The Simple Sentence and Its Basic Characteristics Definition icon

The Simple Sentence and Its Basic Characteristics Definition

НазваниеThe Simple Sentence and Its Basic Characteristics Definition
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1. /ARTICLE.doc
2. /Complex Sent adverb clauses.doc
3. /Gerund.doc
5. /Infinitive constructions.doc
6. /NOUN.doc
7. /Object, attribute, apposition.doc
8. /Ought to.doc
9. /PARTICIPLES constructions.doc
10. /Parts of a S.S. - adv mod & loose.doc
11. /Passive Voice.doc
12. /Sequence of Tenses in Reported Speech.doc
13. /Shall.doc
14. /Simple Sentence.doc
15. /Subject_Predicate.doc
16. /Tense aspect simple.doc
17. /Tense conti.doc
18. /The subjunctive mood.doc
19. /can may.doc
20. /complex sent.doc
21. /composite sentence.doc
22. /distinctive non-finite forms infinitive.doc
23. /must have to.doc
24. /participle.doc
22 The Complex Sentence Adverbial Clauses
The Gerund The Gerund
The infinitive or the gerund
The infinitive constructions
For instance may have
The Object and Its Types
The modal verb ought has only one form. It is not changed in reported speech
Predicative constructions with participles
6. The Adverbial Modifier
We ← were helped by our friends
Sequence of Tenses in Reported Speech
It shall be done as you wish
The Simple Sentence and Its Basic Characteristics Definition
Agreement between the Subject and the Predicate
Tense and Aspect Indefinite
The Present Continuous Tense (Progressive)
22 The subjunctive mood
Modal verb; form of infinitive meaning; function sentence type
20 the complex sent, types of clauses. Subj, Pred, Obj, Attrib Cls
19 The composite sentence
English has three kinds of verbals
Modal verbs. Must, have to, be to and their equivalents
Carried out under sweeping

The Simple Sentence and Its Basic Characteristics

1. Definition

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.

A sentence

is a unit of speech whose grammatical structure conforms to the laws of the language and which serves as the chief means of conveying a thought.

is a group of words conveying a complete thought.

is a complete unit of meaning which contains a subject and a verb, followed, if necessary, by other words which make up the meaning.

2. Classification

The Simple Sentence

according to the purpose of the utterance

according to the structure

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

1. In general (yes/no) questions the speaker is interested to know whether some event or phenomenon asked about exists or does not exist; accordingly the answer may be positive or negative, thus containing or implying “yes” or “no”.

A general question opens with a verb operator, that is, an auxiliary, modal, or link verb followed by the subject. Such questions are characterized by the rising tone.

Do the shops close at ِ7 tonight?

Can you speak French?

Was she taken to the Zoo?

2. Special questions open with a question word, the function of which is to get more detailed and exact information about some event or phenomenon known to the speaker and listener. The question words are as follows: what, which, who, whom, whose, where, why, how and the archaic whence (=where, where to), wherefore (=what for, why). Adverbial phrases such as how long, how often may also function as question words.

Where do you live?

Who lives in this room?

Whose pen is on the table?

A question word may be preceded by a preposition:

On what resolution do you insist?

In colloquial English it is preferable to shift the preposition to the end of the question:

What are you laughing at?

What did you argue about?

The tone of a special question is usually a falling one.

Note1. When the interrogative word is the subject of the special question or an attribute to the subject, the word order is direct.

3. An alternative question implies a choice between two or more alternative answers. Like a “yes/no” question, it opens with a verb operator, but the suggestion of choice expressed by the disjunctive conjunction or makes the “yes/no” answer impossible. The part of the question before the conjunction or is characterized by a rising tone, the part after the conjunction has a falling tone.

Do the shops close or open at 7 tonight?

Would you prefer tea or coffee?

4. A disjunctive (tail/tag) question is a short “yes/no” question added to a statement. It requires the answer yes or no and consists of an affirmative statement followed by a negative question, or a negative statement followed by an affirmative question. Generally the tag has a rising tone.

The shops close at 7 tonight, don’t they?

The shops don’t close at 7, do they?

A tag question is added to a statement for confirmation and therefore is sometimes called a confirmative question. It corresponds to such Russian questions as Не так ли? Не правда ли? Ведь так? The speaker expects the listener to share his view rather than to give him some new information. The most usual patterns of sentences with tag questions are as follows:



positive statement

negative tag

positive answer

You knew that before, didn’t you? – Yes, I did.


negative statement

positive tag

negative answer

You didn’t know that before, did you? – No, I didn’t.

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.

Don’t worry.

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!

No smoking!

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!

How wonderful!

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:

1. nominal one-member sentences:

Dusk – of a summer night.

2. verbal one-member sentences:

No! To have his friendship, his admiration, but not at that price.

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.

Birds fly.


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 principle parts

the secondary parts

the independent elements

the subject

the predicate

the object

the adverbial modifier

the attribute

the interjection

the direct address

the parenthesis

1. Definition

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

the simple predicate

a finite verb

the compound predicate

a finite verb + some other part of speech

the mixed predicate

contains elements of two other types of predicates

the simple verbal predicate

the simple nominal predicate

the compound nominal predicate

the compound verbal predicate

the compound verbal modal predicate

the compound verbal aspect predicate

the compound modal nominal predicate

the compound aspect nominal predicate

the compound modal aspect predicate

1. Definition

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!

She spying!

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.

The link verb

The predicative

the pure link verbs (to be):

The sun was full of promise.

the link verbs partially preserving their meanings (to appear, to continue, to fall, to feel, to get, to grow, to go, to hold, to keep, to loom, to look, to make, to prove, to rank, to remain, to run, to seem, to shine, to smell, to stand, to taste, to turn, to turn out, to work):

Dave looked surprised.

the link verbs fully preserving their meaning (to become, to come, to die, to fall, to go, to leave, to lie, to marry, to return, to sit, to stand, etc.):

The poor woman sat amazed.

a noun in the common or possessive case:

She is a pretty child.

an adjective:

It was getting dark.

a pronoun:

This suit-case is mine.

a word of the category of state:

I’m afraid.

a numeral (cardinal or ordinal):

He was the first to get the prize.

a prepositional phrase:

It was outside her experience.

an infinitive (phrase/construction):

My first thought was to ask him for support.

a gerund (phrase or construction):

My job was getting it all done.

a participle:

The moment was soothing to her.

an adverb:

It was enough the way she told it.

a preposition:

Everybody was in.

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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