San Jose City College

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  Sentences hold your thoughts. Craft them with care.
Sentence structure errors include incorrect sentence order, problems with joining clauses, misplaced phrasal or clausal modifiers, omission of essential sentence elements, and use of unnecessary or confusing words and foreign-sounding syntax. To avoid such errors, it is essential to understand the basic elements of simple sentences and to know how to combine clauses in complex and compound sentences.

Click on the highlighted terms for essential definitions.
[S+V+M] Subject+Verb+Modifier: The sentence has a subjectThe subject is who or what the sentence is about. Subjects can be nouns, pronouns, infinitive phrases, gerunds, or noun clauses. , an intransitive verbAn intransitive verb is any verb that is not followed by a direct object, as in the sentence, He arrived late. Late is an adverbial modifier indicating time. , and an adverbial modifierAdverbs give information about time, place, manner, degree, etc. They give answers to question words like when, where, how, how much, how far, etc. Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. .
The idea subject  for the Red Cross|  was born|  verb  out of a bloody battle| How? (modifier)   in Solferino, Italy Where? |  in 1859 When? .
Note: Adverbial modifiers are often used as introductory phrases.
In 1859, the idea for the Red Cross was born out of a bloody battle in Solferino, Italy.
Subject+Verb+Object: The sentence has a subject, a transitive verbA transitive verb must be followed by an object for the sentence to make sense.
Example: Many men lost their lives in the bloody battle of Solverino.

Note that an adverbial modifier--in the bloody battle of Solverino--follows the direct object.
, and a direct object. The direct object may be followed by an adjectival or adverbial modifier.A direct object answers the question whom or what after the verb.

Direct objects--like subjects--can be nouns, pronouns,infinitive phrases, gerunds, or noun clauses
The International Red Cross Subject  and the Red Crescent Movement subject |   help verb |  the wounded direct object |  in times of war or natural disaster.
Or place the adverbial modifier first:
In times of war or natural disaster, the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement help the wounded.   NoteA simple sentence can have two subjects, or a compound subject.

The Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement make up the compound subject in this example sentence.

A simple sentence can also have a compound verb.

These organizations provide medical assistance and distribute basic necessities in times of disaster.
S+V+DO+IOSubject+Verb+Direct Object+Indirect Object: The sentence has a subject, a verb, a direct object, and an indirect objectAn indirect object tells to whom or for whom the action of the verb is done. The indirect object receives the action of the verb.. When the indirect object follows the direct object, the preposition to or for is used with the indirect object.
The Red Cross| delivers| food, bottled water, blankets, and other itemsdirect objects| to victimsindirect object of war or natural disaster.
It| accepts| large corporate donationsdirect object| for these victimsindirect object.
Subject+Verb+Indirect Object+Direct Object: The sentence has a subject, a verb, an indirect object and a direct object. When the indirect object comes before the direct object, no preposition is used.
The International Red Cross| gives| victims| indirect object donationsdirect object of food, bottled water, blankets, and other needed items.
Subject+Linking Verb+Complement: The sentence has a subject, a linking verbA linking verb connects (links) the subject to a subject complement, which is necessary to complete the meaning of the sentence.

Jose was very happy when Rosa accepted his marriage proposal.

Rosa was a beautiful bride.
and a subject complement. The complement may be an adjective or a noun.The complement completes the sentence. It identifies the subject (a noun) or describes the subject (an adjective).

Jose was a handsome groom noun complement  .

And Rosa looked beautiful Adjective Complement on her wedding day.
 An adverbial modifier may follow the complement.    
Linking verbs 1
Linking verbs include the verb be and verbs of perception or sensation. If you can substitute the verb be in a sentence, you know you have a linking verb.

Appear:    The man appeared [was]drunk...or appeared to be drunk.
Feel:        The runners felt [were] exhausted after the 26-mile marathon.
Lie:          The soldiers lay [were] wounded all over the battlefield.
Look:       The students looked [were] confused after the lecture.
Remain:   The crowd remained [was] silent for a moment of prayer.
Seem:       Mary seemed [was] pleased with her test results.
Smell:      The flowers in Ana's garden smell [are] so fragrant!
Sound:     The peeling of the church bells sounded [was] beautiful with the orchestral music.
Stay:         Please stay (remain/be) calm and let the rescue teams do their work.
Taste:       The pastry tasted [was] too sweet.
       Linking Verbs 2 Certain linking verbs show a change or result in the subject. These linking verbs are sometimes called resulting linking verbs.

Become:  William Jefferson Clinton became president in 1992.
Get:          Maria got sick during her trip to Europe.
Grow:      The war grew worse as the government lost control over the militias.
Fall:        The young couple fell into debt shortly after their marriage.
Prove:      Her infection proved (to be) impossible for the doctors to cure.
Run:        The crowd ran amok became unruly    and destroyed property during the demonstration.
Turn:       The grass turned green by April.
The American Red Cross subject  is linking verb |  a humanitarian organization noun
 The American Red Cross|  is|  independent Adjective
of the U.S. government.
Subject+BE+Modifier: When BE is a main verb, it is followed by an adverbial modifier. In this case, it is not followed by an adjective or noun complement, and it is not an auxiliary (helping) verb.
Relief workers| are| in every disaster zone around the world Adv. modifier .
Or place the adverbial modifier first.
In every disaster zone around the world, there Subject
are Main verb | Red Cross or Red Crescent relief workers real subject .
   Analyze the sentences below and identify the simple sentence pattern of each. To help yourself, ask questions after the verb--like who or what (for objects) and when? where? how? how long? why? etc. (for adverbial modifiers).
1.The United Nations Security Council is a very powerful body.
2. Five powerful countries sit on the council as permanent members.
3. The five permanent members are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
4. Another ten countries have seats on the council.
5. These ten member states are elected for two-year terms.
6. The Security Council can impose economic sanctions on rogue statesStates that violate human rights and do not follow international law are called rogue states..
7. They give warnings to such states before imposing sanctions.
8. The Security Council sends human rights and election monitors to troubled areas.
9. The Security Council has mandated arms inspections in countries like Iraq and Iran.
10. Since 1990, the Security Council has met nearly continuously.