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6.08 Simple Sentence Patterns
The following explanations and exercises demonstrate the relationship between
sentence structure and grammar and punctuation rules. This information will develop
your awareness of the variety of sentence patterns available to writers in English.
The content of the sentences is based on information about the Anglo-Saxon period in
English literary history.
I. Simple Sentence Patterns
S + V = subject + verb
S + V + PA = subject + linking verb + predicate adjective
S + V + PN = subject + linking verb + predicate noun
S + V + DO = subject + transitive verb + direct object
S + V + IO + DO = subject + transitive verb + indirect object + direct object
S + V + IO + DO = subject + transitive verb + direct object + objective complement
(Since errors in relation to the last pattern do not often occur with native speakers, this
sentence pattern is omitted in the following activity.)
Exercise: Identify the simple sentence patterns of each of the sentences below by
writing the correct code in the space:
____________________ The Celts fled.
____________________ The Romans invaded England.
____________________ England was the land of the Angles.
____________________ The Vikings were violent.
____________________ Roman missionaries brought the English
II. Pronouns and Simple Sentence Patterns
The cases of pronouns are determined by their position in the basic simple sentence
pattern. Therefore, the writer must be able to recognize the position and use of
pronouns in the sentence in order to determine the correct case.
Nominative Case: subjects and predicate nouns
Objective Case: direct object, indirect object, and object of preposition
Exercise: Rewrite the sentences from the previous exercise, substituting pronouns in
both the nominative and objective case for selected nouns in the sentences.
III. Expanding the Simple Sentence with Modifiers
The basic simple sentence patterns are expanded by adding adjectives, adverbs, and
Commas should never separate the parts of the basic sentence pattern unless
two commas are used to set off a parenthetical element. Be especially careful that
you do not place a comma between the two parts of a compound verb.
2. Verbs should agree with their subjects.
3. Adjective forms, not adverb forms, are used for predicate adjectives.
Exercise: Identify the structure which expands each of the following sentences.
____________________ The Celts fled northward.
____________________ England was an invaded nation.
____________________ The Romans invaded England in 55 BCE
IV. Expanding the Simple Sentences with Phrases
In addition to the prepositional phrase, which can be used as an adjective or adverb
modifier, four additional kinds of phrases are used to expand the meaning of a
sentence: the appositive and three kinds of verb phrases: the participial phrase, the
gerund phrase, and the infinitive phrase. In verb phrases, the verb usually occurs first in
the phrase and the modifiers follow it.
An introductory verb phrase used as a modifier is followed by a comma.
An appositive is set off by commas.
Since a gerund fills the slot of a noun in the simple sentence pattern, it is
incorrect to use a comma to separate a gerund from the other parts of the
4. Introductory prepositional phrases do not need to be followed by commas unless
the phrase, or a series of phrases, is very long or the comma is needed for clarity.
Identify the kinds of phrases illustrated by each of the following sentences. Then
underline the prepositional phrases.
____________________ Invading England about 450 CE, the AngloSaxons dominated its culture until 1066.
____________________ Demanding tribute of a weaker tribe was a
frequent offensive tactic of the Vikings.
____________________ To facilitate their establishment of civilization in
England, the Romans built roadways and fortresses.
____________________ The Celts, the older settlers, were driven
northward by the invading Anglo-Saxons.