Learn English Grammar: The Sentence


Hi again. I'm Adam. Welcome back to www.engvid.com. Today I have a very important lesson, I think,

for all of you that will help you very much with your reading, but especially your writing

skills. Okay?

Today we're going to look at the sentence. What is a sentence? Now, I know that all of

you are saying: "Well, we know what a sentence is. We've learned this a thousand times before."

Right? I know what you've learned and I know what you haven't learned, many of you; some

of you have, of course. The sentence has a very basic structure, there's a very basic

component that must be involved or included in a sentence, and a lot of grammar teachers,

a lot of English teachers don't teach this. Okay? All of you, I'm sure have by now heard

of "SVO", but have you heard of "SVsC"? Have you heard of "SVC"? Maybe yes, maybe no. But

I'm sure a lot of you are going: "What? I've never heard of these things before." Well,

we're going to talk about this in one second.

Before we talk about a sentence, we have to talk about a clause. Now, what is a clause?

I'm sure you've heard this word before as well, but just in case, a clause is any subject,

verb combination. It's a group of words that must include a subject and a verb. Now, also

very important to remember: it must be a tense verb, meaning that it must take a time; past,

present, future. Okay? No base verb, no infinitive verb. So that is a clause. Now, there are

two types of clauses. Okay? We have independent clauses and we have dependent clauses. The...

These are sometimes called subordinate clauses. Now, every sentence in English to be a grammatically

correct sentence must have an independent clause. It doesn't need a dependent clause,

but it could have one. The independent clause could include a dependent clause as the subject

or object. We'll talk about that after.

So an independent clause has a subject and a verb, and it can stand by itself. It can

contain a complete idea by itself. Okay? So, technically, the shortest sentence you can

have in English will be a... Will be an independent clause with a subject and verb. What is the

absolute shortest sentence that you can think of? Think of a sentence, the shortest you

can possibly make it. Okay? Here's an example: "Go!" Is this a complete English sentence?

Yes. Why? Because it contains an independent clause. Where? We have the implied subject:

"you" and the tense verb: "go", the imperative tense "go". So this your basic English sentence.

Now, we have three other types, three basic types and we can of course play with these

after. Subject, verb, object. Some independent clauses must have an object, we'll talk about

that in a second. Excuse me. Subject, verb, subject complement. Some sentences must have

a subject complement. Subject, verb, complement. Okay? We're going to talk about each of these

in a moment. I have the "A" here because quite often, this complement is actually an adverb

phrase or an adverbial. We'll talk about that in a second.

So your basic sentence can be any one of these three. Now, the reason we're looking at this...

All these structures is because once you understand what must be contained in a sentence, then

you can read any English sentence out there that is grammatically correct and be able

to understand the main idea of that sentence. Okay? So let's start with "SVO".

Okay, let's look at our "SVO" type of independent clause: subject, verb, object. Now, first,

what is an object? Well, we have two types of objects to talk about. We have the direct

object, we have the indirect object. Now, the thing to understand is that the object

always answers a question about the verb, it completes the meaning of the verb by asking

the questions: "What?" or: "Who?" Now, keep in mind that technically, it's: "Whom?" But

if you say: "Who?" I'll let it go this time. Okay? Formal academic writing, "Whom?", "Whom?",

"Whom?" IELTS, TOEFL, SAT, all that - "Whom?" not: "Who?" In the object position. But the

direct object answers: "What?" or: "Who?" about the verb. Okay? We'll get back to that.

An indirect object answers the question: "To what?" or: "For what?" or: "Whom?", "To what?",

"For what?", "To whom?", "For whom?" Usually about the object, about the direct object.

You will never see an indirect object without a direct object in the sentence as well. Now,

again, before I get back to the objects, let me explain this word: "transitive verb". I

don't care if you remember this word or not; it's not important, that's just a grammar

word. Understand the meaning of this situation. A transitive verb must take an object, a direct

object. Okay?

Look at this sentence here: "I want." Is this a complete sentence? I have a subject and

verb. Right? Should be okay. "Want" is a transitive verb. There's no such thing as wanting without

wanting something. Okay? So this is not a complete sentence. This sentence or this clause

must take an object. "I want candy." Now it's complete because it answers the question:

"What?" about want. Not all verbs are transitive. Some are intransitive, means they don't take

an object. Some are called ambitransitive, means in some situations, they take an object;

in some situations, they don't take an object. But that's for a different lesson altogether.

