How to write English Sentences 2 How to use six basic sentence construction formats

  We know from "How to Write English Sentences 1" that before you write an English sentence some decisions have to be made.

What is the single or complete thought that you are stating, describing, explaining or asking. Now we have to decide which of six basic English sentence construction formats best suits your sentence.

Lets review the six basic English sentence construction formats in greater detail.

Writers can construct every type of English sentence using these six patterns.

1. No Verb Complement

The simplest structure is one without a verb complement. In traditional grammar, all verb complements are either nouns or adjectives.

Example: Ross teaches.

2. Direct Object Verb Complement

The defining characteristic is the presence of a direct object.

Example: Ross teaches students.

3. Indirect and Direct Object Verb Complements

Both indirect and direct objects are present. Indirect objects are placed immediately after the verb. Direct objects that are noun phrases follow the indirect object.

Example: Ross taught [(me) (a lesson)].

4. Predicate Nominative Verb Complement

The predicate nominative verb complement is a noun or a pronoun that redefines, renames, or classifies the subject of the sentence. The verb in a predicate nominative sentence pattern is always a linking verb, such as be, seem or become.

Examples: Ross became a teacher.

5. Predicate Adjective Verb Complement

The predicate adjective is an adjective that modifies the subject of the sentence. The verb is always a linking verb, such as be, seem, smell, look, taste or become.

Examples: Ross became famous.

6. Direct Object and Objective Complement

The verb complements are a direct object and an objective complement. An objective complement is a noun or an adjective that occurs after the direct object and describes the direct object.

Example: Ross's English class made [(me) (bilingual)].

Additional Examples of English Sentences with Simple Configurations

Simple subject and predicate

Example: Ross taught.

Understood subject (for commands, directives)

Example: Study!


Examples: Ouch that hurt!

Compound predicate

The student listened and wrote.

Compound subject and predicate

Ross and Shirley worked hard and then rested.

Three subjects

Koreans, Japanese and Canadians studied in the school.

Direct object

Shirley sent the letter.

Compound direct objects

Ross sent cards and letters.

Three direct objects

Ross sent posters, cards, and letters.

Compound predicate with direct objects

Ross wrote a poem and read it.

Compound predicate with one direct object

Shirley proofreads and edits her letters.

Indirect object

Ross gave the students homework.

Compound indirect objects

The teacher gave Jessica and Matthew quizzes.

Predicate noun

Ross is a teacher.

Objective Complement

Ross wiped his blackboard clean.

Direct address

Harold, tell the class now.


Athletic moves excite the crowd.

Compound adjectives

The young and playful puppy played with the students.

Predicate adjective

The lesson was accurate.

Compound predicate adjectives

The lesson was accurate and detailed.

Comparative Adjective

Ross is considerably older than his brother.


Shirley works quickly.

Adverbs modifying other adverbs

My dog wags its tail quite often.

Compound adverbs

The teacher waited patiently and quietly for the answer.

Passive Voice

The education article was read.

In the next How to write English Sentences page we will discuss the four English sentence types: declarative, imperative, interrogative and exclamatory.

If you liked this page of English grammar explanations and samples and would like more - you can buy the 96 page grammar summary "Blueprint for English" eBook (for 5 dollars) and get the SentenceMaster practice word cards. Use this grammar eBook to become a better English writer.

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