The Sentence

The Sentence :

1.A sentence is a group of words which expresses a complete thought.

Examples :

Fire burns.

Wolves howl.

Rain is falling.

Charles is courageous.

Patient effort removes mountains.

London is the largest city in the world.

A man who respects himself should never condescend to use slovenly language.

Some of these sentences are short expressing a very simple thought. Others are comparatively long…because the thought is more complicated and therefore requires more words for its expression. But every one of them, whether short or long, is complete in itself. It comes to a definite end and is followed by a full pause.

2. Every sentence, whether short or long, consists of two parts - a subject and a predicate.

The subject of a sentence designates the person, place or thing that is spoken of.

The predicate is that which is said of the subject.

Thus, in the first example (Fire burns.), the subject is fire and the predicate is burns. In the third, (Rain is falling.) the subject is rain and the predicate is falling. In the last, (A man who respects himself should never condescend to use slovenly language.) the subject is a man who respects himself and the predicate is should never condescend to use slovenly language.

Either the subject or the predicate may consist of a single word or of a number of words. But neither the subject by itself nor the predicate by itself, however extended, is a sentence. The mere mention of a thing (fire) does not express a complete thought. Neither does a mere assertion (burns), if we neglect to mention the person or thing about which the assertion is made. Thus it appears that both a subject and a predicate are necessary to make a sentence.

3. Sentences may be declarative, interrogative, imperative or exclamatory.

A) A declarative sentence declares or asserts something as a fact.


The army approached the city.

B) An interrogative sentence asks a question.

Who is that officer?

Does Arthur Moore live here?

C) An imperative sentence expresses a command or a request.

Open the window.

Pronounce the vowels more distinctly.

D) An exclamatory sentence expresses surprise, grief or some other emotion in the form of an exclamation or cry.

How calm the sea is!

What a noise the engine makes!

A declarative, an interrogative or an imperative sentence is also exclamatory, if it is uttered in an intense or excited tone of voice.

4. In imperative sentences, the subject (thou or you) is almost always omitted…because it is understood by both speaker and hearer without being expressed.

Such omitted words, which are present (in idea) to the minds of both speaker and hearer, are said to be understood. Thus, in OPEN THE WINDOW, the subject is “you (understood).” If expressed, the subject would be emphatic such as “You open the window.”

5. The subject of a sentence commonly precedes the predicate, but sometimes the predicate precedes.

Here comes Tom.

Next came Edward.

Over went the carriage.

A sentence in which the predicate precedes the subject is said to be in the inverted order. This order is especially common in interrogative sentences.

Where is your boat?

When was your last birthday?

Whither wander you? — Shakspere.

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