Parts of Sentences

There is no simple method for creating a sentence because writing is a very personal process. You choose the subjects and verbs, add additional details and, ultimately, decide how to join and organize them. However, it helps to know the basic parts of a sentence, so when you are creating endless combinations, you make sure you have a complete unit of thought! At its simplest level, a sentence requires a subject and verb. Often, you include an object to elaborate on the idea. From that basic structure, you can move in many different directions. Check out the following table for the basic parts of sentences, their definitions and some examples:


Once you understand that the basic sentence contains a subject, a verb and perhaps an object, you can take a look at other ways of combining words into a sentence using phrases, clauses and modifiers.


A Phrase is made up of one or more words that does not express a complete thought. There are many types of phrases:


Knowing the definition and types of phrases will not make you a better writer. However, understanding how words can be combined to make phrases in a variety of ways will make your writing more exciting and interesting.

Independent/Dependent Clauses

A Clause is a group of words that contains both a subject and a verb. There are two types of clauses:


Independent and dependent clauses can be joined in different ways to form complex, compound, and compound-complex sentences. For more practice forming these types of sentences, check out these links:


A modifier, also known as a qualifier, provides more information about the subject or the verb. Typically, adjectives and adverbs act as modifiers. A modifier can be omitted from a sentence without impacting the original message; it is not necessary in a sentence, but it is nice to have!

Check out the passages below. Passage #1 contains no modifiers. Passage #2 has modifiers added. Consider how adding modifiers to your writing can enhance its readability and impact.

Passage #1 (No modifiers)
The employees reached the stairway. The alarms were ringing, while the smoke billowed. The air was acrid and heavy.

Passage #2 (With modifiers)
Quickly and quietly the frightened employees reached the stairway. The alarms were ringing constantly, while the smoke billowed out of the doorway. The air was acrid and heavy with soot.

Modifiers capture emotion and set the tone of a paper.  Used appropriately, they can help draw your reader into your message!

Practice Activity: Identifying Subjects, Verbs, & Objects

Identify the bolded word as a subject, verb or object in the examples that follow. You can check your answers by hovering over the bolded word.

1.) Janelle and Jon are creating------ VERB ------ a presentation about fish.

2.) The fish swam across the stream------ OBJECT ------.

3.) Conservation officers-------- SUBJECT -------- quickly threw their nets.

4.) The nets caught hundreds of wiggly fish------ OBJECT ------.

5.) It is important to get------ VERB ------ an accurate number of endangered species.