So we have "SVO" must have an object to the verb.

Now, here: "She gave Mary a letter." We have our subject "she", we have our verb, "gave",

past tense. "Mary", okay? She gave who? No. She gave what? A letter. We have our direct

object to Mary, indirect object. She gave a letter to Mary. She gave Mary a letter.

Okay? So we have: she gave what? Again, this is a transitive verb, it must take an object,

a direct object. She gave a letter to Mary, our indirect object. This is a complete independent

clause, a complete idea full of meaning, ready to be added on to.

Now, what do you put before or what you put after, that's all complements basically. It's

not important. You can have a lot more phrases, you can have other clauses, you can have subordinate

clauses added to this. This is your main idea of the sentence, that's your independent clause.

Let's look at the other type: the subject, verb, subject complement.

Okay, so now we're going to look at the other type of sentence, the other type of independent

clause you can have. Subject, verb, subject complement. Before we look at it, I want you

to notice very carefully this "e" here. Okay? We don't have "compliment". "Compliment",

"complement". This one means to complete something. This one means to say nice things about someone.

"Oh, I look your shirt, it's very nice. It suits you." That's a compliment. "Complement",

to complete. So a subject complement completes the meaning of something. Now, we had the

object before. The object answered the question about the verb. Right? It completed the meaning

of the verb. The subject complement completes the meaning or says something about the subject,

not the verb. Okay? It also answers the question: "What?" about the subject. One way to think

about this is think of the verb, the "be" verb-and it's always going to be a "be" verb-think

of it as an equal sign. Subject = the subject complement.

So, for example... And many students still ask me this, I'll say it again. "I am Canadian."

So "I" equals "Canadian", Canadian completes the meaning of "I", same thing. Right? This

is the completion of me.

This sentence looks a little bit more complicated, but it's the exact same thing. "The weatherman

must be wrong about today's forecast." I still have the "be" verb, this modal, "must" only

tells me something about the degree of the "be" verb; it doesn't tell me anything about

the subject or the complement. So the weatherman, wrong. The weatherman is wrong "about today's

forecast." This is just an extra piece of information. It is a complement to "wrong".

Wrong about what? That's... We're going to talk about different types of complements

like this one. "Wrong" is a complement to "weatherman". "About today's forecast" is

a complement to "wrong". A sentence can have many complements. Okay? An independent clause

can only have one object, one subject, one verb. However, you can have many clauses in

a sentence, you can only have one independent clause unless, of course, you have two independent

clause joined by a conjunction; "and", "but", "or", etcetera. We'll talk about that in a

little bit as well. So weatherman must be wrong about today's forecast. So this is your

subject, verb... Subject, verb, subject complement. Now we're going to look at the last one: subject,

verb, complement.

Okay, let's look at our last one. We have "SVA". I put "A" because quite often when

you have to have it, it's an adverbial, but technically, anything that's not an object

or a subject complement is just a complement. It is necessary to... For the completion of

the sentence. Now, an adverbial. Why do we call it an "adverbial"? Because it answers

the questions: "Where?", "When?", "How?", "Why?" We saw that the object answers: "What?"

or: "Who?" Adverbial answers the other questions. About what? About the subject? No. It's about

the verb again. Okay?

So, for example, if I say: "I went." Is this a complete sentence? No, because "go" means

you have to go somewhere. Technically, in certain contexts, it could be an answer to

another question. But as... By itself, it's not a complete sentence. I need to add something

to it. "I went to the store." I went where? To the store. "To the store" is a complement,

but it's acting as an adverb because it answers one of these questions. Remember: a complement,

and I just want to explain it here, completes the meaning of something. It could... In this case, it

completes the meaning of the verb, but complements can also complete the meanings of something

else. We had "SVsC" completes the meaning of the subject. We can also have complements

that complete the meaning of an object, or a preposition, or many other things. I'll

give you a few examples soon.

"Bill lives in Hawaii." Bill lives where? In Hawaii.

Now, I want you to also look at this sentence: "Carl reads." Now, could this sent-... Could

this clause-I should say, subject, verb-could this be a complete sentence? Sure. What does

Carl do..? What does Carl do in his spare time? He reads. Now, what he reads, maybe

not important; I want the action more than the thing he reads. However, I see Carl, he's

reading all the time, and I think: "What? Is he in school?" No. "Carl reads for pleasure."

