the kind "that sticks to both my fingers and the paper"
      • "Dogs that are friendly are nice"
        • that are friendly is restrictive because the sentence would otherwise be "Dogs are nice"
          • by adding that are friendly, we have necessary information to make a meaningful sentence
    • non-restrictive clauses do not change the meaning of the sentence:
      • "Friendly dogs, which I like, are nice"
        • the main clause, 'Friendly dogs are nice" is meaning.
          • adding "which I like" does not change the meaning of the sentence

because: when to use a comma[edit | edit source]

  • because is a subordinating conjunction and not a relative pronoun
    • normally, a subordinate clause preceding the main clause would be separated by a comma:
      • Because it rained, we stayed inside"
    • and, normally, a subordinate clause following the main clause would not be separated by a comma:
      • We stayed inside because it rained
      • the reason is because the subordinate clause is requisite (necessary) information
    • however, there are times with the subordinate clause starting with because and following the main (independent) clause can be separated by a comma
      • if the information following the because is distinct and not directly explanatory (normally, "because" offers an explanation, making it requisite)
      • ex. We didn't play in the rain, because Mom said we might catch a cold
        • here, the speaker may wish for the subordinate clause following "because" to offer additional and not requisite information
      • other examples of because preceded by a comma:
        • Even if it's scary, don't close your eyes, because you'll miss the best part!
        • Playing tennis is fun, because it means the weather is good

non-restrictive relative clause[edit | edit source]

  • or "Non-defining relative clause"
  • or "non-essential" clause
    • = the additional information added by the clause is not necessary (or essential) for a complete sentence or thought
  • ex.: "Glue, which I hate to use, always sticks to my hands."
    • "which I hate to use" is not essential to the idea that "Glue always sticks to my hands"
  • see Restrictive relative clauses for sources

Other types of clauses[edit | edit source]

adjective clause[edit | edit source]

  • = a dependent clause that contains a subject and verb but acts as a modifier or adjective
  • see "relative clause"

adverb clause (or adverbial clause)[edit | edit source]

  • = a subordinate clause created by a subordinating conjunction and adding information to the action of a sentence:
  • adverbial clauses define or add information as to how, how much, when, where, why (cause/effect):
  • examples:
    • I'm staying until the park closes
    • As my grades sank, my heart sank, as well
    • I will bring my umbrella since it is raining
    • I got a good grade because I studied hard
  • adjunct v. disjuncts
    • adjuncts are integrated in a phrase or clause
    • disjuncts are peripheral (outside or, or on the edge of)

finite and non-finite clauses[edit | edit source]

  • distinguishes between clauses with finite verbs (subject-verb) and those with an implied but not present verb (represented by a non-finite verb)
    • the verbs in a finite clause show tense (as would any finite verb)
    • the verbs in a non-finite clause do not show tense (as with a non-finite verb)
      • by "tense" we mean its conjugation
        • the non-finite verb will be in the simple present
        • ex. A streetcar named 'Desire' is not necessarily the one you want to take
  • grammarians refer to these clauses in the context of "tense"
  • a finite clause shows tense and is usually an IC
    • ex. "Trey sent that text yesterday"
  • non-finite clause does not show tense and is usually a DC
    • non-finite clause adds information to the main clause (IC), but without marking "tense" (past, present or future)
      • it is the IC that shows the tense:
        • "She watched the little girl play with a hoolahoop"
          • "She watched" = finite-clause
          • "little girl play with a hoolahoop" = non-finite clause
        • note that this non-finite clause may also be expressed as a participial phrase:
          • "She watched the little girl playing with a hoolahoop"
            • (which also creates a potential misplaced modifier, as in this case it becomes unclear who was "playing with the hoolahop, "she" (who watched) or the "girl"
  • for more:

noun clause[edit | edit source]

