It’s easy to know whether the string of words that you see is a sentence or not. Firstly, a sentence must have a subject at the beginning of the sentence, and a verb immediately after. Secondly, a sentence must convey a complete idea, and it makes sense. Compare these two, and see which is a sentence, and which is not:
- I have been teaching English.
- Since I started teaching in 1990.
Example #1 is a sentence because it begins with a subject “I” and a verb “have”. Therefore, it conveys a complete idea.
On the contrary, Example #2 begins with a preposition “since”. Although it has a subject and a verb, the whole thing doesn’t make sense. It appears to be “hanging”. An error like this is not noticeable because we don’t speak in complete sentences all the time. When someone verbally asks you a question, you’d promptly reply. For instance:
- Q: How long have you been a teacher?
A: Since 1990.
- Q: Why do you look so sad?
A: Because I didn’t get a promotion.
- Q: Where are you now?
A: At the post office buying stamps.
The statements in blue are not sentences. In a conversation, people do not correct your mistakes because they know what you mean. It makes sense at that point, and their questions are answered. That’s why it is easier to speak English than to learn its mechanics and to write. Nevertheless, learning to write a flawless sentence is vital especially if you’re a person who has to use a lot of the language in your daily routines.
Lessons covered in this blog:
Click on any of the following links to take you to that lesson.
- Subject-verb Agreement
- Dependent & Independent Clauses
- Sentence Patterns
- Faulty Modifiers
- Transition Signals (Introduction)
- Transition Signals in Use