Common English-Language Sentence Patterns

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Sentence patterns can be understood as the way sentences are usually structured. It is important to learn the most common sentence patterns in English, as most of the sentences you will hear, write, and speak will follow these basic patterns.

Sentence Pattern #1: Noun / Verb

The most basic sentence pattern is a noun followed by a verb. It's important to remember that only verbs that do not require objects are used in this sentence pattern.

  • People work.
  • Frank eats.
  • Things happen.

This basic sentence pattern can be modified by adding a noun phrase, possessive adjective, as well as other elements. This is true for all the sentence patterns that follow.

People work. -> Our employees work. Frank eats. -> My dog Frank eats. Things happen. -> Crazy things happen.

Sentence Pattern #2: Noun / Verb / Noun

The next sentence pattern builds on the first pattern and is used with nouns that can take objects.

  • John plays softball.
  • The boys are watching TV.
  • She works at a bank.

Sentence Patterns #3: Noun / Verb / Adverb

The next sentence pattern builds on the first pattern by using an adverb to describe how an action is done.

  • Thomas drives quickly.
  • Anna doesn't sleep deeply.
  • He does homework carefully.

Sentence Pattern #4: Noun / Linking Verb / Noun

This sentence pattern uses linking verbs to link one noun to another. Linking verbs are also known as equating verbs - verbs which equate one thing with another such as 'be', 'become', 'seem', etc.

  • Jack is a student.
  • This seed will become an apple.
  • France is a country.

Sentence Pattern #5: Noun / Linking Verb / Adjective

This sentence pattern is similar to sentence pattern #4, but uses linking verbs to link one noun to its description, which is supplied by an adjective.

  • My computer is slow!
  • Her parents seem unhappy.
  • English seems easy.

Sentence Pattern #6: Noun / Verb / Noun / Noun

Sentence pattern #6 is used with verbs that take both direct and indirect objects.

  • I bought Katherine a gift.
  • Jennifer showed Peter her car.
  • The teacher explained the homework to Peter.

There are a number of common sentence patterns used to write most sentences in English. The basic sentence patterns presented in this guide to sentence patterns will help you understand the underlying pattern in even the most complex English sentences. Take this quiz to test your understanding of sentence patterns and parts of speech.

Common English-Language Sentence Patterns

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Common English-Language Sentence Patterns

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