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Basic English Sentence Structures

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Introduction and Notation

This manual provides an overview of common English sentence structures. The manual differs from traditional books on English grammar by providing formal descriptions that will enable a student of English to generate correctly formed sentences easily. Persons studying English as a second language (ESL) or those who would like to use English language interfaces in computer-based applications will find this approach particularly useful because it avoids the ambiguities encountered in traditional English grammars. The description uses the notation below.

homework  
Parsing a Sentence

A sentence is usually defined as a set of oral or written words that express a complete thought. A sentence usually contains a subject and a verb. The first word of a sentence is capitalized and the sentence is terminated with a period, a question mark or an exclamation point.

Notation

<noun> Items in carets "< >" are variables which represent a class of words or other variables. The variable <noun> could represent the words "Mary", "car",
<proper noun>, etc.
"string" Items in quotes represent the word itself.
= The equal sign "=" is interpreted as consists of. For example, <X> = <Y> <Z> means that X consists of Y immediately followed by Z.
X | Y Items separated by a vertical bar "|" represent mutually exclusive choices. Choose either X or Y.
(X | Y) Parentheses "(" and ")" are used to group variables or strings to avoid ambiguity. For example, C (D | E) (F | G) means that only the following strings are valid: CDF, CDG, CEF, and CEG.
[X] Items in brackets are optional. X may or may not be chosen. For example,
[X[Y]]Z means that only Z, XZ, and XYZ are valid strings.
* An asterisk "*" means that a variable may be repeated zero or more times. X <B>* represents X, XB, XBB, XBBB, etc.
 CONTINUED: Sentence Types


© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

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  Contents:
- Introduction
- Sentence Types
- Parts of Speech
Sentences:
- Declarative
- - The Subject
- - The Predicate
- - Verbal Phrases
- Interrogative
- Imperative
- Conditional
- Glossary