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Unit Two:

Phrases, Clauses, &

Sentence Structure
English Center Tutor Training

Table of Contents
Unit 1: Parts of Speech
Unit 2: Phrases, Clauses, and Sentence
Unit 3: Simple & Progressive Verbs
Unit 4: Perfect & Passive Verbs
Unit 5: Complex Sentences
Unit 6: Overview of City ESOL Program
This could be the single most important unit
to assist ESOL students success. Difficulty
with sentence structure is often times what
results in incomprehensible sentences and
failure to convey meaning.
1. a noun (and its modifiers)

2. a verb (and the words that follow)

an interesting dream
my magically delicious Lucky Charms
the City College book fair
many culturally diverse students
those poisonous red apples on the table
talented and helpful tutors
the drawer next to the bed
were eaten by the boy next door
attend this school
will be in high demand
is always in October
were for Snow White and not for you
has been on my mind all day
have been playing all night long
Combine the noun phrases
and verb phrases to make
complete sentences.
Phrases Clauses
A clause is a subject / verb combination. Clauses
can be dependent or independent (More
explanation on this later) First, lets practice
distinguishing phrases and clauses. Determine
which of the examples are phrases and which are

when I go to the store
he cried
the little kitten sitting in the shade of
the tree
they didnt understand the instructions
stayed out all night
There are two types of clauses: independent and
dependent. An independent clause, or main
clause, is a subject/verb combination that makes a
complete sentence. A dependent clause cannot
stand alone, and must be attached to an
independent clause.
In the following sentence, which one is the main
Example 1: As soon as I woke up, I made the
If you said I made the coffee, then you are correct!
Complete Sentences
A complete sentence includes:
1. Subject (noun)
2. Verb (may need a direct object or complement)
3. Complete Thought/Idea
3. Example 1: Marcel understands the importance
of attending class regularly.

Example 2: Shu, Tony, and Ana studied together
after class.
subject verb
Not all complete sentences have a stated subject.
The command form (also known as the imperative)
has you as the implied subject. This sentence
structure is not common in academic writing
except perhaps as a hook in an introductory
paragraph. For example: Be careful!
Moreover, certain authors and genres do not
adhere to traditional sentence structure and may
use phrases and dependent clauses as complete
sentences. For example: Because I said so.
The subject may be
A single noun
A noun phrase
A pronoun
Two or more nouns, noun phrases or pronouns

A gerund (verb + -ing)
An infinitive (To + verb)
College is challenging.
The English Center can help you succeed.
It is open Monday through Friday.
Online tutoring is available on weekends.
Rose, Todd, Humberto, and Jess are all tutors there.
To err is human.
ESOL students frequently have incorrect sentence
structure due to missing subjects in their
sentences. It is often times the dummy it or
there that is missing. For example: It is raining
Additionally, it is common for ESOL students to use
a prepositional phrase as a subject. For example:
In the morning is a good time to take classes.

Scene One
A students sentence is In the article says global
health is important. There are many ways to assist
him in correcting this error. Heres one:
Tutor: What is the subject of this sentence?
Student: Article.
Tutor: Not quite. What part of speech is in?
Student: A preposition.
Tutor: Correct. Prepositions need a noun for an object, and article is the
object of the preposition. So it cant be the subject of the sentence. So what
is the subject of the sentence? This is a trick question.
Student: There isnt one.
Tutor: Thats right! So how can you correct this?
Student: I can take away the preposition and just write, The article says
global health is important.
Tutor: Excellent.

Scene Two
A students sentence is In the article says global
health is important. There are many ways to assist
him in correcting this error. Heres another:
Tutor: What is the subject of this sentence?
Student: Article.
Tutor: Not quite. What is the verb of the sentence?
Student: says.
Tutor: Correct. So what is the subject?
Student: Global health.
Tutor: Not quite. The subject has to go before the verb.
Student: There isnt a subject.
Tutor: Correct! So how can we change it?
Student: I can add it so that the sentence says In the article, IT says
global health is important.
Tutor: Perfect.

