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GEN 100

Writing Workshop

Basic Sentence Structure


Sentences are made up of a subject and a predicate.

The subject is a noun, pronoun, or a phrase or clause which acts like a noun.

The predicate is everything in the sentence aside from the subject. A simple predicate is just the verb phrase; the complete predicate includes the complement.

A complement is the part of the predicate aside from the verb phrase. It can include the direct object, indirect object, subject complement, or the object complement.

This form is usually referred to as S-V and S-V-C.

The Subject

The subject of a sentence states what the focus of the sentence is. The subject is either doing something is it is being described in some way.

The subject of a sentence can be anything that can act like a noun:

In a question, the subject may be replaced with a (w)h- word.

The Predicate

The predicate is either an action taken by the subject, or describes something about the subject.

The simple predicate is either just the verb, or is a verb phrase which could include adverbs and or auxiliary (helping) verbs.

The complete predicate inlcudes a complement. A complement is not an independent clause or an adverbial clause.

The Complement

A complement is the remainder of the complete predicate after the verb or verb phrase. A complement may include adjuncts, which are non-essential words or phrases.

There are four basic types of complements:

Direct Object

The direct object receives or shows the result of the action. A direct object can be a noun or something that acts as a noun.

Indirect Object

The indirect object is someone or something that receives or benefits from the action of the verb.

Note: since an infinitive phrase describes an action (e.g., "to eat" or "to go"), it cannot receive or benefit from an action.

However, there are a few special cases in which something can be given to a gerund:

Subject Complement

The subject complement is used when a linking verb is the predicate.

Linking verbs include: include all forms of be, but also verbs like

The subject complement decribes the subject using a noun, modifier, or prepositional phrase.

Object Complement

The object complement describes the direct object. It is used with the verbs such as call, keep, make, name, prove, find, or catch.


A word or phrase which can be added to a part of the sentence but is not necessary to the core meaning of the sentence is called an adjunct. Adjuncts add extra information, but are not necessary to make a complete sentence.

An adjunct can be any word or phrase that can be removed, but the sentence still makes sense. For example:

In the above example, only hard can be removed without creating a grammatical problem with the sentence. Therefore, hard is an adjunct.

Here is the same sentence as above with more adjuncts: