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Sentence Patterns and

Parts of Speech
Zhong Caishun
What shall we start in grammar

 What elements do English sentences
 What are the basic patterns of
English sentences?
 How can we identify them?
What is sentence?
 a group of words, usually containing a
verb, which expresses a thought in the
form of a statement, question, instruction
or exclamation and starts with a capital
letter when written.
 A sentence is a group of words which,
when they are written down, begin with a
capital letter and end with a full stop,
question mark, or exclamation mark. Most
sentences contain a subject and a verb.
Regular and irregular sentences
 Mary sneezed
 Hello!; Yes; No; So long!; Thanks!;
 Pam hates it when Lee calls her at

 a group of words, consisting of a

subject and a finite form of a verb
(= the form that shows the tense
and subject of the verb), which
might or might not be a sentence

sentence clause
Clause elements and structures
 How can we identify clause elements?
• The evenings have turned very cold just

The evenings have turned very cold just recently.

Subject verb complement adverbial

Classification: chain and choice

 Distinctions between the elements-and

between types within the elements - are
based on
• (i) forms (noun phrase, verb phrase,
adjective phrase, finite clause, etc),
• (ii) position,
• (iii) syntactic function other than positional
potentialities, and
• (iv) semantic role
Basic clause patterns
 Someone was laughing loudly in the next room.
 My mother usually enjoys parties very much.
 In 1945 the country became totally independent.
 I have been in the garden all the time since lunch.
 Mary gave the visitor a glass of milk.
 Most people consider these books rather
expensive, actually.
 You must put all the toys upstairs immediately
 Someone [S] was laughing [V] loudly [A] in the next room
 My mother [S] usually [A] enjoys [V] parties [0] very much
 In 1945 [A] the country [S] became [V] totally independent
 I [S] have been [V] in the garden [A] all the time [A] since
lunch [A].
 Mary [S] gave [V] the visitor [0] a glass of milk [O].
 Most people [S] consider [V] these books [0] rather
expensive [C], actually [A].
 You [S] must put [V] all the toys [O] upstairs [A]
immediately [A]
Immediate subject verb object Compliment adverbial
constituency transitive intransitive link

phrase The have turned very cold just

evenings recently
word Noun The, Have, turned Very, cold Just,
Verb evenings recently
morpheme The, Have, turn, -ed Very, cold Just,
evening, recent, -
-s ly
 (a) FORM
 The subject is normally a noun phrase or a
pronoun. But other linguistic categories
can also be seen:
• Gerund
Studying hard always makes me sleepy.
• Infinitive
To go without you wouldn’t be any fun.
• Clause
What he said wasn’t very polite.
 The subject normally occurs before the
verb in declarative clauses, and after the
operator in yes-no interrogative clauses
(c) Syntactic function
The subject normally comes before the verb in declaratives, but in questions it comes after the
[1] They (S) accepted (V) full responsibility.
[1a] Did (op) they (S) accept (V) full responsibility?
 The subject comes before the verb even in questions if who or what or an interrogative phrase
such as which person is the subject:
[1b] Who (S) accepted (V) full responsibility?
 The subject is normally absent in imperatives:
Help (V) me with the luggage.
 Some pronouns (words like I, you, she, he, they) have a distinctive form when they function
as subject of the sentence or of clauses in the sentence:
She (S) knows me well.
I (S) know her well, and they (S) know her well too.
 The subject determines the form of reflexive pronouns (those ending in -self ; such as herself,
ourselves, themselves) that appear in the same clause:
I (S) hurt myself badly.
The child cried when he (S) hurt himself badly.
You (S) can look at yourself in the mirror.
She (S) can look at herself in the mirror.
 When we turn an active sentence into a passive sentence we change the subjects:
• Active: The police (S) called the bomb-disposal squad.
• Passive: The bomb-disposal squad (S) was called by the police.
 We can also omit the subject of the active sentence when we form the passive sentence, and
indeed we generally do so:
Passive: The bomb-disposal squad was called.
 The subject is repeated in a tag question by a pronoun form (cf 11.8ff):
• I The milk is sour, isn't it?

