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Free Grammar HelpSentencesSentence Terms

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Sentence Terms

Subject: Noun taking the action in the sentence.

Verb: the action being taken

Object: Noun being acted upon in the sentence.

Complement: the words that complete the meaning of the verb.

Sometimes we call a simple sentence an svoc sentence for subject-object-verb-complement. This is the natural order of words in English.

Put it all together and you have a sentence:
"Joe sailed the yacht across the ocean"
"New York City attracts tourists by the busload"
"The subject noun verbs the object noun with/to/from the complement" (svoc)

Exception: the passive sentence.
In the passive sentence the subject is not explicitly stated or the subject comes last.
"The boat was sailed." or "The boat was sailed by Joe."
Avoid passive sentences except in scientific writing where the writer pretends they had nothing to do with the experiment except for reporting on it.
"Chemical A was mixed with chemical B." NOT "We mixed chemical A with chemical B." Writing in the passive voice often occurs in academic writing, especially in science lab reports.

Subject and Predicate

If the subject is the noun taking the action, then the predicate is the object plus all the other stuff: Joe sailed the boat, a three masted schooner named High Seas Lady.

Here the object is still "boat" but the predicate includes all the junk about the boat. This sentence is already a little longer than it should be. If you add on any more stuff to this sentence you are running into dangerous territory: The Run-On Sentence. Example: Joe sailed the boat, a three masted schooner, to Hawaii, he encountered several Hula dancers at a luaua entertaining twelve students on spring break.

This is not a sentence, it's an adventure in reading! Run-on sentences are one of the most common grammatical faults. They generally come about when you have a lot to say or you don't have a clear idea of what you want to say. These sentences should just be broken down into several complete sentences. They are easily corrected during the proofreading phase of your writing. Just try to follow your logic. If you find you have more that one idea, then it's likely a run-on sentence. Read the following page.