Basic Sentence Structure 

There are five basic patterns around which most English sentences are built.* They are as follows:



John sleeps.

Jill is eating.

Jack will arrive next week.



I like rice.

She loves her job.

He’s eating an orange.



He is funny.

The workers are lazy.

Karen seems angry.



Jim is here.

Flowers are everywhere.

No one was there.



She is my mom.

The men are doctors.

Mr. Jones is the teacher.

At the heart of every English sentence is the Subject-Verb relationship. Other elements can be added to make a sentence more interesting, but they are not essential to its formation.

The following sentences are examples of the S-V pattern.

She sleeps.

Core sentence

She sleeps soundly.

An adverb is added to describe how she sleeps.

She sleeps on the sofa.

A prepositional phrase is added to tell where she sleeps.

She sleeps every afternoon.

A time expression is added to tell when she sleeps.

She is sleeping right now.

Verb tense is changed, but S-V relationship remains the same.

Mary will sleep later.

Subject is named and another tense is used.

The dogs are sleeping in the garage.

New subject may require a different form of the verb.

Note: Any action verb can be used with this sentence pattern.

The following sentences are examples of the S-V-O pattern.

They like rice.

Core sentence

The people like rice.

Specific subject

The friendly people like rice.

Subject modified with an adjective

The people in the restaurant like rice.

Subject modified with an adjective

The people like boiled rice.

Object modified with an adjective

The people like hot, white rice.

Object modified with more than one adjective

Note: Only transitive action verbs can be used with this sentence pattern.

The following sentences are examples of the S-V-Adj pattern.

He is fine.

Basic sentence with “be” verb

He seems happy.

Basic sentence with another linking verb

Jordan is tall, dark and handsome.

Series of adjectives

He appears very comfortable.

Adverb or intensifier added

George became sick last night.

Different tense and linking verb

Note: Only linking verbs can be used with this sentence pattern.

The following sentences are examples of the S-V-Adv pattern:

The teacher is here.

Basic sentence

The teacher is over there.

Using an adverb phrase

Teachers are everywhere.

Plural noun and verb used

The teachers are in the lobby.

Prepositional phrase functioning as adverb

Note: Only linking verbs can be used with this sentence pattern.

The following sentences are examples of the S-V-N pattern.

The man is a doctor.

Basic sentence

The women are doctors.

Using plural noun and verb

My father is a nice guy.

Modified subject and complement

My grandparents are senior citizens.

Modified plural subject and complement

Note: Only linking verbs can be used with this sentence pattern.

*Other, less common structures are dealt with in another unit.

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Comments (18)Add Comment
written by ivonne, January 31, 2008
this information is very good for students
sentence patterns
written by foad, August 07, 2009
and of course you know that there are 25 sentence pattersn in the english language
written by arviel, August 15, 2009
thanks for the assignment tenks very much! ! ! ! ! smilies/wink.gif []( ~_^ )[]
written by April, August 20, 2009
I love this topic.. smilies/wink.gif
this is what i am talking about...
written by dana mae carbonel, September 03, 2009
i've done now my homework...
i will not worry now...
written by mary dianne u. zumarraga, September 18, 2009
..tnx for the information..goddbless..
tc olways..smilies/smiley.gif
sentence formation in a professional way
written by A.V.V.KOTESWARARAO, January 02, 2010
it is verry good i need moore examples
i want to write business letter i want to lern
written by villiarskhan, April 29, 2010
your web site so nice i want to lern business letter plz give idia
basic sentence structures
written by atika fatima, May 13, 2010
I liked the article but yesterday somebody questioned me on pattern of writing sentences specially simple,compound,complex sentences.can you please guide me on this as I have an class again tomorrow.its an humble request.
asking some question...
written by Kate Lin, June 15, 2010
Hi.. I like to thank you for this information in your sites. It helps a lot.

But, I just want to ask, why is it in all pattern sentence the verb label only as verb. Can you please write what kind of verb being use? If it is a transitive, linking, etc.

I'm just kind a little confused in labeling a sentence pattern.

I am looking forward for your respond.

sincerely yours,
Kate Lin
written by aqwany, June 29, 2010
Thanks to my lect for giving me this link..yeehaaaaa smilies/shocked.gif
written by jgj, September 11, 2013
smilies/grin.gif smilies/angry.gif smilies/sad.gif smilies/shocked.gif smilies/tongue.gif smilies/wink.gif smilies/wink.gif smilies/cheesy.gif smilies/sad.gif smilies/cheesy.gif[/imgjavascript:void(0);] smilies/smiley.gif javascript:void(0);smilies/wink.gif smilies/cheesy.gif smilies/grin.gif smilies/shocked.gif smilies/cool.gif smilies/tongue.gif smilies/kiss.gif smilies/cry.gif smilies/kiss.gif smilies/tongue.gif smilies/grin.gif smilies/wink.gif smilies/cool.gif smilies/angry.gif smilies/wink.gif smilies/wink.gif
good subject
written by shaik, September 12, 2013
as salamulaikum

yes atika fatima
sure i guide you article sentances dear
join me at same email id in facebook or g ...
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written by manisha, December 31, 2013
hello sir/madam
please you teach me. i don't know in English langueges.
learn from nature
written by slimane, March 24, 2014
Hello,iam slimane from Algeria.
It's so interesting to learn English here and like so much to explore this wonderful website thanks so much.
Sentence formatio
written by Vikram, August 01, 2014
I Just wanted to know the below sentece is correct or not.

When can I expect validation completed.
Sentence Structure and construction
written by Sithu, August 24, 2014
What is the correct structure or construction of the below mentioned sentence?
"The mayor’s brother I tell you is a crook"
written by PUSHPARAJ C, September 26, 2014
It is really helpful.

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