Parts of a Sentence

(Also see  Sentences, or follow the links to see more on a topic)

Subject Predicate Objects
Complements Phrases Clauses
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The subject of a sentence is the noun---or word group acting as a noun---that performs the action expressed in the predicate of a sentence or clause. The subject may be one word: Sally loves chocolateThe subject may be in a noun phrase: 


The predicate is the part of the clause or sentence that says something about the subject. In other words, the part of the sentences that is not the subject and its modifiers is the predicate. A predicate can be one word or several words, not all of which are verbs. 

The principal part of the predicate is the verb.

Compound verbs are two or more verbs joined by a conjunction, (in this sentence, the word and) and relating to the same subject. The subject of the following sentences is cobra:

Complete predicates are all the words in a clause or sentence except the subject and its modifiers:


The object of a sentence can be a noun, pronoun, or word group that acts as a noun, and receives the action of a verb or is influenced by a transitive verb, verbal (a word derived from a verb, i.e., gerund, infinitive, and participle), or a preposition.  (More on Objects)

1.  Direct object: Receives the action of a verb or verbal and frequently follows it in a sentence. Direct objects are often needed to complete the thought of a sentence. "Rueben reads the newspaper."  "Reuben reads" is a complete sentence, but it doesn't  express the complete thought. Reuben reads what? He reads the newspaper.

2.  Indirect object: Tells for whom, to whom, or to what something is done. "Reuben reads his grandmother the newspaper." Reuben reads the newspaper to whom? to his grandmother. Grandmother is the indirect object. Pronouns are also used as indirect objects: "Reuben reads her the newspaper."  Indirect objects often come between the verb and the direct object. 

 The sentence could also be: "Reuben reads the newspaper to his grandmother." The prepositional phrase to his grandmother is the indirect object of the sentence.

3.  Object of Preposition:  Objects follow prepositions and are linked by them to the rest of the sentence.   (See Prepositional Phrase)

Complements   (See also Complements page)

A word or word group that completes the meaning of a subject, an object, or a verb.

1.  Subject complement: Follows a linking verb and modifies or refers to the subject. It may be a noun (also known as a predicate noun or nominative) or an adjective (also known as a predicate adjective). 

2.  Object complement: Follows and modifies or refers to a direct object.   

3.  Verb complement: This is a direct or indirect object of a verb. It may be a noun, pronoun, or word or word group acting as a noun. 


A group of related words that lacks a subject, or a predicate, or both---and that acts as a single part of speech.  See also Phrases & Clauses.

1. Prepositional phrase: Consists of a preposition and its objects and modifiers. The object of the preposition is a noun or something acting as a noun (for instance, a gerund). 

  Prepositional phrases are almost always used as adjectives or adverbs. If the phrase is being used as an adjective, it comes after the noun or pronoun it is describing.  

Remember that when using a pronoun in a prepositional phrase, you must use the objective case (me, her, him, us, them, whom.) you is the same in the subjective and objective case.

2.  Noun phrase: Noun phrases are composed of  a noun (or pronoun) and its modifiers. They are used as subjects, objects, or complements.

3.  Verb phrase: A group of words that include a verb and any auxiliary verbs that serve as the predicate of a sentence or clause.  

The pattern for a verb phrase can be as long as this : auxiliary/modal verb + auxiliary verb + auxiliary verb + main verb

4. Verbal phrase: Consists of a verbal (a word derived from a verb) and any modifiers. Verbal phrases are not the main verb or predicate in a sentence. The three types of verbals used in these phrases are present participles (ing form of a verb), past participles (ed or en form of a verb), and infinitives (to + the base form of a verb).

a.  Infinitive phrase: Consists of an infinitive and its object, plus any modifiers.  Infinitive phrases are used as adjectives, adverbs, or nouns. 

 b.  Participial phrase: Consists of a participle and its object, plus any modifiers. Participial phrases are used as adjectives. 

 5 Gerund phraseConsists of a gerund (the -ing form of a verb used as a noun) and its objects, plus any modifiers. A gerund phrase is used as a noun; subject, complement, direct object, indirect object, or object of a preposition.  


 A group of related words containing a subject and a predicate.  See Phrases and Clauses.

1.  Main (independent) clause: An independent clause can stand by itself as a complete sentence. 

 2.  Subordinate (dependent) clause: A subordinate clause cannot stand by itself as a complete sentence. 

Subordinate, or dependent clauses are introduced by using a subordinating conjunction. A subordinating conjunction is a word which joins a dependent clause and an independent clause together. Here are some subordinating conjunctions:**

Indicates Time Indicates Place Indicates Manner Indicates Reason Indicates Condition Indicates Concession
after where as if because if although
before wherever as though since unless though
since   how so that until even though
when     why in case (that) while
whenever     in order that provided that whereas
while     now that assuming that rather than
until     as even if  
as     so only if; if only  
once       whether or not  
as long as       that  

**Some subordinating conjunctions (like after, before, since) are also prepositions, but when they are used to introduce a clause, they are making that clause subordinate to the independent clause in the sentence. 

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