I need this piece of information to complete the idea, to complete the meaning of this

sentence. "Carl reads books." and: "Carl reads for pleasure." are two completely different

sentences; they have completely different meanings. If I want to specify a particular

meaning, I want to tell you why he reads, then I have to add this complement, I have

to add this adverbial to complete the meaning of this verb. "He reads newspapers.", "He

reads comic books.", "He reads obituaries." Do you know what an "obituary" is? In the

newspaper, sometimes they put little notices of people who died. Some people like to read

these things, I don't know why, but some people do. But Carl, he reads for pleasure; he enjoys

it, it's fun for him. But this completes the meaning of that.

So there you have the three types. Now, the thing to remember is that you can mix all

of these. You can have "SVAO". Well, no, you can't have "SVA". You can "SVOA", you can

have "SVOC", you can have "SVAAC", etcetera. You can mix them. I'm going to give you a

couple of examples here to see what I'm talking about.

Okay, let's look at some examples here. I want... Keep in mind this is very basic stuff.

You're going to see very, very complicated sentences in your readings, especially once

you get into academic readings. But: "I went to the store to buy bread for breakfast this

morning." Now, this might seem like a bit of a complicated sentence, but it's actually

a simple sentence and it only has "SV", lots of "C's". Okay? "I went", subject, verb. Where?

"To the store". This is an adverbial. Where? "To buy bread". Why? Why did I go to the store?

"For breakfast". "Bread", for what? At the store, I bought bread. I bought bread for

breakfast. When? "This morning". This goes back to "went". Okay? All of these are complements

to the... to each other and to the verb: "went". You can have many complements. You don't want

to have too, too many because then your sentence becomes long, and a little bit boring, and

a little bit in danger of being run-on. Okay? But you can add as many as you want. Now,

the complements could be anything; could be infinitive phrase, or participle phrase, or

a clause, or a gerund, or noun phrase. Anything. Okay? As long as it's grammatically correct.

Here's another sentence. Now, this one also looks a little complicated, it's not either.

"What Sharon forgot to mention was that her husband was the CEO of Microsoft and makes

a lot of money, which is why she can afford all of her holidays." Sorry, I forgot the

comma there. Okay. Now you're thinking: "Oh, wow. I have no idea." First thing, remember

what I said: you have to find your independent clause first. Now, keep in mind a subject

can be a subordinate clause as well. What is the subject of this entire sentence? Is

it Sharon? No. Is it CEO, is it her husband, is it Microsoft? No. What we have here is

a noun clause subject. This is your subject, a subject which is an independent clau-...

A dependent clause-sorry-this is called a noun clause. It has its own subject and verb.

Remember a dependent clause also has a subject and verb. Forgot what? "To mention", it has

an object to "forgot". Now, here's your verb: "was". Okay? "Her husband", "that her husband

was the CEO of Microsoft and makes a lot of money". Sharon forg-... This is the subject,

this is the subject complement because we have a "be" verb. This is also a noun clause

with its own subject and verb. "That her husband was the CEO" and that he "makes a lot of money."

Okay? "Which is why she can afford all of her holidays." We were wondering: "Sharon

goes away on holiday all the time, but she doesn't work. How does she do that? She's

never told us that she inherited money. Oh, what she forgot to mention last time she explained

was that", blah, blah, blah. Okay? So this is a complement.

Now, of course, this doesn't look too easy. Remember: a subject could be anything, an

object could be anything. Not anything, but there's all kinds of subjects and objects.

We'll discuss that another time. Find your subject, your main subject, find your main

verb, find your object, complement, etcetera.

Now, remember I said: every sentence must have at least one independent clause. It could

have two, it could have three, as long as you have a coordinating conjunction, "and",

"but", "or". "John loves Kate", John loves who? Kate. "and Kate loves John." Subject,

verb, object. Subject, verb, object. Two independent clauses, one sentence, conjunction. Okay?

This might seem a little bit difficult, but there's a quiz on www.engvid.com, go to it,

check it out. And remember: this is all very good for your writing skills and your reading

skills. But if you need a little bit more help, check out my website: www.writetotop.com,

a lot more information there to help you out. And come again soon.