Sentence patterns are the phrases and clauses that make up the structure of a sentence. The way you use these patterns adds variety to your communication.
Phrases are groups of words connected that do not make a complete sentence because they lack a subject and/or verb. Clauses are a group of words that contain a verb and other sentence components. Depending on the type of clause, it may make a complete sentence and it may not.
Knowing your sentence patterns makes sure that all of the words you put in your sentences are in the right order. Here’s another little tip: if you know your sentence patterns, you will be able to figure out the kinds of words you’re using as well. More on that later.
At Learn American English Online, we are all about giving you the basic foundational tools that you need to create your English skills. Starting small, and mastering the small stuff before you move on to the medium and large stuff, gives you a strong foundation. Think about a house: you wouldn’t want your house to be built on sand, would you?
Take your time going through this lesson, even if you feel like you already know most of it. For extra practice, label sentences in a book you’re reading, or on a piece of your English homework. The more you practice this lesson, the more naturally you will find yourself thinking in English!
A subject is usually a noun or a pronoun, but it may also be a gerund, an infinitive, a clause, or a phrase.
The verbs in these patterns are action verbs or linking verbs.
It’s important to consider that subjects or verbs are sometimes compound. That means there is more than one word serving as a subject or a verb in a sentence or question.
It’s useful to identify prepositional phrases before you decide which word is the subject, the verb, the direct object, etc. Many teachers tell students to draw parentheses around the prepositional phrases–if they exist–before determining the pattern of the sentence.
In the first sentence, the subject is “Bob” and the verb is “works.”
In the second sentence, the subject is “there,” the verb is “is” and the subject complement is “table.”
In the third sentence, the subject is “most,” the verb is “like” and the word “class” is the direct object.
It’s easier to identify these parts of the sentence if you find the prepositional phrases first.
The sentences that you learn about on this page are basic sentence patterns. There are many, many different ways to form a sentence; however, you should learn these four basic patterns first.