In order to understand how to construct a sentence one needs to be familiar with the grammatical rules that provide guidance on how to make grammatically correct sentences. Consequently, in order to understand common sentence errors one also needs to examine what grammatical rules have been flouted. Sentences can range from short simple to long complex structures but the basic parameters are the usual components of a sentence. Sentence structure is comprised of a nominal subject and the predicate part of the sentence, which often contains the verb and object.
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For example, John plays football. John is the nominal subject while plays football is the predicate. The English language contains a general Subject Verb Object rule system. This means, for example when a sentence is written like this; “plays john football” It has broken the Subject Verb Object rule and therefore cannot be grammatically correct. There are, however, exceptions to this rule and many other rules as well so that it is not taken as an absolute rule. For example it is correct to say, “Playing football is what John does” In this case sentence arrangement reads, Verb Object Subject. This rule is called the Rule of Inversion, which is a subset of the general rule discussed earlier. It should however be noted that the sentence has also grown more complex as a result of inversion.
A sentence consists of the building blocks that are commonly referred to as parts of a sentence. These parts are such units as: the noun, the verb, the adjective, the adverb, and the pronouns. Others are the conjunctions, the prepositions, and the articles.
For a sentence to be grammatical, each of the parts of a sentence have to be understood in terms of their role and placement within a well formed sentence. When this does not happen, a sentence loses the grammatical harmony it ought to exude in order to be considered a well - formed sentence. For example, the sentence “The cup was on top of the table” would be considered grammatical because all the parts of that sentence have occupied the correct positions in a sentence and also each individual part has been used with great consideration to its neighboring parts. The sentence can be analyzed as follows. Article the comes before the noun cup, preposition on agrees with top since the grammatical logic is that if something is adduced to the preposition on then it must be placed above something else referred to in the sentence, hence the word top fits the reference. In the light of the above considerations then, a sentence like “The cup was on bottom of the table” would be grammatically wrong.
Another common mistake in sentence construction is especially experienced by bilingual people. When speakers of a certain language are attempting to learn another language, they are likely to make errors due to the influence of their first language. This is because different languages have different language structures and therefore the temptation to generalize a language structure can prove futile on another language. For example while English language only recognizes gender in the context of animate subjects, a language like French attaches gender references in form of pronouns on inanimate objects. This means that when constructing a sentence a French speaker learning English as his second language may write the following. “The window is clear, she is very clean”. This sentence is obviously ungrammatical in the English context language since the noun “window” cannot be given the female gender attribute “she” which is conspicuously a normal sentence construction in the French language. It should be noted however that even in English, sometimes, inanimate objects may be given animate attributes especially in discourses such as poetry for emphasis and aesthetics.