Sentence: Definition, Types, Structure, Features And Characteristics

We explain what a sentence is, its structure and what is the subject and the predicate. Also, the types of sentences and their characteristics.

What is a sentence?

A sentence is a unit of meaning composed of different ordered words that express an idea or message. It is the most basic fragment of speech and its objective is to communicate, so it must always make sense (within a context) and coherence. For example: The children will visit the show this afternoon.

What characterizes a sentence is the thematic unit , since the words that constitute it must refer to a specific topic. Every sentence contains a complete thought, that is, it has a meaning in itself and can be found in writing (it can be recognized by starting with a capital letter and ending with a period) or by being formulated orally.

There are different types of sentences depending on what you want to communicate. In most cases, sentences have an internal division between subject (element that indicates whoever carries out the action) and predicate (element that indicates the action that is carried out and its context). There are very short sentences, of only three or four words , and longer sentences.

Characteristics of a sentence

Some of the main characteristics of a sentence are:

  • It is made up of a set of words.
  • It makes sense and it works on its own.
  • It is used to communicate an idea or convey a message.
  • It is used both orally and in writing.
  • It can be part of a larger structure, such as a paragraph or text .
  • It can be bimembre (when it is formed by a subject and a predicate) or unimembre (when it cannot be divided into a subject and a predicate).
  • Varies in extent.
  • It is made up of different elements that fulfill a certain function within the sentence.

Types of words in a sentence

Sentences are constructed from words , which differ from each other according to their characteristics and form different grammatical classes or categories. In addition, according to the role they fulfill, these words have a syntactic function within the sentence.

The main types of words that can be found within a sentence are:

  • Nouns . They are words that are used to name material and immaterial things. There are different types, according to what they designate, such as common nouns (airplane, cow, blackboard), own (Marcelo, Valeria, Madrid), abstract (poverty, passion, fear), collective (herd, library, pack), among others. For example: Marcelo will travel to Madrid on a plane to attend a congress of psychology .
  • Adjectives . They are words that accompany the noun and express qualities or characteristics. Adjectives can be qualifiers (big, sweet, red), possessive (mine, yours, ours), indefinite (all, several, a lot), demonstrative (these, that, those), numerals (thirty, double, fifth), between others. For example: After a long time the twenty workers were able to return to the old factory.
  • Pronouns . They are words that are used to replace a name or noun, which has already been named. They can be personal (you, she, me), demonstrative (that, that, those), possessive (mine, yours, ours), relative (whose, which, who), indefinite (none, all, many), among others . For example: None of those bags are mine , I think they are yours .
  • Articles . They are words that accompany the noun and agree with it in gender and number. They can be determined (the, the, the, the), indeterminate (one, one, ones, ones) or invariable (it). For example: A teacher will be in charge of guiding the students to a new adventure.
  • Adverbs . They are invariable words (without gender or number) that complement or add information about a verb, an adjective or other adverbs. They can be of quantity (much, nothing, little), of way (well, well, perfectly), of place (here, there, forward), of time (today, never, now), of affirmation (yes, of course, obvious ), denial (no, never, never), among others. For example: It has been a long time since we had a day as perfect as today .
  • Verbs . They are words that are used to express actions and agree in person and number with the subject of the sentence. For example: The painters finished the mural and the manager inaugurated it that same afternoon.
  • Prepositions . They are words that are used to establish a relationship between two words in the sentence. The prepositions are: to, before, under, fit, with, against, from, from, during, in, between, towards, to, through, for, by, according to, without, so, on, after, versus, via. For example: The dog of my aunt went out to the street without a leash and was lost for three hours.
  • Conjunctions . They are words that are used in a sentence to join words or propositions and can be coordinating (joining elements with the same grammatical category) or subordinating (joining elements with different grammatical hierarchy). Some examples of conjunctions are: y, o, u, e, but, although, because, since, despite, as well as, that is, among others. For example: Javier and Paula returned home because the rain prevented them from setting up the tent, so they will return to the mountains next weekend.

Types of sentences

Types of sentences A sentence is made up of a set of words.

Sentences can be classified in various ways.

According to its structure:

  • Bimembres prayers . They are sentences formed by subject and predicate. For example: The spectators sat in their seats.
  • Single sentences . They are sentences formed by a single member and cannot be divided into subject and predicate. For example: What a nice day!

According to its complexity:

  • Simple sentences . They are sentences that are composed of a single verb, which refers to a single subject. For example: She will run the marathon.
  • Compound sentences . They are sentences formed by two or more conjugated verbs that refer to two different subjects. For example: She will run the marathon and I will wait for her at the finish line.

According to the subject:

  • Personal prayers . They are sentences with a specific subject. This subject can be explicit or tacit. For example: Athletes have until tomorrow to deliver the certificates.
  • Impersonal sentences . They are sentences in which none of the elements that make them up is the subject nor is it omitted. For example: There is a lot of noise.

