Verb Patterns in English

Verb Pattern 1:
 This pattern is for the verb “be”. The subject complement may be a noun, a pronoun, an adjective, an adjective phrase (e.g. a propositional group). There may be an adverbial or an infinitive “to”. Click here to see some examples.

Examples of VP1
Subject + BE Subject complement/adverbial

1. This is 2. This suitcase is 3. The children are 4. This book is 5. This is

a book. mine. asleep. for you. where I work.

VP1 Continued
There are variations with introductory there/it.
There/It + BE There was It was impossible It was a pity Subject a large crowd. to go further. the weather was so bad.

1. 2. 3.

We all 2. . rose. drink and eat.The moon 3.A period of political unrest vi breath.Examples of VP2A Subject 1. followed.

It doesn‟t matter a long period of political unrest.Verb Pattern 2A (cont)  There are variations with introductory there/it 1. There followed 2. whether we start now or later. .

3.Verb Pattern 2A (cont)  That-clauses are possible after seem. . 1. appear.It so chanced/happened (that) we were out when she called. happen. It doesn‟t followed (that) they are husband and wife.It seemed (that) the day would never end. 2. chance and follow.

Verb Pattern 2B
Verbs in this pattern are used with an adverbial adjunct of distance, duration, weight, cost, etc. For many occur before adverbials of distance and duration. An indirect object may occur after cost, last and take (meaning „require‟). Click here for some examples.

Examples of VP2B
Subject + vi (for) + adverbial adjunct 1.We walked (for) five minutes. 2.The meeting lasted (for) two hours. 3.The book costs (me) $1.20. 4.This book weighs five kilos.

Verb Pattern 2C
Many intransitive verbs are used with an adverbial adjunct (including an adverbial particle alone, or an adverbial particle followed by a preposition). Click here to see some examples.

Examples of VP2C
Subject + vi adverbial adjunct
1. Go away! 2. Please come in. 3. I‟ll soon catch up with you. 4. It‟s getting on for midnight. 5. It looks like rain/as if it were going to rain.

Inchoative verbs (eg become. feel) are among the many verbs used in this pattern. come. a noun or. taste. Click here to see some examples. a pronoun. .Verb Pattern 2D Verbs in this pattern are followed by an adjective. in the case of a reflexive verb. get) and verbs of the senses (eg smell.

a millionaire.Examples of VP2D Subject + vi adjective/noun/pronoun true. She married 4. He died 5. Later he became 6. an acrobat. low. young. The fire has burnt 3. Her dreams have come 2. You‟re not looking . yourself. 1.

dancing? running to meet us. The children came present participle smiling at me. She lay 2. Subject + vi 1.Verb Pattern 2E In this pattern the predicative adjunct is a present participle. Do you like to go 3. .

Click here to see some examples. . The verb and preposition function as a unit. gerund. pronoun. phase.Verb Pattern 3A  Verbs in this pattern are followed by a preposition and its object (which may be a noun. or clause).

2. You may rely preposition + noun/pronoun on that man/his discretion/his being discreet.Examples of VP3A Subject + vi 1. Can I count on your help? 3. What has happened to them? .

I rely 3. . She pleaded for our new cat to be delivered. on you to be discreet. We‟re waiting 2. with the judge to have mercy. 1.Verb Pattern 3A (cont)  An infinitive phase may follow the noun/pronoun.

He insisted on his innocence. [VP3A] He insisted that he was innocent. [VP9] .Verb Pattern 3B The preposition is omitted before a thatclause. thus producing the same word order as in [VP9] (for transitive verbs). [VP3B] Cf He declared that he was innocent.

Verb Pattern 3B (cont)  The preposition may be retained if its object is a dependent question. . Click here to see some examples. or if a preceding „preposition + it‟ construction is used.

where you will go for your holiday? how the money was lost. Don‟t worry (about) that it was a mistake.Examples of VP3B Subject + vi (preposition (+it)) clause 1. You must see 3. I hesitated (to it) (about) 4. . that this sort of thing never occurs again. whether to accept your offer. I agree 2. Have you decided (upon) 5.

Verb Pattern 4A In this pattern the verb is followed by a toinfinitive of purpose. Subject + vi 1. . We stopped 2. to know her? to be ninety? to see you. Will he live 4. or result. How did you come 3. Someone has called to-infinitive to rest / to have a rest. outcome.

