To understand sentence structure, you must first be able to identify a clause, which is a group of grammatically related words that includes a subject and a predicate.
A subject is a noun or pronoun that performs the action in a clause or that the clause is about.
The attorney called his client to set up a meeting.
The economy was shrinking.
The former CEO will turn 100 next month.
A predicate consists of one or more verbs and accompanying modifiers.
Subject • Predicate
The foreman helped the workers to safety.
Rene Singer’s new book has won three business
Amy, Marty, and Tiffany formed a committee to evaluate the applicants.
The third sentence above contains a compound subject consisting of three proper nouns.
In addition, all three of the preceding examples are independent clauses. That means they can stand alone as complete sentences.
A second clause type is called dependent. Dependent clauses begin with a subordinating conjunction, as in these examples:
Subordinating Conjunction • Subject • Predicate
because it was snowing
when Mr. Rogers returned to work
Even though dependent clauses contain a subject and a predicate, they cannot stand alone as sentences; if they do, they are called sentence fragments, a common type of grammatical error. They can, however, be combined with independent clauses to create complete sentences, as you will see in the next section.