TOEFL STRUCTURE SKILL 1-5

SKILL 1 : SUBJECTS AND VERBS

Some sentences in English have just one subject and verb, and it is very important for you to find the subject and verb in these sentences. In some sentences it is easy to find the subject and verb. However, certain structures, such as objects of prepositions, appositives, and participles, can cause confusion in locating the subject and verb because each of these structures can look like a subject or verb. An object of the preposition or an appositive can be mistaken for a subject, while a participle can be mistaken for a verb.

Therefore, you should be able to do the following in sentences with one subject and verb: 1) be sure the sentence has a subject and a verb, 2) be careful of objects of prepositions and appositives when you are looking for the subject, and 3) be careful of present participles and past participles when you are looking for the verb.

You know that a sentence in English should have a subject and a verb. The most common types of problems that you will encounter in the Structure section of the TOEFL test are related to subjects and verbs; perhaps the sentence is missing either the subject, or the verb, or both; perhaps the sentence has an extra subject or verb. A preposition is followed by a noun or pronoun that is called an object of the preposition. If a word is an object of a preposition, it is not the subject.

Example :

The boy ______________  going to the movies with a friend.

(a) He is

(b) He always was

(c) Is relaxing

(d) Will be

This sentence has a subject (boy) and has part of a verb ( going ) ; to be correct, some from of the verb be is needed to make the sentence complete. Answer (A) and (B) are incorrect because the sentence already has a subject (boy) and does not need the extra subject he. Answer (C) is incorrect because relaxing is an extra verb part that is unnecessary because of going. Answer (D) is the best answer; will be together with going is a complete verb.

EXERCISE 1 :

1.         The box can be opened only with a special screwdriver.

Analysis:  The subject is The box and verb is opened, so the sentence is Correct.

2.         The assigned text for history class it contains more than twenty chapters.

Analysis: The sentence has double subject (text and it). So the sentence is Incorrect.

3.         Departure before dawn on a boat in the middle of the harbor.

Analysis: The sentence doesn’t have a subject (could be departure is scheduled).  So the sentence is Incorrect.

4.         The bus schedule has changed since last week.

Analysis: The subject is The bus and verb is has changed, so the sentence is Correct.

5.         Yesterday found an interesting article on pollution.

Analysis: The sentence doesn’t have a Subject (could be I found). So the sentence is Incorrect.

SKILL 2 : OBJECT OF A PREPOSITION

An object of a preposition is a noun or a pronoun that comes after a preposition, such as in, at, of, to, by, behind, on, and so on, to form a prepositional phrase.

Example 1:

(After his exams) Tom will take a trip (by boat)

This sentence contains two objects of prepositions. Exams is the object of the preposition after and boat is the object of the preposition by.

An object of a preposition can cause confusion in the Structure section of the TOEFL test because it can be mistaken for the subject of a sentence.

Example 2:

With his friend ………… found the movie theater.

(a) has

(b) he

(c) letter

(d) when

In this example you should look first for the subject and the verb. You should notice the verb found and should also notice that there is no subject. Do not think that friend is the subject; friend is the object of the preposition with, and one noun cannot be both a subject and an object at the same time. Because a subject is needed in this sentence, answer (B), he, is the best answer. Answers (A), (C), and (D) are not correct because they cannot be subjects.

EXERCISE 2:

1.         In the last possible moment before takeoff took his seat in the airplane.

Analysis: The sentences has missing subject (could be he took). So it is Incorrect.

2.         For the last three years at various hospitals in the country has been practicing medicine.

Analysis: The sentences has missing subject (could be the doctor). So it is Incorrect.

3.         In the summer the trip to the mountains is our favorite trip.

Analysis: Subject is the trip and verb is Is. So, it is correct.

4.         During the week eat lunch in the school cafeteria.

Analysis: Verb is eat but there is no Subject. So, it is incorrect. The week is not Subject, it is object of preposition.

5.         At 1:00 in the morning the alarm clock on the table beside the bed rang.

Analysis: Subject is the alarm clock and Verb is rang. So, it is correct.

SKILL 3: PRESENT PARTICIPLES

Present participles can-cause confusion in the Structure section of the TOEFL test because a present participle can be either an adjective or a part of the verb. A present participle is the – ing form of the verb. It is part of the verb when it is preceded by some form of the verb be.

(I) The train is arriving at the station now. (Arriving is VERB)

In this sentence, arriving is part of the verb because it is accompanied by is.

(II) The train arriving at the station now is an hour late. (Arriving is ADJECTIVE)

In this sentence, arriving is an adjective and not part of the verb because it is not accompanied by some form of be. The verb in this sentence is is.

The following example shows how a present participle can be confused with the verb in the Structure section of the TOEFL test.

EXAMPLE :

The film ____ appearing at the local theater is my favorite.

(A) now

(B) is

(C) it

(D) was

In this example, if you look at only the first words of the sentence, it appears that film is the subject and appearing is part of the verb. If you think that appearing is part of the verb, you might choose answer (B), is, or answer (D), was, to complete the verb. However, these two answers are incorrect because appearing is not part of the verb. You should recognize that appearing is a participial adjective rather than a verb because there is another verb in the sentence, is. In this sentence, there is a complete subject, film, and a complete verb, is, so this sentence does not need another subject or verb. The best answer to this question is answer (A).

