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The 8 Basic Sentence Patterns in English

There are 5 to 10 basic sentence patterns underlying almost all English sentences, grammarians differ on the exact number.

The Basic Elements of a Sentence

The 8 Basic Sentence Patterns in English

A sentence has two basic elements: the subject and the predicate. The subject is always a noun, a pronoun, or a group of words acting as a noun. It is what the entire sentence is about. Meanwhile, the predicate contains a verb that describes the subject. Take note, verbs do not always have to be action verbs. Lastly, subjects and predicates can be either simple or compound.

A sentence is a group of words that usually contain a subject (S) and a verb (V) and expresses a complete idea.

The subject is a noun, noun phrases, or pronoun that usually comes before the main verb. It also represents the person or thing that acts as the verb, or about which something is stated.

Verb, on the other hand,  is a word or group of words that describes an action or state.

transitive verb has an object.

An intransitive verb does not have an object.

In the following examples, the subjects are in bold, while the predicates are italicized:

Grandma is awake.

He makes cakes and cookies.

Aside from the subject and predicate, sentences also contain objects. We have two kinds of objects in English grammar: Direct and Indirect object.

Direct Object refers to the person or thing affected by the action of the verb. (He bought a ball.)

An Indirect Object usually refers to the person who ‘benefits’ from the action of the verb. (He bought her a ball.)

Additionally, we have the complement. A complement tells us something about the nature of the Subject or Object. There are two types of complements: Subject Complement and Object Complement.

Subject Complement = She is happy. S=C

Object Complement = He made her happy. O=C

And lastly, we have the modifier. A modifier is a word or group of words that modifies another word or group.

Now that we’re done with this recap, it is time to proceed to the lesson properly.

The 8 Basic Sentence Patterns in English

This chart labels the different slots that make each pattern. Each slot is labeled by function (for example, subject) and by the part of speech that typically performs this function (for example, noun). The sentences used here as examples are skeletal. In sentences people actually speak and write, the slots are often filled by phrases and clauses performing the functions of the single-word parts of speech, and the skeletons are fleshed out with modifiers. The chart shows only the slots that are obligatory for each pattern.

The verb is the pivotal slot in each pattern; it determines and controls the pattern. Look in the glossary for further explanations and examples of intransitive verbs, linking verbs, and transitive verbs.

1. Subject + Linking Verb + Complement ( S – LV – C)

For example:

I am happy.

2. Subject + Intransitive Verb ( S – IV )

For example:

Horses run.

3. Subject + Transitive Verb + Direct Object ( S – TV – DO )

For example:

Amy tutors Chris.

4. Subject + Transitive Verb + Indirect Object + Direct Object ( S – TV – IO – DO )

For example:

The instructor assigned Steve poetry.

5. Subject + Transitive Verb + Direct Object + Object Complement ( S – TV – DO – OC)

For example:

Mary considered Ana her friend.

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