Transition to American Academic English

Complete Sentence Structure

Formal American English requires a subject and verb in every sentence:

Subject / Verb / {Predicate}

Some other languages (for example, Arabic and Chinese) do not follow this rule.

Informal American speech and advertising often assume the audience knows the subject.

Great Taste … Less Filling

Students who are struggling with sentence structure often write sentences that must "borrow" structural elements from their neighbors—with a result that is confusing and poor grammar.

Margaret showed us her new dress. A real bargain.

To do it right, make sure all the pieces are there:

Our beer has great taste and is less filling.
Margaret showed us her new dress, which was a real bargain

This requirement to have a subject and verb in every sentence is so strong that English often uses "dummy subjects" to fulfill the rules, even though the dummies carry no information of their own.

There are many ways to skin a cat.
It is better to be safe than sorry.

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Ashland University.
Revised 12/26/18 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: