Author Topic: Lesson #5 – Constructing the English Sentence  (Read 22832 times)

Joe Carillo

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Lesson #5 – Constructing the English Sentence
« on: May 30, 2009, 12:09:29 AM »
V.  CONSTRUCTING THE ENGLISH SENTENCE

Simply by way of review, a sentence by definition is a word, clause, or phrase or a group of clauses or phrases forming a syntactic unit that expresses an assertion, a question, a command, a wish, an exclamation, or the performance of an action.

In written form, of course, a sentence normally begins with a capital letter and concludes with an appropriate end punctuation. In speaking, the sentence is distinguished by characteristic patterns of stress, pitch, and pauses.

Before going into the various ways of constructing sentences, however, it would be best to first make a full-dress review of the content words and the various grammatical structures that form English sentences.

A.  The Content Words as Carriers of Meaning

1.  Noun – a word that refers to an entity (people, places, things), quality, state, action, or
     concept.

     Examples:
            Entity – people: Rowena Cruz, Americans, tribe; places: street, mountain, 
                Europe; things: belt, lamppost, building
            Quality – kindness, laxity, fecundity
            State – readiness, wakefulness, depravity
            Action – movement, transfer, reduction
            Concept – democracy, gravity, integrity   

2.  Pronoun – a word used as a substitute for nouns or noun phrases.
     Examples: I, you, me, they, them, it

3.  Verb – a word that expresses an act, occurrence, or state of being.
     Examples: be, run, speak, modify

4.  Adjective – a word that modifies a noun to denote quality, quantity or extent, or a
     distinguishing characteristic.
     Examples: new, attractive, exact, long

5.  Adverb – a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a preposition, a
     phrase, a clause, or a sentence.
     Examples: forcibly, gratifyingly, exactly

B.  Common Grammatical Structures in English

1.  Phrases – a group of words forming a syntactic constituent with a single grammatical
     function.
     Types of Phrases:
(a)  Noun phrase – Examples: “a night at the opera,” “typical problems in
      crowded communities,” “assumptions of the kind you made”
(b)  Verb phrase – Examples: “will be included,” “is currently being pursued,”
       “should be discontinued by now”
(c)  Adjectival phrase – “comfortable in plain shorts,” “accommodating to a
      fault,” “doubtful of the outcome”
(d)  Adverbial phrase – “excessively prone to napping on the job,” “tactically
      inappropriate to the terrain,” “appreciably less than expected”

2.  Clauses - a group of words containing a subject and predicate and that (a) can
     function as a complete sentence, or (b) that can form part of a compound or complex
     sentence.

     Types of Clauses:
            (a)  Independent Clause – a group of words that contains a subject and verb and
                   expresses a complete thought, and thus can function as a sentence by itself.
            (b)  Subordinate or Dependent Clause – a dependent clause is a group of words
                   that similarly contains a subject and verb but doesn’t express a complete
                   thought, and thus can’t function as a sentence on its own.
(c)   Noun Clause – a subordinate clause working as a noun in a sentence, and as
       such has the obligatory noun and operative verb that all clauses have

Examples of clauses:

INDEPENDENT CLAUSE:

The warring families settled their differences,
                            ^
                  independent clause #1

and peace reigned between them for decades.”
                             ^
                  independent clause #2

(In the example above, each of the two clauses expresses a complete thought and can function as a sentence by itself.)

SUBORDINATE OR DEPENDENT CLAUSE:

She won’t leave  until I tell her to do so.”
              ^                                ^
 independent clause            subordinate clause 
                                           
(In the example above, the first clause is independent because it can stand as a sentence by itself. On the other hand, the second clause is subordinate or dependent because it doesn’t express a complete thought and depends on the first clause to acquire meaning.)                                     

NOUN CLAUSE:

This chapter will take up                           
                     ^
         dependent clause                                                                 

what happened after Lapu-Lapu slew Magellan in Mactan in 1521.”
                                     ^
                               noun clause

(In the example above, the noun clause “what happened after Lapu-Lapu slew Magellan in Mactan in 1521” functions as the direct object of the verb phrase “will take up.” Both this noun clause and the dependent clause “this chapter will take up” cannot stand on their own; they work as an interdependent whole to form the sentence.) 

