In addition to understanding the eight basic parts of speech in English, it's also helpful to know how they work together to form all the working parts of a sentence. Each part of a sentence has a particular job or purpose in your writing, though not all parts must appear in every sentence for it to be complete. So what are the different parts of a sentence?
While "Kelly" and "They" are single-word subjects, "The black cat" is a noun phrase that includes an adjective to provide additional information about the subject.
There are a few different types of subjects. A simple subject is just one word, without any modifiers, usually a noun or pronoun. A complete subject is the simple subject plus all modifiers. A compound subject is made up of more than one subject element. For example:
The predicate of a sentence includes the verb and everything that follows it. This typically tells what the subject does with an action verb or describes the subject using a linking verb and a complement.
Let's return to the first example sentence:
In this sentence, "walked" is the action verb that tells the reader what Kelly is doing, and "down the street" is an adverb phrase that modifies the verb by describing where she walked. All of these words make up the complete predicate of the sentence. The verb alone is the simple predicate.
As with subjects, it's also possible to have a compound predicate that consists of two different actions. Take a look at the examples below to note the differences:
Predicates can contain a good deal of information and may be quite long. Predicates often have several parts in addition to the verb, including objects and complements.
Objects are noun phrases that are included in the predicate. They are the things being acted upon by the verb. For example:
In each of these sentences, there is a direct object in the predicate. It is the thing being acted upon; for example, the gift is the thing given by Susan.
It's also possible to have an indirect object that includes more information about the person or thing towards which the action is directed. For example:
In the sentence "Susan bought him the gift," "him" is an indirect object because he is not the item bought at the store, but rather the person for whom the action was completed.
In predicates that use linking verbs rather than action verbs, items following the verb are known as complements. Complements modify the subject by describing it further. For example:
In these cases, the words following the linking verb describe the subject, whether they are nouns, noun phrases or adjectives.
To write a complete sentence, you must include at least a subject and a predicate. If you only include one of these, you will have only a sentence fragment, which is grammatically incorrect.
Modifiers are words or phrases that describe parts of the sentence by adding additional information. Adjectives modify nouns and pronouns, while adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. It is possible for parts of speech to do this work alone in the sentence in either the subject or the predicate. For example:
In the first example, the adjective modifies the subject, but in the second example, the adverb modifies the simple predicate.
Not all modifiers are single words. Sometimes they are groups of words that work together. When these words are in the predicate and explain how, when, where or why the action was performed, they are known as an adverbial. For example:
Each adverbial above modifies the verb, therefore performing the function of an adverb in the sentence. The first two examples are adverbial phrases - groups of words that function as an adverb but don't contain a subject and a verb. The final example is an adverbial clause, which performs the same function but does contain a subject and a verb. Adverbial clauses are dependent clauses and are not complete sentences on their own.
Modifiers are optional when it comes to writing sentences since they merely give additional information and are not required the way a subject and verb are. Note that complements are considered to be a type of modifier as well.
In your writing, knowing that each sentence requires a subject and a verb will help ensure that you write grammatically complete sentences. Using complements, adverbials and other modifiers will add interest - just be sure not to use too many in the same sentence to avoid confusing run-on sentences.