  • = a clause that functions as a thing or idea (noun)
  • = usually introduced by what, when, where, wherever, who, whoever
  • = a clause that acts as a subject, object, subject complement or object of a preposition, ex.:
    • subject: "What I love to eat the most is steak"
      • "What I love to eat the most" = a clause that operates as the subject to the verb "is"
      • "Wherever we end up is fine with me"
    • subject complement or object:
      • "The teacher liked what Johnny said"
      • "I taught whoever would listen"
    • preposition:
      • "She recognized him for who he really is"
      • "Saddened by what he read, he cried"
      • "He was startled by what she said"
        • "for" and "by" = prepositions, so the noun clause is the object of the preposition
  • pronouns introducing noun clause
    • pronouns such as that, who, whoever, can introduce a noun clause
      • whereas "that" and "who" would be a relative pronoun, introducing a relative clause
    • if it creates a clause that acts as a noun and not an adjective, it is a noun clause
    • ex.:
      • Whoever wants it the most gets it
      • [noun clause=subject ] verb
    • note the difference between "who" and "whoever" in these sentences:
      • Jesus saves him who believes
        • "who believes" = relative or adjective clause that describes "him"
      • Jesus saves whoever believes
        • "whoever believes" = noun clause acting as direct object of "saves"
    • such noun clauses can also be used in "apposition"
      • appositive = a noun phrase that describes another noun or sentence part
        • Mr. Jones, a farmer, hates rabbits
          • "a farmer" = a noun phrase that tells us who is Mr. Jones
      • using the pronoun "that'
    • see Using Noun Clauses as Appositives (Parenting Patch)
      • note that this article provides examples of a noun clause within a preposition is incorrect:
      • such as, My decision, for you to leave the day after us, stands.
        • "for" is a preposition and "to leave" is an infinitive, so this is not a clause
          • "for you" is a prepositional phrase
          • that is further modified by the infinitive adjective "to leave" and its object, "the day after us"

Phrase[edit | edit source]

absolute phrase[edit | edit source]

  • modifies the main clause of a sentence
    • and not just a single word
  • contains a noun and an adjective
    • the adjective can be a prepositional phrase or a past or present participle adjective
  • absolute phrases add non-essential information to a sentence

adjective phrase[edit | edit source]

  • two or more words that act as an adjective
  • ex.
    • can also be compound words, such as "well-adjusted"
      • well-adjusted = an adjective made up of "well" (adverb) + "adjusted" (past participle)

adverb phrase or adverbial phrase[edit | edit source]

  • two or more words that operate as an adverb to modify an action
  • examples:
    • I'm staying until closing"
    • She'll be there in a minute*
      • * note that when a prepositional phrase acts as an adverb, it is technically an adverbial phrase
    • He ran very quickly

appositive phrase[edit | edit source]

  • "appositive" is an adjective that means "next to"
    • prefix ap- = towards
      • (related to the prefix "ad", but switches to "ap" when placed before a "P"
      • such as "apparent" which means "ap"/into + "parare"/visible, i.e. "into view or sight"
    • root posit = is from Latin ponere for "to place", i.e., "in position"
    • suffix -ive makes an adjective (from a verb)
  • the appositive phrase is two or more words that are next to another word in order to clarify, define, or identify it
    • note: a phrase is two or more words that does not contain a subject-verb
    • ex.
      • "Jonas Samson, a doctor of law, practices on the higher court"
      • "My friend Tony the Shark is an excellent card player"
      • "A thoughtful person, she gives good advice"
      • "An expert on trees, soil, and insects, arborists have great information to help design your garden"
    • a single noun can be "in apposition" (thus it is not a phrase)
      • sometimes called "an appositive" (even though the words is technically an adjective)
      • ex.
        • "My friend Tony is an excellent card player"
        • Ringing bells
    • when in the form of a clause, the apposition is a noun clause
      • a clause has a subject + verb

complement or requisite phrase[edit | edit source]

  • a word, phrase or clause that is necessary, or required, to complete an idea or sentence
    • complements are not separated from the main clause by punctuation

infinitive phrase[edit | edit source]