Which of the five alternatives we analyzed earlier is superior
                                             ^
                                       noun clause
should be obvious by now.”       
                 ^
          dependent clause                                                   
                                                                   
3.  Verbals and Verbal Phrases – verb-based grammatical forms that act as nouns or
     adjectives.
    
     Types of Verbals:
           (a)  Infinitive – a verb preceded by “to” that functions as an noun.
                  Example: “To err is human; to forgive is divine.”
                  (In this example, both “to err” and “to forgive” are infinitives functioning as
                  subjects of their respective independent clauses.)

                  Infinitive phrase – an infinitive with its accompanying modifiers.
                  Example: “To forgive under such circumstances would be unthinkable.”
                  (In this example, “to forgive under such circumstances” is an infinitive phrase
                  functioning as the subject of the sentence.)
 
           (b)  Gerund – a verb that ends in “-ing” that functions as a noun.
                  Example: “Forgiving sometimes can be difficult to do.”
                  (In this example, “forgiving” is a gerund functioning as the subject of the                   
                  sentence.)

         Gerund phrase – a gerund with its accompanying modifiers.
                  Example: “Forgiving a husband for his indiscretions can be difficult to do.
                  (In this example, “forgiving a husband for his indiscretions” is a gerund
                  phrase functioning as the subject of the sentence.)

           (c)  Participle – a verb that typically ends in “-ed” (past participle) or “-ing”
                 (present participle) and that functions as an adjective.
                 Examples:
                 Participle (past participle form): “The unrecorded sales transaction was
                 discovered by the eagle-eyed accountant.”
            (In this example, the word “unrecorded” is a participle functioning as an
                 adjective to modify the noun “sales transaction.”)
                 Participial phrase (past participle form):The previously encountered
                 problem was finally fixed the second time around.”
                 (In this example, the phrase “the previously encountered” is a participle
                 functioning as an adjective to modify the noun “problem.”) 

                 Participle (present participle form): “The sinking ship was saved in the nick of
                 time.”                 
                 (In this example, the word “sinking” is a participle functioning as an adjective
                 to modify the noun “ship.”)
                 Participial phrase (present participle form):The incredibly large sinking
                 ship was towed to safety by a passing freighter.” 
                 (In this example, the phrase “the incredibly large sinking” is a participial
                 phrase functioning as an adjective to modify the noun “ship.”)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT ABOUT CONTENT WORDS:
It’s nice to know a lot of content words or what we call a wide vocabulary, but in writing, we can get better results by using words that we think are already in the heads of our readers. The best words to use are those that are already familiar to our readers and are well within their comfort level.

Next: The Six Basic Logical Relationships in Language

« Last Edit: June 06, 2009, 12:46:15 AM by Joe Carillo »

toprngr

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Re: Lesson #5 – Constructing the English Sentence
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2010, 01:54:57 PM »
Getting to understand more about the basic is one of the things that should be done in order to improve in English. In fact I am very glad that I actually understand and had the privilege to do so and it comes to a point where basics are very important to me. The more I understand about the foundation of something, the easier it is for me to master, or even improve in that certain field.

Joe Carillo

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Re: Lesson #5 – Constructing the English Sentence
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2010, 02:17:46 PM »
Thanks for the compliment in your three postings in response to these English-usage lessons! I am truly delighted that you are finding them useful in your continuing quest for better English.   

elizdaavis

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Re: Lesson #5 – Constructing the English Sentence
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2011, 03:34:39 AM »
Got a very nice guide here. I am very bad at constructing full senetences with correct grammar..Thanks

aprilalburo

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Re: Lesson #5 – Constructing the English Sentence
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2011, 02:22:36 AM »
this is only a basic class during my high school years. LOL! wish i studied harder for me to construct english fluently. LOL!