Do You Know the Basic Sentence Patterns?

Below are basic patterns around which most English sentences are built. The be in the next 3 sentence patterns is a copula verb. A copular verb indicates that the subject and its complement mean the same thing, or that the subject has relevance to its complement.

Noun + be + Adjective

This sentence pattern is made up of a noun (subject) and an adjective (predicate) connected by a copula verb. The subject is complemented with words that describe the subject itself or its property. The adjective can be called subject complement or predicative adjective.


The coffee is bland.

  • noun = coffee
  • be verb = is
  • adjective = bland
  • The adjective ‘bland’ describes the taste of the coffee, which is the subject.

Noun 1 + be + Noun 2

This sentence pattern is similar to the previous sentence pattern, except that its predicate makes use of another noun. The two nouns should have the same or related significance. The first noun (subject) is described by the second noun (predicate), connected by a copula verb.

The second noun, which follows the verb, is known as the Subject Complement. It is also known as Predicate Noun or Predicate Nominative.


My best friend is a teacher.

  • noun 1 = best friend
  • be verb = is
  • noun 2 = teacher

Noun + be + Uninflected Word

Uninflected Words are words that cannot be altered by adding affixes, vowel change, and other types of inflection. They are also called invariable words. In the English language, these are the interjections, conjunctions, and prepositions.

However, in this sentence pattern, the uninflected word is an Adverbial such as up, down, in, out, here, there, below, above, on, off, yesterday, tomorrow, now, and then.

The be verb also implies “to occur” or “located”.


My family is here.

  • noun = family
  • be verb = is
  • uninflected word = here

 Noun + Intransitive Verb

The Intransitive Verb is a word of action that does not require an object. The verb is self-sufficient and can stand alone with its subject.


The guest arrived.

  • Noun = guest
  • intransitive verb = arrived

Noun + Transitive Verb + Noun

On the other hand, this sentence pattern uses a transitive verb. Since the verb cannot stand alone with its subject, it uses another noun to complete the predicate. It is called the Direct Object, which is the receiver of the action.

Example 1:

Michael took.

Reading the sentence above will make you say, “What? Michael took what?” There is no complete thought.

Example 2:

Michael took an apple.

It made sense when we added a DO to the previous sentence, didn’t it?

  • noun = Michael
  • transitive verb = took
  • direct object = apple
*NOTE: Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive.

The kids ate. (intransitive)

The kids ate cereals. (transitive)

Noun 1 + Transitive Verb + Noun 2 + Noun 3

In this sentence pattern, take note that the 3 nouns represent different things. The first noun is, of course, the subject. The two nouns following the verb function in different ways. Noun 2 serves as the Direct Object while Noun 3 serves as the Indirect Object.


The fairy gave the slippers to the girl.

  • noun 1 = fairy
  • transitive verb = gave
  • noun 2 = slippers
  • noun 3 = girl

If we remove Noun 3 (indirect object), the sentence pattern is similar to the previous one (Noun + transitive verb + noun). While the Direct Object receives the action, the Indirect Object is the receiver of the Direct Object. An Indirect Object usually follows the preposition to (at times, for or of), but these connecting words disappear when the sentence format is inverted.

Format 1:

The fairy gave the slippers to the girl.

Format 2:

The fairy gave the girl the slippers.

Note that even the sequence of the sentence elements is inverted, the pattern remains the same.

Other examples:

The applicant sent a thank you note to the interviewer

The applicant sent the interviewer a thank you note

  • noun 1 = applicant
  • transitive verb = sent
  • noun 2 = note
  • noun 3 = interviewer

No one bade goodbye to the delegates

No one bade the delegates goodbye

  • noun 1 = no one
  • transitive verb = bade
  • noun 2 = goodbye
  • noun 3 = delegates


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