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LANGUAGE ARTS, LESSON I

An important thing to think about when you are practicing for the Language Arts section is that this section is meant to test our knowledge of STANDARD WRITTEN ENGLISH. The English that the test writers are looking for follows the laws of correct grammar and sentence structure. Standard English is a sign of education and is not only useful in school, but in the world of business, finding a job, and in furthering your education. The following lesson will outline what the test writers will be looking for and to help you pass this section of the GED® exam.

COMPLETE SENTENCES

One of the major differences between standard English and spoken English is found in conversation, as most of us use sentence FRAGMENTS. That is, we often use incomplete sentences (groups of words that do not form complete sentences) in conversation to express our views and communicate with friends. In standard written English, fragments are not acceptable.

The following conversation highlights the sentence fragments with italics so that you can get a feel for just how frequently these can be found in our daily communications:

Shop Keeper: “How are you doing today, sir?”

Customer: "Okay.”

Shop Keeper: “Will this be all for you today, sir?”

Customer: “Yeah.”

Shop Keeper: “Will this be cash or charge?”

Customer: “Charge. How much money do I owe you?”

Shop Keeper: “$43.56.”

Look for the S, P, and C of a Sentence:

  • These are the Subject, Predicate, and Complete Thought.

1. A complete sentence will always include a subject. The subject is the main focus of the sentence and is the “whom” or “what” the sentence is about. So always look for the subject in a sentence. If there isn't a subject, it is not a complete sentence - it's a fragment.

Example: “The dog is barking.” This sentence is about “the dog”. The dog is the subject.

2. A complete sentence must always have a predicate. The predicate communicates what the subject does or what the subject is. Always look for the predicate; if there is no predicate, this should indicate to you that the sentence is not complete and therefore is not in standard written English.


Example: “Tom baked a cake yesterday.” The predicate is “baked a cake." This is what Tom did.

3. A complete sentence will also include a finished or complete thought. In other words, a complete sentence will not leave the reader hanging or anticipating more. The sentence will have a complete beginning, middle, and end, and will make sense by itself. If a sentence does not contain a complete thought, it is a fragment and is not proper grammar.


Example: "Susie likes." This is not a complete sentence. It leaves the reader wondering who or what Susie likes. To make this sentence complete, you would have to include this information: "Susie likes cupcakes." Adding "cupcakes" completes the sentence.

Though sentence fragments are perfectly normal in ordinary speech, we have to remember that when writing, we are unable to use the other physical and facial expressions and gestures that we use to convey our feelings in face to face conversation. So in written English, a subject, predicate, and complete thought are all necessary in communicating effectively.

When you read through the Sentence Correction, Sentence Revision, and Construction Shift questions, make sure to check for the S, P, and C of a complete sentence. To help you to better understand the subject and component sections, a few examples are listed below. Each of these examples also contains a complete thought and is therefore considered a complete sentence in standard written English.

Subject Predicate

I feel wonderful today

The mother and daughter (2 subjects) went shopping together.

I want candy.

Star Wars is my favorite movie.

Darth Vader is my father.

To practice writing and recognizing complete sentences (this will be helpful for the Literary Arts Writing Skills Test Part 2), try matching the following subjects and predicates in the sentences below. Use "whom" or "what" the sentence is about to determine which predicate best suits the subject.

SUBJECT

PREDICATE

Tattoos

   is a poisonous plant.

Maria

      are permanent body modifications.

Belladonna

   are used in mortal combat

The speed of light

      went to the store to buy groceries.

Samurai swords

   is faster than the speed of sound.

*Practice making several complete sentences of your own so that you can begin to notice when you use fragments in everyday speech. Understanding the difference between complete sentences and sentence fragments will prove to be very useful in both of the Language Arts Sections of the GED® exam.

The GED® exam will not ask you to identify any specific parts of speech, define or explain terms, or diagram sentences. However, a basic working knowledge of the following terms and the major parts of speech will help you recognize the questions on the exam and be able to understand how standard written English sentences are written.

PARTS OF SPEECH FUNCTION EXAMPLES

Noun: indicates a person, place, thing, or idea
Example: Kitty went to the café to buy a bagel.

Pronoun: takes the place of a noun in a sentence

Example: She prefers to talk to him.

Verb: a word that expresses action

Example: Shane plays the bass and the banjo.

Conjunction: joins words and groups of words
Example: She smiles and laughs at the joke.

Adverb: describes verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs
Example: Allie sings well and often.



PRONOUN USAGE

Determining the correct pronoun form in a compound subject sentence can be tricky. To determine the correct pronoun form, try using each subject independently with the verb. Change the form as required in order for the pronoun to agree appropriately with the subject. This should be fairly easy to do intuitively. Use your own judgment to tell which form naturally sounds the best.

Example:

"Ron and (I, me) will be playing video games.”

Read through the sentence twice, repeating each of the possible choices individually. Separate the sentence into two separate sentences and determine if they make sense on their own--this is a clue as to whether the pronoun usage is correct.

“Ron will be playing video games.”

This sentence has perfect subject verb agreement. The subsequent sentence you construct to parallel this one should work in exactly this way.
There are two possible options:

“I will be playing video games.”

Or

“Me will be playing video games.”

After separating each of the options and trying them, it becomes clear that “Me will be playing video games” does not sound right and the choice becomes easier to make. When a pronoun is employed with a noun immediately following it (such as “we kids”), repeat the sentence without including the noun. After listening closely to the result, your common sense should tell you the right answer.

For example:

“(We/Us) kids all played in the school band last year."

To solve this type of question, simply re-state the sentence two times without the noun: “we played in the school band last year” or “us played in the school band last year.” After repeating both of these answers to yourself, the first answer should definitely sound the best. “We played in the school band last year” makes more sense; therefore, the option “we” is the right answer.

Back: Most Commonly Misspelled GED® Words | Next: Lesson 2


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