Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sentence Structure

As tacky as it sounds, I like to think of a sentence like any good meal. Every good meal has a recipe and so does every good sentence. Although the specifics change, the basics are always the same. The subject and predicate can be considered the meat and potatoes of the sentence. There really isn’t much of a meal without protein or carbohydrates, so respectively there isn’t much of a sentence without both the subject and the predicate. Here’s a basic subject and predicate “meal”:

Bob and his sister ran to the store.
Subject /Predicate

Pretty boring isn’t it? No one really wants to eat the meat and potatoes just as they are, so that’s when we decide to spice things up a little bit. Those spices, such as adjectives and adverbs, help to add a little kick to an otherwise dull meal. That’s why adverbs and adjectives are called modifiers; they help us modify the basic recipe. But just as every chef is different, every chef’s choice in spices will be different also. Here’s what happens to our sentence after we’ve done some modifying:

Bob and his older sister ran quickly to the closest store.
Subject/ Predicate
adverb /adjective

Now things have started to get and little bit more interesting. We can continue to add things in to our sentence, like independent and dependant clauses, to make it's recipe more complex if we want to. That’s when we being creating compound and complex sentences.

Just as I had mentioned before, a sentence isn’t much of a sentence without its meat and potatoes. You can’t really get away with having just the subject or just the predicate; you need both to have a complete sentence. Forgetting to add one or the other creates an incomplete sentence otherwise known as a fragment. These fragments tend to sound awkward and aren't really appreciated by readers. You wouldn’t serve your guests a lone potato for supper, so your readers deserve the same kind of respect. As long as you remember your subject and predicate you’ll be able to serve up a grammatically correct meal!


  1. I definately agree. Modifiers can do absolute wonders in making a sentence infinately more interesting, and they make it easy to help the reader paint a mental picture of the content written.

  2. That's a great metaphor for sentences. Your post really made compiling all the parts of speech simple to understand.