Sentence Structure Study Guide: Pre-GED Language Arts, Writing
The practice quiz for this study guide can be found at:
Having a solid understanding of sentence structure is crucial for doing well on the GED exam. In fact, 30 percent of the GED writing assessment addresses sentence structure. With that in mind, you should make the most of the sentence structure practice and review in this chapter as you prepare for exam day.
The Parts of a Sentence
You probably already know that a sentence expresses a complete thought and has to have a subject and a predicate. The subject is the part of a sentence that tells who or what the sentence is about. The predicate includes a verb, or action word, and tells what the subject is or does. Consider the following basic sentence:
Ella watched the news.
In the previous sentence, Ella is the subject, and watched the news is the predicate. Watched is the verb.
Keep in mind that a sentence can have more than one subject and predicate. A compound subject includes two or more subjects in the same sentence, and a compound verb includes two or more verbs. Let's take a look at the following sentence:
Ella and Simone sat on the sofa and watched the news.
In the previous sentence, Ella and Simone are compound subjects; sat and watched are compound verbs.
The previous sentences are fairly basic. In order to understand more complex types of sentences, you must also be able to recognize clauses. A clause is a group of words that contains both a subject and a verb. A dependent clause contains a subject and a verb, but cannot stand alone as a complete thought. Although the dog was barking is an example of a dependant clause. An independent clause is a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence. He did not seem fierce is an example of an independent clause.
A compound sentence includes two independent clauses joined together by a coordinating conjunction, such as and, but, or, nor, so, for, or yet. The conjunction used in a sentence should show the relationship between the two clauses, and it is preceded by a comma.
Let's take a look at the following sentence:
We thought we would be late to the movie, but we got there in plenty of time.
Notice that the previous compound sentence contains two shorter sentences, or independent clauses. The conjunction but shows that the second clause is true, despite appearing to be contrary to the information in the first clause.
A complex sentence includes a dependent clause that is connected to an independent clause by a subordinating conjunction, which shows the relationship between the two clauses. Examples of subordinating conjunctions are:
- comparison/similarity: as if
- contrast/difference: although, whereas, while, even though
- cause and effect/purpose: because, since, so that, as
- condition: if, unless, whether, because, even if
- time/sequence: before, after, while, as soon as, once
- place: wherever, where
A subordinating conjunction always introduces a dependent clause. However, the dependent clause can come either before or after the independent clause. Consider the following example:
- Because it was raining, I stayed inside all day.
- I stayed inside all day because it was raining.
Because it was raining is the dependent clause; it cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. The conjunction because indicates a cause and effect relationship between raining and stayed inside all day. Notice that either the dependent or independent clause can come first without changing the meaning of the sentence. Also, remember that a comma should be placed between clauses if the dependent clause is first.
Now that we've reviewed the basic components of complete sentences, let's go over some of the other important things to understand about sentence structure, including sentence fragments, run-on sentences, comma splices, coordination and subordination, modification, and parallelism.
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