He awoke 2. never to return.Verb Pattern 4B The infinitive may be equivalent to a co-ordinate clause. to stay. to see the door slowly opening. He looked round to-infinitive to find the house on fire. The good old days have gone 3. Electronic music has clearly come 4. . Subject + vi 1.

She hesitated 2. Don‟t trouble / bother about that.Verb Pattern 4C The infinitive adjunct is used after some verbs which. in [VP3A]. She was longing 3. Subject + vi 1. to see her family again. . Don‟t trouble / bother to meet me. are used with prepositions. to come at once. He agreed to-infinitive to tell anyone.

This seems 3. (to be) a serious matter. to be may be omitted (unless the adjective is one that is used only predicatively. as in [VP4E]).Verb Pattern 4D The verbs seem and appear are used in this pattern. . I seem (to be)+ adjective/noun (to be) surprised at the news. He seemed 2. If the infinitive is be with an adjective or noun as complement. Subject + seem/appear 1. (to be) unable to enjoy myself.

adjective/ It + seem/appear noun subject 1. 2.Verb Pattern 4D (cont) There is a variation of this pattern with introductory it. It seems a pity to waste all that food. It seemed reasonable to try again. 4. It appears unlikely that we‟ll arrive on time. . 3. It doesn‟t seem much use going on. when the subject is an infinitive or gerund. or a clause.

. Click here to see some examples. asleep.Verb Pattern 4E If the adjective after seem/appear is used only predicatively (eg awake. to be is obligatory. Happen and chance are also used in this pattern. afraid).

to meet in the park. She happened 4. There seems . to have been some mistakes. to be have resented.Examples of VP4E Subject HAPPEN / CHANCE + SEEM / APPEAR to-infinitive to be asleep/to be sleeping. We chanced 5. to be out when I called. My enquiries seem 3. The baby seems 2. 1.

At what time am I 3.Verb Pattern 4F The finites of be are used with a to-infinitive to convey a variety of meanings → be* (3) Subject + BE 1. How am I to-infinitive to be married in May. to come? to pay my debt? . We‟re 2.

must. Click here to see some examples. dare. The phrase had better. need are followed by a bare infinitive (ie without to). shall/should. had/would rather and would sooner fit into this pattern. can/could.Verb Pattern 5 In this pattern the auxiliary verbs or anomalous finites will/would. .

I didn‟t dare 5. start at once. You needn‟t 3. wait. find it in that box. You may 2. tell anyone. You‟ll 4. You‟d better infinitive leave now. .Examples of VP5 Subject + anomalous finite 1.

Click here to see some examples.Verb Pattern 6A The verbs in this pattern have a noun or pronoun as direct object. . Conversion to the passive voice is possible.

her.Examples of VP6A Subject + vt 1. Did you enjoy 2. We all had 3. Everyone likes noun/pronoun the film? a good time. .

follow this pattern. and verbs with cognate objects. Have. . meaning „possess/take/eat/drink‟. follows this pattern. Reflexive verbs.Verb Pattern 6B The verbs in this pattern have a noun or pronoun as direct object. but conversion to the passive voice is not possible. Click here to see some examples.

He dreamed noun/pronoun breakfast yet? green eyes. Have you had 2. yourself? her thanks. . Have you hurt 4. a very odd dream. She smiled 5.Examples of VP6B Subject + vt 1. She has 3.

talking? being spoken to so rudely. Subject + vt 1. . Have you finished 3. I resent noun/pronoun playing tennis. She enjoys 2. not replaceable by a to-infinitive.Verb Pattern 6C In this pattern the object is a gerund.

He began going to the cinema. This may be replaced by a to-infinitive. Subject + vt gerund 1. I‟ll continue 3. talking about his clever children. She loves 2. For the difference between like swimming and like to swim. working while my health is good.Verb Pattern 6D In this pattern the object is a gerund. see the notes on [VP6D] in Guide to Patterns and Usage. .

