The Simple Sentence and Its Basic Characteristics
In the process of communication words combine forming utterances. Most utterances are sentences, although there are some which are not sentences and are called non-sentence utterances. Thus utterances fall into two groups: sentences and non-sentence utterances.
The Simple Sentence
2.1 According to the purpose of utterance
The Simple Sentences
2.1.1 the declarative sentence states a fact in the affirmative or negative form and is characterized by direct word order:
(Adverbial Modifier) + Subject + Predicate + Object + (Adverbial Modifier)
The shops close/don’t close at 7 tonight.
The particle not is the most frequently used form of negation in the English language, however, there are other words expressing negation by their lexical meaning: negative pronouns (nobody, nothing, nowhere, no one, neither of, none, no); conjunction neither … nor; adverbs never and hardly; preposition without; negative prefixes in-, im-, un-, dis-.
Statements usually have a falling tone; they are marked by a pause in speaking and by a full stop in writing.
Thanks to their structure and lexical content, declarative sentences are communicatively polyfunctional. Thus, besides their main function as information-carriers, statements may be used with the force of questions, commands and exclamations, as in:
I wonder why he is so late.
You mustn’t talk back to your parents.
2.1.2 the interrogative sentence asks a question and is characterized by indirect word order. Their communicative function consists in asking for information.
Word order is of great importance in English as the meaning of an English sentence depends on the word order that is why word order is fixed. Indirect word order occurs in interrogative sentences:
Where did they find her?
It is also used in sentences introduced by there and exclamations expressing will.
Types of Questions
2.1.3 the imperative sentence (the command) expresses a command which conveys the desire of the speaker to make someone, generally the listener, perform an action. Besides commands proper, imperative sentences may express prohibition, a request, an invitation, a warning, persuasion, etc, depending on the situation, context, wording or intonation:
Shut the door.
Don’t shut the door.
Formally commands are marked by the predicate verb in the imperative mood (positive or negative), the reference to the second person, lack of subject, and the use of the auxiliary do in negative or emphatic sentences with the verb to be.
Commands are generally characterized by the falling tone, although the rising tone may be used to make a command less abrupt. In writing commands are marked by a full stop or an exclamation mark.
A negative command usually expresses prohibition, warning or persuasion:
Don’t cross the street before the light turns to green.
Commands can be softened and made into requests with the help of the word please, the rising tone or a tag question:
Speak louder, please.
Repeat the last word, will you?
Note 2. Commands are sometimes expressed without an imperative verb, as in:
To the right!
2.1.4 the exclamatory sentence (the exclamation) expresses feelings and emotions and often begins with the words what or how. What refers to a noun, how to an adjective or an adverb. It always has direct word order. An exclamation has a falling tone in speaking and an exclamation mark in writing:
What a slow train it is!
2.2 According to the structure
2.2.1.a the two-member sentence has 2 members, a subject and a predicate (a complete sentence):
He could not help smiling (a complete sentence).
If one or both of them are missing, they can be easily understood from the context (an incomplete/elliptical sentence):
Keep clear of the road. (imperatives)
How cold! What a nice view! (exclamations)
What about a cup of tea? (questions expressing suggestion)
Yes. No. (sentences expressing conformation or negation)
Hello! See you tonight! (formulae of courtesy)
2.2.1.b the one-member sentence has only one principle part (expressed by either a noun, or an infinitive) which is neither the subject, nor the predicate and it makes the sentence complete:
2.2.2.a the unextended sentence consists only of principal parts of the sentence. Both two-member and one-member sentences may be unextended:
She is a student.
2.2.2.b the extended sentence consists of the subject, the predicate and one or more secondary parts of the sentence (objects, attributes, adverbial modifier):
Birds come back from warm countries.
The Subject. It as the Subject of the Sentence
The Simple Sentence
The subject is the principal part of the sentence, a word or a group of words, which is grammatically independent of the other parts of the sentence and on which the second principal part, the predicate, is grammatically dependent, i.e. in most cases it agrees in number and person. It denotes a person, an object or a phenomenon.
2. Ways of Expression
2.1 a noun in the common case:
The meeting is over.
Occasionally a noun in the possessive case is used as a subject:
Ada’s is a noble heart.
2.2 a pronoun (personal, demonstrative, defining, indefinite, negative, possessive, interrogative):
You are not a bad fellow.
Nothing was said for a minute or two.
Theirs is not a very comfortable lodging.
Note 1. The subject is often expressed by the indefinite pronoun one or the personal pronouns they, you, we which refer not to any particular person but to people in general. Note that they is used when the speaker is excluded, one when the speaker is included:
They say the situation is going to change.
One can hardly live without friends.
2.3 a substantivized adjective or participle:
The wounded were taken good care of.
2.4 a numeral (cardinal or ordinal):
Two of the letters were from my uncle.
2.5 an infinitive, an infinitive phrase or construction:
To understand is to forgive.
To be a rich man is not a bed of roses.
2.6 a gerund, a gerundial phrase or construction:
Seeing is believing.
Her being French might upset him a lot.
2.7 any part of speech used as a quotation:
His “How do you do” never sounds cordial enough.
On is a preposition.
2.8 a group of words which is one part of the sentence, i.e. a syntactically indivisible group:
Their friend and defender was darkly groping toward the solution.
2.9 a subject clause, which makes the whole sentence a complex one:
What I need is a piece of good advice.
Note 2. There are sentences where the subject is introduced by the construction there is/are:
There is nothing on the table.
