by Sue Gench
Test your sentence against the criteria below:
A good sentence agrees with the parts of speech.
The syntax of a good sentence displays subject and verb agreement.
We understand the meaning of a good sentence. A good sentence displays clarity.
A well-written complete sentence contains minimum one subject and one verb in order to have a meaning. We can write complete sentences in four different forms: the positive form, the negative form, the command form, or the question form. The sentences below are written in four different forms:
The sentence in the above example, (I swim in the pool), has a subject and verb and expresses a meaning in four different forms. We understand what it means in four different forms, and therefore this sentence is a complete sentence.
Robert runs. (Robert is the subject. The positive form)
Robert doesn't run. (The negative form)
Does Robert run? (The question form)
Run. (The command form. The subject is hidden)
Make sure your sentences agree with the parts of speech and the subject aligns with the verb. See subject and verb agreement. The rule for parts of speech dictates that the subject, verb and object (predicate) of the sentence are chosen from their proper categories. For the subject, we use nouns and subject pronouns. For example, apple, pencil, pool, chair city, country, Robert, Tanya, London are all nouns so we can use them in the place of subject in a sentence. Or, we use subject pronouns for the place of subject in the sentence. The words, "I, you, he, she, it, we, they" represent the subject pronouns.
As for the verb, you must recognize them in order to be able to use them correctly. Verbs are those words that express physical or mental actions. For example, "walk" is a verb expressing an action of walking. The word "agree" is a mental action expressing the idea of agreement.
Robert runs every day. ('Run' is a verb. 'Run' expresses a physical action)
Children like candy. ('Like' is a verb. 'Like' expresses an act of feeling and therefore it is a mental action verb.)
As for the subject and verb agreement, the subject must align with the verb. Here is the rule: The subject of the sentence must agree with the verb tense form of the subject.
Correct: He plays the piano. (The subject, 'he', agrees with the verb form, 'plays'.)
Incorrect: He play the piano. ((The subject, 'he', doesn't agree with the verb form, 'play'.)
In these examples, the sentences are written in the simple present, using a third person single subject 'he'. Because verbs, in the simple present, with single subjects (he, she, it) take 's' or 'es' at the end of the verb, the verb 'play' becomes 'plays' with the single subject 'he'. In the above example, the single subject agrees with the verb form 'plays'. For more information, see verbs.
Now, let's a make a complete sentence by choosing one word from the category of nouns and one word from the category of verbs. For example:
Susan reads novels. (Susan is the subject. The positive form)
Susan does not read novels. (The negative form)
Does Susan read novels? (The question form)
Read novels. (The command form. In the command form the subject is hidden.)
Finally, clarity is what makes a sentence intelligible. Without clarity, no matter how well the sentence is grammatically correct, the sentence may not be understood. Guidelines for clarity are:
Use simple language. Do not write long sentences, at least in the beginning until you improve your writing, until your sentences are grammatically correct and have clarity.
Have someone proofread your sentences. We can help.
Do not use big words or fancy phrases or idioms. Remember, you have plenty of time ahead of you to use fancy English. Remember, your task to accomplish now is to write good sentences.
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