What is a sentence?

From LitWiki

"A sentence is a unit of language charecterized in most languages by the presence of a finite verb" (wikipedia). Sentences are classified three ways: according to their structure (simple, compuond, complex, and compound-complex) and according to their purpose (declaritive, imperative, interrogative, and exclamatory), and according to grammar types (transitive verb: S-TV-O, S-TV-DO-IO, and S-TV-DO-OC; intransitive verb: S-IV; linking verb: S-BV-N or Adj, S-BV-Adv, S-LV-N or Adj, S-BV-Adj-PP or NC) (Hacker 463), (Rodby 45-49). The basic unit in writing is the sentence.


  • Simple sentence: A Simple sentence is one independent clause with no subordinate clauses ( Hacker 464). "I am not very good a writing essays."
  • Compound sentence: A compound sentence is composed of two or more independent clauses with no subordinate clauses. The independent clauses are usually joined with a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but , or, not, for, so, yet) or with a semicolon (Hacker 464). "The girl ran fast, though her classmates were gaining on her."
  • Complex sentence: A complex sentence is composed of one independent clause with one or more subordinate clauses (Hacker 464).
  • Compound-complex sentence:A compound-complex sentence contains at least two independent clauses and at least one subordinate clause (Hacker 464).


There are four major patterns that function in a sentence.

  • Declaritive sentences make statements (Hacker 465)."The weather is nice today."
  • Imperative sentences issue requests or commands (hacker 465). "Go to the store."
  • Interrogative sentences ask questions (Hacker 465). "What time is it anyways?"
  • Exclamatory sentences make exclamations (Hacker 465). "What a fun ride"!


There are eight basic sentence types or kernals within three verb types (transitive, intransitive, and linking).

  • Transitive
    • Sentence with a transitive verb and an object: "The girl sees the tree" (Rodby 45).
    • Sentence with a transitive verb and a direct object and an indirect object: "The professor gives the students an assignment" (Rodby 45).
    • Sentence with a transitive verb and a direct object and either a noun or an adjective as a complement: "Milly calls Jane a fool" (Rodby 46).
  • Intransitive
    • Sentence with an intransitive verb: "The man sleeps" (Rodby 46).
  • Linking
    • Sentence with a be verb and a noun or adjective: "The man is nice" (Rodby 46).
    • Sentence with a be verb and an adverb of time or place or both: "The meeting is here" (Rodby 46).
    • Sentence with a linking verb followed by a noun or an adjective: "The dog becomes vicious" (Rodby 46).
    • Sentence with a be verb or a linking verb, an adjective, and either a prepositional phrase or a noun clause: "The dog was aware that he was cold" (Rodby 46).

How to make a sentence


Subject and verb

The subject is what or whom the sentence is about. The verb tells what the subject of the sentence does. It tells the action.

To determine the subject of a sentence, first isolate the verb and then make a question by placing who? or what? before it. The answer is the subject(Peck).
Sentences should have a predicate that says something about the verb.

Capital letter

A capital letter is placed at the begining of a sentence to show authority and to mark the begining.

We are starting class at one.


  • Periods are used to mark the end of a sentence expressing a statment (Darling).
It is a nice day today.
  • Question marks are used at the end of a direct question or to show that something is uncertain (Darling).
What time does the store close?
  • Exclamation points are used after an exclamation of surprise, shock or dismay, which is generally a short sentence or phrase expressing very strong feeling (Darling).
The pool party was great!
What a ride!

Complete thought

A group of words must be capable of standing on its own to be considered a sentence.

She going (incomplete)
She is going to work at four. (complete)


Works Cited

  • Darling, Roger. "How to use punctuation." 22 Mar 2006. Online. 12 Jul 2006


  • Peck, Frances. "Subject and Predicate." 1994. Online. 12 Jul 2006.


  • Hacker, Diana. A Writer's Reference. 5th Ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003.
  • Rodby, Judith. "The Uses of Grammar." 2nd ed. Anderson, South Carolina: Parlor Press, 2012.
  • Wikipedia. "Sentence Linguistics." 27 Jun 2006. Online. 12 Jul 2006.