What is a sentence?

A sentence is a group of words that ends in a period. It makes a statement that presents a complete idea. It must have a subject (a noun) that is doing an action (a verb). The rest of the words support those main pieces.

Parts of Speech

Sentences are made up of “parts of speech,” which is another way of saying “word types.” Let’s take a look at a few of the various “word types.”

A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. A proper noun is a specific name of a specific person, place, or thing. Proper nouns must be capitalized:

  • the Smithsonian Museum
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Chicago

A common noun is a generic, general noun:

  • museum
  • person
  • town
  • tree

A pronoun takes the place of a noun and includes words like: I, he, she, they, and it.

Nouns can be used in sentences in three different ways:

  1. Subject

    The subject of a sentence usually comes first. It’s a noun or pronoun, and it is doing something. A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. A pronoun—like “it,” “he,” or “she”—takes the place of the noun if we already know what it is. The only time a sentence is allowed to not have a subject is if it’s a command, and the assumed subject is “you.” For example, “Proofread your paper.” (The subject is “you,” even though it’s not there.)
  2. Direct Object

    The direct object is a noun, too. There are two types of objects when we’re talking about sentences. There is the direct object which is the recipient of the action. Here is an example: José threw Devon the ball. The direct object is ball since it is the real recipient, or the receiver, of the action. José isn’t throwing Devon. The action is being done directly to the ball, so it is the direct object.
  3. Indirect Object

    Then there is the indirect object, which is also a noun, and in this sentence it is Devon. José threw Devon the ball. The action of throwing is not being directly done to Devon, but he is receiving the action indirectly. So Devon is the indirect object. A tip to find the indirect object is to turn the subject and action into a question that asks WHO. For example: Jose threw the ball to whom? Answering the question can help you find the indirect object.

Verbs are action words: write, read, jump, throw, kick, or swim; go or stay. They should generally describe actions that a person, animal, or thing can do. In the sentence, “Tim walked to the store,” walked is the verb because it is the action that the subject (Tim) is performing. The verbs to be and to do, and all of the variations of them, are two exceptions to the verbs as actions rule.

Adjectives and adverbs are used to describe other words.

Here’s the difference:

  • An adjective describes a noun
  • An adverb describes a verb
For Example

The shaggy dog runs fast.

Shaggy describes “dog,” a noun, so it is an adjective. Fast describes how he is running, so it is an adverb.

Prepositions show how words connect or relate to one another. They demonstrate the place in time or space that one object or idea is to another.

Some common prepositions include before, after, during, behind, beside, on, in, above, below, around, over, under, and through.

Conjunctions join together words, phrases, and clauses. They include words like and, or, yet, and so.


  • I finished my homework, and I rewarded myself by watching a movie.
  • She wanted to take a vacation, but she had too much work to do.