He‟ll need looking after (= to be looked after) 2. His language wouldn‟t bear repeating (= was too bad to be repeated). the gerund is equivalent to a passive infinitive. My shoes want mending (= to be mended). .Verb Pattern 6E After need. 3. want (=need) and won’t/wouldn’t bear. Subject + NEED/WANT/BEAR gerund 1.

Do they want 2. He pretended 3.) Subject + vt (not) + to-infinitive 1. see [VP4]. . We hope/expect/intend 4. to climb Mount Everest.Verb Pattern 7A In this pattern the object of the verb is a toinfinitive. I forgot/remembered to go? not to see me. (For intransitive verbs with the same word order. to post you letters.

Do you often have 2. . You ought to work overtime? to leave yet. and the finites of have in this pattern indicate obligation.Verb Pattern 7B Ought. Subject + HAVE/OUGHT (not) + to-infinitive 1. do you? not to waste you money there. In colloquial style have got to is more usual than have to. You don‟t have 3.

I couldn‟t decide 3. Subject + vt Interrogative pronoun adverb + to-infinitive how to do it? what to do next. Do you know/see 2.Verb Pattern 8 In this pattern the object of the verb is an interrogative pronoun or adverb (except why or whether). I‟ve discovered 4. when to give advice and when to be silent. You must learn . 1. where to find him. followed by a to-infinitive.

Do you think 4. except after more formal verbs (eg decide. you wouldn‟t interrupt. That is often omitted. Subject + vt that-clause 1. . I suppose 2. that John should be invited. it‟ll rain? that they would go on strike. We intended you‟ll be leaving soon. intend).Verb Pattern 9 The object of the verb is a that-clause. I wish 3. The workers decided 5.

Come and see 3. what. Does anyone know 2. or whether / if. She asked how it happened? what I‟ve done! whether / if he‟ll come. why I was late. the object of the verb is a dependent clause. The clause is introduced by a relative adverb or pronoun. . Subject + vt dependent clause/question 1. I wonder 4.Verb Pattern 10 In this pattern.

We satisfied us that the roads were icy. . I convinced 3. noun/ Subject + vt pronoun that-clause 1. ourselves that the plan would work. He warned 2.Verb Pattern 11 The verb is followed by a noun or pronoun and a that-clause. the policeman that I was innocent.

He doesn‟t owe 3. As in [VP13A] Subject + vt 1. The indirect object is equivalent to a prepositional object with to.He denied/grudged IO him me her DO your car? anything. .Verb Pattern 12A The verb is followed by an indirect object (IO) and a direct object (DO).Won‟t you lend 2. nothing.

She made 2. a favour? some sausages. Will you do 3.Verb Pattern 12B In this pattern. She cooked herself me her husband DO a new dress. the indirect object is equivalent to a prepositional object with for. . As in [VP13B] Subject + vt IO 1.

.He struck noun/pronoun him you the door noun/pronoun his name. a heave blow. Subject + vt 1. your fine garden.Verb Pattern 12C Verbs in this pattern are rarely or never convertible to [VP13].I envy 3. The labels IO and DO are not used.Ask 2.

He sold 3. the preposition to. to everyone in my family. . and the prepositional object. She told 2. It is convertible to [VP12A]. I‟ve sent the news his old car presents to + noun/pronoun to everyone in the village. to one of his neighbours. the verb is followed by a direct object. Subject + vt DO 1.Verb Pattern 13A In this pattern.

Will you do a favour for a friend of mine? 3.Verb Pattern 13B In this pattern the preposition is for. Subject + vt DO for + noun/pronoun 1. 2. It is convertible to [VP12B]. Can you cash this cheque for me? . She made a new dress for her daughter.

„Give something to somebody‟ [VP12A] may be converted to „Give somebody something‟ [VP13A]. This pattern is not convertible to [VP12]. . „Explain something to somebody‟ cannot be converted to „*Explain somebody something‟.Verb Pattern 14 In this pattern the verb is followed by a direct object and a preposition and its object. as are [VP13A] and [VP13B].

g. „compare one thing to/with another‟. in the drawer‟. e.Verb Pattern 14 The preposition is linked to the verb and they must be learnt together. e. „congratulate somebody on something‟. In [VP15] however the prepositional phrase is variable. „put something on/under the table.g. .

