Clause Components

A sentence is a grammatical unit that consists of one or more words expressing a complete thought. There are five types of sentence components:

Every clause has at least two parts: a finite verb and a subject.

Finite Verb

But many clauses have more than to parts.

Finite Verb
Object / Complement / Adjunct
us to learn.
a kind lady.

There are five clause elements in English:

Finite Verb





 1. Finite Verb

A finite verb is the verb that shows tense (present, past or future) and agrees with the subject in number and person. 

  • Birds fly.
  • A bird flies.

The finite verb is the most important element of a sentence. It is like a pivot that carries the weight of a sentence. 

How to Identify Finite Verbs

To identify a finite verb, remember these key things:

1. Tense: Finite verbs show tense – past, present, or future. For example, "The dog barked," "She is singing," and "They will write a letter" all have finite verbs because they convey time.

2. Agreement: Finite verbs agree with their subjects in number (singular or plural) and sometimes person (first, second, or third). For instance, "I go," "We went," and "You will see them" all have finite verbs agreeing with their respective subjects.

3. Independence: A finite verb can usually stand alone to express a complete thought. In the sentence "The sun shines brightly," "shines" is the finite verb and can convey the meaning on its own.

4. Auxiliary verbs: Sometimes, a finite verb might be formed with the help of auxiliary verbs like "have," "be," "can," etc. For example, "I have eaten," "He is being funny," and "They can swim" all have finite verbs formed with auxiliary verbs.

 2. Subject of Verb

The subject of a sentence is a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that performs the action

In simpler terms, the subject is what or whom the sentence is about. It is typically located at the beginning of the sentence. 


Here are some key points to remember about subjects:

  1. Role: The subject is the main "doer" of the verb. In passive voice sentences, the subject receives the action.
  2. Form: Typically, the subject is a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase.
  3. Position: While usually found before the verb, the subject can appear in different positions depending on the sentence structure.
  4. Importance: Identifying the subject is crucial for understanding the meaning and grammar of a sentence.

Here are some examples of subjects:

  1. Simple noun: Cats kill mice.
  2. Pronoun: She baked a delicious cake.
  3. Noun phrase: The group of friends went hiking together.
  4. Noun clause: What he said is not true.

Here are some tips for finding the subject in a sentence:

  1. Ask "who" or "what" is performing the action of the verb.
  2. Look for the noun or pronoun that agrees in number (singular or plural) with the verb.

  1. Try reversing the sentence to see if the noun or pronoun makes sense as the subject.

Subject controls the number and person of the finite verb.

  • He lives in Italy. (Singular subject & singular verb)
  • They live in Italy. (Plural subject & plural verb)

A sentence always begins with a subject unless it is an imperative mood. 

Right: Tom is a cute dog.
Wrong: is a cute dog.
Right: It looks after our house.
Wrong: looks after our house.


Imperatives don't begin with subjects. The subject of an imperative sentence is 'you' which is not mentioned. It is understood. 

  • Come to the board. [=(You) Come to the board.]
  • Draw a cat. [=(You) Draw a cat.]

Dummy Subject: 

'There' and 'It' can work as dummy subjects. Dummy subjects are not real subjects. The real subject appears after the verb.


We use 'there' to tell where something is, or when something happens. 

  • There is a large tree in our village. 
  • There are large trees in our village.


'It' becomes the subjects of impersonal verbs. We use 'it' to talk about the weather.

  • It is windy today.
  • It will rain soon. 

We use 'it' to talk about time and date.

  • It is 10 O' clock.
  • It was 1971. 

 3. Object of Verb

An object is a noun phrase that receives the action of the verb. Objects appear just after the transitive verb. There are two types of objects: direct objects and indirect objects.  

Direct Object

A mono-transitive verb has only one object. It is called direct object.  Direct objects appear just after the transitive verbs. Direct objects receive the action of the verb. 

  • Ricky kicks football to Micky.
  • I read a book.

Indirect Object 

A di-transitive verb has two objects. The first object is a person [man or woman], and it is called Indirect Object. The second object is Direct Object. Indirect Object receives the Direct Object.  

  • Ricky gives Micky a bat.
  • Grandma told Jessica a story.  

Structures of Indirect Object

If a verb has two objects, we put the indirect object before the direct object.

Structure: Subject + Transitive Verb + Indirect Object + Direct Object

  • I'll send you a post card. 
  • She bought her husband a car. 

If we put the indirect object (the person receiving the direct object) after the direct object, we have to use to or for before the person receiving the direct object. 

Structure: Subject + Transitive Verb + Direct Object + to/for + Indirect Object

  • I'll send a post card to you. 
  • She bought a car for her husband. 

To or for?

We can use to with these verbs: bring, feed, give, hand, lend, offer, owe, pass, pay, post, promise, read, sell, send, show, take, teach, tell, throw, write.

We can use for with these verbs: book, bring, build, buy, choose, cook, fetch, find, get, leave, make, order, pick, reserve, save.

 4. Complements 

A complement is a noun or an adjective that is used after linking verbs like "be" or "become" or after the object of certain verbs like "elect", "select', 'nominate', 'appoint', 'name', 'call', etc.