  • infinitive = the "to" form of a verb
  • infinitives acts as a noun, adjective or adverb
  • infinitives are formed by adding the particle "to" before a verb
    • the infinitive indicates an action not as a direct action (verb) but as a thing or descriptor that indicates some action
      • i.e., "to run" can be a noun, adjective or adverb, but it still indicates the action "run"
  • infinitive as a noun:
    • "To go is the best decision"
      • "to go" is the subject of the sentence
    • "I decided to go to the park"
      • "to go" is the direct object of the subject-verb "I decided"
        • i.e. it is the object of what "I decided"
        • note that "to the park" is prepositional phrase that acts like an adverb that describes "to go", as in "where [I decided] to go"
    • "The teacher reminded the class to study for the test tomorrow"
      • "the class" is the object of "the teacher reminded" and "to study" is an adverb that describes the verb "reminded"
      • "to study" may also be seen as a "object complement" in that it serves as the object of "reminded the class"
  • infinitive as an adjective
    • "The dog wanted the cake to drop on the floor"
      • "to drop" is an adjective that describes the "cake"
  • infinitive as an adverb
    • "Jonesy drove himself to learn"
      • "to learn" is an adverb that describes the verb "drove"
        • note that in this sentence, "Jonesy drove himself to school", the "to" is a preposition and not a particle
  • sometimes the "to" is dropped although the verb is still an infinitive:
    • ex. "The waiter made me wait"
      • "wait" can be a noun, but here it is acting as an infinitive verb (the action "to wait")
  • infinitives can have their own objects
    • She bought flowers to make him happy
      • "to make" modifies "bought" (as an adverb) or "flowers" (as an adjective)
      • "him" is the object of the infinitive "to make"
        • "happy" is the object complement of "him"
  • see: Infinitives (

introductory phrase[edit | edit source]

  • introduces a main clause
  • generally followed by a comma to separate it from the main clause
  • types of introductory phrases
    • absolute phrase (Tools in hand, I went to work without reading the manual)
    • appositive phrase (Quite useful, the manual is a must-read)
    • infinitive phrase (To know how, you need to read the manual)
    • participial phrase (Not knowing how, I had to read the manual)
    • prepositional phrase (Inside the box, you will find the manual)

noun phrase[edit | edit source]

  • two or more words that together act as a noun
    • noun phrases may include modifiers or determiners
      • the little dog
      • my little dog
    • noun phrases may be the subject or object of a sentence:
      • "The little dog begged for a bone"
      • "I ordered the little dog to sit"
    • noun phrases are easy to see as they include a noun and together act like a noun
      • test out a noun phrase by replacing the phrase with a pronoun:
        • "The little dog begged for a bone"= "He begged for a bone"
        • "I ordered him to sit"
    • gerund phrases are more difficult to distinguish
      • especially as to if the gerund is acting as a noun or an adjective/adverb
  • gerund phrases are noun phrases:
    • a gerund phrase may include an object of the gerund, adjectives, infinitive or a prepositional phrase, ex.:
      • "Watching my boring professor drone on about grammar leaves me bored beyond crying"
        • the gerund "watching" is the subject
          • note that "crying" is gerund, as well
    • when the gerund phrase becomes descriptive, it becomes a participial or adjective phrase:
      • "Running with the ball, he scored!" = "running" describes "he", thus it is an adjective
        • if the present participle cannot be replaced by a distinct noun, then it is an adjective and not a gerund (noun)
          • we cannot say, "running with the ball scored" so "running" = a present participle adjective not a gerund
        • see also, "He scored running with the ball"
        • or, "He scored 12 points running with the ball"
          • in both cases the present participle acts as a modifier (adjective or adverb)
      • it's easier to see with this gerund phrase:
        • "The doctor said smoking is bad" = gerund phrase as direct object
  • see Gerund Phrase (

participial or participle phrase[edit | edit source]

  • a type of adjective phrase
  • participial phrases "show" (describe, act as modifier) rather than "tell" (show action)
  • uses the -ing or -ed form of a verb that acts as an adjective
    • note that the "-ing" form of a verb can also be a verb (participle) or a noun (gerund)
  • frequently serves as an introductory or concluding phrase that qualifies or adds meaning to the main clause
    • ex. "Thinking I was late, I rushed to work."
      • "thinking" = present participle of the verb "to think"
      • the present participle (-ing form) acts as an adjective
      • so the phrase, "Thinking I was late" is an adjective phrase (using a participial) that adds descriptive information to the main clause, "I rushed to work"
    • or can also follow the main clause, as in : "I rushed to work, thinking I was late"\

prepositional phrase[edit | edit source]

