A basic English sentence has this structure: S+V+O (Subject plus verb plus object). Thus, while there must be a verb in every sentence, sometimes the verb is not verbalized explicitly (eg, "Up here!" is a short form of saying "COME up here!") An interesting feature of English is the dummy subject. It is possible to have multiple subjects ("Seals and walruses live near the North Pole")..


Adjectives are modifiers, and they modify the noun. A special type of adjective used extensively in English is the article, which determines whether a noun is specific or general. Articles are a feature of Romance and Germanic languages, but are seldom used elsewhere. Along with prepositions, they are one of the most difficult aspects of English for my students to master.

While English started as an inflectional language, inflections are not widely used today. Gender fell out of use in the Middle English period. Therefore, English has only one definite article ("the") unlike the three that exist in German and French. Nonetheless, it still manages to cause a lot of trouble for language learners!

Prepositions are widely used in English to show the relationship between parts of a sentence, and go before nouns.

More Complex Sentences

In the passive voice, the formula can be rendered: S + be/have + past participle. This type of formula is used with other passive structures, such as "Everyone likes being praised."

The difference between a clause and a phrase is that a phrase does not contain its own subject. Thus, a fragment like "between ignorance and intelligence" is a phrase.

English sentences have four kinds of clauses: the main (or independent), subordinate, relative and noun clauses. Independent clauses make sense when they stand on their own.

A compound sentence comprises two independent clauses, joined by a conjunction.

When you use a conjunction like "while" or "because", you indicate to the reader or listener that more information is coming.