Sentence| Definition, Types Structure, Elements and Parts
Category : GRAMMAR
Definition of Sentence
A sentence is an ordered string of words that is complete in itself containing a subject in agreement with a verb and conveying a complete sense.
Let us take a look at the following group of words:
Misha is my friend.
I am late for class.
The birds are singing.
in the morning
near the bus stop
With my sister
Is there any difference between group A and group B?
Does group A make sense to you?
What about group B?
You will agree with me when I say that the words in group A make complete sense. Hence we may call them SENTENCES.
Group B, on the other hand, does not make complete sense. They should be supported by other words to be completed. We can call such incomplete expressions as Phrases.
Self Check Exercises 1
Look at the following group of words and say whether they are sentences or phrases.
Ramu is singing.
On the roof.
Radha jumped on the wall.
In the last section.
TYPES OF SENTENCES
Now let us listen to this conversation between Geetha and her mother.
Geetha: Mother, I am back from class
Mother: Geetha, You are late, aren’t you? Why are you late?
Geetha: I stopped to see Mrs. Patel. She is going to the USA next week.
Mother: How wonderful! When will she return? Geetha: After a month.
Mother: OK. Now come and drink your tea. Please shut the door when you Come.
Geetha: Oh Mother! I am not hungry
Let us pick these sentences and put them into four groups.
I am back from
I stopped to see Mrs. Patel
She is going to the USA next week.
I am hot hungry.
Why are you late?
When will she return?
You are late, aren’t you?
Drink your tea.
Please shut the door when you come.
What is the function of the sentences in Group 1?
They make a statement and we can see that they follow the pattern subject(s) + Verb (v). Such sentences are called DECLARATIVE SENTENCES.
We can see two types of declarative sentences,
I am back from school (Affirmative)
I am not hungry (Negative)
Let us look at some more examples. Affirmative and Negative
1. John is running. John is not running.
2. They are happy They are not happy.
3. Meera is coming tomorrow. Meera is not coming tomorrow.
4. It is very cold. It is not very cold.
The sentences in Group 2 ask questions. They are called INTERROGATIVE SENTENCES
Here the word order’ is question word + verb (V) + subject or we can say that they are the inverted form of statements. The questions listed above begin with ’Why’ and ’When’ Such questions are called WH- Questions. The other ’wh’ words which are used for asking questions are What, Who, Which, Where, etc. (how, how far, how much, how often, etc. also come under this category) Some more examples:
Which is your favourite colour?
What did the man do?
Where is my cat?
Look at this question:
Is the doctor in?
What will be the answer?
Yes, he is \No, he isn’t.
Such questions are called YES\NO Questions.
They begin with a verb or an auxiliary (is, are, do, etc.)
Are you happy?
No, I am not / Yes, I am
Did you go there?
No, I didn’t / Yes, 1 did
The third type of question is listed here.
You are late, aren’t you?
This is called a QUESTION TAG.
We shall discuss question tags in detail later.
The sentences in Group 3 express strong feelings like surprise, pleasure, anger, pain, happiness, etc. They are called EXCLAMATORY statements.
What a beautiful night!
How cold it is!
Sentences in Group 4 give instructions. Such statements that give advice, request, command or suggestions are called IMPERATIVES
Never Cheat anyone.
Pass the salt.
Self Check Exercise 11
List the following sentences as declarative, interrogative, imperative and exclamatory.
The sun rises in the east ………………………
Why are you sad? …………………………………
How lovely! ……………………………………………
Pray to God ……………………………………………
Pay your taxes ……………………………………….
Did you drink your coffee? ……………………….
What a nice thought! ……………………………….
Tomorrow is not a holiday …………………
7.2 THE SENTENCE STRUCTURE
In this section let us get introduced to Peter. Peter kicked the ball. In this sentence, somebody is doing the action. The doer of the action or What is being talked about is the SUBJECT (S). The action is the VERB (V). The person or thing affected by the action of the verb is the OBJECT (O).
