straight to the core – lesson 1
Recently, I’ve talked a lot about the “core” of the sentence, without really going into much depth. But I do indeed believe this is at the heart of basic grammatical understanding: find the core of the sentence, build from there.
Starting with this post, for a couple of weeks, I will focus on the “core” of the sentence and how to build from that core, slowly crafting a sentence with full understanding of each part and the overall structure.
Many sentences are long, complicated strings of words, slapped together with too many prepositional phrases, noun clauses, and pointless adjectives–especially these days, when grammar, style, and structure are taught so little in schools. People have little understanding of or care for the art of building a sentence, especially one with significance.
So before you jump to the long, beautiful sentences you want to write or craft from something already started, take a step back. Look at the core, think about the simple structure first. Let’s take a look at two simple sentences to demonstrate: first, “He kicked the ball.” Second, “She spoke.”
The first uses a transitive verb, meaning it takes an object; transitive verbs MUST have an object to make sense. The second is intransitive, meaning it doesn’t require an object–it is enough in and of itself. But the most important thing to remember is that they are both the most simple sentences, with just the subject-verb-object or subject-verb structure. Of course(!), we must look to sentence diagrams for the best visualization of these structures:
Once you understand this basic core, you can build from there, and you can see how the pieces fit together with greater insight. But keep your eye on the core! When you’re editing or writing, look for the subject, the verb, and (if applicable) the object. Group the other parts of the sentence into their own parts and really narrow it down. You will be able to build something with much more intention going forward.
Check back for the next lesson in this short series of getting straight to the core!