Sentence Structure Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 28, 2011

To construct a sentence:

  • Begin with a subject (noun) and a predicate (verb).
  • Always have at least one independent clause in the sentence.
  • Join two independent clauses with a semicolon or a comma and a conjunction. →Chaucer was a narrator, and he was a pilgrim in his Canterbury Tales.
  • Do not run two or more independent clauses together without punctuation; that error is appropriately called a run-on. Wrong: Chaucer was a narrator and he was a pilgrim in his Canterbury Tales.
  • Do not separate two independent clauses with just a comma; that error is called a comma splice. Wrong: Chaucer was a narrator, he was a pilgrim in his Canterbury Tales.
  • Do not use a conjunctive adverb (the words accordingly, besides, consequently, furthermore, hence, however, instead, moreover, nevertheless, otherwise, then, therefore, thus) like a conjunction. Wrong: Chaucer was a narrator, moreover he was a pilgrim in his Canterbury Tales.
  • As a general rule, do not begin a sentence with a dependent clause. Wrong: Although I was tired, I kept walking. Right: I kept walking, although I was tired. This rule can be broken on occasion for stylistic effect, but in general, it should be followed.
  • Use a comma after a conjunctive adverb when it follows a semicolon.
  • Use commas around nonessential clauses. Do not use commas around essential clauses.
  • Use commas around appositives.
  • Use commas around parenthetical elements (a word or group of words that interrupt a sentence's flow).→Mrs. Moses, that mean old crone, yelled at little Paula for laughing too loud.

Grammar Terms


Dependent Clause

A portion of a sentence that cannot stand on its own as a complete sentence;  it is dependent on the rest of the sentence to make sense.  Example:

It's supposed to rain today, | unlike yesterday.

              independent clause| dependent clause.

After you review the study guide, test your sentence structure knowledge with these practice exercises:

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