Basic English Structure

The Sentence 句子
It is a group of words which make complete sense. It begins with a capital letter and ends with either a full stop(.), question mark(?) or exclamation mark(!). It must contain at least one independent clause.
I see a pretty bird. (Statement)
Can you swim? (Question)
Open the window. (Command)
What a fool he is! (Exclamation)
Please help me with my work. (Request)

A sentence is composed of the Subject and the Verb. 句子必須包含主語和動詞。

The following sentences are complete sentences because 下列句子是完整的,因為:
i. They have the subject and the verb; 它們包含主語和動詞
ii. They make full sense. 意思完整
1. John read the letter twice.
2. To be careful, John read the letter twice.
3. John read the letter twice, trying to understand it.
4. John read the letter twice because he was careful.
5. John read the letter twice but he could not understand it.

The following are not complete sentences: 下列並非完整句子:
1. To be careful. (no subject and verb, not in complete sense)
2. Trying to understand it. (no independent clause, not in complete sense)
3. Because he was careful. (no independent clause, not in complete sense)

The Subject 主語
The subject of a sentence is the person or thing doing the action expressed by the verb. The verb agrees grammatically with the subject.
Anita goes to church every Sunday.
(Subject: Anita)
Anita and Jenny are university students. (Subject: Anita and Jenny)
The black and white bird in the cage can sing. (Subject: bird)
Some of the eggs in the basket are rotten. (Subject: eggs)

A simple way to find the subject of the sentence is by putting the question "Who or What" in front of the verb.
把疑問詞 "Who" (誰人)或 "What" (甚麼事物)放在動詞前,是一種簡易的方法去識別句中的主語。
John likes singing. (Who likes singing?)
Exercise is good for health. (What is good for health?)

It is important to identify the simple subject (the doer of the action) of the sentence. 找出句中的基本主語是重要的。
A bright little boy with big eyes and dark hair won the first prize.
Who won the first prize? = boy (simple subject 基本主語)
Descriptive words 描述性詞: a bright little, with big eyes and dark hair

The subject of a command, order or suggestion -you- is usually left out. 命令或提議等句式中的主語 "You" (你) 通常是略去的。
(You) Turn on the light.
(You) Read the question carefully.

Exercise 1
Identifying the subject
Quiz I
Quiz II (higher level)

The Verb 動詞
The verb in a sentence tells what someone or something is and does. 動詞是指句子中的人或事物所顯示的動作形態。
Winter is cold.
I wrote a letter.

Verbs are classified as finite and non-finite. A finite verb can stand by itself as the main verb of a sentence.
In the above examples, 'is' and 'wrote' are finite verbs. Non-finite verbs are verb forms that cannot be the main verb of a sentence.
在上述例子中,"is" 和 "wrote" 是限制動詞。非限制動詞在句子中並非完整動詞。
The non-finite verbs include: 非限制動詞包括:
infinitive (to be, to write, to have been, to have written) 不定式
present participle & gerund (being, writing) 現在分詞 (~ing)
past participle (been, written) 過去分詞 (p.p.)

Exercise 2
Identifying the main verb
Quiz I
Quiz II (higher level)

Phrases 片語
A sentence is composed of a phrase(phrases) and a clause(clauses).
A phrase is a group of related words without a subject and a (finite) verb forming part of a sentence.

a pretty young girl
a piece of paper
to watch a football match
swimming in the cold water

Exercise 3
Recognizing phrases
Quiz I
Quiz II (higer level)

Types of Sentences 句子的類別
A simple sentence 簡單句
It consists of only one finite verb. 簡單句包含一個限制動詞

e.g. She has a lot to do.
They are working hard for the coming examination.
He does not know the correct answer.

A compound sentence 並列句
It consists of two (or more) clauses joining by a conjunction. Each clause has its own subject and finite verb. We often use the following conjunctions to make compound sentences:
and, but, or, either…or, neither…nor
e.g. He is poor but (he is) happy.
He came to tea and (he) stayed to dinner.
He never smokes or (he never) drinks.

A complex sentence 複合句
It consists of a main clause and one or more subordinate clauses. The subordinate clause is either a noun clause, an adjective clause or an adverb clause.

e.g. He said that he would never come again. (noun clause) (名詞子句)
Those are the men who want to see you. (adjective clause) (形容詞子句)
When she heard the news, she burst into tears. (adverb clause) (副詞子句)

Simple sentences – common patterns (A) 簡單句──常見句式

adjective/ adverb /phrase/ (to) infinitive/~ing/~ed
1.The baby Is crying.    
2.I am   glad to see you again.
3.Kenny looks   mature enough to take care of himself.
4.They decided   not to take a short cut.
5.They set the bird free.
6.He read the book quickly.
7.The boy Is playing football with his cousin in the park.
8.She told her son to wake up immediately.
9. She made him tell the truth.
10. I heard them talking about the project.

Simple sentences – common patterns (B)

1.We don’t know   which way to go.
2.He showed us how to play the violin.
3.She stopped     talking at once.
4.You can’t rely   on him to be punctual.
5.She gave the painting to the museum.  
6.They sold me all their stamps.  
7.The fire lasted   (for) three hours.  

Simple sentences – common patterns (C)

It / There
for/of somebody
noun/adverb phrase
1. It was hard   to recognise her voice.
2.It is difficult for him to make a decision.
3.It is cruel of you to abuse these animals.
4.It was a great honour   to be your guest.
5.There are seven dwarfs     in the story.
6.There were several dogs   barking at the entrance.

The three main elements of the sentence are words, phrases and clauses. In next unit, we help you to grasp the more complicated concept of clauses.

Basic English Structure