© 2017 Steve Campsall

analysing a sentence (1)

So far, this guide has covered grammatical structures: morphemes, words, phrases, clauses and sentences; and we've looked at types of sentence, as well as sentence function and structure. This is all useful for your course, but you will also need to be able to analyse the grammar of sentences. That's what we'll be doing next.

Breaking a sentence down into its individual grammatical structures is a key skill for you to learn and one that only comes with practice. One key grammatical structure that does stand out more easily in any sentence is its main clause. You'll remember that this is the structure that provides the core meaning of the sentence (don't forget, though, that in a compound sentence, there will be two or more main clauses, each linked by a coordinating conjunction such as 'and', 'or' or 'but').

Look at the following sentence. We'll be using it a good deal from now on:

The drunken young man slipped awkwardly into a ditch although he seemed unhurt.

Can you identify its main clause?

Remember that a clause is built from two or more phrases; the first phrase (which could be a single word or a group) acts as the clause's subject and the second, again a single word or group, as its finite verb or verb phrase.

When you've found the clause, can you identify its subject and finite verb?

Answers on the next page.