There are a few things that may cause difficulty in making a sentence flow. If you get stuck doing a sentence flow, check the following list to diagnose the problem and help you complete the sentence flow.

Click on the following links for a definition and explication of each.

  1. Relative Clauses
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    Relative clauses- (also covered in detail here or here)

    Relative clauses are clauses with a relative pronoun (who, what, which, whomever, etc.)
    Relative clauses are technically a dependent proposition, so they contain a subject, verb and possibly an object and other modifiers.
    However they usually function like an adjective modifying a noun by using the entire proposition to describe the noun.
    When you come across a relative clause, ask what word it modifies.
    Your sentence flow should display the relative clause as a normal proposition, but place the whole clause under the term which is modified, to demonstrate that it describes this term.

    Example: Jesus, who is the Christ, rose from the dead

    Jesus                     rose
      who is the Christ       from the dead
  2. Infinitive Clauses
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    Infinitive Clauses- (also covered in detail here or here)

    Infinitives are the generic form of a verb expressed using the helping word to-. For instance: to run, to jump, to speak, etc. Be careful not to confuse an infinitive with a prepositional phrase which has the preposition to. An infinitive may have modifying words and be part of a larger clause (e.g. it may have a direct object as in the second example below).
    When you see an infinitive clause, first separate it from the rest of the sentence, and then ask how it functions.

    Infinitives will typically have one of three functions:
    1) as a substitute for a noun (subject or object)
    2) as a complementary verb - completing the idea with certain verbs (ought, begin, going, etc.)
    3) as a dependent purpose clause.

    If it functions as a noun, display it as a normal noun function.

    Example:My goal is to play well

    My goal     is       to play

    If it functions with a verb in a complementary relationship, display it with the verb.

    Example:You ought to study your Bible.

    You     ought to study     your Bible.

    If it functions as a purpose clause, display it as a separate proposition modifying the main verb.

    Example:I ran to win the race.

    I     ran
            to win     the race
  3. Multi-Word Verbs
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    Multi-Word Verb- (also covered in detail here)

    English often uses more than one word to say a single verbal idea.
    Do not become confused by the helping verbs, but treat all the words as one idea.
    Often, they can be broken up with the negative adverb not. Display them all as one verb (while separating out any words like not which are not a part of the verbal idea).

    Example:I should not have thrown the ball at my brother.

    I     should have thrown       the ball
              at my brother
  4. If-Then Statements
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    If-Then Statements

    The if… proposition is always a dependent proposition, and the then… proposition is the main idea.
    Occasionally this type of idea is communicated without explicitly using the if…then… conjunctions.
    Display the then… statement as the main proposition and indent the if… proposition to show that it is dependent.

    Example:If you study, then you will pass the exam.

         If   you   study

    Then   you   will pass   the exam

    In many cases, there is more than one if… proposition connected together, or more than one resulting then… proposition.


    if this… and this…then this….


    if this… then this… and this… and this….

    In this case, display each then… proposition as a series of main propositions and each if… proposition as a series of dependent propositions.
  5. Implied Verbs or Nouns
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    Implied Verb or Noun

    Sometimes a sentence is not complete on its own because the larger context makes restatement of some parts unnecessary. To make full grammatical sense, words which are implied must be supplied from the context even though they are not written.

    Example:I ran but did not fall down. Not like a cheetah, but still pretty fast.

                I       ran
    but     ( I )     did not fall down.
    Not like   a cheetah     (would run)
    but still ( I )    (ran)
                          pretty fast
  6. To-Be Verbs
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    To be Verb- (also covered in detail here)

    Various forms of the word be (e.g. is, am, are, etc.) are used:

    1) to state that the subject exists

    2) to state that the subject exists in a certain state or place described by modifying phrases


    3) to equate the subject with the object.

    It is helpful to think of a 'to be' verb as an equal sign equating the subject and object.

    Examples: I am. They are in the house. John is the winner

    1)   I             am

    2)   They       are
                          in the house

    3)   John         is         the winner
  7. Participles
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    Participles- (also covered in detail here or here)

    Participles are -ing verbs which function as a noun, adjective, or adverb.
    Don't confuse a participle with a -ing form of the main verb. Often English uses a 'to be' verb with an -ing form of a verb such as I am writing.
    A participle phrase does not typically have a subject or make sense on its own. A participle will often have an object and modifiers.

    A participle will usually have one of three functions:

    1) as an adjective modifying a noun

    2) as a substitute taking the place of a noun as the subject, object, or object of a preposition,


    3) adverbially, with the participle clause modifying the action of a main clause.


    1) as an adjective: The running dog caught the cat.

    dog     caught     the cat
      the running

    2) as a substitute for a noun: Running is good exercise.

    Running     is     good exercise

    3) as an adverb: I went to the store, running all the way.

    I     went
                to the store

              running all the way
  8. No Direct Objects
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    No Direct Object

    Not every proposition has a direct object. Do not feel you need to display a DO when the proposition does not have one.

