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SENTENCE STRUCTURE

LESSON 2: BASIC SENTENCE PATTERNS


In Lesson 1 of this unit, it was stressed that every sentence must have two basic
parts: a subject and a predicate. You also learned that the complete subject is
built around the simple subject (a noun or pronoun), and the complete predicate
is built around the verb. In this lesson, you will study the subject-verb or two-part
sentence pattern and see how it can be expanded into two other patterns. Once
the three patterns have been mastered, you will realize that all sentences are
variations of these. Once you begin to use these patterns consciously, your own
sentence structure will improve.
Pattern One (Subject-Verb or S-V)
Subject

Verb

The students

Cheered

Miss Jones

Retired

Ran

He

was studying

A refund

has been given

Note: This is the simplest of sentence patterns and is not used as often as other
patterns.

Pattern Two (Subject Verb Object or S V O)


Subject

Verb

Object

1.

Vera

wrote

a report.

2.

The teacher

will mark

it.

3.

The bookstore

sells

books and other supplies.

4.

He

has

one of the new textbooks.

5.

Lois

misspelled

ten simple words on the test.

Notes:
a. The object receives the action of the verb. You may ask who or what after
the verb to get the object
Example:
Vera wrote what.
b. The object may be a noun or pronoun. Examine all the objects again.
c. The action verbs or verbs of possession (has, own, etc.) take objects.
Examine all the verbs again.
d. The object may be compound (made up of two or more), as in Sentence 3.
e. The object is never in a prepositional phrase. In Sentence 4 of the
examples, "one" is the object of the verb. "Textbooks" is the object of the
preposition "of". What is the object of the verb in the last sentence? What
is the prepositional phrase?

Pattern Three (Subject-Linking Verb-Complement or S-L-V-C)


Subject

Linking
Verb

Complement

Those lawyers

are

experts.

2. The
accountant

has been

Mr. Roberts.

3. Miss Wilson

is

the woman with the green coat.

4. The principal

is

he.

5. It

was

I.

6. The winners

are

they and I.

7. The lecture

was

interesting and informative.

1.

Complement
Nouns

Complement
Pronouns

Complement

8. She

seems

tired.

9. The coffee

tastes

bitter.

Adjectives

Notes:
a. A complement completes or describes or explains the subject. Subjects
and complements may sometimes change places in the sentence. E.g.,
"The principal is he" may be changed to "He is the principal." Likewise,
"The winners were they and I" may be changed to "they and I were the
winners."
b. Complements are used with linking verbs. The chief linking verbs come
from the family of verbs call to be (am, is, are, was, were, be, have been,
are being, etc.). Other linking verbs are words such as become, seem,
appear, look, feel, smell, taste, remain, and sound.
c. The complement can be a noun, as in Sentences 1 to 3; it can be a
pronoun, as in Sentences 4 to 6; and it can be an adjective as in
Sentences 7 to 9.
d. The complement may be compound, as in Sentences 6 to 7.
e. The complement is never in a prepositional phrase. In Sentence 3,
"woman" is complement of the linking verb "is". The prepositional phrase
"with the green coat" modifies the complement "woman".
f. In a sentence such as "The woman is over fifty," the pattern would be SLV.

Sentence Patterns and Sentence Length


The sentences in the examples are short. The same patterns, however, can
occur in long sentences.
Example:
1. The quaint little restaurant, located in the Winnipeg Lakes District, should
appear in tourists guidebooks.
restaurant S; should appear V (pattern: S V)
2. The businessman, sensing the trend, bought stocks in the new
corporation.
businessman S; bought V; stocks O (pattern S V O)

3. Their mother, a former teacher, is very competent in helping them with


their homework.
mother S; is LV; competent C (pattern: S LV C)

Variations in the Basic Sentence Patterns


1. Here and There Sentences
In sentences beginning with the words here and there, the subject follows
the verb. Here and there are used as fill-ins to satisfy our sense of word
order.
Example:
Here is the newspaper.
Is LV; newspaper S
There are the students.
Are LV; students S
2. Commands and Requests
In these kinds of sentences, the speaker talks directly to another person,
so the subject you is left out, but is understood by the listener.
Example:
(You) Be quiet.
(You) S; Be LV; quiet C
(You) Go.
(You) S; Go V
(You) Please sign it.
(You) S; sign V; it O
3. Questions
In questions, the subject separates different parts of the predicate from
one another.
Example:
Has the mail arrived?
The mail S; has arrived? P
When will your lease expire?
Your lease S; will expire when? P

What will you do?


You S; will do what? P

Quiz: - Basic Sentence Patterns


In the space provided, write the patterns of each sentence: S V (Subject
Verb); S LV (Subject Linking Verb); S V O (Subject Verb Object); S
L V C (Subject Linking Verb Complement). Each sentence is worth one
point.
1. I recently read an interesting book.

__________

2. The book is The Underside of Toronto.

__________

3. "Skid Row" is the title of one chapter.

__________

4. At the end of the test, define the term for yourself.

__________

5. Four streets near the downtown core form the boundaries of


the main area.

__________

6. Skid Row attracts the uneducated, the unskilled, and the


social outcast.

__________

7. High unemployment areas of Ontario and provinces east of


Ontario account for most of the men.

__________

8. There is no mention of women.

__________

9. Most of the men are over fifty.

__________

10. About one-fifth are under twenty-five.

__________

11. Another third are moderate drinkers

__________

12. The chapter does not discuss the drinking habits of the last
third.

__________

13. These pensioners usually rent single rooms or share


accommodations with others.

__________

14. Some of the other "skid-rowers" rent beds in houses, for a


dollar a night.

__________

15. These places are called flop houses.

__________

16. Flop-houses are usually cheap, run-down places.

__________

17. Hostels like the Fred Victor Mission, the Good Shepherd
Refuge, the Salvation Army, and Seaton House also provide
cheap or free shelter, food and clothing.

__________

18. The Harbour Light, run by the Salvation Army, helps


alcoholics deal with their problems.

__________

19. The men prefer the flop-houses to the hostels.

__________

20. The men make some money from casual work, from
"panhandling" and from selling or pawning their own things
or things they have stolen.

__________

21. Can these men be pulled from Skid Row?

__________

22. Opinion is divided.

__________

Answer Key
1. S V O

2. S LV C

3. S LV C

4. S V O

5. S V O

6. S V O

7. S V O

8. S LV

9. S LV

10. S LV

11. S LV C

12. S V O

13. S V O

14. S V O

15. S LV C

16. S LV C

17. S V O

18. S V O

19. S V O

20. S V O

21. S V

22. S LV C