Page 2 Sentence Skills Study Guide for the ACCUPLACER® test

Sentence Structure

Sentence structure combines the concepts in the previous two paragraphs and requires you to understand how sentences should be created and structured, including proper punctuation. As discussed above, a sentence must have (at least) both a subject and a verb. The phrase “the small dog” is not a sentence, while “The small dog jumped.” is a sentence. You must be able to accurately identify and place nouns, pronouns, and adjectives, as well as verbs and adverbs. To combine these, you must know how to use and identify prepositions and conjunctions. When preparing for this part of the exam, practice identifying the different parts of a sentence and using different layouts when creating your own sentences.


A noun is, in the simplest explanation, a person, place, or thing. Nouns are also typically the subject of the sentence, though these can also be proper nouns.

“The little girl played with the dog.”

In the sentence, the words girl and dog are nouns.


A pronoun is a word used to take the place of a noun.

“Edmond and Lucy are siblings, though they do not always get along.”

The pronoun in this sentence is they, as they replaces the nouns Edmond and Lucy.


An adjective is a word used to describe a noun or pronoun.

“Those tiny green tadpoles will one day become frogs.”

The words tiny and green are used to describe tadpoles (a noun) and are, therefore, adjectives.


An adverb is a word used to describe a verb (or action).

“He ran for home base quickly, fearing a tag.”

In this sentence, quickly is describing the manner in which he ran, making the word an adverb.


A preposition is a word used to describe location (on, in, there, above, etc).

“One cat is on the floor, one is above the dishwasher, and one is lounging beneath the sink.”

In the sentence, the words on, above, and beneath are all prepositions, as they indicate the location of the cats.


A conjunction is a word joining two sentences or phrases (including and, but, if, etc).

“Carly loved going to the zoo, but Carlos was adamantly against it; if animals were meant to be locked up, he reasoned, they would do so to themselves in the wild.”

In the sentence, the words but and if join sentences/clauses and are therefore conjunctions.

Though writing matters intimidate many people, simply reading and identifying the different parts of sentences in everyday life can help prepare you for this section of the ACCUPLACER. When reading, pay attention to punctuation, structure, and overall cadence in writing, and work to identify what makes up an effective and ineffective sentence.