Sentence Structure Summary

Function & Category: what a word does vs. what a word is called

Diagram: function category

Leaf  (Noun)

A leaf  (Noun Phrase)

A red leaf  (Noun Phrase)


A leaf fell. (Subject)

I found a red leaf(Object)

We have a leaf bin (Modifier)


Subject / Predicate:  recognize basic grammatical functions in a clause


Charlie raised his hand.
Feeling confident, Charlie raised his hand.
Clever Charlie, my good friend, raised his hand.

Charlie raised his hand in the air.
Charlie enthusiastically raised his hand.
Charlie raised his hand hoping to answer.


Sentence Elements

Noun / Noun Phrase: recognize form and function

A private jet

jet  (noun)

A private jet (noun phrase)



Verb :  recognize primary vs. secondary verbs

walk to work

He walks / walked to work.  (primary)

He walked. (tense)


Verb Group :  recognize form and function

walking for health

We want to walk. (secondary)

She likes walking. (secondary)

She is being tiresome. (lexical)

She is walking. (auxiliary)  

She was walking. (aspect)

She might walked. (mood)

Verb Phrase :  recognize form and function in a clause

Diagram: verb phrase

We want to walk. (secondary)

She likes walking. (secondary)

She is being tiresome. (lexical)

She is walking. (auxiliary)  

She was walking. (aspect)

She might walked. (mood)

Auxiliary Verbs: recognize funtion and form

Diagram: Charlie hates sitting all day.

Charlie has raised his hand. (tense)

Charlie is raising his hand. (aspect)

Charlie may raise his hand again. (mood)

The question has been asked. (voice)



Clause: recognize a clause and its dependents


*Each year, millions of people travel to the U.S. In fact, eighty-six million.   (fragment)

*Put your suitcase down.  Over there. (fragment)
How about a visa? (fragment)


*error in sentence  


Finite / Nonfinite: recognize two clause categories (primary/secondary verbs)

Charlie dislikes sitting all day

Charlie wants to raise his hand.

Charlie likes raising his hand.

Charlie, annoyed, raised his hand.

Passive Nonfinites (& Past): express timing and voice in gerund and infinitive (nonfinite) clauses

Jack remembered leaving the door unlocked.

Jack remembered having left the door unlocked.

He was told to lock the door.

Jack was thought to have locked the door.

Complete Thought: combine a topic and controlling idea

Complete Thought

Why are 20% of Americans unable to find the U.S. on a map?

"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so (find the U.S. on a map) because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children."

Run-on Sentences: identify smaller and larger parts of a sentence


*My friend and I blogged and read over his shoulder.
My friend blogged, and I read over his shoulder.

Cleft Clauses:  information packaging


His energy amazed me

What amazed me was his energy.

His energy was what amazed me.

It amazed me that he had so much energy.

Sentence Diagrams


Justin wore his winter pants because it was snowing.


We walk and we talk.


The wind blows. / The wind blows leaves / The wind is strong. / The wind blows in the winter.

pres. progressive

Isabela is working tonight. / Helen is jogging around the track.


Starting a sentence with a gerund is common.


Charlie dislikes sitting all day.  (nonfinite clause)

if clause

We take an umbrella if it is raining (prep + clause)

infinitive clause

To start a sentence with an infinitive is awkward

It / an extraposed subject

It is hard for him to sit all day.   (intinitive clause with a subject) 

verb + infinitive

Ed needs to get some help.

verb + object + infinitive

Ed persuaded Frida to do the painting Ed intended Frida to do the painting.

auxiliary verbs

Charlie was raising his hand.


Charlie will raise his hand.


Clever Charlie next to you raised his hand.


Charlie suddenly raised his hand high in the air.

rather than

We walked home rather than drove home.  / We walked home rather than get stuck in traffic.

so that / such that

The meteor was so beautiful that we watched it all night. /  It was such a beautiful meteor storm that we watched it all night.


Justin wore his winter pants because it was snowing.

dative verbs
(w/ indirect object)

You bought me a gift. / You bought a gift for me. / Thank you for the gift.

participle clause / adjunct modifier

The man who is seated beside the host is the guest.  The man seated beside the host is the guest.

participle clause
 (nonfinite clause)

Congress which consists of two houses in on a break. / Congress consisting of two houses is on a break.

participle clause 
(nonfinite clauses as modifiers)

The federal agency locating the prison on Alcatraz preferred the isolated location.

participle clause 
(nonfinite clauses as modifiers)

The Golden Gate Bridge located in SF Bay was designed by Strauss.


We walk because we like exercise.