The parts of speech work together to form sentences. The Sentence, in its simplest form, consists of two parts: subject and verb. It can be said that correct combination of the subject and the verb makes a sentence.

For example, all of the following are complete sentences:

  • John (subject) walks (verb)
  • Cats (subject) purr (verb)
  • Justice (subject) prevails (verb)

In these sentences, there is not much to analysis. However, GMAT deals with much complicated sentences. There are certain elements added which makes the sentence much harder to find subject and verb. These elements typically take the form of:

  • Prepositional Phrases: Prepositions are words that indicate the position or relationship between nouns, verbs and adjectives.

  • Modifiers: A modifier is a word or phrase that describes or qualifies another word or phrase in the sentence.

The use of prepositional phrases and modifiers adds more detail to a sentence, but sometimes makes it more difficult to isolate the parts. For example:

  • After awakening from his afternoon nap, John walked aimlessly from room to room, searching for something to do.
  • Cats, like most members of the family Felidae, purr in order to express contentment or pleasure.
  • Despite the oftentimes egregious failings of the court system, justice, it was agreed by legal scholars, often prevailed in due time.

Notice that these sentences, despite adding more details, are saying basically the same thing as the three prior sentences.

Clause and Phrase

Clause is fundamental building block of a sentence. A clause contains a noun + a verb. Every sentence has at least one main clause. It may have two or more joined by a conjunction. Main clause is also known as independent clause as it can stand independently as its own sentence. Dependent clause (also called subordinate clause) are those that would be awkward if used alone.

Phrase refers to a group of words that function together as a part of speech. They do not contain subject-verb pair. Certain phrases have specific names based on the type of word that begins or governs the word group - noun phrase, verb phrase, prepositional phrase, infinitive phrase, participle phrase, gerund phrase, and absolute phrase.