We learn that a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop or exclamation point. Many students do just that but with fragmented expressions that make no sense. This happens with students at all levels of education and may occur because they never really grasped the lessons on Word Order and the Parts of Speech at an early stage.
They begin sentences with “when”, “while” and “if”, write a statement that depends on another statement to make sense, but then put a full stop where it should not have one. They even answer questions beginning with “that”, “because”, “as”, and “to” in the same way they are used in the middle of sentences.
Yes, a sentence can be one word as in “Help!” or many sentences joined with words such as “and”, “or”, “but”, and “because”. This article however intends to help you master your writing skills at the most basic level and still obtain a perfect score in sentence construction in your paper. Here is a guide with 5 tips that would help you to write a perfect sentence at all times.
5 tips for you to write a perfect sentence
1. Know the structure of a sentence
Keeping in mind what is the structure of a complete English sentence, would make you more aware of what you write on paper. You will use a full stop when your sentence expresses a complete idea. Then, you will start the next idea with a capital letter and make it easy to read your paper.
Subject Verb Object
A sentence is made up of a subject, a verb and an object. The subject is the doer, the verb is either an action, a link or a help, and the object is the receiver in the sentence.
The verb connects the subject to the object in 3 ways.
1. The verb is an action that shows the subject does something to the object.
e.g. Mark walks to school.
“Mark” is the subject, “walks” is the action verb and “to school” is the object.
2. The verb is a link that shows the subject is in a state of being with the object.
e.g. Mark is walking to school.
“Mark” is the subject, “is” is the linking verb and “to school” is the object.
3. The verb is a help to the action of the subject in relation to the object.
e.g. Mark will walk to school.
“Mark” is the subject, “will” is the helping verb that changes the tense of Mark’s action, and “to school” is the object.
2. Be comfortable with parts of speech
The subject, verb and object in a sentence are made up of 8 main parts of speech and other supporting ones.
The 8 main parts of speech are:
- Nouns – names of persons, places, animals and things
- Pronouns – replace nouns
- Verbs – show action, link or help
- Adverbs – modify other words
- Adjectives – describe nouns
- Conjunctions – join nouns and clauses
- Prepositions – show the relationship between nouns
- Interjections – express exclamations and utterances
Other parts of speech are:
Article – a, an
Determiners – the, this, that, these, those
Quantifiers – some, few, more, most, many
Use the parts of speech appropriately to fit the subject, verb and object in your sentence.
3. Pay attention to subordinating conjunctions
Once you start a sentence with “if”, “although”, “when”, “while”, or “because”, you have created a subordinate clause with these conjunctions. This means that what you are about to say is dependent on a main clause to make sense.
Saying, “While walking down the street” prepares your listener for an event that took place. If you use a full stop after the word “street”, then your sentence will be incomplete and the examiner will deduct marks for fragmentation. Pay attention to your use of these subordinating conjunctions.
4. Answer a question with a sentence
Many students are known to rewrite a question and then start the answer with “Because”. Avoid this as your examiner will deduct marks for poor sentence construction. The common way to answer a question properly is to restructure the words to form a sentence.
You can do this by placing your answer at the end of the sentence or at the beginning of the sentence. You can summarise a wordy question with one word to make your answer more concise so the focus can be on your answer. Here are 3 examples of answering a question properly:
QUESTION: What are the seven elements of a Narrative Essay?
Answer 1: The seven elements of a Narrative Essay are characters, setting, plot, conflict, action, language and structure.
Answer 2: Characters, setting, plot, conflict, action, language and structure are the seven elements of a Narrative Essay.
Answer 3: A Narrative Essay consists of characters, setting, plot, conflict, action, language and structure.
5. Master a simple sentence before compound and complex
When it comes to expression, clarity is most important. Many persons believe that speaking and writing using compound or complex sentences makes them sound more intelligent and impressive. The truth is, if you do not use them properly, you only annoy your listeners and readers because they do not know what you are trying to say.
Try mastering a simple sentence before anything else. This is a sentence that includes one independent clause with a subject, a verb and an object.
e.g. Mike plays football. Jack plays tennis. They attend each other’s game to offer support. When their games clash, they are unable to offer support or be supported.
A compound sentence has two or more independent clauses joined by conjunctions. This is a way to group similar ideas into one sentence.
e.g. Mike plays football and Jack plays tennis. They attend each other’s game to offer support. When their games clash, they are unable to offer support or be supported.
A complex sentence consists of independent clauses and subordinating clauses. This structure must be handled skilfully with conjunctions and punctuation.
e.g. Mike plays football and Jack plays tennis, they attend each other’s game to offer support, but when their games clash, they are unable to offer support or be supported.
Improve your writing skills by following these 5 tips to construct a perfect sentence. Focus on expressing your ideas in the simplest way you can with a subject, a verb and an object before filling your paper with other types of sentences. Master your sentence construction with plenty of practise and watch your grades improve drastically.