Sentence Patterns

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  • Topic: Subject, Verb, Intransitive verb
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SENTENCE PATTERNS: SAMPLES

1. S--Vi--(Adv.)
(Subject--Intransitive Verb--Adverb, usually optional)

The man coughed (loudly).
The audience laughed.
The guest has arrived.
The children walked down the street.
The waiter hurried away from the door.

Note: An intransitive verb is an action verb that does not require a direct object or a complement to complete its meaning. The word "intransitive" literally means "does not carry across." Therefore, the action of the verb does not transfer to an object, that is, a person or thing that receives the action of the verb. Often, adverbs or adverb phrases will appear in these sentences to expand the basic meaning of the verb.

Note: Some intransitive verbs can take a direct object in a different sentence. Usually the meaning of the verb changes in a sentence requiring a direct object. Here is an example:

He runs every morning. (intransitive verb)
He runs a successful business. (transitive verb)

SENTENCE PATTERNS: SAMPLES

2. Transitive Verb Patterns (Active Voice)

A. S--Vtr--DO
(Subject + Transitive Verb + Direct Object)

The dog catches the ball.
The baby likes bananas.
Dogs chase cats.
That man teaches English.
The scientist performed an experiment.

Note: Some verbs require an adverb with this pattern.
S--Vtr--DO--Adv.
(Subject + Transitive Verb + Direct Object + Adverb)

The guard put the key in the door.
The police treated the old man politely.

B. S--Vtr--IO--DO
(Subject + Transitive Verb + Indirect Object + Direct Object)

Tom wrote his mother a letter.
Mr. Smith teaches the students English.
The dog gives the man the newspaper.
The shopper gave the clerk ten dollars.
Pearl sent Tom a book.

C. S--Vtr--DO--OC
(Subject + Transitive Verb + Direct Object + Object Complement)

He called the teacher a genius.
Teaching English is driving Shelley bananas.
The class elected Jerry president.
Studying keeps him busy.
The lawyer considered the defendant innocent.
Alice cut her hair short.
The child made her mother happy.

SENTENCE PATTERNS: SAMPLES

3. S--Vlk--SC (Subject--Linking Verb--Subject Complement)

That man is a merchant.
His brother became chairman.
He will remain an officer.
The nurse seemed tired.
This soup tastes good.
I feel sick.
My grandfather looks (or appears) old.
His hair turned gray.

Note: You can often determine whether the verb is linking by replacing it with "to be." If the meaning of the sentence remains the same, you have a linking verb.

Note: A subject complement follows a linking verb. It can be either a noun or an adjective. The noun SC renames or identifies the subject. The adjective SC describes the subject.

SENTENCE PATTERNS: SAMPLES

4a. S--V(to be)--Adv or PP
(Subject--Verb ("to be")--Adverb or Prepositional Phrase)

My parents are here.
My house is on Vanowen Street.
The groceries are in the kitchen.

Note: This pattern is similar to pattern 3 (S--Vlk--SC). However, the verb is not followed by a subject complement (an adjective or noun that completes the meaning of the subject). Instead, an adverb of place or a prepositional phrase showing location completes the meaning of be. In this case, "to be" is not a linking verb. Some grammar books will call "to be" an intransitive verb in this special case. Intransitive verbs do not require a complement or a direct object to complete their meaning.

4b. There--V(to be)--S--Adv or PP
(There--Verb ("to be")--Subject--Adverb or Prepositional Phrase)

There was some money in my pocket.
There were two exams yesterday.

Note: This pattern is often called the "delayed subject" pattern. The word "there" (called an expletive) fills in the place where the subject normally appears. The subject doesn't appear until after the verb. If you delete "there" and move the subject into its normal position in front of the verb, you have made this a "pattern 4a" sentence. Remember...
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