Sentences, Clauses and Phrases

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  • 1. Sentences, ClausesandPhrases
    Telma Ferreira –
  • 2. Basic Grammar Terminology
  • 3. What Makes a Sentence?
    John explainedthe grammar.
    Subject = noun or pronoun that does an action or experiences a state of being
    Verb =
    expresses the action or “state”of the subject
    Object = noun or pronoun that receives the action of the verb
  • 4. This is also a sentence …
    The students wereinterested.
    A complement is a great deal like an object, but it differs in that it does not “receive” the action of a verb. Instead it “is” the subject.
    Complements can be nouns or adjectives. The key to understand them is to identify the verbs they follow.
  • 5. And this is a sentence as well.
    John wasin theclassroom.
    Adverbial = adverb or group of words that tells where, when, why or how the verb happened.
    Subject= noun or pronoun that does an action or experiences a state of being
    Verb =
    expresses the action or “state”of the subject
  • 6. More adverbial examples
    John was a student last year.
    John went to New Yorkto visit his aunt.
    John reads English texts quickly.
  • 7. Sentence components
    So, we can symbolize the basic components of a sentence in the following way:
    S + V / O / C / A
    S = subject (a noun or pronoun that does an action)
    V = verb (the action itself)
    / = “optional”  some verbs do not need an O, C or A
    O = object (a noun or pronoun that receives an action)
    C = complement (an adjective or noun that is the subject)
    A = adverbial (an adverbial that tells more about the action)
    Is this a sentence?
    The students were interested while John explained the grammar.
  • 8. Verb
    John spoke English
    while heexplained the grammar
    We have the original subject Johnwith its verb spokeand its object English
    But the sentence continues with a second subject, this time he, a second verb, explainedand a second object, the grammar.
  • 9. Clause
    Our one sentence is basically two “mini” sentences hooked together by the word while.
    John spoke English
    while heexplained the grammar
    “Mini” sentences, units ofS+V/O,C,A, within a sentence are called clauses.
  • 10. Clause
    John spoke English while he explained the grammar.
    Afterstudying, John spokeEnglishwhileheexplainedthegrammar.
    In addition to the two clauses we are familiar with, this sentence has the added words after studying.These work together to give extra information about the clauses, but they do not form a clause. They form a phrase.
  • 11. Phrase
    One way to define a phrase is to say it is a group of words that “belong together” in terms of meaning but donot have both a subject and a verb.
    PhraseS + V
    Another way to define a phrase is to think of how it works within a sentence. When you think of a phrase this way, you can define it as:
    Phrase = a group of words that acts like one word
  • 12. Types of Phrases
    • Prepositional phrase with a preposition as head (after studying)
    • 13. Noun phrase with a noun as head
    (the grammar)
    • Verb phrase with a verb as head (spoke English; explained the grammar)
    • 14. Adjective phrase with an adjective as head (easiest part)
    • 15. Adverbial phrase with adverb as head (very carefully)
  • Types of Phrases
    Afterstudying, John spokeEnglishwhileheexplainedtheeasiestpartofthegrammarverycarefully.
  • 16. Summarizing
    Myfriendtaught us grammar
    Myteachertaught us grammar
    becauseweneeded to improveourEnglish.
  • 17. Exercise
    Identifythephrases, clausesandsentencesbellow.
    1. Across the Universe
    2. I Feel Fine
    3. SheLovesYou
    4. In My Life
    5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    6. I Want to Hold Your Hand
    7. A Hard Day’s Night
    8. Till There Was You
    9. I Saw Her Standing There
    10. All My Loving
    11. When I Get Home
    12. Lonesome Tears in My Eyes
    13. I Call Your Name
    14. When I’m Sixty-four
    15. The Long and Winding Road
    1. phrase
    2. sentence/main clause
    3. sentence/mainclause
    4. phrase
    5. dependent clause
    6. sentence/main clause
    7. phrase
    8. dependent clause
    9. sentence/main clause
    10. phrase
    11. dependent clause
    12. phrase
    13. sentence/main clause
    14. dependent clause
    15. phrase
  • 18. Reference
    • EASTWOOD, John. Oxford Guide to English Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
    • 19. THOMSON, A. J. and MARTINET, A.V. English Grammar 2nd Edition. London: Oxford University Press, 1974.
    • Site:,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=b0bbe684c0ba1d3a&biw=1024&bih=677.
    Accessedon 13/08/11.