Understanding the
Parts of a Sentence

English Parts of a Sentence Navigation:
Subject | Predicate | Direct Object | Indirect Object
Object of the Preposition | Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
Linking Verbs | Complements | Exercises


Understanding the parts of a sentence in English is crucial to your success in learning English.

Parts of a Sentence

In this section we will learn:

Important note: make sure you fully understand the English parts of speech before studying this section.

Read also: Independent and Dependent Clauses

What is a Sentence?

A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete idea.

"She feels sad." <-- A complete idea

What is a sentence?

These are sentences (they express a complete idea):

  • I like to swim.

  • Jane bakes tasty cookies.

  • Mark will quit his job.

These are not complete sentences (they don't express a complete idea):

  • She gave me the.
    (What did she give me?)

  • Will build the house.
    (Who will build the house?)

  • Tony watching a movie.
    (Is Tony watching the movie now? Was he watching the movie in the past? Or will he be watching the movie in the future?)

A sentence can express:

  • A statement.
    Example: You are tall.

  • A question.
    Example: Are you tall?

  • An order.
    Example: Be tall!

  • A wish.
    Example: I wish I were taller.

Writing tips

1) In written English sentences begin with a capital letter.

Correct: You are tall.

Incorrect: you are tall.

2) Sentences can end with a period (.), a question mark (?), an exclamation point (!) or an ellipsis (. . .).

Correct: You are tall.

Incorrect: You are tall,

Incorrect: You are tall . . . . . . .

Incorrect:
You are tall

Why Should You Know
the Parts of a Sentence?

Once you know the parts of a sentence, and how to combine them, you can form logical sentences that will be well understood by others.

People usually prefer working with other people they can easily understand, so this is a very important quality to have for the workplace. Not to mention any other situations that involve other people!

Moreover, once you master the parts of a sentence, you can easily understand other people's sentences. That can make you really smart!

So go ahead and learn the English parts of a sentence.

Understand them, and practice using them in properly constructed sentences.

This can serve you tremendously!

This can serve you tremendously!

What Are the Parts of a Sentence?

A sentence must minimally have a subject and a verb. Sometimes the subject can be omitted if it is understood.

In the following examples the subject is green and the verb is brown:

Tom walks.

We met Susan.

They are washing the dishes.

Lisa will arrive soon.

She is nice.

There is food on the table.

Leave!
(The subject in this sentence was omitted, since it is understood to be "you": You leave!)


There are other parts of a sentence you can use, in addition to a subject and a verb.


Here is a list of the parts of a sentence (and other relevant subjects):


English Parts of a Sentence Navigation:
Subject | Predicate | Direct Object | Indirect Object
Object of the Preposition
| Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
Linking Verbs | Complements | Exercises | Top

Subject

The subject is the person or thing about which something is being stated.

"Joe is a good boy."

The subject

Who is a good boy?

Joe is.

So "Joe" is the subject.

Click here for the full article on the English subject.





Subject | Predicate | Direct Object | Indirect Object
Object of the Preposition | Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
Linking Verbs | Complements | Exercises | Top

Predicate

The predicate is the part of a sentence that tells something about the subject.

The predicate always includes a verb.

("Predicate" is also a verb that means, "to state something.")

"Joe is a good boy."

The predicate

The subject is Joe.

Now, what about Joe?

He is a good boy.

So "is a good boy" is a predicate.

Click here for the full article on the English predicate.




Subject | Predicate | Direct Object | Indirect Object
Object of the Preposition | Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
Linking Verbs | Complements | Exercises | Top

Direct Object

A direct object is a person or thing that is affected by the action of the verb. You could say that the direct object "receives the action of the verb."

"He broke the window."

"He broke the window."

What was affected by the action? The window was.

So "the window" is the direct object.


Click here for the full article on the English direct object, indirect object and object of the preposition.





Subject | Predicate | Direct Object | Indirect Object
Object of the Preposition | Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
Linking Verbs | Complements | Exercises | Top

Indirect Object

An indirect object is a person or thing that the action is done to or for.

