What Is A Sentence?

A sentence is a group of words that express a complete thought. It has two main parts: a subject and a predicate. The subject includes the noun or pronoun that tells what the subject is about. The predicate includes the verb that describes what the subject is doing. Here are some examples of complete sentences.

To be a sentence, a group of words must have a subject and a predicate. It must also express a complete thought.

Being able to recognize the subject and the verb in a sentence will help you make sure that your sentences are complete and clear. Remember that in most sentences, the subject will come before the verb. Not so with questions. In a question, the verb often comes before the subject. Here are some examples.

It can be tricky to find the subject in sentences that start with here or there. Remember that here or there never function as the subject of a sentence.

For example:

Subject And Predicate

The subject is the noun or pronoun that comes before the verb in an ordinary affirmative sentence. The subject often says (in an active sentence) who or what does the action that the verb refers to.

In a sentence containing more than one clause, each clause has its own subject. A simple example is given below.

Here Susie is the subject of the main clause, while Natalie is the subject of the complement clause.


That part of the sentence that contains the verb and consists of a verb phrase. In the following examples, the bracketed portion is the predicate.

In a question or in another sentence involving fronting, the predicate may be discontinuous, or it may precede the subject.

When To Put The Auxiliary Verb Before The Subject?

We put an auxiliary verb before the subject of a clause in several different structures. This is called inversion. Consider the statement She is coming with us, in which the subject she precedes the auxiliary is. In the corresponding YES/NO question Is she coming with us?, the auxiliary is comes before the subject she.

Note that inversion does not occur in indirect questions.

Inversion may also occur in certain other circumstances.

With may

In wishes, may often comes before the subject.

After words like scarcely, hardly, seldom, little, never, rarely etc.

Sometimes a negative adverb or adverbial expression comes at the beginning of a clause for emphasis. It is usually followed by an auxiliary verb + subject.