 A complement renames the preceding noun or describes it. There are two main types of complements - subject complements and object complements

Subject Complements

A subject complement is an adjective or a noun that is used after linking verbs like be and become.

If the subject complement is a noun, it is called predicate nominativeA predicate nominative renames the subject. 

    • Tigers are animals. (Tigers = animals)
    • Jim is a singer. (Jim = a singer)

    If the subject complement is an adjective, it is called predicative adjectivepredicative adjective modifies the subject.

    • Tigers are ferocious.
    • Jim is smart.

    Remember: Subject complements are used after the following verbs:

    • Be verbs: am, is, are, was, were, be & been
    • Sense verbs: feel, look, taste, smell, & sound
    • Verbs of perception: seem & appear
    • Change-of-state verbs: become, get, grow, go, & turn 

    Note that all the verbs can be replaced with a be verb

    Pronoun Subject Complements

    Pronoun subject complements after "be verbs" can be in object form or in subject form. Object form is informal and very popular. Subject form is formal.

    • It was I who helped you first. 
    • It was me who helped you first. 

    More Examples of Subject Complements

    SubjectVerbSubject ComplementType
    Heisa boy.Noun
    Youaremy friend.Noun
    Youbecameour captain.Noun

    Subject Complement vs Object

    Both the subject complement and the object are used after verbs. But a subject complement and an object are not same.

    Compare the following sentences:

    1. Ricky is a doctor
    2. Ricky married a doctor.

    In the first sentence, Ricky and a doctor are same person [Ricky = a doctor]. Here, a doctor is a subject complement.

    But in the second sentence, Ricky and a doctor are different persons [Ricky  a doctor]. Here, a doctor is an object. 

    Object Complements

    An object complement is an adjective or a noun that appears after the object and modifies or renames it [the object]. 

    • We elected James our captain. (Noun)
    • His conduct made them angry. (Adjective) 

    RememberObject complements appear after the following verbs: elect, select, nominate, appoint, make, & call

    More Examples of Object Complements

    SubjectVerbObjectObject ComplementType

    Object vs Object Complement

    If a verb has two nouns after it, the second noun may be an object, or an object complement. How will you know?

    Remember that the object and object complement are same person or thing.

    But direct object and the indirect object are different. Look at the following two sentences.

    1. The class elected Ricky their captain
    2. They gave Ricky a gift.

    In the first sentence, Ricky and their captain are same person [Ricky = their captain]. Here, 'their captain' is an object complement. 

    In the second sentence, Ricky and a gift are different [Ricky  a gift]. Here, 'a gift' is an object. 

     5. Adjuncts

    In grammar, adjuncts are words, phrases, or clauses that add extra information to a sentence but are not essential for its grammatical structure. They are optional accessories that dress up the sentence with additional details. 

    What they do:

    1. Provide more context about the main event (verb) in the sentence.
    2. Can answer questions like "when", "where", "why", "how", or "how often".
    3. Modify nouns, adjectives, adverbs, or even other adjuncts.

    Key characteristics:

    • Optional: Removing an adjunct usually won't change the grammatical correctness of the sentence.


    There are three types of adjuncts: adverbadverbial phrase, and adverbial clause

    • Tigers run fast. (Adverb)
    • They hunt for food at night. (Adverbial Phrase)
    • You can't see when you are sleeping. (Adverbial Clause)


    • The train arrived yesterday afternoon, puffing into the station. [Adjuncts: yesterday afternoon, puffing into the station]
    • He is surprisingly friendly, despite his gruff exterior. [Adjuncts: surprisingly, despite his gruff exterior]

    Benefits of using adjuncts:

    1. Enhance clarity and detail in your writing or speech.
    2. Create vivid imagery and engage the reader or listener.
    3. Add variety and nuance to your sentences.

    Position of Adjuncts

    Adjuncts do not have any fixed position. You can use them in three places in the sentence. They are-

    1. before the subject (front position),
    2. between the subject and the verb (mid position) and
    3. after the object or complement (end position).  

    Front Position

    Front position means that adjuncts are the first item of the sentence. 

    • Last year I visited New York. 
    • In the morning I found the thief. 
    • Then he was free.

    Mid Position

    Mid position means between the subject and the verb.

    • He usually comes home at night.

    If the verb phrase has an auxiliary verb and a main verb, the adjunct may go between them. 

    • This will gradually stop bleeding. 

    End Position

    End position means after the intransitive verb, or after the object or complement.

    • He finished the job well
    • It hardly rains in winter


    Adjuncts do not have any fixed position. You may use the same adjunct in any of the three positions.

    • He eats oats in the morning
    • In the morning, he eats oats. 

    Remember, adjuncts like sprinkles on ice cream are optional but delicious! They add extra flavor and dimension to your sentences, but the core structure remains stable even without them.


    1. Cambridge Grammar of English by Ronald Carter and Michael McCarthy

    2. High School English Grammar & Composition by Wren & Martin

    3. Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary by AS Hornby