Some college students can define a sentence, and some can’t, but no doubt you know a sentence when you see one. Read the following choices and circle the letter of the one that is a sentence.

(a) Noses entire people’s throughout grow lives their.

(b) Their grow lives throughout people’s noses entire

(c) Grow lives their people’s entire throughout noses.

(d) People’s noses grow throughout their entire lives.

Each of the four sentences contains the same words, but only one makes sense—(d). Sequence (d) makes sense because the words in it are arranged in the form of a sentence. Your ability to recognize the sentence shows how natural the sentence pattern is and how much intuitive language skill you already have.

Simple sentences—Those with one clause

In order to make good sentences and avoid making errors, we need to develop a basic working definition of a sentence.

Sentences are made up of clauses—sometimes one clause, sometimes more than one. This chapter focuses on simple sentences—those that contain one clause. Later, you’ll work with sentences that contain more than one clause.

A clause is a subject plus a predicate. The subject of a clause names something, such as a person, object, place, or idea. The subject is usually one or more nouns or pronouns. The subject might also be a noun substitute.

The predicate makes a statement about the subject by telling something about it. The predicate tells one of two things about the subject: It tells that the subject is performing an action, or it states the condition of the subject.