Everyday English for Health and Social Care and Education Support 2
Everyday English for Health and Social Care and Education Support 2

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Everyday English for Health and Social Care and Education Support 2

2.2 Sentences

Sentences are the basic building blocks of writing and in this section you look at what a sentence is. This will help you use grammar and punctuation correctly. Confidence with grammar and punctuation will allow you to create different kinds of sentences and make your writing interesting to read.

A sentence needs to make sense on its own. In order to do so, it must include a subject (who or what the sentence is about) and a verb (what the person or thing is doing). The subject and the verb must make sense together. Have a look at some of the examples below.

The cat sat on the mat.

In this sentence, ‘the cat’ is the subject and ‘sat’ is the verb. It is a full sentence as the subject and verb agree and make sense together.

What is the problem?

In this sentence, ‘is’ is the verb and ‘the problem’ is the subject. It is a full sentence.

The information on the website.

This is not a full sentence. It does not include a verb and is therefore incomplete.

Activity 10 Spot the sentences

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Look at the four short texts below. Select the ones you think are proper sentences.

a. 

The question is one of some complexity, especially regarding.


b. 

What’s that?


c. 

Then there is.


d. 

I don’t know.


The correct answers are b and d.

Discussion

Two of these statements are sentences:

  • What’s that?

  • I don’t know.

Each has a subject and a verb, and each makes sense on its own.

The other two are not sentences. They are incomplete and do not make sense on their own.

  • The question is one of some complexity, especially regarding.

  • Then there is.

There are three different types of sentence:

  • simple
  • compound
  • complex.

Simple sentences

These contain only one idea. Here are some examples:

  • Sammy is 36 years old.
  • He works at a hospital.
  • He works in the Housekeeping Department.
  • He is a supervisor.
  • He enjoys his work.
  • Sometimes he finds it stressful.

Compound sentences

These are simple sentences joined together. For example:

  • Sammy is 36 years old and he works at a hospital.
  • He works in the Housekeeping Department where he is a supervisor.
  • He enjoys his work but sometimes he finds it stressful.

The words used to join the sentences are called conjunctions. Here are some examples of conjunctions:

  • and
  • where
  • but
  • when
  • so
  • because
  • since
  • while.

Activity 11 Making compound sentences

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Use conjunctions to combine these simple sentences into compound sentences.

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Discussion

Your answers may be slightly different depending on which conjunctions you chose, but each of your compound sentences should have a conjunction and the sentences should make sense.

  • Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, but he lived most of his life in London.
  • Dickens also lived in France where he wrote one of his most popular books.
  • Dickens died in 1870 and he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Complex sentences

These combine a number of ideas, not all of equal weight. Look at the following sentence.

  • I enjoy my job although it can be quite hard work.

This sentence has one main idea and one additional (or extra) idea.

  • ‘I enjoy my job’ is the main idea; ‘it can be quite hard work’ is an extra idea.

Now look at another example of a complex sentence.

  • Sammy, who is 36 years old, enjoys his work as a supervisor in the Housekeeping Department at a hospital but sometimes finds it stressful.

‘Sammy enjoys his work’ and ‘sometimes finds it stressful’ are the main ideas. The other ideas – that he is 36 and works as a supervisor in the Housekeeping Department at a hospital – are extra, less important ideas.

Note that the commas are used here to separate the less important ideas from the more important ideas. For more information on this and some other uses of commas, go to the OpenLearn course Everyday English 1 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Activity 12 Making complex sentences

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Combine the simple sentences below into complex sentences. Treat the idea in bold as the main idea. You may also want to add some words, leave some words out or change the order of words.

Hint Be careful to keep the meaning the same as the original.

Peter’s father was a very good public speaker. He was rather quiet in private life.

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On the first day they set out late. Then they lost their way briefly. Even so they covered a lot of ground.

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Charles Babbage wrote a consumer guide to life assurance. He invented an early form of the computer.

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Discussion

Compare your answers with the ones below. The main ideas are in bold. You may have slightly different answers depending on how you combined the simple sentences, but each of your complex sentences should have a main idea that can be separated from the other, less important ideas.

  • Peter’s father, although rather quiet in private live, was a very good public speaker.

  • Despite setting out late and briefly losing their way, they covered a lot of ground on that first day.

  • Charles Babbage, who also wrote a consumer guide to life assurance, invented an early form of the computer.

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