Monday, August 23, 2010

Sentence Patterns

Different sources give somewhat different numbers, but there are only a few basic English sentence patterns. All the infinite variety of sentences you can write in English are variations on the basic patterns.

I'll list the basic patterns and you can read here for more details.


  • Any of these patterns can have more than one subject, verb or object -- this would be called a compound subject, verb or object.
  • Any sentence pattern can have a verb phrase -- like "has been going" or "will be playing".
  • Any of these patterns can have changes in the word order, especially when language is poetic or planned for effect.
A couple of other things to be learned about later, so don't worry about them now:
  • Any of these patterns can be expanded or modified by an adjective, adverb, prepositional phrase or clause.
  • A phrase or clause or verb form can fill the place of a subject or object.

1. No Verb Complement


Aidan ran.

2. Direct Object Verb Complement

(Subject/Verb/Direct Object)
Aidan ran a forty.

3. Indirect and Direct Object Verb Complements

(Subject/Verb/Indirect Object/Direct Object)
Aidan threw me the ball.
Aidan threw the ball to me.

4. Predicate Nominative Verb Complement

(Subject/Verb/Predicate Nominative)
Soon, Aidan will be a teenager.

5. Predicate Adjective Verb Complement

(Subject/Verb(s)/Adjective )
Aidan is getting faster.

6. Direct Object and Objective Complement

(A rarer pattern -- there is a Subject/Verb/Direct Object but then there is a complement to the object, either an adjective or a noun, telling about the direct object).

(Subject/Verb/Direct Object/Objective Complement)
Aidan made me happy.
Liam's birth made me a mother.

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