We all know a sentence is a collection of words. But, what purposes do the words serve?
Nouns and verbs are the substance of a sentence. Simply put, nouns are persons, places and things. The subject of a sentence is a noun. Verbs are all about action, a state of being, or the relation between two things. In the sentence “The boy caught the ball,” the words “boy” and “ball” are both nouns because “boy” is a person and “ball” is a thing.
The verb is the word “caught” because that's the action in the sentence. Or maybe it's a state of being? After all “caught” is the ball's state of being, right? Anyway, “boy” is the subject of the sentence because “boy” is the person or thing who “caught.”
So what is the “ball”? Are you confused yet? Wish you had a grammar checker?
The ball is the object of the sentence. That's because it's the thing (making it a noun) that is having something done to it. In this case it's being caught.
So let's get back to the original sentence: The boy caught the ball. It's simple and to the point. But, it's also boring … right? Yes, boring. How much information does this sentence give us? Not much beyond the obvious.
So, hmmm, what can we do to spice up this sentence? Let's add some modifiers – adjectives and adverbs.
What's an adjective? An adjective modifies (get it – it's a modifier), or changes or tells something about a noun. For example: is the boy in the sentence little, big, tall, short, brown-eyed, left-handed?
The boy is athletic. So here is a new sentence: The athletic boy caught the ball. Yes! Now you know something about the boy. Let's say even more about the boy. Let's make him tall. The tall, athletic boy caught the ball. Now we know more about the boy, but what about the ball? The ball is red. The ball is also striped. So here is another new sentence: The tall, athletic boy caught the red, striped ball.
So far so good. We have nouns (subjects and objects), verbs, and one modifier – adjectives. Now let's discuss adverbs.
Adverbs describe what's going on with the verb. The tall, athletic boy caught the red, striped ball. How did the boy catch the ball? Was he fast? Was he slow? Was he clumsy? No, he was quick. Check out the sentence now: The tall, athletic boy quickly caught the red, striped ball.
Do you see the difference from the original sentence to the final product? The boy caught the ball. That's a perfectly good sentence. But it doesn't give us any information beyond the basics. There's not much substance in the sentence. You only have a couple of nouns and a verb.
In our more descriptive sentence “The tall, athletic boy quickly caught the red, striped ball”, we added pizzazz to the sentence!
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Jack Osborne is a published author, entrepreneur (was an executive or founder in four successful start-up companies), and an avid sailor on the open ocean. His love, beyond teaching people how to develop their full potential, is writing heartwarming and entertaining books and short stories on the human experience, as well as informative articles on the art of writing. See more on his website, http://www.GrammarGrammer.com
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