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Module 1 -- Basic Sentence Structure

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1.1 Parts of Speech
Main Clauses / Subordinate Clauses
1.6 Module 1 Test (
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Quiz--Main Clauses / Subordinate Clauses
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1.1 Parts of Speech


1.1.1 Nouns


A noun names something: a person, place or thing, or even an action or an idea. A noun can be a proper name, or a word which can follow an article (the or an) or a possessive pronoun (my, her, his, its, your, our, their). A phrase in which the noun is the main word is known as a noun phrase.



John wanted to ask Mary out for a date.

The creature from the deep had an incredibly strange sense of humour.

His learning did not make her sad.

The muffler of his car was left on the road.

Their ideas left much to be desired.


1.1.2 Articles


The words the, a, and an are articles. They are used only at the beginning of noun phrases.




The man goes to a store.

He buys an apple.

He cuts it with a knife.

He soon devours the apple.

That is the end of the story.


1.1.3 Adjectives


An adjective is a word used to modify a noun. It can come after an article and or it can be followed by a noun. It can also be used by itself after a linking verb (to be, to become).



The beautiful woman asked John to dance.

The old muffler was replaced by a new one.

She is intelligent.

Some people are too stupid to know when to quit.

Good students work more efficiently.



1.1.4 Pronouns


A pronoun is a word (or, in a few cases, a set of words) which can be used in the same place as a noun or noun phrase. In Standard Written English, a pronoun generally has an antecedent, that is a noun or a noun phrase to which it is linked.



He kissed the woman on her cheek.

We love each other.

No one loves him.

Everyone loves ice cream.

That was not very nice.


1.1.5 Verbs


A verb can express an action or a state-of-being. Its form may be either simple or compound. A simple verb form is a single word; a compound verb form consists of two or more words. In a compound verb form, all the words except the last are considered auxiliaries; the last word is a form of the main verb.



The princess has married a poor man.

The king and queen are upset.

They will arrest the princess' husband.

They do not have a sense of humour.

The princess is hoping they develop one.


1.1.6 Adverbs


There are three kinds of adverbs. One kind modifies clauses or sentences (nevertheless, moreover, however); another modifies adjectives and other adverbs (too, somewhat, very); the third kind modifies verbs (quickly) and often ends in ly.



Nevertheless, he lost all his money.

The man was too smart for his own good.

She swims well.

Her husband does not walk quickly.

When in doubt, however, you should panic.


1.1.7 Prepositions


A preposition is a word which is combined with a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun to make a prepositional phrase.



The ugly bear chased Goldilocks into the woods.

In conclusion, the company has made a substantial profit from its sales.

The man in the moon smiled on the drunkard.

Buy some soda before the show.

The company gave a small amount to a needy family.


1.1.8 Conjunctions


A conjunction is a word or a set of words which joins two words, phrases, or clauses.



Jane and Mary took John to a movie.

After fat Frank has eaten, he will play football.

Jane knew the whole story, but she did not tell anyone.

Neither John nor Mary has won a prize.

The writer was tired yet he did not stop writing.


1.1.9 Subordinate Conjunction


A subordinate conjunction is a conjunction which connects a subordinate clause or participial phrase with a clause. It allows the subordinate clause or participial phrase to go either before, after, or in the middle of the clause to which it is connected.



He ate lunch early because he was hungry.

Because he ate lunch early, he is hungry now.

When Jill arrives, she will solve Frank's problem.

While waiting for Mary, John met Jane.

Bill drank milk after finishing the cake.


End of the Lesson on Parts of Speech







The subject of a verb is the topic which the predicate discusses.



John is the topic of our conversation.

He is thought to be a foolish fellow.

Last week, the boy whom we always laugh at, swallowed a worm.

Still, the whole class went to see him in the hospital.

The very idea of swallowing worms can make you sick.


The subject of the verb is generally the pronoun, noun or noun phrase to the left of the verb (or in some questions the part of the verb which is not an auxiliary). However, the subject of a clause beginning with here, it, or there plus the verb to be (are, was, were, has been, have been) is considered to be the noun phrase, noun, or pronoun which comes immediately after the verb.



