Sentence Patterns

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 Patterns #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 Patterns #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 Patterns #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 Patterns #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 using an adjective.

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

Sentence Patterns #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. 

Parts of speech are the different type of words. They are put together to create sentence patterns in English. Here are the eight parts of speech. Learning parts of speech make understanding sentences easier. 

Noun 

Nouns are things, people, places, concepts -> computer, Tom, table, Portland, Freedom


Pronoun 

Pronouns replace nouns in sentences. There are subject, object, and posessive pronouns -> he, I, them, our, its, us


Adjective

Adjectives describe things, people, places and concepts. Adjectives come before nouns. -> big, excellent, fun, tiny


Verb 

Verbs are what people do, the actions they make. Verbs are used in many different tenses. -> play, visit, buy, cook


Adverb

Adverbs describe how, where or when something is done. They often come at the end of a sentence. -> always, slowly, carefully


Conjunction

Conjunctions connect words and sentences. Conjunctions help us give reasons and explain. -> but, and, because, if


Preposition

Prepositions help us show the relationship between things, people and places. Prepositions are often just a few letters. -> in, at, off, about


Interjection

Interjections are used to add emphasis, show understanding, or surprise. Interjections are often followed by exclamation points. -> Wow!, ah, pow!

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. 

What are the parts of speech of the words in italics in each sentence?

  1.  My friend lives in Italy.
  2. Sharon has a bicycle.
  3. Alice has a banana and an apple. 
  4. He studies French at school.
  5. Jason lives in New York.
  6. Wow! That sounds difficult.
  7. He lives in a big house.
  8. Mary drove home quickly

Which sentence pattern does each sentence have?

  1. Peter studies Russian. 
  2. I am a teacher.
  3. I bought him a gift.
  4. Alice is happy.
  5. My friends danced. 
  6. Mark spoke slowly.

Answers to parts of speech quiz

  1. verb
  2. noun
  3. conjunction
  4. pronoun
  5. preposition
  6. interjection
  7. adjective
  8. adverb

Answers to sentence pattern quiz

  1. Noun / Verb / Noun
  2. Noun / Linking Verb / Noun
  3. Noun / Verb / Noun / Noun
  4. Noun / Linking Verb / Adjective
  5. Noun / Verb
  6. Noun / Verb / Adverb