Parts of a Sentence and Speech for Praxis II ParaPro Test Prep Study Guide (page 2)
The practice quiz for this study guide can be found at:
Parts of a Sentence
There are only two basic parts of a sentence: the subject and its predicate. For this question type, you need to be able to identify the parts of a sentence. For example, a question may ask you to find the simple predicate in a given sentence.
The subject is the person, place, or thing in a sentence that is performing the action. The subject can be a noun, like in the sentence, The chair is black. It can be a pronoun, such as, He is the vice president. It can even be a group of nouns or a phrase, such as Audrey and Anna went to the store or The last sip of coffee is the best.
The predicate is the action that is being done by the subject in the sentence. Read the following sentence:
Emma watches the sunrise from her porch.
The subject of the sentence is Emma. The action she is performing is watching the sunrise from her porch. That entire phrase watches the sunrise from her porch is called the complete predicate. It tells you about Emma. Usually, you won't need the complete predicate; the simple predicate is the main verb in the sentence that tells what Emma is doing. The simple predicate is watches.
Parts of Speech
A sentence is made up of words. Each word is considered a part of speech. These include six common terms that you must be able to recognize on the ParaPro Assessment: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, and preposition.
A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. For example, the word noun is itself a noun. The words doctor, bedroom, computer, and love are all nouns as well because they represent a person, place, thing, and idea.
A proper noun is a noun that names a specific person, place, thing, or idea. Proper nouns always start with a capital letter. For example, Roger, Arizona, and Empire State Building are all proper nouns.
A verb is the action word of a sentence. The three basic verb tenses—present, past, and future—let you know when something is happening, has happened, or will happen. Verbs can appear in many different tenses. For example, talk, ran, was raining, and have slept are all verbs in different forms.
In its infinitive form, a verb is in the form to _____. You can then change this form to a different tense, depending on when the action occurred or whether one or more than one things are involved in the action. These words may look different; the following list shows several common verbs in their past, present, and future tenses.
As ironic as it may be, a verb takes on an –s if the subject that is performing the action is singular. If the subject is plural, the verb does not have the –s. For example, look at the following sentences with the verbs underlined.
- Singular: Madeline helps her friends with her homework.
- The policeman protects the community.
- Plural: Bob and Janet mow the lawn together.
- Her grandparents own the house on the hill.
Adjectives and Adverbs
Adjectives and adverbs add spice to writing—they are words that describe, or modify, other words. However, adjectives and adverbs describe different parts of speech. Whereas adjectives modify nouns or pronouns, adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.
- We enjoyed the delicious meal.
- The chef prepared it perfectly.
The first sentence uses the adjective delicious to modify the noun meal. In the second sentence, the adverb perfectly describes the verb prepared. Adverbs are easy to spot—most end in -ly. However, some of the trickiest adverbs do not end in the typical -ly form. The following are problem modifiers to look out for:
Good/Well—Writers often confuse the adverb well with its adjective counterpart, good.
- Ellie felt good about her test results. (Good describes the proper noun, Ellie.)
- Ruben performed well on the test. (Well modifies the verb, performed.)
Bad/Badly—Similarly, writers confuse the function of these two modifiers. Remember to use the adverb badly to describe an action.
- Henry felt bad after staying up all night before the exam. (Bad describes Henry.)
- Juliet did badly in her first classroom presentation. (Badly describes the verb form, did.)
Fewer/Less—These two adjectives are a common pitfall for writers. To distinguish between them, look carefully at the noun modified in the sentence. Fewer describes plural nouns, or things that can be counted. Less describes singular nouns that represent a quantity or a degree.
The high school enrolls fewer students than it did a decade ago.
Emilia had less time for studying than Maggie.
Adjectives that follow verbs can also cause confusion. Although an adjective may come after a verb in a sentence, it may describe a noun or pronoun that comes before the verb. Here is an example:
The circumstances surrounding Shakespeare's authorship seemed strange. (The adjective, strange, describes the subject, circumstances.)
Take special note of modifiers in sentences that use verbs that deal with the senses: touch, taste, look, smell, and sound. Here are some examples of sentences that use the same verb, but different modifiers:
- Sarah felt sick after her performance review. (The adjective, sick, modifies Sarah.)
- The archaeologist felt carefully through the loose dirt. (The adverb, carefully, modifies felt.)
- The judge looked skeptical after the witness testified. (The adjective, skeptical, modifies judge.)
- The judge looked skeptically at the flamboyant lawyer. (The adverb, skeptically, modifies looked.)
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun or another pronoun. For example, the word his in the following sentence is a pronoun: Mark loves his dog. Without the pronoun, you would have to say Mark loves Mark's dog, which sounds pretty redundant. The pronoun his stands for Mark's.
More examples of pronouns are shown in the following table. Note that some of these words can be used as nouns or pronouns.
Some pronouns are considered personal pronouns because they are taking the place of a noun. The pronouns can replace the subject or object in a sentence. Some pronouns are considered possessive pronouns because they are simply referring to the noun. See the examples of both types of pronouns in the sentences below. The pronouns are underlined.
- Personal Pronouns:
- Chase grabbed the microphone and gave it to me.
- She ran the marathon in under four hours.
- Possessive Pronouns:
- Jacqueline read her book in a week.
- Mine is the fastest computer in the class.
A preposition is a word that expresses the relationship in time or space between words in a sentence. They are generally short words, such as in, on, around, above, between, beside, by, before, or with, which introduce prepositional phrases in a sentence. See the following examples of prepositions. Some sentences have two or more prepositions. The prepositions are underlined.
- The girl ran to her room.
- I cannot sleep before 10 o'clock.
- Please go to the store with her.
- The mouse ran through the hole in the wall.
Other Parts of Speech
You won't be tested on conjunctions, but they are important to know. A conjunction is a part of a sentence that joins two words, such as and or or.
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