There are different categories of verbs,
some of which require a direct object or
complement to make the sentence
complete. These are called transitive verbs.
(Memory trick: Transitive verbs are like a
train; they need a caboose.) Intransitive
verbs do not require a direct object or
Note: ESOL students dont need to know
the terms transitive and intransitive.
Direct Objects
A direct object is the noun that is receiving
the action of the verb.
1. Some verbs must take an object

2. Some verbs may take an object. Its correct
with or without.

3. Some verbs cannot take an object

*We analyzed.
We wrote.
She disappeared.
*She disappeared the dog.
We analyzed the data.
ESOL students may have difficulty understanding
these differences as there isnt a logical reason
why certain verbs take direct objects and others do
not. Helping them identify and memorize common
verbs and how they are used will improve their

A complement is a word or words that follow the
verb but arent direct objects. Depending on the
verb, some are obligatory.
Example 1: Rufus seems.
Example 1 is not a complete sentence because the
verb requires a complement. The example should
be: Rufus seems extraordinarily sleepy.
Example 2: Rufus walks.
This is a complete sentence. However, we can add
a complement if we want to be more precise. The
example could be: Rufus walks with vigor.

There are three types of phrases that can act as
1. A noun or noun phrase
1. George Michael is a brilliant lyricist.
2. An adjective or adjective phrase
1. George Michael is brilliant.
3. A prepositional phrase
1. George Michael is on tour.

Its important to distinguish between direct objects
and complements as knowing which verbs take a
direct object is vital when forming the passive.
Example 1: Rufus is a good dog.
A good dog is not the direct object as it is not
receiving the action of the verb. Thus, it cannot be
made passive.
Example 2: Rufus fetched the ball.
Here, the ball is the direct object, and the sentence
can be made passive: The ball was fetched by
Rufus. (More explanation on this later.)
The verb of a sentence must be complete or
include all necessary verb parts. Often times ESOL
students leave out part of the verb.
Example 1: She working in the lab.
This would be incorrect as the progressive requires
the verb to be. It should be: She is working in the

A sentence can consist of more than one verb.
However, parallel structure is important. ESOL
students frequently use different verb forms or
tenses when consistency is needed.
Example 1: She works, studies, and is taking care of
her children.
The three verbs are not the same form. The
example should be: She works, studies, and takes
care of her children.

Complete Sentences?
1. Choosing a major is an important decision.
2. Because I study a lot.
3. In my college have a cafeteria and several
snack areas.
4. It is difficult to study on the weekend.
5. There three things to do to be a successful
6. While I was in my ESOL 30 class.
7. My college has many buildings, so easy to get
Types of Sentences
There are four types of sentences.
1. Simple Sentences

2. Compound Sentences

3. Complex Sentences

4. Compound-Complex Sentences

Roxie is a dog.
Roxie is a dog, and Rufus is her friend.
Rufus loves Roxie because she is adorable.
Rufus loves Roxie because she is adorable, and
she defers to him.
Simple Sentences
Simple sentences are single, independent clauses.

Subject + verb + object or
Subject + verb
Rufus runs. Roxie is a dog.
Compound Sentences
Compound sentences consist of two independent
clauses that are combined with a coordinating

Independent Clause = IC
Coordinating Conjunction = cc
Formula: IC, cc IC.
I like ice cream, and Judy likes cookies.
IC cc IC. ,
Coordinating Conjunctions


= because
= more information
= contrast
I like ice cream, and Judy likes cookies.
I like ice cream, but I dont like cake.
Neither ice cream nor cookies are good for your
I like ice cream, for it is delicious.
= alternative
I could eat ice cream, or I could eat carrots.
= contrast
I could carrots, yet I wouldnt feel happy.
I will eat ice cream, so I can feel happy.
= two negative options
The coordinating conjunctions for and nor are not
very common. Thus, it would be a better use of
time to assist students with the other coordinating

Its important to focus on mastering simple
sentence structure before tackling compound or
complex. If a student is struggling with more
difficult grammar, go back to the basics. Make
sure that they can identify and produce
comprehensible phrases, then clauses, then simple
sentences before compound or complex.
Complex sentences will be explored more fully in
unit five.

Sentence Structure
Each of the sentences on the next slide has
a problem with sentence structure. Find
and correct the one sentence-structure
error in each of the sentences.
Correct the Sentence Structure Error
1. In my opinion, speaking in English easier than
writing in English.

2. Is a very interesting point you have raised.

3. My summer internship, for example, it is one
way for me.

4. At present, I am finishing a project, and I also
starting a new one.

5. I felt happy. Because I moved to the U.S.

I felt happy because I moved to the U.S.