Article of the Week

Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences occur when writers try to combine more than one idea into a single sentence. They cause confusion because readers are not sure when one idea ends and the next one begins. Read our entry and test your knowledge with our quiz!



Parts of Speech

Parts of speech form the building blocks of sentences. There are rules that govern how each part of speech can be used. Each word belongs to a certain part of speech, although there are many words that fit in more than one category.

  1. Nouns
  2. Verbs
  3. Pronouns
  4. Adjectives
  5. Adverbs
  6. Prepositions
  7. Conjunctions
  8. Interjections

Nouns

Nouns are words that represent a person, place, thing, or idea.

Person: I don’t listen to Kanye West, but I love his twitter feed!

Place: The New Jersey Nets are moving to Brooklyn.

Thing: The skateboard flew into the air.

Idea: Love stinks.

Nouns form two of the most important parts of the sentence: the subject and the object. The subject normally performs the actions described in a sentence. In some cases, the subject is transformed by actions described later in the sentence.

 Action Subject: The diplomat removed a small blade from his wingtip shoe.

Condition Subject: The pizza was cooked at 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

 Objects are items affected by the action of a sentence. In the examples above, the blade and the shoe are objects.


Verbs

Verbs describe an action or state of being.

Action Verb: The Persian army decimated its opponent.

Being Verb: The beer tastes bitter.

Verbs must be conjugated to match the tense and number of the subject. See our page on Subject-Verb Agreement for more information.

Basic sentences have a noun and a verb. Other words simply add more detail.  Here are examples of basic sentences that use only a noun and a verb

Example: Jesus wept.

Example: I came, I saw, I conquered.


Pronouns

Pronouns take the place of nouns. They include words such as I, me, you, him, her, everyone, and it. See our entry on Pronouns for more information.


Adjectives

Adjectives help modify the meaning of a noun or pronoun.

Example: The rancid dumpster attracted vermin.

Example: The tropics are hot.

 You can also form an adjective by combining two or more words.

 Phrasal Adjective: We’re about to take you on a mind-bending journey across time and space.


Adverbs

Adverbs modify verbs and other parts of speech.

 Modifying a verb: The monkey quickly dashed back up the tree.

Modifying an adjective: The small child had a strangely serene demeanor.

Modifying an adverb: He chose quite well.


Prepositions

Prepositions provide information about position and direction in a sentence.

Example: The troll hid under the bridge.

Example: They gladiators fought for freedom.

 See our entry on Prepositions for more details.


Conjunctions

Words such as and, but, yet, so, and since are conjunctions. They join together words and phrases, and establish a relationship between them.

Example: Spaghetti and Meatballs is my favorite dish.

Example: He opened the elevator shaft and dove head-first into the abyss.

Example: I don’t always use a conjunction, but when I do, I use the word but.


Interjections

An interjection is a word or phrase that is not connected to the rest of a sentence. Sometimes interjections have no meaning. They usually reveal emotion.

 The lyrics to the James Brown song “Mother Popcorn” are full of interjections:

Uh-huh, yeah... popcorn, huh

Ah, ah, popcorn, oh, oh

Good God, yeah, look it here