Sentence Patterns (1)

Learning to See the Top Words

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Patterns 1 and 2

Sentence Pattern 1:

The simplest sentence pattern is a subject plus an intransitive verb (one which may express action but not any action that is transferred to or received by anyone or anything):

     Skunks stink.

Other intransitive verbs are jump, yawn, depart.

This pattern can be amplified by adding modifiers to the subject and the verb:

     Some Appalachian skunks never stink badly unless run over.

The feature of this pattern that sets it apart from the others is that after the verb we find no "completer"; that is, no nouns to receive the verb's action and no words at all to describe the subject.

Let us summarize Pattern 1 this way: S + Vi, where "Vi" stands for "intransitive verb."


Sentence Pattern 2:

The verb in the second sentence pattern involves no action. Rather, it links the subject to a subjective complement: a word or phrase which describes or renames the subject but comes after the verb.

Verbs of this type, called linking verbs, fall into three categories:
     a. Verbs of equation:
          prove (in the sense of "turn out")

     Telephones are necessary.
     Telephones are necessities.
     Telephones seem necessary.

     b. Verbs of conversion:

     Mrs. Smith's patience wore thin.
     The knot worked loose.
     We became/grew/got impatient.

     c. Verbs of the five senses:
          look (in the sense of "seem")
          sound (in the sense of "seem to the ear")
          smell (in the sense of "seem to the nose" rather than "sniff")
          taste (in the sense of "seem to the tongue")
          feel (in the sense of "seem to the touch")

     Your stew tastes good.
     Marcia looks mature.

Let us summarize Pattern 2 this way: S + Vlk + S.C., where "Vlk" stands for "linking verb" and "S.C." stands for "subjective complement."