Published on 21 Jun 2014 | over 2 years ago Do you know how to build a sentence in English? In this lesson, you will learn the basic parts of a simple sentence, or independent clause. Knowing this will make it easier to understand any sentence in written English. Understanding how these different parts of a sentence work together to form meaning will help you write better in English. The knowledge in this lesson is essential for any 'Independent User' or 'Proficient User' of English. Quiz yourself here:


Hi again. I'm Adam. Welcome back to . Today I have a very important lesson, I think, for all of you that will help you very much with your reading, but especially your writing skills. Okay?

Today we're going to look at the sentence. What is a sentence? Now, I know that all of you are saying: "Well, we know what a sentence is. We've learned this a thousand times before." Right? I know what you've learned and I know what you haven't learned, many of you; some of you have, of course. The sentence has a very basic structure, there's a very basic component that must be involved or included in a sentence, and a lot of grammar teachers, a lot of English teachers don't teach this. Okay? All of you, I'm sure have by now heard of "SVO", but have you heard of "SVsC"? Have you heard of "SVC"? Maybe yes, maybe no. But I'm sure a lot of you are going: "What? I've never heard of these things before." Well, we're going to talk about this in one second.

Before we talk about a sentence, we have to talk about a clause. Now, what is a clause? I'm sure you've heard this word before as well, but just in case, a clause is any subject, verb combination. It's a group of words that must include a subject and a verb. Now, also very important to remember: it must be a tense verb, meaning that it must take a time; past, present, future. Okay? No base verb, no infinitive verb. So that is a clause. Now, there are two types of clauses. Okay? We have independent clauses and we have dependent clauses. The... These are sometimes called subordinate clauses. Now, every sentence in English to be a grammatically correct sentence must have an independent clause. It doesn't need a dependent clause, but it could have one. The independent clause could include a dependent clause as the subject or object. We'll talk about that after.

So an independent clause has a subject and a verb, and it can stand by itself. It can contain a complete idea by itself. Okay? So, technically, the shortest sentence you can have in English will be a... Will be an independent clause with a subject and verb. What is the absolute shortest sentence that you can think of? Think of a sentence, the shortest you can possibly make it. Okay? Here's an example: "Go!" Is this a complete English sentence? Yes. Why? Because it contains an independent clause. Where? We have the implied subject: "you" and the tense verb: "go", the imperative tense "go". So this your basic English sentence.

Now, we have three other types, three basic types and we can of course play with these after. Subject, verb, object. Some independent clauses must have an object, we'll talk about that in a second. Excuse me. Subject, verb, subject complement. Some sentences must have a subject complement. Subject, verb, complement. Okay? We're going to talk about each of these in a moment. I have the "A" here because quite often, this complement is actually an adverb phrase or an adverbial. We'll talk about that in a second.

So your basic sentence can be any one of these three. Now, the reason we're looking at this... All these structures is because once you understand what must be contained in a sentence, then you can read any English sentence out there that is grammatically correct and be able to understand the main idea of that sentence. Okay? So let's start with "SVO".

Okay, let's look at our "SVO" type of independent clause: subject, verb, object. Now, first, what is an object? Well, we have two types of objects to talk about. We have the direct object, we have the indirect object. Now, the thing to understand is that the object always answers a question about the verb, it completes the meaning of the verb by asking the questions: "What?" or: "Who?" Now, keep in mind that technically, it's: "Whom?" But if you say: "Who?" I'll let it go this time. Okay? Formal academic writing, "Whom?", "Whom?", "Whom?" IELTS, TOEFL, SAT, all that - "Whom?" not: "Who?" In the object position. But the direct object answers: "What?" or: "Who?" about the verb. Okay? We'll get back to that.

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