Peter(S) kicked(V) the ball(O).
Now look at the sentence again Peter Kicked the ball quickly (How?)
The word underlined tells you more about how Peter kicked the ball. It is known as the Adjunct.
Now let us know more about Peter.
1. Peter is a football player.
2. They elected Peter the Captain.
In sentence ( 1) Peter is the subject and in (2) Peter is the object. In both sentences, some information is given about Peter. It tells you more about him that he is a football player and that he is elected the captain. This is called a COMPLEMENT (C).
(1) is Subject Complement (2) is Object Complement.
Objects are of two types: Direct and Indirect Look at the Sentences:
He gave me a pen.
Here you can ﬁnd 2 objects: me and a pen. As you know an object can be identified in the sentence by asking what, whom, to whom, etc. to the verb. Here when we ask ”what to the verb ’gave’, we have an answer i.e. a pen. Similarly when the question to whom is asked we get ’me‘ as an answer.
So, they can be considered as objects of this sentence.
Answer to the question ’what’ is DIRECT OBJECT and answer to ’whom’, ’to whom’ etc. is an INDIRECT OBJECT. Usually ’things’ come as direct object and persons / animate things come as indirect object. e.g., 1. My uncle gave me a gift
2. My teacher taught me grammar.
Examine their position in the sentence. ’me’ comes before ’a gift’ (1) ’me’ comes before ’grammar’ (2) me, indirect object comes before direct object. This is the usual pattern when there are 2 objects in a sentence.
Thus, the five basic functional elements of sentence are Subject (S), Verb (V), Object (O), Complement (C) and Adjunct (A).
Let us look at some more sentences.
S V O
Nisha ate an ice cream.
S V O A
Mother read the letter thoroughly
S V C
AP J Abdul Kalaam is the President of India.
Self Check Exercise
List out the elements of the sentences as SVOCA.
1. The old man looked at the watch.
2. The policeman searched for the thief.
3. That girl is lying.
4. They walked steadily.
5. The boys ran.
6. She is a teacher.
7.3 Now Once more let us go back to Geetha.
Geetha went to school. One day she was late in coming back. Her mother asked her’ why she was late. She replied that she had gone to see Mrs. Patel. Mrs. Patel was going to America.
Look at the Words underlined. These words tell you names of people, places or things. We call them NOUNS.
Now, let us look at Geetha once more. Geetha sings a song.
Young Geetha sings a song.
Beautiful Young Geetha sings a song.
Very Beautiful Young Geetha sings a song.
The Very Beautiful Young Geetha sings a song.
Even The Very Beautiful Young Geetha sings a song.
What is Geetha doing?
She is singing a song. The word ’she’ is a pronoun. We have already seen that the word ’Geetha’ is a Noun, We can also see that many words are added before Geetha to modify her. It acts as the subject [refer to section 1.2]. These words act as subject, object or complement of the sentence. They are called NOUN PHRASES. Noun Phrases = Modifier + Head word + Qualifier.
Anything that precedes the Headword is a Modifier e.g., Young Geetha sings a song. Here ”Geetha” is the Headword and ”young” is the Modifier.
Is there a Qualifier in the sentence?
Let us look at a sentence with a Qualiﬁer.
Young Geetha who goes to school sings a song.
The Qualifier follows the Headword.
Self Check Exercises IV
Find out the modifier, the headword and the qualifier in the sentences below:
1. That old man who sells milk lives in the village.
2. The beautiful saree was worn by Geetha. 3. The rotten egg that the hen laid was broken.
4. An honest man is a treasure.
5. The ball with which we played all day was lost.
A number of words are often placed before the noun or headword. They are called DETERMINERS.
SOME DETERMINERS ARE:
ARTICLES: a, an, the
DEMONSTRATIVE: this, that, these, those
POSSESSIVES: my, our, your, his, her, their
QUANTIFIERS: many, some, three, ten
ADJECTIVES: busy, talk, beautiful