  • introduced by a preposition, which creates a relationship to a noun or a verb
    • ex. of, by, for, on, etc.
  • prepositional phrases act as either adjectives or adverbs
    • i.e, they add information to or modify a noun or a verb
  • adjective ex:
    • "Books on sailing are fun to read"
      • "on sailing" describes the types of books that are "fun to read"
  • adverb ex.:
    • "Stephanie rode her bicycle to the store"
      • "to the store" = adverb to describe where Stephanie rode

verb phrase[edit | edit source]

  • two or more verbs that act as a single verb
    • = main verb + a helping or "auxiliary" verb
    • ex, "I couldn't have eaten any more cake if I tried"
      • "eat" = the main verb
      • "couldn't" and "have" = helping / auxiliary verbs
      • note: "if I tried" is an adverb clause (describes "could have eaten")
        • = a clause because it has a subject, "I" and a verb, "tried"
        • = a subordinate clause bc of the subordinating conjunction, "if", which makes the clause, "I tried" into an incomplete thought

Style & usage[edit | edit source]

>> note: to create larger entry for style & usage to be linked here <<

active versus passive voice[edit | edit source]

active voice[edit | edit source]

  • = the subject and verb are directly stated
    • as in, He gave the dog a bone = subject + verb + indirect object + object
  • transitive verbs (which require an object) are always active voice
    • I ate the entire pizza

passive voice[edit | edit source]

  • = the verb acts upon the subject, i.e., the subject follows the verb
    • as in, The dog was given a bone by them = object + verb + subject (+ prep/phrase)
  • passive voice uses the auxiliary verb "to be" + the past participle of the action verb
    • as in, The entire pizza was eaten by me
  • when to use passive voice:
    • passive voice shifts the emphasis from the subject to the object of the sentence
      • so if the object of the sentence is the important idea, then passive voice is fine
      • especially if the subject is irrelevant to the idea:
      • ex. The dog was given a bone
        • focus is on the dog and the bone, and we don't need to state who gave it the bone
  • passive voice can be "weaselly" when used to avoid responsibility for something:
    • Son: "Dad, your favorite glass was broken"
    • Father: "Who broke it?"
    • Son: "Uh, somebody..."
  • see

periods[edit | edit source]

Grammar lesson plans[edit | edit source]

  • Understanding sentence cores & how to build out ideas into complex sentences
    • students are to write a series of three or four simple statements of fact.
      • such as,
        • I like dogs.
        • I have a dog.
        • My dog's name is Dudu.
        • Dudu is fun to play with.
      • students are then to combine these thoughts two at a time by employing sentence parts such as pronouns, conjunctions, and subordinating conjunctions, such as:
        • "Since I like dogs, I have one."
        • "My dog's name is Dudu, and she is fun to play with"
      • then combine those sentences/ ideas into a single, complex sentence:
          • Since I like dogs, I have one named Dudu who is fun to play with"
  • Language and the law:
  • Create courtroom scenario in which precision or imprecision in words, syntax, and grammar would change the outcome of the case

Conjunction[edit | edit source]

  • conjunctions conjoin, combine or coordinate words and phrases (clauses)

conjunctions that combine words =[edit | edit source]

  • coordinators
    • coordinate or combine individual words or phrases:
      • as in:
        • apples and oranges are similar and distinct fruits
        • I only like apples or oranges that are ripe
  • correlative conjunction
    • creates a combination or contrast of actions or ideas:
    • and, or, neither, nor, etc.

conjunctions that combine sentence parts[edit | edit source]

    • coordinating conjunction
    • subordinating conjunction (SWABI)

conjunctions that coordinate or conjoin ideas[edit | edit source]

Introductory clauses & phrases[edit | edit source]

introductory clause[edit | edit source]

  • provides information or context to set up a dominant clause
  • = a dependent clause (does not stand as a complete sentence)
  • usually begin with a subordinating conjunction
    • ex. "If you want to do well on the test, use the study guide"

introductory phrase[edit | edit source]

