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The Sentence Rules, Part 1

by Melanie Spiller
Content Consultant

Chris Kunicki asked me for a cheat sheet of sentence structure, and as he's been generous enough to host my blog and my Web site, I'd like to try to do it as my first anniversary blog. That's right, folks. You've been wading through this stuff for a whole year and 84 episodes (not counting this one).


A sentence consists of three basic parts: a subject, a verb, and a predicate.

  • The subject is the noun or noun phrase that is the essence of the sentence.
  • The verb is the action word that affects the noun/subject.
  • The predicate is a collection of words (including the verb) that modifies the subject.

The subject of a sentence remains the subject no matter where it appears in the sentence. The subject of the sentence is that word or phrase upon which the verb acts. Both of these sentences have the same subject (Fred, in this instance):

            Fred lost his hat in the wind.

            In the wind, Fred lost his hat


The subject of a sentence can include more than just a noun, but it's always all about the noun or pronoun (Fred is a pronoun