Sentence Structure - Learn How to Form Well-Structured Sentences

Having learnt the parts of speech in the English language, not knowing how to use them and where to place each part of speech to form a sentence would not be ideal. Right? In fact, sentence structure is one among the most important grammatical components that acts as the foundation of a language. So here is what you need to know. In this article, you will learn what a sentence structure is and the different sentence structures. You will also find examples for every sentence structure that you can refer to. Also, try out the practice questions given.

Table of Contents

What Do You Mean by Sentence Structure?

Sentence structure is a grammatical component that tells you exactly where and how each component of a sentence should be placed in order to blend and make sense. The Collins Dictionary defines sentence structure as “the grammatical arrangement of words in sentences.” In other words, the sentence structure is what defines the way a sentence will look and sound.

Basic Parts and Components of a Sentence

Before we look into how sentence structure works, we will have to first learn about the basic structure of a sentence and the components that make up a sentence.

Parts of a Sentence

A sentence, in the English language, consists of at least a subject and a predicate. In other words, a sentence should have a subject and a verb.

Subject

The subject can be a noun or a pronoun that does the action.

For example:

  • The sun is shining.
  • The sky is clear.
  • Today is Wednesday.

Predicate

The verb is the action performed by the particular subject in the sentence.

For example:

  • I love macaroni and cheese.
  • Merin has a pet.
  • Anusha can draw.

Components of a Sentence

Like a sentence has two parts, it has five main components that make up the structure of a sentence, and they are,

  • Subject
  • Verb
  • Object
  • Complement
  • Adjunct

Now, let us look at each of these components in detail.

Subject

A noun that performs the action in a sentence is considered as the subject. It answers the question ‘who’ or in other words, a subject can be identified by asking the question ‘who’. A subject takes the first place in most cases, especially in declarative or assertive sentences.

For example:

  • The child kept crying.
  • Our school team won the match.
  • My son is in the eighth grade.
  • Hard work pays.
  • No one came to the wedding.

Verb

In every sentence the most important word can be said to be the verb. A verb shows action or activity or work done by the subject. Remember that all verbs including main verbs, helping verbs, stative verbs and action verbs come under this category. Most often, verbs appear immediately after the subject.

For example:

  • Neena is writing a letter.
  • It was too dark.
  • I feel tired.
  • My phone is not working.
  • Tarun’s dog ran away.

Object

An object is a noun or pronoun that receives the action done by the subject. Objects are of two types and they are,

  • Direct Object
  • Indirect Object
Direct Object

A noun or pronoun that receives the action directly is the direct object in the sentence. It answers the question ‘what’. Direct objects mostly appear immediately after the verb and are the primary objects in the sentence.

For example:

  • Harry bought a new car.
  • My mom made a cake.
  • I met my friend.
  • She knows all the songs.
  • We watched a movie.
Indirect Object

An indirect object is a noun or pronoun that is a secondary object. It can be identified by asking the question ‘whom’. When there is an indirect object in a sentence, it is mostly placed after the verb and before the direct object.

For example:

  • Vandhana gave Keerthana a cake.
  • My mom bought me a new dress.
  • I gave him a chocolate.
  • They gave us coffee with breakfast.
  • He lent his friend a pen.
Complement

The words required to complete the meaning of a sentence can be referred to as the complement of the sentence. A complement can be an adjective, a name, a position or a profession.

For example:

  • It grew dark.
  • He is a dentist.
  • That’s her dog, Bruno.

Complements are further divided into two types based on which component it speaks about. The two types of complement are,

  • Subject Complement
  • Object Complement
Subject Complement

The complement which expresses the quality or identity or condition of the subject is called Subject Complement.

For example:

  • She is a doctor.
  • I am Sindhu.
  • Nandhu is clever.
  • The students are very excited.
  • My brother is a teacher.
Object Complement

The complement which expresses the quality or identity or condition of an object is called Object Complement.

For example:

  • They made her angry.
  • The students elected Sreya the class leader.
  • They named their daughter, Thara.
  • Marley met her friend, Ryan.
  • Nobody found the movie interesting.

Adjunct

An adjunct is a word or a phrase that gives more information about an action, an event, a quality and so on. In short, it can be said that these words can include adverbs and adverb clauses. Adjuncts can be identified by asking questions ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘how often’ and ‘to what extent’. When using adjuncts, keep in mind that adjuncts can be used in the beginning, middle or end of the sentence and that there can be more than one adjunct in a sentence.

Take a look at the following examples to understand how adjuncts can be used.

  • Yesterday, we met at the park.
  • He is very tired.
  • Due to his ill-health, he could not come home for Christmas.
  • My father reads the newspaper everyday.
  • This workout routine is extremely exhausting.

The Different Sentence Structures in English Grammar

In English grammar, there are a number of sentence structures that you can use to make your speech or writing sound or look a lot more organised, interesting and professional. Some of the commonly used sentence structures are as follows.

  • Subject + Verb (SV)
  • Subject + Verb + Object (SVO)
  • Subject + Verb + Complement (SVC)
  • Subject + Verb + Adjunct (SVA)
  • Subject + Verb + Object + Complement (SVOC)
  • Subject + Verb + Object + Adjunct (SVOA)
  • Subject + Verb + Indirect Object + Direct Object (SVIODO)
  • Adjunct + Subject + Verb + Complement (ASVC)
  • Adjunct + Subject + Verb + Object (ASVO)
  • Adjunct + Subject + Verb + Indirect Object + Direct Object (ASVIODO)
  • Subject + Verb + Adjunct + Adjunct (SVAA)
  • Adjunct + Subject + Verb + Adjunct + Adjunct (ASVAA)

Examples of Sentence Structure

Looking at examples will help you understand how each sentence structure works. So, here are a few examples for you.

