EDUCE Overview Copyright 2009 Nikolas S. Boyd.
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Isolated Verb


Break complex and compound sentences down into simpler sentences.


Complex and compound sentences often contain several verbs arranged in phrases and dependent clauses (like this one). Complex sentences indicate that some conditions, actions, or events are related. Sometimes verbs are used to relate and tie together other verbs. Compounded verbs indicate that two or more ideas relate to each other, or relate to a single subject. Compounded verbs condense these expressions into a single sentence. While more efficient, such condensation can obscure important relationships.


Use isolated verb when


You can bring sentences towards normal form by initially focusing on verbs. Ideally, each sentence should contain only one verb. Consider the following statement and its subsequent decomposition to isolate the verbs it contains:

a cat chases, captures, and eats a mouse

a cat chases a mouse
a cat captures a mouse
a cat eats a mouse

Compounded verbs can easily be separated. While this increases the number of sentences, it allows each verb to contribute its distinctive meaning to a conceptual model. Object-oriented software designs often identify object responsibilities and interaction protocols using distinct verbs. Also, object method names often start with distinct verbs.

Some complex sentences include both independent and dependent clauses. Isolating the verbs contained in a complex sentence can be far more challenging. Consider the following statement and its subsequent decomposition to isolate some of the (many) verbs it contains:

"The depot management introduced a company regulation that requires the depot manager be able to monitor the depot and to always be able to check if the depot is in a vulnerable state."
the depot management introduced a company regulation
a company regulation requires depot vulnerability monitoring,
where depot vulnerability monitoring =
a depot manager monitors the depot for a vulnerability


To achieve the sentence normal form, each isolated verb will also need active voice, singular number, affirmative polarity, indicative mood, an appropriate tense, and a complete predicate. Once you've separated each verb into its own sentence, you may also discover that a resulting sentence has multiple (compounded) subjects. You can separate these as isolated subjects.

Sometimes a complex predicate will use multiple verbs to express its meaning. As you can see in the more complex example above, you may need to use clause summary to break down a complex sentence. Clause summary separates out a clause and converts it into a noun phrase (a name), with an attendant definition. The definition ties the separated statements together so that the paired statements retain the meaning of the original sentence.