Compare the copy with the original. 3. 4. We congratulated him on his success. 2. . I explained my difficulty to him. He compared the heart to a pump.Verb Pattern 14 Subject + vt DO prep noun 1.

the prepositional phrase may precede it.Verb Pattern 14 Variations are possible. If the DO is long. Introductory it may be used when there is an infinitive phrase or a clause. .

2. to decide whether you should offer your resignation.Verb Pattern 14 Subject + vt 1. 2. I explained the problem to him. I explained Prep + noun DO to him the impossibility of granting his request. . I must leave the decision to you. I must leave it to your own judgment Compare: Subject + vt DO prep + noun 1.

Eg „I put the book down/away/on the shelf‟ with verbs marked [VP15A] the adverbial is a prepositional phrase. „I read the book‟ [VP6] is a complete sentence. Put needs an adjunct.Verb Pattern 15A  In [VP15A] the DO is followed by an adverbial phrase of place. etc which is obligatory. . distance. but „*I put the book‟ is not. duration. which is variable (unlike [VP14]).

Don‟t let the child put 2.VP 15A (cont)  Subject + vt 1. Please put DO his head me adverbial phrase out of the card window to the door/into the reception room on that desk/in that file these papers . The secretary showed 3.

the adverbial particle may either follow or precede. the adverbial particle follows. the adverbial particle usually precedes. If the DO is long. .Verb Pattern 15B  In this pattern adverbial particles are used. When the Do is a personal pronoun. When the Do is a noun or noun phrase. Click here to see examples.

She gave 3. up?  Subject + vt 1. away. Take 2. Don‟t throw 3. Did you wind DO them/your shoes it/ that old hat it/ the clock adverbial particle off. the lights in all rooms downstairs . Don‟t Forget to switch adverbial particle up away off DO all your valuables. Lock 2. all her old clothes.Examples of VP 15B  Subject + vt 1.

Verb Pattern 16A  In this pattern there is an adverbial adjunct which is an infinitive phrase. [VP16A] to buy some fruit. [VP16A] is to be distinguished from [VP17A] (with the same word order). This may be introduced by in order to or so as to. Cf: I sent I want Tom Tom to buy some fruit. [VP17A] .

He brought his brother to see me. 3.VP 16A (cont)  In [VP16A] the infinitive is one of purpose or intended result. In [VP17] the infinitive is part of the direct object. . He opened the door to let the cat out. 2. They left me to do all the dirty work. Subject + vt DO to-infinitive 1.

Verb Pattern 16B  The DO is followed by a noun introduced by as or like. Her parents spoilt 3. . as a child. I can‟t see 2. or a clause introduced by as if or as though. as soldier. Subject + vt 1. He carries 4. You mustn‟t treat DO my self her himself your wife as/like + noun as if/though + clause as a pop singer. as if she were as servant.

Do you want/wish me to dress colorfully. the verb is followed by a noun or pronoun and a to-infinitive. The noun/pronoun + to-infinitive is the object of the verb.Verb Pattern 17  In this pattern. noun/ Subject + vt pronoun (not) + to-infinitive 1. not to be late. to stay? . They warned us 3. He likes his wife 2.

. These verbs are also used in [VP19]. Click here to see some examples.Verb Pattern 18A  In this pattern the verb is used with a noun or pronoun and a bare infinitive. The verbs indicate physical perceptions. [VP18] indicates completed activity and [VP19] activity in progress.

Did you see/notice anyone leave the house? 2. . 3.Examples of VP 18A noun/ pronoun infinitive Subject + vt 1. We felt the house shake. I once heard her sing the part of Aida.

Compare force/compel and allow/permit. Make and let are examples. [VP17] . [VP18B] Please allow/permit me to go.Verb Pattern 18B  A small number of verbs which do not indicate physical perceptions are used in this pattern. which are used in [VP17]. Please let me go.

Subject + vt 1. Let me 3.Examples of VP 18B noun/ pronoun infinitive think so? go! behave so badly before. What makes us 2. I‟ve never known him .

please. Subject + HAVE noun/ pronoun infinitive 1. 3. or „cause‟. I had a frightening thing happen to me yesterday. 4. . Have the visitors shown in.Verb Pattern 18C  Have is used in this pattern when it means „wish‟. We often have our friends visit us on Sundays. „experience‟. What would you have me do? 2.

