How to Write a Sentence #6: A Summary

In posts How to Write a Sentence #1, 2, 3, 4, & 5, I explained how to put words together to make a sentence.

In this post, I’m going to break it all down in a different way. This will be a summary so if necessary, click on the grammar terms for explanations. I will be using sentences/clauses/phrases/words from Taylor Swift’s song Blank Space as examples.

SENTENCES

A sentence is made up of (at least one) clause and sometimes phrases.
♦  So, it’s *gonna be forever or it’s *gonna go down in flames. (*gonna = going to)

♦ You can tell me when it’s over if the high was worth the pain.

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=taylor+swift “So, it’s gonna be forever or it’s gonna go down in flames.”

CLAUSES

A clause is a group of words with a subject (usually) and a finite verb:
♦ it’s going to be forever
♦ it’s going to go down in flames
♦ because we’re young

PHRASES

A phrase is a group of words that does not have a finite verb:
in flames
♦ to be forever
♦ to go down
♦ dressed like a daydream

Anything that is not part of a clause or phrase is usually a conjunction, a transition,  or a one-word adverb:

♦ or
♦ however
♦ yesterday
 

INDEPENDENT & DEPENDENT CLAUSES

There are 2 types of clauses: Independent and Dependent.

◊ The first thing to do when you examine a sentence is find the Main Clause (the Independent Clause).  Simple sentences have just one Main Clause:

        ♦ I’ve got a long list of ex-lovers.

Compound Sentences have two or more Main/Independent Clauses and are joined by a Co-ordinating Conjunction.

         ♦ (So) it’s *gonna be forever or it’s *gonna go down in flames.

Complex Sentences have at least one Independent Clause and at least one Dependent Clause.

‘Cause we’re young and we’re reckless, we’ll take this way too far.

◊ After you have found the Independent Clause/s, everything else is just extra “stuff” which does not affect the grammar in the Independent Clause. This stuff is almost always one or both of the following: #1. DEPENDENT CLAUSES  #2. PHRASES


◊◊ #1. DEPENDENT CLAUSES. The following sentence has an Independent Clause (in bold) and a Dependent Clause (in blue):

Because we’re young and we’re reckless, we’ll take this way too far.

The following sentence has two Independent Clauses joined by a co-ordinating conjunction and two Dependent Clauses.

I get drunk on jealousy but you’ll come back (1) each time you leave (2) ’cause darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.

There are only 3 types of Dependent Clauses:

         Relative  (Adjective) Clauses
         ♦ Adverb Clauses
         ♦ Noun Clauses

 

I can’t see any Relative Clauses in the song Blank Space so let’s look at the Adverb Clauses first and then the Noun Clauses. (For songs with Relative Clauses, click here.)

ADVERB CLAUSES

        ♦ Adverbs answer how, where, when, & why. If the answer does not include a finite verb, it’s just an Adverb: with a nasty scar, down in flames

If the answer includes a subject and a finite verb, it’s an Adverb Clause: Because we’re young.
Adverb Clauses answer how, where, when, & why. They can also give other information about the verb in the Independent Clause: conditions and contrasts.

Here are the Adverb Clauses (in blue) in the chorus :

So, it’s gonna be forever
Or it’s gonna go down in flames.
You can tell me when it’s over                   When?
If the high was worth the pain.                  Condition?
(I’ve) Got a long list of ex-lovers.
They’ll tell you (that) I’m insane
‘Cause you know *(that) I love the players           Why insane?
And you love the game.

NOUN CLAUSES

♦ Nouns answer who and what. If the answer does not include a finite verb, it’s just a Noun: love, game, my next mistake, the bad guys. 

If the answer includes a subject and a finite verb, it’s a Noun Clause: (that) I’m insane.
*(that) I love the players = a Noun Clause as part of an Adverb Clause!

