Basic Sentence Structures
in the English Language


A sentence is a group of words that are put together to make one complete thought.

Intro

To understand sentence structures in the English language, you must first have a general understanding of the types of words that are used to make sentences.

Noun – a person, place or thing

Singular examples (one): brother, home, sock, mouse
Plural examples (more than one): brothers, homes, socks, mice

Nouns

Verb – an action

Examples: jump, sit, talk, have

Verbs

Adjective – describes a noun

Examples: colorful shirt, funny story, tall boy

Adjectives

Adverb – describes other words (not nouns)

Examples: jumped yesterday, talks fast, sings loud, very pretty, luckily for us

Adverbs

Subject – the noun or nouns that perform the action

Example: The dog jumped.

The subject of this sentence is the noun, dog, because it is performing the action of jumping.

Example: Dogs and cats sleep.

The subjects of this sentence are the nouns, dogs and cats. This is called a compound subject because there is more than one subject performing the same action.

A cat and a dog

Object – the noun or nouns that receive the action

Example: The child drank milk.

The object of this sentence is the noun, milk, because the child is drinking the milk. The milk is receiving the action.

Example: She is eating bread and cheese.

The objects of this sentence are the nouns, bread and cheese. The subject is eating them both.

Sandwich


Five basic sentence structures

There are five basic sentence structures in the English language.

1. Subject-Verb

Examples:
  • The boy plays.
  • Jack eats.
  • Sara sits.

2. Subject-Verb-Object

Examples:
  • The girl pets the cat.
  • I love apples.
  • Bill kicks the ball.

3. Subject-Verb-Adjective

Examples:
  • Lisa is pretty.
  • They are nice.
  • I am sad.

4. Subject-Verb-Adverb

Examples:
  • Maria laughs loudly.
  • The dog jumps high.
  • Apples are everywhere.

5. Subject-Verb-Noun

Examples:
  • I am the teacher.
  • Jon is a carpenter.
  • The boy is a student.


Expanding Sentences

The examples above are basic sentences. Basic sentences can be expanded, or lengthened, by adding adjectives, adverbs and objects.

1. Subject-Verb

  • Jack eats.
    This is the basic subject-verb pattern.

  • Jack quickly eats.
    An adverb is added (quickly) to tell how Jack eats.  
     
  • Jack quickly eats carrots.
    An object is added (carrots) to tell what Jack eats.

  • Jack quickly eats carrots at home.
    Another adverb is added (at home) to tell where Jack eats.

  • Jack quickly eats fresh carrots at home.
    An adjective is added (fresh) to tell what kind of carrots Jack eats.

2. Subject-Verb-Object

  • Bill kicks the ball.        
    This is a basic subject-verb-object pattern.

  • Bill kicks the red ball.
    An adjective is added (red) to tell the color of the ball.

  • Bill kicks the red ball hard.
    An adverb is added (hard) to tell how Bill kicks the ball.

  • Bill kicks the red ball hard every day.
    Another adverb is added (every day) to tell when Bill kicks the ball.

3. Subject-Verb-Adjective

  • She looks pretty.
    This is the basic subject-verb-adjective pattern.

  • She looks pretty tonight.
    An adverb is added (tonight) to tell when she looks pretty.

  • Lisa looks pretty tonight.
    The subject is identified with a name (Lisa).

4. Subject-Verb-Adverb

  • Apples are everywhere.
    This is the basic subject-verb-adverb pattern.

  • Green apples are everywhere.
    An adjective is added (green) to describe the apples.

  • Ripe, green apples are everywhere. 
    A series of adjectives are added (ripe and green) to describe the apples.

5. Subject-Verb-Noun

  • The boy is a student.
    This is the basic subject-verb-noun sentence pattern.

  • Jon is a student.
    The subject is identified with a name (Jon).

  • Jon is a smart student.
    An adjective is added (smart) to tell what kind of student Jon is.

  • Jon is a smart student at school.
    An adverb is added (at school) to tell where Jon is a smart student.

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