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Basic English Sentence Structures

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Introduction and Notation

Knowing how to speak and write English correctly opens many job opportunities and improves social status. 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.


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.


<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


Sentence Types
Parts of Speech
• - The Subject
• - The Predicate
• - Verbal Phrases

Regular verbs
Irregular verbs
Verb "to be"
English vocabulary