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A sentence is an assemblage of words so arranged as to convey a determinate
sense or meaning, in other words, to express a complete thought or idea.
No matter how short, it must contain one finite verb and a subject or agent
to direct the action of the verb.
"Birds fly;" "Fish swim;" "Men walk;"--are sentences.
A sentence always contains two parts, something spoken about and something
said about it. The word or words indicating what is spoken about form what
is called the subject and the word or words indicating what is said about
it form what is called the predicate.
In the sentences given, birds, fish and men are the subjects, while
fly, swim and walk are the predicates.
There are three kinds of sentences, simple, compound and complex.
The simple sentence expresses a single thought and consists of one
subject and one predicate, as, "Man is mortal."
A compound sentence consists of two or more simple sentences of equal
importance the parts of which are either expressed or understood, as,
"The men work in the fields and the women work in the household," or "The
men work in the fields and the women in the household" or "The men and
women work in the fields and in the household."
A complex sentence consists of two or more simple sentences so combined
that one depends on the other to complete its meaning; as; "When he
returns, I shall go on my vacation." Here the words, "when he returns"
are dependent on the rest of the sentence for their meaning.
A clause is a separate part of a complex sentence, as "when he returns"
in the last example.
A phrase consists of two or more words without a finite verb.
Without a finite verb we cannot affirm anything or convey an idea,
therefore we can have no sentence.
Infinitives and participles which are the infinite parts of the verb
cannot be predicates. "I looking up the street" is not a sentence, for it
is not a complete action expressed. When we hear such an expression as "A
dog running along the street," we wait for something more to be added,
something more affirmed about the dog, whether he bit or barked or fell
dead or was run over.
Thus in every sentence there must be a finite verb to limit the subject.
When the verb is transitive, that is, when the action cannot happen
without affecting something, the thing affected is called the object.
Thus in "Cain killed Abel" the action of the killing affected Abel. In
"The cat has caught a mouse," mouse is the object of the catching.
Next: ARRANGEMENT OF WORDS IN A SENTENCE