New SAT Grammar Rule: Sentence Structure

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New SAT Grammar Rule: Sentence Structure

Sentence Structure is a grammar topic that is intimately tied with Punctuation Marks (Lesson 8), because one of the main uses of punctuation marks is to support the "structure" of a sentence (and you'll learn more about what exactly this means in just a moment).

I have often noticed that high school students struggle to master Sentence Structure, but it's worth a lot of points on the SAT & ACT, so we should strive to understand the rules of good Sentence Structure.

What is Sentence Structure?

What do I mean by "Sentence Structure"? Specifically, I refer to the way a sentence is built out of smaller phrases or "clauses" and how those clauses fit together to form a grammatically- acceptable sentence.

So, before we master Sentence Structure we will need to go over the three types of clauses. I will make it as painless and quick as possible!

A "clause" is defined as "a unit of grammatical organization just below the sentence in rank." That basically means any group of words working together in a single "phrase." There are three types of clauses:

1. Independent Clause: A complete idea that can stand on its own. It contains a Subject and a Main Verb, but not a subordinating word or conjunction (words like and, because, so, or, but, etc.)

2. Dependent Clause: A "Dependent Clause" is essentially an "Independent Clause" with a subordinating word (e.g. and, because, so, or, etc.) attached to it. This creates an idea that cannot stand on its own, and must be attached to an Independent Clause to survive.

3. Parenthetical Clause: A "Parenthetical Clause" does not need its own Subject-Verb pair (a topic explored in Lesson 1). Instead, it contains supporting details - the kind we could enclose in parentheses (thus the name "Parenthetical" clauses). Parenthetical Clauses can always be completely removed from sentences without harming the underlying basic meaning or structure.

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