What Are the Different Parts of a Sentence? (Overview)

By Carly Forsaith, updated on July 7, 2023

Would you like to know about the different parts of a sentence? If so, you're in the right place. This article will teach you everything you need to know about the various elements of a sentence.

In short, a sentence has eight major parts:

  • subjects
  • predicates
  • direct objects
  • indirect objects
  • complements
  • modifiers
  • phrases
  • clauses

This guide is part of our free online Grammar Book.

What Are Parts of a Sentence?

So before we dive in, what exactly are parts of a sentence?

  • Essentially, they are the different grammatical elements you can find in a sentence.

It's essential to understand all of these to write grammatically sound sentences.

  • Some of these will be required in every single sentence, while others will only be found in some of your sentences, not all.

So what makes up a sentence? Let's find out.


There is only one type of sentence that doesn't require a subject, and that's the imperative sentence because the subject is implied. Other than those, every single sentence must contain a subject.

  • The subject of a sentence is the thing that performs the verb or has the verb done to it.
  • It can be a person, a thing, an animal, a place, an activity... the list is pretty much endless.

If you want to find the subject in a sentence, ask yourself, who or what is doing the verb?

To put this into practice, take a look at the following sentences where the subject is underlined:

My cat carried the mouse all the way back home just to show me. 

Your friends are the family you choose.

Despite everything, our vacation in Hawaii holds my best memories. 

Sleeping under the stars is the best feeling. 

My favorite restaurant has got to be the Earth and Stars.

To learn more about subjects, check out this article.


Predicates are the other piece sentences can't do without. They contain the verb and, if relevant, any other words that add detail to the verb's action. I say "if relevant" because sometimes there aren't any other verbs, and the predicate is made up of just the verb, like in this sentence:

She runs.

The subject is 'she,' and the predicate is 'runs.' This is what's known as a simple predicate. If you wanted to, you could add the adjective 'fast' to the predicate:

She runs fast.

'Runs fast' is the complete predicate. Let's add even more words to the predicate:

She runs fast to the other side of the field.

To read about predicates in more detail, read this article.

Direct Objects

Sometimes predicates contain direct objects. That's the person or thing that is being done by the verb. To find the direct object in a sentence, just ask, "To what/whom is the verb being done?"

She plays the piano beautifully.

In the above sentence, 'she' is the subject, and 'plays the piano beautifully' is the predicate. Within that predicate, there's a direct object: 'piano.' How do I know? Easy! The verb is 'plays,' and the thing receiving the verb's action (the thing being played) is the piano. Let's take a look at some more examples. You'll see the direct object underlined.

I'm wearing a Cartier necklace to the gala tonight.

Let's paint the town red! 

Have you finished writing your novel?

Here's an article dedicated to direct objects if you want to learn more.

Indirect Objects

Indirect objects, just like direct objects, are a part of the predicate. That's if there is one because there isn't always. But first, what is an indirect object? Simply put, it's the thing or person that receives the sentence's direct object.

Here's an example:

I'm cooking my friends dinner.

In the above sentence, the subject is 'I,' and the predicate is 'cooking my friends dinner.' 'Dinner' is the direct object since that's the thing being cooked. But what/whom is the recipient of the direct object (the dinner)? Why, it's the friends, of course! That makes 'my friends' the indirect object.

Let's take a look at some more examples:

They put up all the players in a luxury hotel.

He looked me in the eye and told me there's no way I'm forty years old.

I think he sold us a knock off.

Here's the full article if you wish to become an indirect object pro.


Complements are another part of the predicate. That's when they're relevant, of course (they aren't always needed).

  • Complements provide additional information about the subject (subject complements) or the object (object complements).

Here are some examples of subject complements (see the complement underlined):

You seem tired today; are you okay?

He's becoming a fine young man.

My dog is always hungry.

Here are some examples of object complements:

That movie always makes me cry.

I didn't have the guts to tell her I found her painting ugly.

We bought him a birthday gift.

Notice how the subject complement always follows a linking verb, and the object complement always follows the direct object.

Wanna learn more about complements? Head here.


Modifiers can be adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases, or determiners, and their purpose is to provide more information about some elements of the sentence.

  • The information they provide isn't essential to the reader's understanding of the sentence, but it certainly offers more depth or helps to paint a particular picture in the reader's mind.

Look at the following sentence, for example:

The man stepped out onto the porch and sat down with a drink.

That's a perfectly good sentence, but we can make it even better by adding some modifiers.

The man stepped out onto the recently renovated porch and sat down with a deeply refreshing drink to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine's rays.

Now, doesn't that help you picture the scene so much better?

Here are some more examples of modifiers (underlined):

She certainly has a glass half full attitude. 

I'm going straight home as soon as the clock strikes five. 

Some of the contestants on this show are extremely talented.

As you can see, sometimes a modifier can be just a single word, while other times it can be an entire phrase or clause.

Here's the full article on modifiers if you want to brush up your knowledge.


There are two types of clauses: independent and dependent. At the very least, a sentence contains one independent clause.

  • An independent clause can stand alone because it expresses a full thought.
  • It has a subject and predicate, which, as you know, is all a sentence needs to be complete.

Here's an example of an independent clause:

I'm heading home now.

On the other hand, a dependent clause cannot stand alone as it doesn't convey a complete thought, even though it contains a subject and a predicate.

Here's one:

Because I don't want to get caught up in the rain.

You can tell something is missing here. The word 'because' gives it away because it explains the reason for something. But for what? Let's attach it to our independent clause:

I'm heading home now because I don't want to get caught up in the rain.

Makes more sense, right?

So there you have it: a sentence can contain just one independent clause or a mixture of independent and independent clauses, just never one dependent clause. If you want to learn more about this, check out this article on sentence structure.


Last but not least: phrases. Phrases are part of clauses, which are part of sentences, as we just learned. A phrase can never count as a sentence because it contains neither a subject nor a predicate.

  • Phrases can be removed, and the sentence would still make sense.
  • However, they are useful to have because they provide additional information and detail.

Here are some examples of phrases (underlined):

I like to read before bed.

They serve the best pizza ever.

She walked home as slowly as possible.

Learn more about phrases here.

Concluding Thoughts on Parts of a Sentence

That concludes this article on the different parts of a sentence. Remember, good writing uses rich sentences, but you never want them to be unnecessarily long. This takes practice, but I always say, remember to have fun! Use this article to remind you of the different elements you can use in your sentences and play around with them until you naturally start to build confidence.

Let's summarize what we've learned:

  • Parts of a sentence are the various elements you might find in a sentence.
  • Every sentence needs a subject and a predicate and has at least one independent clause.
  • You can use objects, complements, and modifiers to enrich your sentences.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about how grammar can help you be a better writer, check out our Grammar Book. It's a free online database chock full of helpful articles about complex grammatical concepts that are explained in simple terms.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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