Subject: a person, place, or thing that does an action. You can figure out the subject in a sentence by asking the question “Who or what?”
Verb: an action or state of being. You can figure out the verb in a sentence by asking the question “What was the action or what happened?”
Object: a person or thing that receives the action. You can figure out the object in a sentence by asking the question “The subject did what?” or “To whom?/For whom?”
Prepositional phrase: a phrase that begins with a preposition (i.e., in, at, for, behind, until, after, of, during) and modifies a word in the sentence. A prepositional phrase answers one of many questions. Here are a few examples: “Where? When? In what way?”
Key: subject, verb, object, prepositional phrase
This sentence has the two basic elements necessary for a complete sentence: a subject and a verb.
Deborah laughed at the joke.
This sentence has a subject and a verb, and it also has additional information in the form of a prepositional phrase. This prepositional phrase explains what Deborah laughed about.
Jeff uploaded a document.
This sentence has a subject and a verb, and it also has an object: a document. In this case, the object answers the question “Jeff uploaded what?”
Jeff uploaded a document to the class page in Blackboard.
This sentence has the two basic elements, a subject and a verb, as well as an object and a prepositional phrase to explain more about where Jeff uploaded the document.
Of course, most sentences in academic writing are more complex than the model sentences in the chart above. It will be helpful to remember these basic patterns when looking at more complex sentences such as these. (Key: subject, verb, object, prepositional phrase)
See more about passive and active voice construction.
Adjective: describes a noun (a person, place, or thing). Adjectives typically come before a noun or after a stative verb, like the verb be.
Adverb: gives more information about the verb and about how the action was done. Depending on the context, the adverb can come before or after the verb.
In these sentences, the adjectives diligent and busy describe the nouns: the student and Norah.
The diligent student completed her assignment early.
Norah is busy today.
In these sentences, the adverbs loudly and recently describe how the action was done.
Deborah laughed loudly.
Steven recently enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Communication program at Walden.