Sentence pattern – part II

We can modify a basic sentence pattern by adding noun phrases, determiners, adverbs and other elements.

  • Fire burns. -> The fire burns.
  • Dog barks. -> My dog Tom barks.
  • Children play. -> Our children play. -> Our children Sarah and Peter play. -> Our children Sarah and Peter play in the park.

Sentence pattern 1

When they realized that they couldn’t get far with short sentence patterns of this kind, English speakers evolved more elaborate patterns. The following is one of the commonest sentence patterns in English.

Subject + transitive verb + object

Sentences in this pattern will have at least three words. Of these, the subject and object are usually nouns or pronouns. Infinitives, gerunds and phrases can also act like subjects or objects.

A transitive verb is one that takes an object. Note that in an English sentence, the object goes after the verb. In many other languages the object goes before the verb.


Subject Verb Object
James likes football.
Mother cooks dinner.
Peter writes stories.
Alice sang songs.

We can modify this pattern by adding determiners, adjectives, adverbs and other elements.

To modify the subject we usually use an adjective or the equivalent of an adjective. The word or phrase used to modify the subject is called its attribute.