Topic 23 – Sentence structure in english: Affirmatives, questions, negatives and exclamations

Topic 23 – Sentence structure in english: Affirmatives, questions, negatives and exclamations

According to Gardener, a sentence is a word or a set of words followed by a pause and revealling an intelligible purpose”.
The subject is the part of the sentence that determines concord: a singular subject requires a singular predicate, and a plural subject requires a plural predicate.
Agentive subject: the animate being causing the action of the verb.
Instrumental subject: it denotes the instrument by means of which the action of the verb occurs.
Affected subject: it receives the action of the verb, as  the object usually does.
fall, is, die
Recipient subject: it receives the object of the verb, with verbs such as have, own, possess… and see, hear… (look and listen require an agentive subject)he owns two houses in the center of the city e saw the accident.
Locative and temporal subjects. the subject denotes the place or time in which the verb occurs.
the place was crowded with people, tomorrow is my birthday.
eventive subjects: the subject refers to an event.
the concert is at ten.
empty subjects: the subject it, in the cases in which has got no semantic content.
it is raining.
It is a verb phrase, which shows concord with the subject. It may be divided into several parts: verb, complements, objects, adverbials, vocative.
Verbs can be divided in two large groups: intensive verbs and extensive verbs.
Intensive verbs appear in sentences with a subject complement

she became better.

Extensive verbs can be divided in intransitive verbs: the verb doesn´t take either complements or objects.

it rained yesterday transitive verbs: the verb takes a direct object. he ate an apple

ditransitive verbs: the verb takes a direct and indirect object


It is a noun phrase or clause.

It normally follows the subject and the verb

It takes the position of subject in the passive voice.

Direct object

Affected object. It doesn´t cause the action denoted by the verb, but it is directly involved in some other way.

Effected object: It exist only by virtue of the action denoted by the verb.

Write, build, make, invent, imagine, dream…

Cognate objects: it repeats at least partially the meaning of the verb: sing a song

Locative object: it denotes the place where the action happens:

He jumped the fence, he turned the corner, he crossed the sea.

Objects with verbs of general meaning: have, do, make, take, give…

Indirect object:

It is the recipient, an element implicated passively by the action of the verb.

He gave her a present.


Subject complement: it is an attribute of the subject. It can occur with stative verbs (current attribute)

They are friends, they seem tired and with dynamic verbs (resulting objects)