Didn‟t you hear something her heart anyone me burning? beating wildly. noun/ Subject + vt pronoun present participle 1. Did you notice 4. standing at the gate? knocking? . She could feel 3. Can you smell 2.Verb Pattern 19A  The verb is followed by a noun or pronoun and a present participle. The verbs indicate physical perceptions and are those used in [VP18A].

Please start 5. going. waiting outside. noun/ Subject + vt pronoun present participle 1. thinking. I found 2. . He soon had John me me the clock them all working at his desk. laughing. They left 3. This set 4.Verb Pattern 19B  This pattern is used for some verbs which do not indicate physical perceptions.

. For fuller notes. see [VP19C] in Guide to patterns and Usage. depending upon whether it is preceded by a noun or pronoun.Verb Pattern 19C  In this pattern the noun or pronoun is followed by the –ing form of a verb. Click here to see some examples. or a possessives. and this may be either the present participle or the gerund.

I can‟t understand 2.Examples of VP 19C noun/pronoun/ -ing form possessive of the verb him/his behaving so foolishly. I can‟t remember 5. I admire . Does this justify 4. Can you image 3. Subject + vt 1. Tom(‟s) him/his standing his ground. me/my being so stupid? you/your taking legal action? my parents/their ever being unkind to me.

Verb Pattern 20  In this pattern the verb is followed by a noun or pronoun. The pattern may be compared to [VP12A]. [VP12A] what to call you. an interrogative adverb (except why) or pronoun. [VP20] . Tell Tell me me your name. and a toinfinitive.

Tell 3. him where to put it. .Examples of VP20 noun/ Subject + vt pronoun 1. your teacher how to pronounce the word. Ask interrogative + to-infinitive them how to do it. I showed 2.

An interrogative clause follows the noun or pronoun.Verb Pattern 21  This pattern is similar to [VP20]. noun/ Subject + vt pronoun interrogative clause 1. Tell 2. . Ask 3. where he put it. Show me him me what your name is. what you have in your pockets.

We painted the ceiling 2. warm. Subject + vt DO adjective green.Verb Pattern 22  The DO is followed by an adjective which indicates result or manner. difficult. The sun keeps us 3. 1. The mud made walking .

They usually call him Dick. They named the baby Richard.Verb Pattern 23  The DO is followed by a noun (the object complement). . 2. Subject + vt DO noun 1. 3. They made Newton President of Royal Society.

Have you ever heard this opera sung in Italian? 3. 2. Subject + vt DO past participle 1. We want the work finished by Saturdays. . You must make your views known.Verb Pattern 24A  The DO is followed by a past participle.

undergoes. .Verb Pattern 24B  Have is used in this pattern to indicate what the subject of the sentence experiences. Click here to see some examples. or suffers (as in Nos 1 and 2). or what is held or possessed (as in No 3).

King Charles had his head cut off. They have scarcely any money saved for their old age. . I‟ve recently had my appendix removed. 3. 2.Examples of VP24B Subject + HAVE DO past participle 1.

Can we have/get the program changed? 2. Please have/get these letters translated into English.Verb Pattern 24C  Have and get are used in this pattern meaning „cause to be‟. I‟ll have/get the matter seen to. 3. . GET/ Subject + HAVE DO past participle 1.

Verb Pattern 25  The DO is followed by to be (often omitted) and an adjective or a noun. the plan to be unwise. They all felt 3. . In spoken English [VP9] (ie with a that-clause) is preferred. a man (to be) innocent until he is proved guilty. Subject + vt 1. I‟ve always found 4. Most people considered 2. In Britain we presume DO (to be) + adjective/noun him (to be) innocent. Jonathan friendly/a good friend.

etc. Most people considered that he was innocent [VP9] is more usual.Verb Pattern 25 (cont)  For 1. Do you consider long hair for men strange? Do you consider it strange for men to let their hair grow long? . there is a clause. Introductory it is used if. instead of a noun. infinitive phrase.

PowerPoint Slides jointly put together by SELF student helpers: Xuan. Yiwei.Acknowledgements: Materials adapted by Yang Ying from Oxford Advanced Learner‟s English Chinese Dictionary. Jordan. Dong Hao and Aik Hong in 2008 .