When asked to deconstruct a sentence, you are being asked to find certain parts of speech within the sentence. In order to do this, one must be able to first recognize the various parts and understand what they mean and/or do.

Sample Problem

Molly has a red ball.

Which word in the sentence above is the adjective?
a) Molly b) red c) has


1) First things first, is you must understand what an adjective does. An adjective is a descriptive word, used to describe a noun. Adjectives could be colors, the quality of the noun, age, size, etc.

2) Once you know that an adjective describes a noun, then you need to find out where in the sentence the adjective is placed. Since the adjective describes or modifies a noun, the adjective is can be found in front of the noun that it is modifying.

3) But what if the sentence has more than one noun? Most sentences will, such as the one in the sample problem. The two nouns are Molly and ball, because a noun is a person, place, or thing. However, one of the nouns is just a noun, and one is the subject of the sentence. Knowing this, take a look at the two nouns and see if there is something in front of them. Is there something in front of Molly? No, so Molly must be the subject of the sentence.

4) Once you realize that the noun Molly is the subject, and there is nothing in front of it, then let’s take a look at the other noun, ball. Is there something in front of ball? Yes, the word red. Is red an adjective? It is, because it is describing a characteristic of the ball. In this case, it is describing the ball’s color. Therefore the answer is B, red.

5) TIP: If you know what an adjective does or even know some examples of adjectives, you can just look at the sentence and search for them, essentially skipping steps two through four.

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