The World of English Sentences

English sentences, that is, sentences in the English language, are understood to be groups of words which make complete sense. The question immediately arises: What exactly do we mean by complete sense?

The concept of "complete sense" is vague; can we understand sentences without resorting to this concept?

The following pages will guide you through the interesting world of English sentences.

They will help you understand phrases, clauses and sentences, sentence-parts, structure and types.

The Phrase in English

Here you have a syntactic explanation of what a phrase is. A phrase is a grammar unit.

Question: How can we recognize a grammar unit?
Answer: From its behaviour.

So, four features of a grammar unit's behaviour are listed and explained in this page on English phrases.

What is a Phrase? - A Traditional Approach

Here you'll find a different approach to the question - a traditional approach, where a phrase is understood as a word-group, which does the work of a particular part of speech.

Understanding this approach is helpful to parents and teachers, who have learnt grammar in the old days, but want to help their children, grandchildren or students to learn "today's grammar".

Click here to read about this alternative approach to the question: "What is a phrase?"

What is a Clause?

Explains...

  • what a clause is, and
  • what its various types and sub-types are.
Click here for 'What is a clause?'

What is a Sentence?

This page...

  • Shows us how we can recognize a sentence
  • Describes the various types of sentences
  • Also explains the two possible types of relationship between clauses when they are joined together to construct sentences of greater complexity.
Click here and gain a correct understanding of all these aspects of a sentence.

Sentence Structure

Lists five common sentence structures and gives examples which show how sentence-parts are inter-related in each of the given sentence patterns.

Study the common sentence structures here.

Parts of a Sentence

Lists and explains the various sentence-parts, such as: subject and predicate, finite verbs, object, complement, adverbial adjunct.

Read here about sentence-parts.

The Subject of a Sentence

Here you'll find a detailed explanation of the different features of the subject, both syntactically and semantically.

Read here in detail about the subject of a sentence.

What we can learn from the very word sentences

When I hear the word sentences, my mind is immediately forced to make a choice. This fact tells us something important about the English language. What is it?

Read here what the very word 'sentences' can teach us.

In Traditional Grammar

Even in traditional grammar, which identifies phrases and clauses from their function—e.g. "a group of words that does the work of an adjective is an adjective phrase, etc."—there is a better way to identify sentences than by using the vague "complete sense" criterion.

For Further Reading and Study...