    Often, a prepositional phrase will be a tempting option to display as a DO because it often has the feel of 'completing' the idea of the verb.

    However, a prepositional phrase can NEVER function as the DO and should never be displayed in that position. Rather, display the prep. phrase under the word it modifies (usually a noun or verb).

    He went to the class.

    He     went
                to the class
  9. Passive Verbs
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    Passive Verb Constructions- (also covered in detail here)

    Passive verbs swap the relationship of the subject, object, and verb. With active verbs, the subject performs the action on the object. Sometimes an author will flip the sentence around into the passive construction, so that the subject receives the action of the verb. And the verb is changed to reflect the passive idea of receiving the action instead of doing the action.
    For instance: He hit the ball is active. He was hit by the ball is passive.

    A proposition is in the passive construction typically for one of the following reasons:

    1) to emphasize the subject, which is receiving the action, instead of whatever is doing the action

    2) because the one doing the action is unknown


    3) the one doing the action is left unstated for rhetorical reasons (such as not using the name of God out of respect).

    Example: He was raised from the dead

    He    was raised
                from the dead
  10. Compound Sentences
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    Compound Sentences- (also covered in detail here or here)

    A compound sentence either has more than one subject doing the same action (verb) or the subject doing more than one action (verb).

    If it is more than one subject doing the same verbal action, treat it as one proposition.
    If it is the same subject doing more than one action, treat it as separate propositions.
    The verbal actions determine the number of propositions.


    Compound Subject: Jim and John threw the ball.

    Jim and John    threw    the ball.

    Compound Verb: John hit the ball and ran to base.

    John     hit    the ball.
    and      ran
                   to base.
  11. Disclosure/Discourse with Certain Verbs
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    Disclosure/discourse with certain verbs

    Certain verbs (like 'think,' 'say,' 'know,' 'believe,' etc.) can be markers of discourse.

    In these cases, the content of what is said or believed is like a separate sentence which functions as the direct object of the verb which marks the discourse. Sometimes it is connected with the conjunction that.

    In other words, the content of what the subject 'thinks' or 'knows' is the direct object of that verb. But it is also a separate proposition on its own.

    Display the content as a separate proposition, but somehow show that it all functions as the DO of the first proposition.

    Example: I believe that I like cake.

    I     believe
                I    like    cake
  12. Double Direct Object
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    Double Direct Object

    Certain verbs (like 'make,' 'call,' etc.) connect the direct object with another direct object almost as if there is an implied 'to be' verb.
    They are both the direct object of the main verb. And they are connected to one another.
    Display both of them as direct objects, but connect them to one another.

    Example: I made him my friend

    I     made     him   =   friend
  13. Appositives
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    Sometimes a noun is a restatement of the same entity as another noun, giving further explanation of that noun, but with no grammatical markers of the connection.
    The two words are usually next to each other, referring to the same thing, but with no explicit connection.
    The connection must be inferred from the context.
    Display both of them in the same place (function) showing that both nouns refer to the same thing.

    Example: I spoke to my friend, the cook.

    I    spoke
            to my friend   =   the cook

    Example: I went to Phoenix, a city in Arizona.

    I     went
           to Phoenix   =   a city
                                   in Arizona
  14. Imperatives (Commands/Requests)
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    Imperatives (Commands/requests)- (also covered in detail here)

    Verbs that give a command or make a request are called imperatives.
    The subject of imperative verbs is usually an implied you (the person who is being commanded).

    Example: Clean your room!

        (you)    clean     room

    There is also a special case where the imperative is in the form Let something happen where the subject is still an implied you, but there is also a complete sentence (with subj. vb. and objects) that is let to happen.

    Example:Let me have the ball

        (you)    Let
                    me     have    ball
  15. Comparatives with Implied Verbs
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    Comparatives with implied verbs

    Comparative clauses (using a comparative 'like', or 'as') are used to explain other propositions by way of comparison.
    Often times the verb in the comparative clause is implied from the main proposition, but not explicitly repeated in the comparative clause.

    Example:The car took off like a bullet (takes off).

    car         took off


    bullet     (takes off)
  16. Direct Address
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    Direct address

    Occasionally, the author uses a name or title to address the readers directly. Or in dialog, a character may address someone else directly.
    This can be a proper name, or a title like friends, brothers, etc.
    This address is technically not part of the sentence, but a direct address independent of the sentence.
    Display this address separate from the sentence (typically off to the left).

    Example:Jim, I like your car.

    I     like     car

    We need to talk, friends

    We     need
                to talk
  17. Adverbial Clauses
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    Adverbial Clauses- (also covered in detail here or here)

    Sometimes a proposition which would normally be a separate idea is subordinated to another proposition with a subordinating conjunction (e.g. until, because, so that, etc.).
    It is important to recognize the conjunction and therefore to recognize that the second proposition is not a main/separate idea, but rather modifies the first proposition.
    The subordinate clause should be indented to show that it is not a main idea.

    Example: I went to the store after the sun went down.

    I     went
            to the store


            sun    went down