IELTS Basic Grammar - Sentences

A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought. Sentences always have a subject and a verb.

subject                  verb
She                     is working.
He                       is reading.
The children     are playing.
They                   are singing.


Four Kinds of Sentence

A declarative sentence makes a statement.A declarative sentence ends with a period.

" It is raining."
" Tom likes football."
" The school bell was ringing."
" The children are playing with the dog."
" Topeka is in Kansas. "

An interrogative sentence asks a question.An interrogative sentence ends with a question mark (?) instead of a period.
" Where are my keys?"
" Why is the sky blue?"
" Who is talking to the teacher?"
" Is this the way to the ice skating rink? "

An exclamatory sentence makes a very strong statement called an exclamation. It shows a strong feeling such as surprise or anger.An exclamatory sentence ends with an exclamation point (!) instead of a period.
" What a kind thing to do!"
" How beautiful she is!"
" The silly boy! "

An imperative sentence gives an order.An imperative sentence can end with an exclamation point (!) if the order is very firm.
" Ask Tom to come and see me."
" Don’t tell me lies."
" Please leave."
" Go to your room!"
" Speak up! "

Sentences with Objects
The subject of a sentence often does something to another person or thing. The person or thing that receives the action of the subject is called the object of the verb. Verbs that have objects are called transitive verbs.
Here are some sentences with transitive verbs.

Subject           transitive             verb object
Dad                is reading               a book.
Anna              is sewing                a dress for her doll.

Verbs with Two Objects
Some verbs have two objects. Look at the sentence below.
Sam gave Anna a present.
The thing that Sam gives is ‘a present’, so a present is the direct object of the verb. But there is another object: ‘Anna’. ‘Anna’ is the person that receives the present, so Anna is the indirect object of the verb. Many verbs have both direct and indirect objects. Here are some examples.

Verbs with No Object
Some verbs don’t have an object. A verb that does not have an object is called an intransitive verb. Here are some sentences with intransitive verbs.
" Mr. Park usually walks to work."
" Anna talks a lot in class."
" The sun is shining. It is snowing. "

Simple Sentences
A clause is a group of words that contains one subject and one verb. A sentence that consists of one clause is called a simple sentence.

" The girls are playing baseball."
" Sally found a good hiding place."
" I am eating my breakfast."

Compound Sentences
A compound sentence contains two clauses joined by a conjunction such as and, or, but or so. Look at these examples. Notice that there are two verbs, one on each side of the conjunction.

" Some people are always happy and some people are always sad."
" She opened the bag and took out a book."
" Do you want coffee or would you prefer lemonade?"
" Is that a bird or is it a plane? "

Conditional Sentences
To talk about things that are possible, you often use if in a sentence. A sentence with if is called a conditional sentence.

" If it rains tomorrow, we shall not go to the beach. "

In the if-clause, use a verb in the simple present tense. In the main clause, use shall or will and an infinitive.

" If there’s no rice in the cupboard, we’ll buy some more."
" If we don’t work hard, we’ll never learn."
" If we leave now, we’ll arrive on time. "

You may also put the main clause before the if-clause.

" We’ll play indoors if it rains."
" You’ll get sick if you don’t eat good food."
" Sam will do well in his piano recital if he practices regularly."

Positive and Negative Sentences
A positive sentence tells you about something that exists or something that is happening.

" I like ice cream."
" Michael is my brother.
" The train leaves at five o’clock."
" I’m feeling really tired. "
" May I sit here?"
" Can you ride a bike? "

A negative sentence contains the word not or another negative word. Negative sentences tell you that something does not exist or is not happening.

" I’m not very good at math."
" Tom isn’t as tall as Alan."
" We didn’t hear you shout at us."
" Meera hasn’t read the Harry Potter books."
" People can’t see very well in the dark. "
" Don’t you like pizza? "

There are two kinds of questions: yes or no questions and question-word questions.

yes or no questions
When you ask a yes or no question, you want the answer yes or the answer no. Use the verbs be, have and do along with helping verbs such as can, will and should when you ask these questions. Here are some examples of yes or no questions, with answers.

Is this your seat?             May I sit here?
Yes.                                    Yes.
Can you ride a bike?       Don’t you like pizza?
No.                                      No.
Do you like swimming?  Are we late?
Yes.                                     No.

In questions, the helping verb comes before the subject. The other verb comes after the subject. The verb "be" also comes before the subject when it is an ordinary verb rather than a helping verb.

Dad is ill today.                                  Is Dad ill today?
She has finished her homework.  Has she finished her homework?
The cat doesn’t like noise.              Doesn’t the cat like noise?

Question-word questions
Use the question words what, which, who (sometimes whom), whose, when, where and how to ask for information. The verbs "be, have and do, and helping verbs such as can, will and should" are also used in questions.

The helping verb comes before the subject, as it does in yes or no questions. Here are some examples. Again, the helping verb is printed in bold and the subject is printed in colour.

" What is your name?"
" What date is it today?"
" Which boy is your brother?"
" Which house do you live in?"
" Who is the boy next to Alan?"
" Who (or Whom) did he ask?"
" Whose book is this?"
" When can I come to visit you? "

Sometimes the wh-word itself is the subject of the sentence. In this case, don’t use do to form questions.

" Who wants to come with me?"
" What caused the accident?"
" Which is the fastest car? "

Question Tags
Sometimes people finish what they are saying with a short question. Why do they do this? Because they want to know if the person they are speaking to agrees with them. This short question is called a question tag.

» " The weather is lovely today, isn’t it? "

The main part of the sentence is positive, but the question tag is negative. You expect the answer to a negative question tag to be yes. For example:

» “The weather is lovely today, isn’t it?” “Yes, it is.”

Use a helping verb and the subject of the sentence to make the question tag. Notice that the subject has been replaced by a pronoun in the example sentences. The pronoun in the question tag refers to the subject printed in colour.

" Tom is older than you, isn’t he?"
" Sally has got a dog, hasn’t she?"
" Anna and I can go by train, can’t we? "

If the main part of the sentence has I am in it, use 'aren’t' I in the question tag.

" I’m your best friend, aren’t I?"
" I’m taller than Sumiko, aren’t I? "

If the main part of the sentence is negative, the question tag is positive. You expect the answer to a positive question tag to be no.

" These questions aren’t very difficult, are they?"
" You haven’t read this book, have you?"
" Peter isn’t as tall as I am, is he? "

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Shivani Mishra
I am practising English for self-development.