EXERCISE 3 :

1.         The companies offering the lowest prices will have the most customers.

Analysis: The sentence has a subject (The companies) and a verb (will have). Offering is a present participle, so the sentence is   Correct.

2.         The clothes are lying the floor should go into the washing machine.

Analysis: In this sentence, lying is part of the verb because it is accompanied by are. So the sentence is Incorrect.

3.         Those travelers are completing their trip on Delta should report to Gate Three.

Analysis: The sentence has double verb (are and should report). So it is Incorrect.

4.         The first team winning four games is awarded the championship.

Analysis: The sentence has a subject (The first team) and a verb (is awarded). Winning is a present participle, so the sentence is Correct.

5.         The spices flavoring the meal were quite distinctive.

Analysis: The sentence has a subject (The spices) and a verb (were quite). Flavoring is a present participle, so the sentence is Correct.

SKILL 4 : PAST PARTICIPLES

Past participles can cause confusion in the Structure section of the TOEFL test because a past participle can be either an adjective or a part of the verb. The past participle is the form of the verb that appears with have or be. It often ends in -ed, but there are also many irregular past participles in English.

 (I) The mailman has left a letter in the mailbox. (Left is VERB)

(II) The letter left in the mailbox was for me. (Left is ADJECTIVE)

In the first sentence, the past participle left is part of the verb because it is accompanied by has. In the second sentence, left is an adjective rather than a verb because it is not accompanied by a form of be or have (and there is a verb, was, later in the sentence). The following example shows how a past participle can be confused with the verb in the Structure section of the TOEFL test.

EXAMPLE :

The bread _____ baked this morning smelled delicious.

(A) has

(B) was

(C) it

(D) just

In this example, if you look only at the first few words of the sentence, it appears that bread is the subject and baked is either a complete verb or a past participle that needs a helping verb. But if you look further in the sentence, you will see the verb smelled. You will then recognize that baked is a participial adjective and is therefore not part of the verb. Answers (A) and (B) are incorrect because baked is an adjective and does not need a helping verb such as has or was. Answer (C) is incorrect because there is no need for the subject it. Answer (D) is the best answer to this question.

EXERCISE 4 :

1.         The packages just mailed at the post office will arrived Monday.

Analysis: Subject is The packages and Verb is arrived. Mailed is past participle as an adjective. So the sentences is Correct.

2.         The courses are listed in the catalogue are required courses.

Analysis:  Subject is The course and Verb is are required. are listed is inccorect, but it should be listed (be past participle as an adjective). So this sentence is Incorrect.

3.         The small apartment very crowded and disorganized.

Analysis: Subject is the small apartment but there is no Verb. The sentence should be The small apartment is very crowded and disorganized. Crowded and disorganized are past participle as adjectives. So the sentence is Incorrect.

4.         The car listed in the advertisement had already stalled.

Analysis: Subject is the car and the verb is had already stalled. Listed is past participle, so this sentence is Correct.

5.         Any bills paid by the first of the month will be credited to your account by the next day.

Analysis: Subject is any bills and the verb is will be credited. paid is past participle, so this sentence is Correct.

SKILL 5: COORDINATE CONNECTOR

Many sentences in English have more than one clause. (A clause is a group of words containing a subject and a verb.) When you have two clauses in an English sentence, you must connect the two clauses correctly. One way to connect two clauses is to use and, but, or, or so between the clauses.

The sun was shining and the sky was blue.

The sky was blue, but it was very cold.

It may rain tonight, or it may be clear.

It was raining outside, so I took my umbrella.

In each of these examples, there are two clauses that are correctly joined with a coordinate connector—and, but, or, or so—and a comma (,). The following example shows how this sentence pattern could be tested in the Structure section of the TOEFL test.

EXAMPLE :

I forgot my coat, ____ I got very cold.

(A) then

(B) so

(C) later

(D) as a result

In this example, you should notice quickly that there are two clauses, I forgot my coat and I got very cold. This sentence needs a connector to join the two clauses. Then, later, and as a result are not connectors, so answers (A), (C), and (D) are not correct. The best answer is answer (B) because so can connect two clauses in this manner.

EXERCISE 5 :

1.         The missing wallet was found, but the cash and credit cards had been removed.

Analysis: Both clauses are correct and coordinate connector is correct. So this sentences is Correct.

2.         The leaves kept falling off the trees, and the boys kept raking them up, but the yard was still covered.

Analysis: Both clauses are correct and coordinate connector is correct. So this sentences is Correct.

3.         The chemist was awarded the Nobel Prize, he flew to Europe to accept it.

Analysis: The sentences has not connector, so it is Incorrect.

4.         So the quality of the print was not good, I changed the typewriter ribbon.

Analysis: Coordinate connector is in wrong position. So the sentence is Incorrect.

5.         The furnace broke so the house got quite cold.

Analysis: Both clauses are correct, but there is no comma. It should be: The furnace broke, so the house got quite cold. So this sentences is Incorrect.

Sources:

http://pusattoefl.blogspot.com

http://www.toeflskill.com

http://englishahkam.blogspot.com

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