Subject and Verb Help
Subject and Verb Help
Although it would not be very interesting, the simplest English sentence might be composed of two words and still be correct:
- I voted.
- Tom drove.
- Trees fell.
The point, of course, is that a complete English sentence is composed of a subject (I, Tom, Trees) and a verb, or action (voted, drove, fell).
See if you can identify the subjects (person or thing) and verbs (actions) in the following sentences:
- The senator won.
- Tom crashed the car.
- His wife screamed.
- Arctic air froze New England.
- We huddled together.
You probably chose the following: senator/won, Tom/crashed, wife/screamed, air/froze, We/huddled. In each case, someone or something performed an action.
Now read the following examples, and as you do, ask yourself what's missing: what else do you need to know to get real meaning from the incomplete sentence?
- A wandering child.
- Driving too slowly and stopping frequently.
- Stormy, then clear.
Undoubtedly, in the first example, you wanted to know what happened to the child. What did he or she do? In the second example, who was driving and stopping? In the third example, what was stormy, then clear? Clearly, something is missing in each example. You weren't satisfied when you read the examples because they are all incomplete thoughts missing essential elements: subject (i.e., person, place, or thing) or a verb (i.e., the action). Because of the missing pieces, this kind of incomplete sentence is called a fragment—a piece of a thought.
The following examples include possible completions for the previous fragments. Notice that either a subject or verb was added to each one:
- A wandering child ran into the street. (The verb ran answers the question, "What did the child do?")
- The new driver was driving too slowly and stopping too frequently. (The subject, driver, answers the question, "Who was driving?")
- The skies changed from stormy to clear. (The subject, skies, answers the question, "What changed from stormy to clear?)
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