Structuring information: sentence or fragment?

Academic Writing in English – Faculty of Medical & Human Sciences

Session 3 Structuring Information

Subjects and verbs

A fundamental rule in written English is that every sentence has a subject which comes before a verb. Subjects generally come at or near the beginning of a sentence. They are usually things or people that we want to say something about. Verbs may be actions or they may simply provide a link between the subject and certain information about the subject.

Look at the examples below:

• He treated the patient. (action)

• Malaria is a life-threatening parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes. (link)

• Endoscopic surgery helps patients to recover fast by reducing complications after gynaecological procedures. (action)

Notice that the subject and the verb may be quite complex phrases, consisting of more than one word.

• Not all hospital or academic libraries are open to the public. (link)

• Seizures in patients with HIV can be caused by brain lesions, the effects of HIV on the brain, or drug toxicity. (action)

Certain words or phrases may precede the subject:

• Consequently, patients receiving chemotherapy suffer unwanted toxicities in both the haematological and other systems (action)

• In the same period last year, the hospital deficit was 4 million pounds. (link)

Many sentences contain more than just one subject and one verb. Sometimes one subject may have two verbs. Look at these examples. The subjects are in bold.

• She received the treatment on 10th June and responded immediately.

Sometimes a verb may have two subjects:

• Currently, about 35 percent of women and 31 percent of men are considered seriously overweight.

Exercise 1
Indicate whether you think the items below are sentences.

1. The impact of medical libraries and literature on patient care in New Zealand.

2. The company will push ahead with its research and drug development programmes.

3. Data presented on the impact of rapid testing with PNA FISH (TM) on patient care.

4. To explore whether mortality from female breast, ovarian, colon, and prostate cancer were negatively associated with exposure to sunlight.

5. PNA FISH(TM) is a qualitative nucleic acid hybridization assay intended for identification of bacteria and yeast species from blood cultures.

6. As a result of understanding of the roles of individual matrix molecules, it is now becoming increasingly apparent that one of the mechanisms leading to tissue destruction is inefficient repair in disease.

7. Side-effects associated with sulphonamide antibiotics are thought to be caused by a number of factors including bioactivation, direct cellular damage, increased oxidative stress, and poor detoxification.

8. Increased adverse drug reactions to antimicrobials and anticonvulsants in patients with HIV infection. As can be seen in figure 8, infant mortality is still high in urban areas.

9. One of the reasons for the apparent increase in allergic reactions is said to be that the challenge to the immune system from infection is reduced in Western society.

10. Collagen is a white, inelastic protein that is formed and maintained by fibroblasts.

Answers

1. The impact of medical libraries and literature on patient care in New Zealand. (no verb!) N

2. The company will push ahead with its research and drug development programmes. Y

3. Data presented on the impact of rapid testing with PNA FISH (TM) on patient care. (no verb!) N

4. To explore whether mortality from female breast, ovarian, colon, and prostate cancer were negatively associated with exposure to sunlight. N

5. PNA FISH(TM) is a qualitative nucleic acid hybridization assay intended for identification of bacteria and yeast species from blood cultures. Y

6. As a result of understanding of the roles of individual matrix molecules, it is now becoming increasingly apparent that one of the mechanisms leading to tissue destruction is inefficient repair in disease. Y

7. Side-effects associated with sulphonamide antibiotics are thought to be caused by a number of factors including bioactivation, direct cellular damage, increased oxidative stress, and poor detoxification. Y

8. Increased adverse drug reactions to antimicrobials and anticonvulsants in patients with HIV infection remains to be a considerable problem. This can be seen in figure 8. which shows infant mortality is still high in urban areas. N

9. One of the reasons for the apparent increase in allergic reactions is said to be that the challenge to the immune system from infection is reduced in Western society. Y

10. A collagen is a white, inelastic protein that is formed and maintained by fibroblasts. Y

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