SV

  • The stars / are shining.

Subject / Verb

  • The birds / are chirping.

Subject / Verb

  • It / is raining.

Subject / Verb

SVO

  • Children / love / ice creams.

Subject / Verb / Object

  • Noah / does not like / bitter gourd.

Subject / Verb / Object

  • I / have / a pencil.

Subject / Verb / Object

SVC

  • I / am / an Indian.

Subject + Verb + Complement

  • Carol / is / a nurse.

Subject + Verb + Complement

  • My name / is / Gina.

Subject + Verb + Complement

SVA

  • Madhu / reached / early.

Subject / Verb / Adjunct

  • All of us / are leaving / for Tokyo.

Subject / Verb / Adjunct

  • He / went / upstairs.

Subject / Verb / Adjunct

SVOC

  • We / lost / out cat, / Quinny.

Subject / Verb / Object / Complement

  • My friends / make / me / happy.

Subject / Verb / Object / Complement

  • Everyone / found / the book / controversial.

Subject / Verb / Object / Complement

SVOA

  • It / is / my birthday / next month.

Subject / Verb / Object / Adjunct

  • Lakshmi / reached / school / after 9 a.m.

Subject / Verb / Object / Adjunct

  • My brother / plays / football / everyday.

Subject / Verb / Object / Adjunct

SVIODO

  • The Board / offered / me / the job.

Subject / Verb / Indirect Object / Direct Object

  • Rohit / gave / Reshmi / his favourite book.

Subject / Verb / Indirect Object / Direct Object

  • Neetu / bought / herself / a hat.

Subject / Verb / Indirect Object / Direct Object

ASVC

  • Suddenly, / it / grew / dark.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Complement

  • Normally, / the weather / is / good.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Complement

  • Occassionally, / my dog / gets / restless.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Complement

ASVO

  • Last week, / we / celebrated / Holi.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Object

  • Usually, / we / get / a token.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Object

  • Every year, / we / visit / the orphanage.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Object

ASVIODO

  • Today, / the teacher / gave / us / our papers.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Indirect Object / Direct Object

  • Yesterday, / my mom / bought / me / a bicycle.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Indirect Object / Direct Object

  • Every time he comes home, / my brother / gets / my mom / her favourite chocolates.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Indirect Object / Direct Object

SVAA

  • They / go / to work / by bus.

Subject / Verb / Adjunct / Adjunct

  • We / meet / every evening / on the way back home.

Subject / Verb / Adjunct / Adjunct

  • Jancy / went / to the grocery store / last Saturday.

Subject / Verb / Adjunct / Adjunct

ASVAA

  • Normally, / my parents / come / by bus / to Pondicherry.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Adjunct / Adjunct

  • Last year, / my friends and I / went / to Meghalaya / for a month.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Adjunct / Adjunct

  • Usually, / Finn’s parents / would come / to the airport / as soon as his flight lands.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Adjunct / Adjunct

Check Your Understanding of Sentence Structure

Now that you have gone through a number of examples, apply your knowledge to identify the sentence structure of the following sentences. Make sure you split the sentences according to the sentence structure.

1. My dog is acting weird lately.

2. It is getting too cold here.

3. The sky is blue.

4. Every year, the company updates its registry.

5. Brittany bought me a pair of shoes.

6. Nobody knows the answer.

7. The movie was great.

8. I will come home as soon as I finish work.

9. In September, she will be travelling to New York.

10. My brother’s phone is not working.

Check if you got it right from the answers given below.

1. My dog / is acting / weird / lately.

Subject / Verb / Complement / Adjunct (SVCA)

2. It / is getting / too /cold / here.

Subject / Verb / Adjunct / Complement / Adjunct (SVACA)

3. The sky / is / blue.

Subject / Verb / Complement (SVC)

4. Every year, / the company / updates / its registry.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Object (ASVO)

5. Brittany / bought / me / a pair of shoes.

Subject / Verb / Indirect Object / Direct Object (SVIODO)

6. Nobody / knows / the answer.

Subject / Verb / Object (SVO)

7. The movie / was / great.

Subject / Verb / Complement (SVC)

8. I / will come / home / as soon as I finish work.

Subject / Verb / Adjunct / Adjunct (SVAA)

9. In September, / she / will be travelling / to New York.

Adjunct / Subject / Verb / Adjunct (ASVA)

10. My brother’s phone / is not working.

Subject / Verb (SV)

Frequently Asked Questions on Sentence Structure

What is sentence structure?

Sentence structure is a grammatical component that tells you exactly where and how each component of a sentence should be placed in order to blend and make sense. The Collins Dictionary defines sentence structure as “the grammatical arrangement of words in sentences.”

What are the parts of a sentence?

A sentence has two parts namely, a subject and a predicate. For example: In the sentence, I watched a movie, ‘I’ is the subject and ‘watched a movie’ is the predicate.

What are the components of a sentence?

There are five main components that make up the structure of a sentence, and they are,

  • Subject
  • Verb
  • Object
  • Complement
  • Adjunct

Give some examples of sentence structure.

SVO – The students completed their assignments.
SVC – My mom is a teacher.
ASVO – Last week, we watched a movie.
ASVA – Normally, I don’t go to the hospital.
SVOAA – The boys were playing football on the turf all day.

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