2017/06/02

The Five Elements of a Sentence


There are five elements to a sentence these help to form various types and structures of sentences which include adverbials, verbs, objects, complements and adverbials.

1. Subjects

These can either perform an action or tell what the sentences are about.  They can be either nouns, pronouns, noun phrases, noun clauses or a group words functioning as a noun.  These subjects can be identified as complete, simple or compound subjects.

Complete Subjects

A complete subject includes the noun (simple subject) and its modifiers.  Its a noun clause or phrase.

  • A woman walking into a mall.
  • A short man opening the door for her.
  • What the woman is looking for is his interest.

Simple Subjects

The single noun or pronoun is the Simple Subject which performs the action or tells what the sentence is about.

  • He studies hard.
  • She is doing her assignment.
  • A teacher is in the classroom.

Compound Subject

A Compound subject includes two or more nouns joined together by conjunction "and".

  • A pilot and his passengers are on the plane.
  • Water and food are your basic needs.
  • What we say and how we say it are important for communication.

2. Verbs

Expressed actions or states of being are all verbs.  You have action verbs or state verbs.


  • The police are catching a thief.  (Action)
  • She had robbed a man.  (Action)
  • He looked scared and frightened.  (State)
  • He felt sick for a few weeks.  (State)

3. Objects

Objects accept the action from either subjects or verbs.  There are three different kinds of objects: objects of prepositions, direct objects and indirect objects.  These objects can be pronouns, nouns, noun phrases, noun clauses, infinitive phrases, infinitives, gerunds or gerund phrases.

Indirect Objects

Indirect objects tells who the direct object is to or for, its the recipient of the action.

  • Johnny lent me some cash last month.
  • She sent her son a card.
  • The officer allows the robber a phone call.

Direct Objects

A Direct object receives the direct action from a verb.

  • We are in discussion about the planning permission.
  • I understand what she said.
  • The man unlocked his mobile phone successfully.

Objects of Prepositions

The preposition and its object form the prepositional phrase which can be used as an adjective or adverb in a sentence.

  • The lamp is on the table.
  • He is the classroom.
  • We decided not to vote for her.

4. Complements

Subjects or objects are complete by a Complement.  Complements which complete the meaning of a subject are subject complements and those which complete the meaning of an object or object complements.

Noun or adjectives can be Subject complements, completing the meaning of a subject.  If the subject complement is a noun, its called the predicate nominee, when its an adjective its a predictive adjective.  Subject complement goes after a linking verb.

  • They are sailors.
  • He has a big nose.
  • The dog looks happy.

Object Complements

Objects complements can be either adjective or noun, they complete the meaning of an object.

  • The country appointed him President.
  • The woman painted her house pink.
  • She left the door open.

5. Adverbials

Adverbs give more information about the verb.

Adverbs can be used to say how something happens or how something is done.

  • The children were playing quietly.
  • She was riding fast as possible.

Adverbs can be used to say where something happens.

  • I saw her there.
  • We met in Paris.

Adverbs can be used to say how often something happens.

  • They start work at four o'clock.
  • They usually go to work by bike.

Adverbs can be used to show how certain we about something.

  • Perhaps it might rain.
  • She is definitely coming to the party.
Read More About Writing: What is a Sentence?The Five Elements of a SentenceWhat You Need to Know About Simple, Compound and Complex Sentences20 Rules of Subject and Verb AgreementsCommon Pronoun ErrorsHow Long Should a Sentence Be?

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