Writing in Complete Sentences
English-language arts teachers do spend a lot of time getting students to identify and use subjects and predicates properly. These are the two major parts of the sentence. In fact, every complete sentence must have a subject and predicate.
Today’s grammar and usage lesson is on subjects and predicates. Remember that every sentence must have a subject and predicate. It’s important to know how to identify subjects and predicates. Learning how to identify subjects and predicates will help students and employees comprehend sentences and avoid sentence fragments and run-ons in their writing. Knowing how to identify subjects and predicates will also allow students to manipulate sentences for greater sentence variety. For example, good writers strive to write 50% of their sentences without sentence subject openers. There are other ways to construct a sentence other than SUBJECT-PREDICATE-OBJECT.
Now let’s read the grammar and usage lesson (Common Core Language Standard 1.0) and study the examples.
The subject is the “do-er” of the sentence. It tells whom or what the sentence is about. The simple subject is the noun or pronoun that the verb acts upon. The complete subject includes additional words that describe the simple subject. The compound subject describes a subject with two or more nouns or pronouns. Examples: women, the older women, she and the older women
The predicate does the work of the “do-er” of the sentence. The predicate shows a physical or mental action or it describes a state of being. The simple predicate is the verb that acts upon the subject of the sentence. The complete predicate includes additional words that modify the predicate. The compound predicate describes a predicate with two or more verbs.
Examples: danced, had danced skillfully, danced and sang
How to Identify Subjects
The simple subject is usually found at the start of a declarative sentence. To find the subject of the sentence, first identify any prepositional phrases and eliminate the nouns and pronouns found in these phrases from consideration. The subject of the sentence is not part of a prepositional phrase. Frequently, in imperative sentences, the simple subject, “you,” is implied (suggested, not stated).
How to Identify Predicates
To find the predicate, first identify the subject and ask “What?” The answer to this question should be the predicate. The predicate usually follows the subject in a sentence. However, it can be placed before the subject in a question (Was it your mother’s purse?), in an implied (suggested, not stated) sentence (Look out!), or in a phrase or clause at the beginning of a sentence to add special emphasis (Even more interesting was the fact that she knew it would probably rain).
Practice the advice about with the following examples:
He thought of an idea. (thought)
She was a nice lady. (was)
An angry man tried to run me off the road. (tried)
He always thought of an idea. (always thought of an idea)
She was a nice lady. (was a nice lady)
An angry man tried to run me off the road. (tried to run me off the road)
Writing Application: Write your own sentence using a complete subject and a complete predicate.
The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.
Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.
Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs
The author also provides these curricular “slices” of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) “pie”: the five Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits Grades 4−8; the five Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4−8 programs (digital formats only); and the non-grade-leveled Teaching Grammar and Mechanics with engaging grammar cartoons (available in print and digital formats).
Grammar/Mechanics, Writingcomplete sentences, fragments, grammar, Mark Pennington, run-ons, sentence structure, sentence variety, subjects and predicates, teaching strategies, Teaching the Language Strand, teaching writing
The Multistate Essay Exam is part of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). It is a key component of many states’ bar exams. The MEE is designed to test the skills you learned in law school-spotting relevant issues, developing a rule statement, and writing a cohesive argument.
When you sit down to take the Multistate Essay Exam portion of the UBE, you’ll be given a packet with detailed instructions containing six essay questions. Each of the six essay prompts on the MEE will present you with a hypothetical situation. (To get a sense of what the essay prompts will look like, check out the July 2016 MEE questions.) You’ll have three hours to respond to all six questions. This gives you about thirty minutes to read the essay prompt, plan your response, and write.
Since the MEE makes up 30% of your score on the UBE, let’s walk through what topics are tested on the MEE and how to structure your time. This will ensure you get as many points as possible.
(If you’re not sure if your state’s bar exam includes the Multistate Essay exam, check out the National Conference of Bar Examiner’s map of MEE jurisdictions.)
Topics Tested on the Multistate Essay Exam
The MEE tests a wide range of legal topics, and some questions may even test multiple areas of law. Luckily, a lot of the legal topics tested on the MEE are the same as the core legal areas tested on the Multistate Bar Exam portion of the UBE. Namely, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Civil Procedure, Evidence, Torts, Real Property.
However, there are sometimes subjects included in the MEE questions that are not tested on the MBE. Some of those subjects are:
- Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and Limited Liability Companies)
- Conflict of Laws
- Family Law
- Secured Transactions
So, be sure to review the entire MEE Subject Matter Outline provided by the NCBE. In fact, you may even want keep a copy of this outline with your bar study materials for quick reference. While there are a lot of topics covered by the MEE, remember that many of those topics you’ll already be reviewing as part of your preparation for the MBE.
Tips for Writing on the Multistate Essay Exam
Review these three tips as you prepare for the Multistate Essay Exam:
1. Get your timing down.
Timing is critical to your success on the MEE. You can’t afford to spend any additional time on any one essay. Why is this such an important point? Because you won’t be directed to move on to the next essay after 30 minutes. So, it’s up to you to only take 30 minutes per essay and keep moving. Trust me: you will need the full 30 minutes for each response.
But don’t fret. Here’s how to be purposeful with your time:
With your 30 minutes, you should:
- Spend about 10-15 minutes reading the fact scenario and question and planning your response.
- Spend about 15-20 minutes writing and briefly reviewing your essay.
Again, your timing must be precise to ensure you get to all the essays and have adequate time to respond. To get better at this, you should practice writing essays in the time given. On the day of the MEE, timing must be second nature, allowing you to focus on spotting legal issues and developing legal analyses.
2. Plan your essays well.
Take the time to write out a quick outline for your essay. Just as you did for your exams in law school, apply the same structure to every essay. Most students use the method introduced during law school—the IRAC approach: Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion.
IRAC will not only help you keep your thoughts clear and ensure you apply a rule statement to each fact scenario, it will help guide those who are grading your essay. And because you make it easier for the grader to follow, you’ll make it easier for them to give you more points. They won’t miss any of your brilliant analyses.
But, this step will also require a great deal of practice. You only have 10-15 minutes to read the essay, spot the issues, and remember all the relevant laws, so keep working on your timing!
3. Write quickly and coherently.
Using your IRAC structure from the planning step, you’ll want to take about 15-20 minutes to write a response to the call of the question. While the graders won’t expect your writing to be perfect given the limited time available, they will expect a well-reasoned, easy-to-follow essay.
Most of all, be sure to write like a lawyer—keep your tone formal and demonstrate your ability to analyze. And remember: be concise.
Take the time to read the sample MEE questions and answers provided by the NCBE. NCBE provides a handful for free and others for purchase at their NCBE online store.
Furthermore, as part of your preparation, write out responses to the sample questions given and compare your response to the sample response. Practice will make a difference to your writing and to your MEE score.
In sum, the Multistate Essay Exam is a challenging exam where you will be asked to write six essays in three hours. The subjects tested include those areas of law tested on the MBE and other areas of law, such as Business Associations and Family Law.
To do well on the MEE, you will need to quickly analyze a fact scenario and develop and apply a rule statement. The bottom line? You’re going to want to practice these steps a lot to ensure you are ready on the day of the Multistate Essay Exam. Luckily, you’ve been honing these exact skills in law school to crush the MEE (and become a lawyer!).