According to the voice of the verb:

  • Active prayers . They are sentences in which the subject executes a verb directly. For example: The president will be in charge of delivering the medals.
  • Passive sentences . They are sentences in which the subject receives the action passively and is executed by an agent complement. For example: The medals will be awarded by the president.

According to the intention of the speaker:

  • Affirmative sentences. They are sentences that certify a fact or information. For example: The race will end in five minutes.
  • Interrogative sentences . They are sentences in which the speaker asks a question that is expressed between question marks. For example: Where can tickets be purchased?
  • Negative sentences . They are sentences that deny some fact, circumstance or statement. For example: There are no more tickets for today’s race.
  • Exclamatory sentences . They are sentences that indicate emphasis or express something between exclamation marks. For example: What a disgrace!

The structure of a sentence

The structure of a sentence A noun phrase can be made up of one or more nouns.

Bimembre sentences are made up of two main parts:

  • A noun phrase or subject . It is made up of one or more nouns which, in turn, can be explicit or implicit. For example: Passengers must present their passport at the window.
  • A verb phrase or predicate . It is made up of one or more verbs (explicit or implicit) and elements that accompany and modify the verb. For example: Passengers must present their passport at the window .

Each phrase, be it nominal or verbal (subject or predicate), must have a nucleus, which has a certain gender (feminine or masculine) and number (plural or singular). In the subject, the nuclei are usually nouns and in the predicate they are usually verbs and, in both cases, they are accompanied by elements that modify or complement them.

The subject of a sentence

The subject of the sentence is the part of the bimembre sentence in which it is spoken of the one who carries out the action . The subject can be found before or after the predicate and can be:

  • Express subject . That subject that is explicitly mentioned in the sentence. For example: The teacher was late for school.
  • Tacit subject . That subject that is not explicitly named in the sentence but that can be recognized by the context. For example: We arrived on time for the exam (unspoken subject: us ).

Every subject in a sentence is made up of a nucleus , which is the central word of the subject, and which can be a noun or a pronoun. The subject is simple when it is made up of a single nucleus. For example: Julian got the best grade in his class. And it is compound, when it is made up of two or more nuclei. For example: Julián and Micaela should not take the recovery.

In addition, there are certain elements in the subject that modify or provide complementary data of the nucleus. These elements are:

  • Direct modifier . It is a pronoun, article or adjective that modifies or qualifies the core of the subject. For example: The black minute book was left on the table.
  • Indirect modifier . It is a subordinate nexus that modifies the nucleus of the subject through a preposition. For example: The black minute book was left on the table.
  • Aposition . It is a word or noun phrase that complements the core of the subject. It is usually included between commas. For example: The black minute book, which must be delivered to the board of directors , was left on the table.

One-sentence predicate

The predicate of a sentence is that part of a bimembre sentence in which something is expressed about the subject and can be verbal or non-verbal. For example: We always arrive early .

The predicate can be:

  • Non-verbal predicate . It does not contain a verb and there is usually a comma in its place. For example: The movie, interesting . It can be nominal, when the nucleus is a noun or adjective; adverbial, when the nucleus is an adverb; or verboidal, when the nucleus is a verb. In cases where there is no comma, it is a single sentence.
  • Verbal predicate . It details the action carried out by the subject, so it always contains the verb (in the past, present or future) which is the nucleus. The predicate is simple when the sentence contains only one verb. For example: The brothers went to the beach that summer . On the other hand, the predicate is compound when the sentence contains two or more verbs. For example: The brothers went to the beach that summer and bought a house . In all cases, the verb must agree in gender and number with the core of the subject.

In addition to the nucleus, the verbal predicate is made up of other elements that complement it. These are:

  • Direct object . It is the element to which the action of the verb is directly attributed and can be replaced by “lo”, “los”, “la” or “las”. For example: His brothers bought the house on the coast that summer. / His brothers the bought that summer.
  • Indirect object . It is the element that indicates the recipient of a certain action and is usually recognized because it is preceded by the preposition “to” and “for” and can be replaced by “you” or “them”. For example: He gave his children a life lesson / He gave them a life lesson.
  • Agent plugin . It is the element used in the passive voice to refer to the one who carries out the action. It is usually recognized because it is headed by the prepositions “by” or “of”. For example: The land was sold by one of the owners of the restaurant .
  • Situational complement . It is the element that gives information about the time, place, quantity, mode, cause, purpose, among others, in which the action takes place. For example: We will meet at three in the afternoon in the Plaza de la Constitución.

Punctuation of a sentence

Punctuation of a sentence In the middle of the sentence structure there cannot be a period.

Every written sentence begins with a word that is capitalized with the first letter and ends with a period. This point can be a full stop (closes a paragraph) , a full stop (continues the same paragraph) or a full stop (closes a text).

In the middle of the sentence structure there cannot be a period , but a comma or a semicolon can be found.

A sentence must have a structure that allows it to have coherence and does not need another sentence to be understood. There are sentences that do complement each other, as is the case with those that are part of the same text.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.

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