Sentence Structure, Grammar and Mechanics
Lawrence Cleary, Co-director Regional Writing Centre, ULwww.ul.ie/rwc
A clause, at minimum, has a subject, a tensed verb and makes sense:‘Jesus wept.’ (S+Vi)‘The sky is blue.’ (S+Vl+C)‘I fixed my bike.’ (S +Vt+ Od)‘I gave Mary the keys.’ (S +Vt+Oi+ Od)There are two kinds of clauses:Clauses that have a subject and a verb and make sense areindependent clauses. They don’t need additional information in order to make sense.Dependent clausescannot stand alone: ‘‘After I get the tickets.’ (S+Vt+ Od, but needs an independent clause to help it make sense):‘I’ll call youafter I get the tickets.’ (‘I’ll call you’ makes sense all by itself. ‘after I get the tickets’ needs additional information)
Dependent clauses can function as either nouns, adjectives or adverbs:Nounclause:‘That I don’t believe youshould concern you.’I can’t believethat it’s already Christmas!Adjectiveclause:‘That womanwho is wavingis my mother.’‘That woman,who is waving, is my mother.’Adverbclause:‘After the match was won, the fans celebrated in the streets.’The fans celebrated in the streetsafter the match was won.’
Four kinds of sentences:Simple(a single independent clause)Compound(two independent clauses joined bya coordinator)Complex(one dependent clause connected to an independent clause bya subordinator)Compound-Complex(a sentence containing at least two independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses)
A single independent clauseAn independent clause, at minimum, has a subject, a tensed verb and makes sense:‘Jesus wept.’ (S+Vi)However, an independent clause may havetwo subjects: ‘JackandJillwent up the hill.’ (S+S+Vi)two verbs: ‘Mary bothswimsandplaysfootball.’ (S+Vi+Vt)an adverbial: ‘Derek readsslowly.’ (S+Vi+Adv) or ‘Before the wedding, the bride got sloshed!’ (AdvPh+S+Vl+ C)Etc.
Two independent clauses joined bya coordinator.Coordinators join two things of equal value:For,and,nor,but,or,yet,soand;.‘Compound sentences contain two independent clauses, andthey are connected by a coordinator.’‘Because they are of equal valueandbecause one independent clause introduces a second independent clause, the first clause is set off by a comma and is followed by a coordinator.’Any time any word, phrase or clause precedes the main clause, that word, phrase or clause is set off by a comma:‘Unsurprisingly,nobody valued vomit as sidewalk art.’
Anindependentclause joined to adependentclause bya subordinator.‘I decided not to go(asthe weather took a turn for the worse).’‘(Becausethe exam was so important to his grade),Jerry studied all night.’Subordinating conjunctionslink independent clauses tonoun,adjectiveoradverbclauses; therefore, subordinators are numerous.
At least twoindependent clauseslinked to one or moresubordinate clauses:(I wanted to travel) (after I graduated);(however,I had to go to work immediately).‘Sir Thomas, meanwhile,went on with his own hopes, and his own observations, still feeling a right, by all his knowledge of human nature, to expect to see the effect of the loss of power and consequence, on his niece’s spirits, and the past attentions of the lover producing a craving for their return;and he wassoon afterwardsable to account for his not yet completely and indubitably seeing all of this, by the prospect of another visitor,whose approach he could allow to be quite enough to supportthe spirits he was watching’ (Mansfield Park, 249).
Thatclauses:‘Do you believe (something) (thatwe can‘t get into the concert)?’If/whetherclauses:‘I can’t remember (something)(ifI locked the door).’Whether,whether…or not,if,if…or notQuestion(word) clauses:We should askwhenthe train leaves.Who,whoever,whom,which,what,where,when,why,how,how much,how many,how long,how often, etc.
Subordinators for Noun Clauses
To refer to people:who,whom,whose‘People (wholive in glass houses) shouldn’t throw stones.’To refer to animals and things:which,that‘My new computer, (whichI just bought), has just crashed!’To refer to a time or place:when,whereThe library is a place (wherethey store books).
Subordinators for Adj. Clauses
Time(when?) after, as, just as, as long as, before, since, until, when, whenever, whilePlace(where?) where, wherever, anywhere everywhereManner(how?) as, just as, as if, as thoughDistance(how far or near or close?) as +adv+ asFrequency(how often?) as often asReason(why?) as, because, sincePurpose(for what purpose?) so that, in order thatResult(with what result?) so +adj+ that, so +adv+ that, such a(n) + noun + that, so much/many/little/few + noun + thatCondition(under what condition?) if, unlessConcession(partial contrast) although, even though, thoughContrast(direct opposition) while, whereas
Subordinators for Adv. Clauses
Both…and:Bothmy sisterandmy brother have chicken pox.Not only…but also:Not onlydo they have jobsbut alsohave inheritances.Either…or: Bringeithera raincoatoran umbrella as the rain is lashing.Neither…nor: My grandfather couldneitherreadnorwrite.Whether…or: I am going earlywhetheryou like itornot.
People whose professional activity lies in the field of politics are not, on the whole, conspicuous for their respect for factual accuracy;in other words, Politicians often lie.To add a similar idea:also,besides,furthermore,in addition,moreoverTo add an unexpected or surprising continuation:however,nevertheless,nonetheless,stillTo add a complete contrast:in contrast,on the other handTo add a result:as a result,consequently,therefore,thusTo list ideas in order of time:meanwhile,afterward,then,subsequentlyTo give an example:for example,for instanceTo show similarity:similarly,likewiseTo recommend the value of one assertion over another:instead,on the contrary,ratherTo offer an alternative possibility:alternatively,on the other handTo add an explanation:in other words,that isTo emphasise a point:indeed,in fact
Anything that precedes the main clause is usually set off by a comma: ‘Because the exam was so important to his grade,Jerry studied all night.’When joining two independent clauses with a coordinator, place a comma after the first clause: ‘Tommy went to the shop,but he forgot to bring his wallet.’Commas are used to signify parenthetical information: ‘The woman,waving her hand,is my mother.’ Similarly: ‘My brother,Johnny,is an electrician.’Commas separate items in a series: ‘Give me a quarter-pounder with pickles,onions and cheese (pickles,onions,and cheese in American English).
Like the coordinator, the semi-colon separates things of equal value:My father was a teacher;his father was a teacher.Table 5 ordered a chicken Caesar with chicken, no onions and blue-cheese dressing;a bottle of sparkling water, an aperitif and a glass of Burgundy;and a lemon-ice, an expresso and a pony of Anisette for dessert.
The colon should introduce examples or elaborations:"Grammar Girl has twofavoritehobbies: watching clouds and seeing how long she can stand on one foot."- See more at:http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/colons#sthash.hdh4BMiu.dpufAll three of their children are involved in the arts: Richard is a sculptor, Diane is a pianist, and Julie is a theatre director.In a play:“FRANCISCO: You come most carefully upon your hour.BERNARDO:'Tisnow struck twelve; get thee to bed, Francisco.”Telling time: 10:25amRatios: 3:1Main point is presented in a sentence: the ideas placed after the colon follow logically from or elaborate on the main point.