• COMPLETE SENTENCES

    Sources for this section: Basic English Revisited
    Lively Art of Writing

    As you analyze the work of various authors, you will discover that the following rules may be ignored in order to achieve specific effects. However, for most assignments these rules apply.

    A SENTENCE is made up of one or more words that express a complete thought. A sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation point.

    A SUBJECT is the part of a sentence about which something is said.

    A PREDICATE says something about what the subject is or is doing.

    The SUBJECT and PREDICATE must agree in number and person.

    COMPOUND SUBJECTS connected with and usually require a plural verb unless the nouns so joined are considered one unit.

      Beauty and brains are sometimes found together.
      Macaroni and cheese is our favorite meal.

    COMPOUND SUBJECTS joined by or or nor may require either a singular or a plural verb. Singular subjects joined by or or nor require a singular verb. When one of the subjects joined by or or nor is singular and one is plural, the verb agrees with the subject closer to the verb.

      Neither Jack nor Bill is going to school.
      Neither Mr. Jones nor his students are able to find
      the book.

    The INDEFINITE PRONOUNS either, each, neither, one, everyone, someone, another, anybody, everybody, nobody, somebody, and everything are singular and require a singular verb.

      Everybody is invited.
      Each of the boys is required to attend.

    The INDEFINITE PRONOUNS all, any, half, most, none, and some may be singular or plural depending on the number of the noun in the prepositional phrase.

      Half of the bottles were missing.
      Half of the bottle was gone.

    COLLECTIVE NOUNS (faculty, committee, team, congress, species, crowd, army, pair, assembly, squad) take a singular verb when they refer to a group as a unit but a plural verb when they refer to individuals within the group.

      The faculty is united in its efforts.
      (Faculty refers to a group)
      The faculty are required to turn in their keys.
      (Faculty refers to individuals in a group)

    A PRONOUN must agree in number, person, and gender with its antecedent.

      John brought his dog to school.
      John and Bill brought their dogs to school.
      One of the boats is missing its oar.
      A person must wait his turn.
      Either John or Bill will bring his frisbee.
      Neither the manager nor the players wanted to wear
      their new uniforms.

      (NOTE: When compound subjects joined by or or nor differ in number, the pronoun agrees with the closer antecedent.)

    A PHRASE or FRAGMENT is a group of related words that lacks a subject, predicate, or a complete thought. A phrase is not a sentence.

      the basketball team
      running to catch the
      train
    (lacks a predicate)
    (lacks a subject and predicate)
    A CLAUSE is a group of related words that has both a subject and a predicate.

    An independent clause expresses a complete thought
    and can stand as a sentence.

      I got ready to go.

    A dependent clause does not express a complete thought
    and is not a sentence.

      Every time I get ready
      to go
    (Needs additional information to form a complete thought and is therefore a fragment.)

    A RUN-ON sentence results when two sentences are fused with inadequate punctuation or without an appropriate conjunction.

      The basketball players won the game but lost the only tournament that anyone cared about and came home late at night and no one was waiting to cheer for their victory.


    A Guide to Communication: The Grosse Pointe Public Schools Style Sheet
    © The Grosse Pointe Public School System, 2000