Noun Clauses, like any noun, can be the subject, object or complement in a sentence. This means that a Noun Clause (which is always a Dependent Clause) can be inside an Independent Clause. In the following sentences, the Noun Clause is the object of the verb and is part of the Independent Clause. You know the Noun Clause is part of the Independent Clause because if you take it out, there is no Independent Clause left.

I know *(that) you heard about me.          I know what?

I’m dying to see how this one ends.            to see what?

They’ll tell you *(that) I’m insane.              tell you what?

* Note that the Noun Clause marker ‘that’ is the only  Noun Clause marker that can be left out of a sentence (unless it is the first word in the sentence).

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

◊◊ # 2 PHRASES. You’ve probably realised that phrases are often part of  clauses. In the following sentence, the Independent Clauses are bold, the Dependent Clauses are blue, and the phrase is underlined.

I get drunk on jealousy but you’ll come back (1) each time you leave (2) ’cause darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.

You could point out that ‘a long list’, ‘a blank space’, ‘your name’ are also phrases because they are more than one word and there is no verb. It’s  better just to think of them as  nouns and adjectives in the Independent Clauses and focus on the extra stuff in the Dependent Clauses. 

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

I hope that you can see how to identify the different parts of a sentence.

♦ First, find the Independent Clause.
♦ Then, ask yourself if there are any more clauses. If there are,
♦ what kind of clauses are they? They can only be either more Independent Clauses or Dependent Clauses.
♦ The Dependent Clauses can only be Relative, Adverb, or Noun Clauses. You can often identify them by their Clause Markers.
♦ Anything else will be phrases and single words like conjunctions or one-word adverbs like ‘below’, ‘there’, ‘yesterday’.

You can find the lyrics to the song Blank Space below. The Independent Clauses are in bold, the Dependent Clauses are blue, and the Noun Clauses are underlined.

Blank Space by Taylor Swift

Nice to meet you.  Where’ve you been?
I could show you incredible things.
Magic, madness, heaven, sin.
(I) Saw you there and I thought
 Oh my God, look at that face.”
You look like my next mistake.
Love’s a game. (Do you) want to play?
New money, suit and tie.
I can read you like a magazine.
*Ain’t it funny? Rumors fly                           (* Ain’t = Isn’t)
And I know you heard about me
So hey, let’s be friends.
I’m dying to see how this one ends.
Grab your passport and my hand.
I can make the bad guys good for a weekend.
 
Chorus 1
So it’s *gonna be forever                                 (*gonna = going to)
Or it’s *gonna go down in flames.
You can tell me when it’s over
If the high was worth the pain.
(I’ve) Got a long list of ex-lovers.
They’ll tell you I’m insane
‘Cause you know I love the players
And you love the game.
 
Chorus 2
‘Cause we’re young and we’re reckless,
We’ll take this way too far.
It’ll leave you breathless
Or with a nasty scar.
 (I’ve) Got a long list of ex-lovers.
They’ll tell you I’m insane
But I’ve got a blank space baby
And I’ll write your name.
 
Cherry lips, crystal skies.
I could show you incredible things.
Stolen kisses, pretty lies.
You’re the king. Baby, I’m your Queen.
Find out what you want.
Be that girl for a month.
Wait; the worst is yet to come, oh no.
Screaming, crying, perfect storm.
I can make all the tables turn.
Rose gardens filled with thorns
Keep you second guessing like
“Oh my God, who is she?”
I get drunk on jealousy
But you’ll come back each time you leave
‘Cause darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.
 
Chorus 1
Chorus 2
 
Boys only want love if it’s torture.
Don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn *ya.   (*ya= you)
Boys only want love if it’s torture.
Don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn *ya.
 
 
Chorus 1
Chorus 2

 ***************************************************************

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This entry was posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), TOEFL, TOEIC, Upper Intermediate (Level 5) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to Write a Sentence #6: A Summary

  1. hiddensid says:

    this was very interesting way u had explained
    English speaking courses in Indore

    Like

  2. Pingback: How to Write a Sentence #6: A Summary | Mary's English Blog

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