Is there a noun that groups these five objects, in the same way that the term "noun" describes "apple", "bottle", "curtain" and "procrastination". Would you just call them sentence components? Note that I'm not asking about what you'd call the words themselves, but how you describe their function in a sentence, in the same way that you describe a group of words predicated around one part of speech as a "phrase".


According to Bablenet, these are called clause elements:

These are well worth learning about, as you will certainly want to use them to explain the syntax of language data you are studying in exams or investigations. If you are not able to describe or identify clause types, it is usually acceptable and always helpful to consider how these elements work together. You may use them to explain how sentences work, also. They are: subject (S), object (O), verb (V), complement (C), adverbial (A)

  • That was everything I needed to know :). +1 and accepted. – Lou Apr 10 '14 at 21:40
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    That's not a standard name, though, and these are not the only ones. Subject and Object are Grammatical Relations; verb is a part of speech (or perhaps half a hundred parts of speech, if one distinguishes verb types); complement is a name for a type of subordinate noun clause; and adverbial is an name for a word, phrase, or clause that niches like an adverb. – John Lawler Apr 11 '14 at 0:15
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    @JohnLawler - thanks. I saw them (plus sometimes the vocative) listed this way on multiple websites, so I thought this might be what the OP wanted. However, I know my knowledge is actually very limited. I like to do some reading before tackling these questions. If you like a particular website, I'd appreciate a recommendation. I'm enjoying one that Barrie steered me to, but can always use more. – anongoodnurse Apr 11 '14 at 0:32
  • There really isn't a website. You need a grammar book. Barrie is fond of Huddleston and Pullum, which is a fine grammar, but it's 1600 pages long and will never appear in paperback. I prefer McCawley's The Syntactic Phenomena of English (U Chicago Press 1998, 2nd edition). He lays it all out, very clearly. And in only about 800 pages. – John Lawler Apr 11 '14 at 0:46
  • @JohnLawler - thank you for your recommendation. I appreciate it, and will have a look at it. – anongoodnurse Apr 11 '14 at 1:01

Noun, verb, pronoun, adjective, adverb, etc are parts of speech. Subject, object, complement, adverbial, etc are functions.


I am not sure whether I understand your question. The grammar terms you have in your head line are parts of a sentence, with the exception of "verb". Verb is a word class, but it is often also used in analysing the parts of a sentence.

You can call these "things" parts of a sentence, elements of a sentence or components of a sentence, it is all the same. I'm not quite sure, but I think the linguistic term constituents is also used for parts of a sentence, but it is not a term of traditional grammar.

Discussion of the term verb.

As verb is primarily a word class (often also called "parts of speech", rather a vague term) one should have an unambiguous term for verb as part of the sentence. But there is not yet an accepted term. I often use VE (verbal element).

  • I think you've understood the question just fine. I understand that they're all constituents of a sentence, I just wondered if there was a more precise way of expressing that. – Lou Apr 11 '14 at 10:15

I think they all could be called phrases.

In linguistic analysis, a phrase is a group of words (or possibly a single word) that functions as a constituent in the syntax of a sentence, a single unit within a grammatical hierarchy. --Wikipedia

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