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English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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4.1 Simple sentences and independent clauses

A clause is a group of words that contains:

  • a subject – the person, thing or situation that does an action or that is described
  • a predicate – information about the subject.

A simple sentence consists of one independent clause that ends with a full stop. This clause must be independent, that is, it must express a complete thought and make sense on its own.

These are two basic patterns frequently followed by independent clauses.

Pattern A

The clause is about a person or a thing (the subject) that does an action as in the following example:

The children slept.

Clause
SubjectPredicate
The children slept

In this clause, the subject is the noun group ‘the children’. The action carried out by the subject is expressed by the verb slept.

The predicate is what the clause says about the subject. It always includes at least a verb or a verb group. In this case the predicate only includes the verb slept.

In pattern A, the predicate may also contain an object, as in the following example:

This essay will consider the differences between public and private space.

Clause
SubjectPredicate
Verb groupObject
This essay will consider the differences between public and private space

In this clause, the subject is the noun group ‘This essay’. The action carried out by the subject is expressed by the verb group ‘will consider’. The object is a noun or noun group. It is the thing or person on which the action is performed.

Clauses following pattern A can also contain two predicates as in this example:

The residents have their own rooms and keep many personal possessions.

Clause
SubjectPredicate 1

Connecting word

Predicate 2
The residentshave their own roomsandkeep many personal possessions

It is important to know that not all verbs can be followed by an object. For example, it is incorrect to use the verbs go or sleep in the sentences ‘the children slept in the bed’ or ‘I went to the cinema’. These verbs are called intransitive verbs.

Verbs that can be followed by an object, such as consider, eat or write, are called transitive verbs. You can find out if a verb is transitive or intransitive in most dictionaries. When you use an unfamiliar verb, knowing if it is transitive or intransitive can help you use it within a sentence

Pattern B

The clause is about a state or a feeling experienced by the subject as in the following example:

The story is very different in poorly run residential homes.

Clause
SubjectPredicate
The storyis very different in poorly run residential homes

Clauses following this pattern can also contain two predicates as in this example:

The residents are happy and feel safe.

Clause
SubjectPredicate 1

Connecting

word

Predicate 2
The residentsare happyandfeel safe