How To Build a Sentence

Every story starts with a sentence. Some sentences are short and some are complex. Some provide succinct clarity while others expand and describe. 

learning english

Every time you write a sentence, it must have two things. It needs an agent, and it needs an action. In other words, each sentence needs at least a subject and a verb. The subject and verb are often followed by other parts of speech that can enhance the meaning and clarity of the sentence.


The subject is the star of the statement. It is the person or thing the sentence is about. In English, the subject typically starts the sentence or at least comes before the action portion. 

Sometimes, the subject of the sentence is implied. The most common way this happens is when you are giving a direction or a command. “Come here!” is a complete sentence even though it technically does not contain a subject word but rather implies the second person pronoun you as the subject.


Every sentence has to have a word that either expresses the action the subject takes or the connection the subject has to something else. An action verb tells you what the subject is doing. A linking verb connects the subject to the noun or adjective following it. 

The verb and the objects or phrases that follow it make up the predicate. Predicates can be either simple or compound. A simple predicate typically has only one verb. A compound predicate has at least two verbs, followed by the objects or phrases necessary to complete the meaning of the sentence.


Many sentences have more than just a subject and a verb. They also include objects. A direct object is the recipient of the verb’s action, and the indirect object is the person for or to whom the action is done.  

Some verbs are transitive, which means they require at least one object. For example, if you simply say, “He gives,” that doesn’t express a complete thought. Adding a direct object by saying “He gives presents,” however, does. If you want to provide more information, you can add an indirect object by saying, “He gives them presents.” In this case, the verb is transitive because it requires at least one object for the sentence to make sense. 

By contrast, an intransitive verb can stand alone. It doesn’t need an object for the listener or reader to understand what is being expressed. When you say, “The flower grew,” for example, the verb is easy to comprehend on its own. A verb that is intransitive in one sentence can be transitive in another, and it often changes the meaning. “The man grew,” can mean that he got taller, but “The man grew a beard,” provides more specific information. 

These are just the basic elements that make up the structure of a sentence. Proper sentence construction is vital for getting your meaning across. When you are writing stories, experiment with different subjects, verbs, objects and phrases to find your own unique writing style.