  • a phrase that introduces an independent clause
    • usually a prepositional phrase or a participial phrase
      • "On Thursdays, I get out." (prepositional phrase)
      • "Feeling hungry, I bought some fries" (participial phrase)

Modifiers[edit | edit source]

  • modifiers change or add or "modify" the meaning of a word or sentence
  • modifiers provide or extent additional meaning to the reader
  • types of modifiers
    • adjectives
    • prepositions
      • prepositional phrases
    • adverbs
    • verbs as modifiers
      • participle phrase
  • other
    • adjective clause
    • infinitive phrase
    • adverbial clause
    • absolute phrase
    • Nouns as modifiers

intensifiers[edit | edit source]

  • enhance or strengthen the meaning of a word
    • (opposite of qualifiers which limit the meaning of a word)
  • intensifiers are adverbs (which modify verbs and adjectives), such as "he ran very fast" or "he was very late"
  • intensifiers can also act as adjectives in order to intensify an noun,
    • as in "a total lie"
  • types of intensifiers:
    • positive intensifiers:
      • very, extremely, absolutely, greatly, totally, highly, particularly, seriously, etc.
    • negative intensifiers:
      • never, at all, dangerously, never, etc.
    • intensifiers that can be both positive or negative:
      • awfully, completely

Sources for modifiers, qualifiers & intensifiers

qualifiers[edit | edit source]

  • qualifiers limit, or "qualify," the meaning of a word
  • qualifiers can be adverbs or determiners
  • types of qualifiers:
    • adverbs: always, frequently sometimes, usually,
    • determiners: few, many, some,

modifier errors: dangling modifiers[edit | edit source]

  • a modifier that has no word or phrase to modify
    • i.e., it stands by itself, which is inherently illogical since a modifier must have something to modify
    • usually, dangling modifiers occur with participial phrases (using the -ing present participle) or prepositional phrases
    • dangling modifiers frequently mistake the target of the modification, such as modifying one thing, then discussing another
    • examples:
    • wrong: While playing around, it was late
      • correct: While playing around, I noticed it was late"
    • wrong: Driving to school, I forgot my homework
      • correct: Driving to school, I realized I forgot my homework

modifier errors: misplaced modifiers[edit | edit source]

  • a modifier that is next to or seemingly modifies the word or phrase
  • examples.
    • wrong: The student failed the test in the back of the class
      • correct: The student in the back of the class failed the test
    • wrong: The teacher gave a grade to the student that was really good
      • correct: The teacher gave a really good grade to the student
    • wrong: Jamie chased the cat in his pajamas
      • correct: In her pajamas, Jamie chased the cat

modifier errors: pre and post adverbs[edit | edit source]

  • modifier placement can change the meaning of a sentence:
  • example:
    • The student almost failed every test
    • v. The student failed almost every test
      • here the modifier "almost" is an adverb
    • The mechanic only works on trucks on Tuesdays
      • = on Tuesdays the mechanic works on trucks and nothing else
    • v. The mechanic works on trucks only on Tuesdays
      • = it is only on Tuesdays that the mechanic will work on trucks (but might also work on cars, as well)

Sentence diagramming[edit | edit source]

The diagrammed sentence is build around the core subject-verb
The diagrammed sentence is build around the core subject-verb

vocabulary & definitions[edit | edit source]

Attributive[edit | edit source]

Appositive[edit | edit source]

Clause[edit | edit source]

Colloquial[edit | edit source]

Denotation and Connotation[edit | edit source]

  • denotation = literal meaning of a word
  • connotation = associations wit words
    • generally positive or negative associations

Idiom/ Idiomatic[edit | edit source]

  • grammatical idiom
    • words or phrases that are used simply because they are used
    • = don't have specific rules
    • note: prepositions are not idiomatic
  • idiom as sayings or expressions
    • idioms are common sayings that express an idea figuratively
      • but if taken literally are nonsensical
    • ex.
      • "Don't beat around the bush"
      • "Chip off the old block"
      • "Got the extra mile"

Phrase[edit | edit source]

Grammatical oddities[edit | edit source]

anacoluthon[edit | edit source]

>> see