The indirect object usually comes just before the direct object.

You could also say that the indirect object is the receiver of the direct object.

"He gave his mother flowers."

"He gave his mother flowers."

To whom did he give the flowers? To his mother.

So "his mother" is the indirect object.


Click here for the full article on the English direct object, indirect object and object of the preposition.



Is it a direct object or an indirect object?

How can you tell a direct object from an indirect object?

Here are some tips to help you:

1) A direct object receives the action of the verb. In other words, it is directly affected by it.

2) An indirect object is the receiver of the direct object, and it usually comes just before it.

Let's have another look at some of the previous examples (the direct object is green, the indirect object is brown):

"He gave his mother flowers."

"He gave his mother flowers."

The verb is "gave."

Who is directly affected by this action?
The flowers. They are given!

So "flowers" is the direct object.

Who receives the flowers? His mother.

So "his mother" is the indirect object.

You can see that the indirect object ("his mother")
is located just before the direct object ("flowers").

Click here for the full article on the English direct object, indirect object and object of the preposition.





Subject | Predicate | Direct Object | Indirect Object
Object of the Preposition | Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
Linking Verbs | Complements | Exercises | Top

The Object of the Preposition

Click here if you want a review on what is a preposition.

The object of the preposition is a noun or a pronoun that completes its meaning.

"The cat is looking at the fish."

"The cat is looking at the fish."

Example 1:

  • She is thinking about.
This sentence is incomplete. We don't what is she thinking about.

Here is the complete version:

  • She is thinking about your idea.
This sentence is complete. "Idea" is the object of the preposition "about."

Click here for the full article on the English direct object, indirect object and object of the preposition.





Subject | Predicate | Direct Object | Indirect Object
Object of the Preposition | Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
Linking Verbs | Complements | Exercises | Top

Transitive Verbs
and Intransitive Verbs

Not every verb takes a direct object.

The direct object completes the meaning of the verb, but not every verb needs completion.

For example:

  • I built last year.
This sentence feels incomplete. Something is missing. What did I build?

To complete the idea I should add a direct object: "I built a house last year."

Now the idea is complete.

An opposite example:

  • I ran yesterday.
This sentence is completely fine just like that, right? The idea is complete, and the verb doesn't require a direct object.


Definitions

Verbs that take direct objects are called transitive verbs.
The meaning of a transitive verb is incomplete without a direct object.

"She is drinking a glass of water."

"She is drinking a glass of water."

Verbs that don't take direct objects are called intransitive verbs.
The meaning of an intransitive verb is complete on its own.

"She is standing."

"She is standing."

Click here for the full article on English transitive verbs and intransitive verbs.





Subject | Predicate | Direct Object | Indirect Object
Object of the Preposition | Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
Linking Verbs | Complements | Exercises | Top

Linking Verbs

A linking verb is a verb that connects the subject with an adjective or a noun that identifies or describes it.

"She seems very satisfied."

"She seems very satisfied."

Click here for the full article on English linking verbs.





Subject | Predicate | Direct Object | Indirect Object
Object of the Preposition | Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
Linking Verbs | Complements | Exercises | Top

Complements

A complement is a word or a group of words (usually an adjective or a noun), that is used after linking verbs (such as be and become). The complement identifies or describes the subject of the verb.

"She seems very satisfied."

"She seems very satisfied."

Click here for the full article on English complements.





Subject | Predicate | Direct Object | Indirect Object
Object of the Preposition | Transitive Verbs and Intransitive Verbs
Linking Verbs | Complements | Exercises | Top

English Parts of a Sentence Exercises,
Identify the Part of a Sentence

Understanding English parts of a senence is an important part of truly mastering English, so make sure you know what they are and can use them without hesitations.

Now let's practice!

English Parts of a Sentence Exercises 1

English Parts of a Sentence Exercises 2

English Parts of a Sentence Exercises 3

English Parts of a Sentence Exercises 4

Parts of a Sentence Worksheets

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