Here is your lunch.

I will sit down to eat in a few minutes.

All the food which you have prepared looks delicious.

The peanut butter on wet bread is particularly inviting.

Eating is such fun.


End of the Lesson on Subjects



  1. Predicates


The predicate of a clause is the part of the clause which discusses the subject.



I hate peanut butter on wet bread.

Do you really hate it?

I must go to the bathroom.

The old man ran as quickly as he could.

Many people saw the man who robbed the bank last week.


The predicate is generally the part of the clause which follows the subject. It always contains the verb and the object(s) of the verb (if there are any). It can also contain adverbs and adverbial phrases modifying the verb, as well as prepositional phrases performing this function.



The man who robbed the bank wanted money.

Your mother told you many times not to do such things.

They are trying to escape.

The old man ran into the house.

The police surrounded the house with police cars.


End of the Lesson on Predicates



  1. Objects


The object of a verb or preposition is generally the person or thing to which something is done.



I hit the orange baseball.

Many people hate that colour.

The pitcher struck out the batter.

The whole class went to the ball game.

They often play other games.


The object of a verb is generally pronoun, noun, or noun phrase immediately to its right. The object of a prepositional phrase is generally the pronoun, noun, or noun phrase immediately to the right of the preposition.



I hate peanut butter on wet bread.

Do you really hate it?

I do not enjoy eating foods intended for three year-olds.

You should develop some flexibility.

I do not care for that kind of development.


Linking verbs (also called copula verbs) such as be, seem, and become do not take objects because they are intransitive verbs (transitive verbs take an object). The word or words which follow a linking verb are called a subject complement (also called a subjective completion). A subject complement (or subjective completion) that is a noun is called a predicate noun (also called a predicate nominative); a subject complement that is an adjective is called a predicate adjective.

EXAMPLES of subject complement:

The birds on that tree are very pretty. (predicate adjective)

That hypothesis seemed plausible. (predicate adjective)

She became an accomplished scholar. (predicate noun)

Where is the snow? (predicate noun)

When confronted with injustice, they became angry. (predicate adjective)


End of the Lesson on Objects





  1. Main (Principal) Clauses and Subordinate (Dependent) Clauses

 A clause is a question, statement or command. A clause which can stand by itself is called a main clause or principal clause.



I see you.

Do you really see me, even though I am hiding?

The curious will see many things.

If the inferior team wins, the experts will not be happy.

They are afraid that people will question their authority.


A main clause (principal clause) generally is a group of words containing a subject and a predicate. The only exceptions are certain commands (Go to the bathroom!) which contain only a predicate. It does not generally begin with a subordinator (subordinate conjunction) unless it is a question.


Jack and Jill went up the hill when they needed water.

When Felicity became president of the company, she was happy.

No one knew what was wrong after the storm ended.

Why did you leave the room?

The student who left early will not complete the assignment.

A subordinate clause cannot stand by itself in standard written English. Although a subordinate clause can be part of a question, it cannot be a question by itself.



The bird saw the man who sat on the train tracks.

While the bird watched, another man crept up behind it.

He captured the animal, because it was not paying any attention.

It is a sad story, that I am telling.

Did you know that you would not enjoy it?

Subordinators (also called subordinate conjunctions):


Subordinate conjunctions


after, before, once, since, until, when, whenever, while

reason or cause

as, because, since

purpose or result

in order that, so, so that, that


even if, if, provided that, unless


although, even though, though, whereas




rather than, whether 

A subordinate clause implicitly begins with a subordinator when

    1. the subordinator is not present at the beginning of the clause, but
    2. it can be put there without changing the meaning of the sentence.



The man * she loved had left. (* = whom)

He knew * she loved him. (* = that)

It is true * he said * he would come back. (*=that)

The ancient book * she had read predicted a sadder ending. (*=which)

She thought * the book was always right. (*=that)


End of the Lesson on Main Clauses and Subordinate Clauses



End of Module 1 -- Parts of Speech

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