Clause: A series of words that contains a subject and a verb. An independent clause can stand as a complete sentence; a dependent clause needs to be attached to an independent clause.
Independent clause: The election will be held on November 2.
Dependent clause: While the voters do not like to go out on a cold day. (Notice that this clause is not complete; therefore it cannot stand as a complete sentence. Thus, it is a sentence fragment.)
Corrected fragment: While the voters do not like to go out on a cold day, it is still necessary that all Americans vote.
Conjunctive adverbs: Adverbs that connect independent clauses, such as the following: accordingly, consequently, finally, furthermore, however, moreover, nevertheless, otherwise, similarly, then, therefore, thus. These adverbs normally are used at the beginning of an independent clause and are often followed by a comma. If the adverb is used to connect two independent clauses in one sentence, the adverb is preceded by a semi-colon.
Beginning of sentence: Nevertheless, the 2004 election will precede.
Linking two independent clauses: There have been rumors of terrorist threats during the election; however, strong security measures are being taken.
Context: The elements surrounding a written or spoken passage that given further meaning to that passage. For example, sentences within a paragraph give context to each other by providing further elaboration or analysis to any one of the existing sentences in that paragraph.
Coordinating conjunctions: Words, such as and, but, or, so, yet, for, that connect sentence parts of the same grammatical form, as in independent clauses, nouns, adjectives, etc. See comma rules.
Declarative sentence: A sentence that presents information, makes a statement, and does not ask a direct question or express strong emotion. It can give an order or present an indirect question.
Present information: Around 100,000 years ago, humans were found from the Arctic tundra to the southern part of Africa.
Give an order: Do not use a period where you need a comma.
Ask an indirect question: Alexia wanted to know if she should design a new structure for the scoreboard or use one that she had done for the arena in Moscow.
Gerund: A verb that ends in ing and serves as a noun, as in this example: Giving and taking are both parts of the Christmas season. The words giving and taking are subjects of the verb are, and also subjects must be nouns. Never confuse a gerund with a verb; doing so may result in a sentence fragment.
Preposition: A word that shows the relationship of a noun or pronoun to some other word in the sentence. The preposition plus the noun or pronoun and its modifiers is called a prepositional phrase. See Prepositions for a list of common prepositions.
Restrictive element: A word, phrase, or clause that is necessary to the meaning of the main clause. If removed, the sentence's essential meaning would be changed. A non-restrictive element is a word, phrase, or clause that adds information to the sentence that is not essential to the sentence's meaning. That non-restrictive element has purpose in the sentence but, if lifted out, would not change the basic meaning of the sentence.
Restrictive element: The candidate who receives the most votes is not always elected.
Non-restrictive element: The candidate, who must be at least 35 years old, can run again in four years.
Sentence fragment: A sentence fragment is a group of words that is punctuated as a sentence but does not express a complete thought.
Subjective complement: A subjective complement occurs when the noun following the linking verb, such as be, become, or seem, renames or describes the subject. For example, in The company seems to be they standing behind the desk. Thus, they is the same group as the company. See Pronouns for a list of subjective pronouns used as subjective complements.
Subordinate conjunctions: Subordinate conjunctions are words or phrases that connect a dependent clause or adjective or adverbial phrase to an independent clause. The dependent clauses provide context and description for the independent clause; in short, it adds information that isn't the direct focus of the sentence but is important in adding time, place, or reasons to the sentence. See Subordinate Conjunctions for a list and examples.
Syntax: The arrangement of words in phrases, clauses, or sentences. A correct syntax is one that creates a grammatically correct phrase, clause, or sentence.
Word: A word is both a combination of letters and a symbol for an object, action, or intention. Thus, in grammatical terms, a word can consist of more than one set of letter combinations. For example, Paul Jefferson is one word because the two sets of letter combinations refer to one item. Likewise, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is one word.
Return to OWL or Grammar and Punctuation.