Every sentence has a subject and a predicate. The subject of a sentence is the noun, pronoun, or phrase or clause the sentence is about:
- Einstein’s general theory of relativity has been subjected to many tests of validity over the years.
- Although a majority of caffeine drinkers think of it as a stimulant, heavy users of caffeine say the substance relaxes them.
- In a secure landfill, the soil on top and the cover block storm water intrusion into the landfill. (compound subject)
The predicate is the rest of the sentence after the subject:
- The pressure in a pressured water reactor varies from system to system.
- The pressure is maintained at about 2250 pounds per square inch to prevent steam from forming.
- The pressure is then lowered to form steam at about 600 pounds per square inch.
- In contrast, a boiling water reactor operates at constant pressure.
Identify the subject and predicate of each sentence:
- Daniel and I are going to go to Hawaii for three weeks.
- Raquel will watch the dogs while we’re on vacation.
- “Daniel and I” is the subject. The rest of the sentence, “are going to go to Hawaii for three weeks,” is the predicate.
- “Raquel” is the subject. The rest of the sentence, “will watch the dogs while we’re on vacation,” is the predicate.
A predicate can include the verb, a direct object, and an indirect object.
A direct object—a noun, pronoun, phrase, or clause acting as a noun—takes the action of the main verb. A direct object can be identified by putting what?, which?, or whom? in its place.
- The housing assembly of a mechanical pencil contains the mechanical workings of the pencil.
- The action (contains) is directly happening to the object (workings).
- Lavoisier used curved glass discs fastened together at their rims, with wine filling the space between, to focus the sun’s rays to attain temperatures of 3000° F.
- The action (used) is directly happening to the object (discs).
- A 20 percent fluctuation in average global temperature could reduce biological activity, shift weather patterns, and ruin agriculture. (compound direct object)
- The actions are directly happening to multiple objects: reduce activity, shift patterns, and ruin agriculture.
- On Mariners 6 and 7, the two-axis scan platforms provided much more capability and flexibility for the scientific payload than those of Mariner 4. (compound direct object)
- The action (provided) is directly happening to multiple objects (capability and flexibility).
An indirect object—a noun, pronoun, phrase, or clause acting as a noun—receives the action expressed in the sentence. It can be identified by inserting to or for.
- The company is designing senior citizens a new walkway to the park area.
- The company is not designing new models of senior citizens; they are designing a new walkway for senior citizens. Thus, senior citizens is the indirect object of this sentence.
- Walkway is the direct object of this sentence, since it is the thing being designed.
- Please send the personnel office a resume so we can further review your candidacy.
- You are not being asked to send the office somewhere; you’re being asked to send a resume to the office. Thus, the personnel office is the indirect object of this sentence.
- Resume is the direct object of this sentence, since it is the thing you should send.
Are the bolded words in the sentences below direct or indirect objects?
- We all got together to throw Caitlin a surprise birthday party.
- Francisco was in charge of getting decorations.
- Harrison distracted her while we hid.
- Caitlin is an indirect object; party is a direct object.
- Decorations is a direct object.
- Her is a direct object.
Phrases and Clauses
Phrases and clauses are groups of words that act as a unit and perform a single function within a sentence. A phrase may have a partial subject or verb but not both; a dependent clause has both a subject and a verb (but is not a complete sentence). Here are a few examples (not all phrases are highlighted because some are embedded in others):
|Electricity has to do with those physical phenomena involving electrical charges and their effects when in motion and when at rest.(involving electrical charges and their effects is also a phrase.)||Electricity manifests itself as a force of attraction, independent of gravitational and short-range nuclear attraction, when two oppositely charged bodies are brought close to one another.|
|In 1833, Faraday’s experimentation with electrolysis indicated a natural unit of electrical charge, thus pointing to a discrete rather than continuous charge. (to a discrete rather than continuous charge is also a phrase.)||Since the frequency is the speed of sound divided by the wavelength, a shorter wavelength means a higher wavelength.|
|The symbol that denotes a connection to the grounding conductor is three parallel horizontal lines, each of the lower ones being shorter than the one above it.||Nuclear units planned or in construction have a total capacity of 186,998 KW, which, if current plans hold, will bring nuclear capacity to about 22% of all electrical capacity by 1995. (if current plans hold is a clause within a clause)|
There are two types of clauses: dependent and independent. A dependent clauses is dependent on something else: it cannot stand on its own. An independent clause, on the other hand, is free to stand by itself.
So how can you tell if a clause is dependent or independent? Let’s take a look at the clauses from the table above:
- when two oppositely charged bodies are brought close to one another
- Since the frequency is the speed of sound divided by the wavelength
- which, if current plans hold, will bring nuclear capacity to about 22% of all electrical capacity by 1995
All of these clauses are dependent clauses. We can tell because of the words when, since, and which. Words like since, when, and because turn an independent clause into a dependent clause. For example “I was a little girl in 1995” is an independent clause, but “Because I was a little girl in 1995” is a dependent clause. This class of word includes the following:
|after||although||as||as far as||as if||as long as||as soon as|
|as though||because||before||even if||even though||every time||if|
|in order that||since||so||so that||than||though||unless|
Are the following items phrases, dependent clauses, or independent clauses?
- Because Dante won the classical performance competition
- That thing over there looks really suspicious
- Why I can’t I do that
- Swimming across the English Channel in nearly twenty-three hours
- Whenever I see Alice and Armando’s Instagram account, The Two of Us
- This is a dependent clause; the conjunction because turns an independent clause into a dependent.
- This is an independent clause. It can stand as its own as a sentence, which means there should be a period at the end.
- This is an independent clause. It can stand as its own as a sentence. It is also a question, which means it should have a question mark at the end.
- This is a phrase; there is only a subject, not a verb. (Remember, swimming in this phrase is a gerund, which acts as a noun!)
- This is a dependent clause; the conjunction whenever turns an independent clause into a dependent.