Grammar is the system of a language. The importance of language is to communicate, and the essence of communication is understanding each other. Thus, as long as we can make others understand what we mean to say, we do not need grammar. Very many people in the world speak their own, native language without having studied its grammar. But, if we are serious about learning a foreign language, grammar can help you to learn a language more quickly and more efficiently.

The basic knowledge in any language is how to make a sentence. We can say a sentence is the only tool to communicate with others. Thus, in this module firstly we’ll learn how to make a sentence in English.



Generally, sentence in English use the following pattern:

Subject + verb + complement + modifier


ü  Nita and I watched the movie last night.

ü  We studied history of America last week.



Subject is an agent of the sentence in active voice; it is a person or thing that performs or is responsible for the action of the sentence. It normally precedes the verb.

Every sentence in English must have a subject.

  • Single noun

Subject may be a single noun.

Example: Richard is the first boy in his family.

  • Noun phrase

Subject may be a noun phrase. A noun phrase is a group of words ending with a noun. It cannot begin with preposition.

Example: That new green suite is Hans’s.

  • It

It can be the subject of an impersonal verb. As the subject of an impersonal verb, the pronoun is not actually used in place of a noun, but is part of an idiomatic expression.

Example: It rains hard all day.

  • There

There can act as a pseudo-subject and is treated like a subject when changing word order to a question. However, the true subject appears after the verb, and the number of the subject controls the verb.

Example: There is a new building in Seventh Street.



Verb generally shows the action of the sentence. Every sentence must have a verb.

  • Single word (verb)

The verb may be a single word.

Example: Dian goes to Bali today.

  • Verb phrase

The verb may be a verb phrase. A verb phrase consists of auxiliaries and main verb. The auxiliaries always precede the main verb.

Example: Jena has been living in Chicago for two years.



A complement completes the verb; it follows the verb in the active voice. Complement is similar to subject; it is usually a noun or a noun phrase. The complement cannot begin with a preposition. It answer the question what? or whom?


ü  Mother buys some apples in the store. (What does mother buy?)

ü  They asked Cindy to be a witness at the court. (Whom did they ask?)



A modifier tells the time, place, or manner of the action. A modifier answers question when? where? and how?

Modifier of time comes last if more than one modifier is exists.

  • Prepositional phrase

A modifier can be a prepositional phrase. A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with a noun


ü  Uncle Tom walks his dog in the morning. (modifier of time)

ü  George buys his breakfast at the café next door. (modifier of place)

  • Adverb or adverbial phrase

A modifier can be an adverb or adverbial phrase.


ü  She bought that book yesterday. (modifier of time)

ü  Steven asks his students to read the book loudly. (modifier of manner)



Pyle & Munoz. 1995. TOEFL Preparation Guide. Lincoln: Cliffs Notes Inc.