English RAnts

Sentence Patterns


“Sentence patterns” is just another way talk about the way a sentence is put together; the order of the elements in the sentence; sentence construction. Some sources say there are six English sentence patterns; some say eight. A few sources list even more. Here are the ones we feel are the most common, and the easiest to recognize:

1.  Subject + Verb (S-V)

This is the simplest kind of sentence.  It consists of a subject, a verb, and possibly some adjectives, adverbs,  or prepositional phrases.  There are no direct objects, indirect objects, or complements.

2.  Verb + Subject (V-S)

Sentences in English usually have the subject come first, followed by the verb. But when a sentence begins with there is, there was, there are, there were, the verb comes first, followed by the subject. The word There is never a subject!

3.  Subject + Verb + Direct Object (S-V-DO)

4.  Subject + Verb + Complement (S-V-SC)

A complement is a word or group of words that describe or rename the subject. Complements follow a linking verb.  There are two kinds of subject complements:  1) predicate nominative, which is a noun or pronoun that renames or classifies the subject of the sentence and 2) predicate adjective, which is an adjective that describes the subject of the sentence.

5.  Subject + Verb + Indirect Object + Direct Object (S-V-IO-DO)

An indirect object tells for whom or to whom. If the indirect object comes after the direct object (in a prepositional phrase “to ________” or “for _______”), the sentence pattern is shown as S-V-DO-IO.  Pronouns are usually used as indirect objects (but not always).

6.  Subject + Verb + Direct Object + Object Complement (S-V-DO-OC)

This pattern isn’t as common as the others, but it is used.  An object complement is a word or group of words that renames, describes, or classifies the direct object.  Object complements are nouns or adjectives and follow the object.