I saw a sentence earlier today:

Follow this checklist prior to embarking on your next camping trip to help you avoid running into problems during your trip away.

I have a couple questions about this sentence.

  1. Can "follow" lead and start a sentence? or have to change it to be “following”.
  2. Is "prior to" the predicate of the sentence?

The whole sentence structure is strange to me. It is written by a local who speaks English as first language, so I would like to know whether it is a type of conventional expression.

closed as off-topic by Edwin Ashworth, user140086, Nathaniel, Hellion, JEL Jan 14 '16 at 5:02

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  • 1
    The sentence you quote is perfectly proper. "Follow" is being used as a verb, where the subject "you" is implied. This is the style of an "imperative" sentence. – Hot Licks Jan 7 '16 at 3:30
  • The original title you gave your question sounds strange to me, so I edited it, as well as a couple strange sounding sentences in the content of your question. – Blessed Geek Jan 7 '16 at 4:02
  • 2
    Our sister site for English Language Learners may be of interest. – choster Jan 7 '16 at 4:19

Yes, it's okay to start a sentence with "follow." You seem to misunderstand, though. "Follow" isn't being used as an object, a noun, it's being used as a verb. It's using the imperative mood, sometimes called the command form. It's commanding that you "follow." In English, when a verb is conjugated into the imperative, we do not normally use the subject "you." The subject "you" is implied. In fact, you know it's a command because it doesn't say "you." That's how you know. Even though it doesn't say "you," you should understand it to mean, "You follow this checklist..."

As for your second question, "prior to" is not the predicate of the sentence. It's part of the predicate, but it's not the whole predicate. Since the predicate is everything in the sentence that isn't the subject and since the subject "you" isn't stated but implied, the entire sentence is the predicate.

  • I would have said the direct object (and hence predicate) was checklist. Were we translating it to Latin it would be in the accusative case. Prior to introduces an indirect object clause, possibly a dative, but it is more than half a century since I studied Latin. – WS2 Jan 7 '16 at 14:53
  • Although the direct object isn't the predicate, it is pat of it. The predicate starts with the verb and goes on to include ALL parts of the sentence that are not the subject, including the direct object, "checklist," just like you said. As for Latin verb conjugations and declensions, it hasn't been more than half a century for me, so that hell is a bit fresher. I shouldn't complain though, knowing Latin has actually been pretty beneficial. – Benjamin Harman Jan 7 '16 at 18:54
  • I'm sorry. It has been so long I had forgotten what predicate was. – WS2 Jan 7 '16 at 20:54
  • Yes Latin is a great benefit and in my old age I can see its value. We were always being told that the best way to understand English grammar was to refer to Latin; or French which has a more regular and more Latinised grammar than English. Modern linguistics people, I believe, think this is a rubbish approach, because it just means you are trying to understand English in terms of something it isn't. But in my case, you can't teach an old dog new tricks, I'm afraid. – WS2 Jan 7 '16 at 21:01

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