Sentence Structures

       In this section, you can review the structure of Affirmative Sentences, Negative Sentences, Yes-No Questions, and WH-? Questions.  Later in the semester, we will look at sentence combining, phrase reduction, and phrase moving rules.

Affirmative Sentences

   English has a subject-verb-object sentence structure in most sentences.

                            The guinea pig eats the spinach.

The guinea pig is the subject, eats is the main verb, and the spinach is the object. 

Negative Sentences

The negative form of this sentence is a little different.

                            The guinea pig does not eat the spinach.

In this sentence, the do helping verb holds the tense (the s on the verb eats, do + s = does) and the main verb goes to the simple form (eats ==> eat) of the verb.  It might be easier to see using the simple past tense.

                            The guinea pig ate the spinach.

                            The guinea pig did not eat the spinach.

You can see that the do helping verb holds the past tense (do + past tense = did) and the main verb goes to the simple form (ate ==> eat) of the verb.

 

   The BE-verb does not work like this.  It is very simple.

                               The guinea pig is fat.

                               The guinea pig is not fat.

                    The guinea pigs were in the cage.

                    The guinea pigs were not in the cage.

 

   Helping verbs and modals also work like this.

                      The guinea pig is playing with the ball

                      The guinea pig is not playing with the ball

 

                     The guinea pig will play with the ball.

                     The guinea pig will not play with the ball.

 

                     The guinea pig has seen the cat.

                      The guinea pig has not seen the cat.

 

                      The guinea pig might play with the ball.

                      The guinea pig might not play with the ball.

Don't be confused by other verbs in the sentence.  Only the main verb changes.  Look at this example.

                    The guinea pig wants to play with the cat.

                    The guinea pig does not want to play with the cat.

The main verb is wantsTo play is called an infinitive, and it doesn't change.

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Yes-No Questions

Yes-No Question forms are like negative forms of sentences.

                    The guinea pig eats the spinach.

                    The guinea pig does not eat the spinach.

                    Does the guinea pig eat the spinach?

The BE-verb form is easy.

                    The guinea pig is fat

                     Is the guinea pig fat?

Helping verbs and modals are easy, too.

                     The guinea pig can whistle.

                     Can the guinea pig whistle?

                     The guinea pig has seen the cat.

                     Has the guinea pig seen the cat.

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WH-? Questions

WH-? Questions are a little more difficult.  Most of them are like the Yes-No questions, but a few are different.  Which ones are different?

                        The guinea pig is in the cage.

                        Where is the guinea pig?

 

                        The guinea pig eats the spinach.

                        What does the guinea pig eat?

 

                        How much food does the guinea pig eat?

                        The guinea pig eats about 100 grams of food every day.

 

                        How many guinea pigs live in the cage?

                        Ten guinea pigs live in the cage.

 

                        What color is the guinea pig?

                        The guinea pig is brown, gray, white, and black.

 

                        What color does the guinea pig like?

                        The guinea pig likes yellow.

 

                        Who owns those guinea pigs?

                         My wife owns those guinea pigs.

 

                        Whom do those guinea pigs like best?

                         Those guinea pigs like me best.

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