In this case “nothing” is the subject and “there” is part of the predicate.
3. It as the Subject
3.1 The Nominal Subject
3.1.1 the personal it stands for a definite thing or some abstract idea:
The door opened. It was opened by a young girl.
3.1.2 the demonstrative it points out a person or thing expressed by a predicative noun or it refers to the thought contained in a preceding statement:
It is John.
Dick came home late, it provoked his father.
3.2 The Formal Subject
3.2.1 the impersonal it is used to denote natural phenomena or the environment and to denote time and distance:
It often rains in autumn.
It is stuffy in here.
It is morning already.
It is a long way to the station.
3.2.2 the introductory or anticipatory it introduces the real subject expressed mainly by an infinitive, a gerund or a clause. The sentence thus contains two subjects: the formal (introductory) subject and the nominal subject expressed as stated above:
It’s no use doing that.
It would be wonderful for you to stay with us.
Sentences with introductory it can be transformed into sentences with the nominal subject in its usual position before the predicate.
It would be wonderful for you to stay with us. → To stay with us would be wonderful for you.
the emphatic it is used to stress any part of the utterance, to put particular stress on it:
It was he who told Helen the truth.
Note 3. “There” is used as a formal subject generally when the notional subject is expressed by a noun (a noun phrase) and also sometimes when the notional subject is expressed by a gerund (a gerundial phrase or construction).
There was a table in the corner.
There was no persuading him.
The Predicate and the Predicative
The predicate is the second principal part of the sentence which expresses an action, state, or quality of the person, object or phenomenon denoted by the subject. It is grammatically dependent upon the subject. As a rule, the predicate is a finite verb.
2. Types of Predicates
From the structural point of view there are two main types of predicate: the simple predicate and the compound predicate. Both these types may be either nominal or verbal, which gives four sub-groups: simple verbal, simple nominal, compound verbal, compound nominal.
2.1 The simple predicate
2.1.1 the simple verbal predicate is expressed by a finite verb in a simple or compound tense form:
His words frightened me.
The heavy luggage had been put in a dry place.
Note 1. Some grammarians believe that the phraseological predicate belongs here. It is a special kind of predicate expressed by a combination of a verb and a noun forming one indivisible unit both lexically and grammatically. There are two types of phraseological predicates:
the predicate denoting a momentary action (to have a smoke/swim/run; to give a laugh/push; to take a look; to make a move, etc.).
the predicate having a strong phraseological meaning (to get rid/hold; to make use/fun; to take care; to lose sight; to pay attention; to make up (change) one’s mind; to take part, etc.).
2.1.2 the simple nominal predicate is expressed by a noun, an adjective or a verbal. It does not contain a link verb, as it shows the incompatibility of the idea expressed by the subject and that expressed by the predicate; thus, in the meaning of the simple nominal predicate there is an implied negation. Sentences with the simple nominal predicate are always exclamatory. These predicates are used in colloquial English, although not frequently.
He a gentleman!
2.2 The compound predicate
2.2.1 the compound nominal predicate denotes the state or quality of the person, object or phenomenon expressed by the subject; or a class of persons, objects and phenomena to which this person, object or phenomenon belongs. It consists of a link verb and a predicative (the nominal part).
The leaves are turning yellow.
He is a mining engineer.
Note 2. There are special types of predicatives in English:
1. The objective predicative is a type of predicative referring to the object that does not form part of the predicate. It expresses the state or quality of a person or thing denoted by the object and is generally expressed by a noun, an adjective, a word denoting state or a prepositional phrase:
We thought the game dull.
2. The subjective predicative refers to the subject and is generally expressed by a noun introduced by as, an adjective, an infinitive, an ing-form and a participle:
He was appointed secretary of the committee.
2.2.2 the compound verbal predicate can be of two types: the compound verbal modal predicate and the compound verbal aspect predicate.
2.2.2.a the compound verbal modal predicate shows whether the action expressed by a non-finite form of the verb is considered as possible, impossible, obligatory, desirable, etc. and consists of the following components:
1. a modal verb (can, may, must, should, would, ought, dare, need) and an infinitive:
You shouldn’t have gone to the concert.
2. modal expressions to be + infinitive, to have + infinitive:
I have to work for my living.
3. a verb with a modal meaning (to attempt, to desire, to endeavour, to expect, to hope, to intend, to long, to try, to want, to wish) and an infinitive or a gerund:
I tried to open a bottle but I didn’t manage.
4. expressions with modal meaning (to be able, to be allowed, to be anxious, to be bound, to be capable, to be going, to be likely, to be obliged, to be willing) and an infinitive:
I am going to leave Paris.
5. verbs and expressions used in the predicate of sentences containing the Subjective Infinitive Construction:
They happened to meet on the bus-stop.
2.2.2.b the compound verbal aspect predicate expresses the beginning, repetition, duration or cessation of the action (non-finite form of the verb). It consists of such verbs as to begin, to cease, to come, to commence, to continue, to fall, , to finish, to give up, to go on, to keep on, to proceed, to set about, to start, to stop and an infinitive or a gerund; also would and used to+infinitive, which denote a repeated action in the past.
I kept looking for the keys.
2.3 The mixed predicate
2.3.1 the compound modal nominal predicate:
I don’t mean to be unkind.
She couldn’t be happy.
2.3.2 the compound aspect nominal predicate:
I continued to be glad for that.
He was beginning to look desperate.
2.3.3 the compound modal aspect predicate:
He ought to stop doing nothing.
He can’t continue training.
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