 (i) The subject is typically the theme (or

topic) of the clause.
 (ii) It typically refers to information that is
regarded by the speaker as given.
 (iii) In a clause that is not passive, the
subject is agentive if the agentive role is
expressed in the clause.
Subject verb agreement

 Grammatical agreement can be defined as the

relationship between two grammatical units such
that one of them displays a particular feature
(e.g. plurality) that accords with a displayed (or
semantically implicit) feature in the other. The
most important type of agreement in English is
agreement of 3rd person number between
subject and verb. The normally observed rule is
very simple:
• A singular subject requires a singular verb:
e.g. My daughter watches television after supper.
A plural subject requires a plural verb:
e.g. My daughters watch television after supper.
 When the subject is realized by a noun phrase, the phrase
counts as singular if its head is singular:
e.g. The CHANGE in male attitudes is most obvious in industry.
The CHANGES in male attitude are most obvious in industry.
 Finite and nonfinite clauses generally count as singular:
e.g. How you got there doesn't concern me.
To treat them as hostages is criminal.
Smoking cigarettes is dangerous to your health.
 Prepositional phrases and adverbs functioning as subject
also count as singular:
e.g. In the evenings is best for me. Slowly does it!
 An apparent exception for clauses is the nominal relative clause. Nominal
relative clauses are on the continuum from clause to noun phrase. For the
purpose of concord, their number depends on the interpretation of the
number of the wh-element. With the determiners what and whatever, the
concord depends on the number of the determined noun:
e.g. What were supposed to be new proposals were in fact modifications of earlier
What was once a palace is now a pile of rubble.
Whatever book a Times reviewer praises sells well.
What ideas he has are his wife's.
 The application of the general rule is restricted in several general respects:
 Except for the verb BE, the verb shows a distinction of number only in the
3rd person present. Hence, the verb generally does not show concord in
the past. The verb BE displays concord also in the 3rd person past:
• My daughter was watching television in my bedroom.
• My daughters were watching television in my bedroom.
 Number concord is displayed only in the indicative. Nonfinite verbs,
imperatives, and subjunctives make no number distinctions
 Modal auxiliaries make no number distinctions:
• My daughter(s) may watch television after supper
• Notional concord is agreement of verb with
subject according to the notion of number
rather than with the actual presence of the
grammatical marker for that notion:
e.g. The government have broken all
Fish and chips is a popular supper

 The choice between singular or plural verbs depends in BrE on whether the
group is being considered as a single undivided body, or as a collection of
individuals. Thus,, in BrE plural is more likely than singular, because
attention is directed at the individual reactions of members of the
• The audience were enjoying every minute of it.
• The audience were enjoying every minute of it.
• The public are tired of demonstrations.
• England have won the cup.
• Our Planning Committee have considered your request.
 On the other hand, the singular is more likely in these sentences:
• The audience was enormous.
• The public consists of you and me.
• The crowd has been dispersed.
 It is generally safer in BrE to use the singular verb where there is doubt, in
obedience to grammatical concord. AmE generally treats singular
collective nouns as singular. Terms for the government and for sports
teams are nearly always treated as singular in AmE, but other terms may
(less commonly than in BrE) take plural verbs:
• The administration has announced its plans for stimulating the economy.
• America has won the cup.
• The public has a right to know. [also in AmE: The public have a right to know
 the principle of PROXIMITY
• The principle of proximity, also termed
'attraction', denotes agreement of the
verb with a closely preceding noun
phrase in preference to agreement with
the head of the noun phrase that
functions as subject:
e.g. There is a man and two
women in the car.
Some constructions where the
principle of proximity applies
 Not only…but also…
Not only the students but also the teacher is enjoying the
 Not … but …
Not the child but the parentsareto blame.
 Neither … nor…
Neither the students nor the teacherknows anything about it.
 Either… or …
Either he or I am right.
 Whether… or…
Whether you or someone that you love is dealing with an
anxiety disorder, it can often feel as though your life has
been brought to a halt
Interaction of three principles
 Interaction of the different principles occurs in
the context where the subject contains (a) a
collective noun head; (b) coordination; and (c)
an indefinite expression.
• Ten dollars is all I have left. ['That amount is. . .'l
• Fifteen years represents a long period of his life
• More than a thousand inhabitants have signed the
• More than one member has protested against the
• Many a member has protested against the proposal.
• One and a half years have passed since we last met.
Coordinated subject
 Coordination comprises cases that correspond to fuller coordinate
forms. A plural verb is used even if each conjoin is singular:
• Tom and Alice are now ready
 A plural verb is similarly required in asyndetic coordination
(without a coordinator):
• His camera, his radio, his money were confiscated by the customs
 Conjoins expressing a mutual relationship, even though they can
only indirectly be treated as reductions of clauses in this way, also
take a plural verb:
• Your problem and mine are similar. ['Your problem is similar to mine
and mine is similar to yours.']
• What I say and do are two different things. ['What I say is one thing
and what I do is another thing.']
 If a singular noun phrase is followed by etc and similar
abbreviatory expressions (and so on, and so forth), a plural
verb is normal:
• The size etc are less important for our purposes.
 Preposed each or every has a distributive effect and requires a
singular verb:
• Every adult and every child was holding a flag.
• Each senator and congressman was allocated two seats.
 The principle of notional concord explains:
• The hammer and sickle was flying from the flagpole.
• Danish bacon and eggs makes a good solid English breakfast.
• The Bat and Ball sells good beer.
 Despite the coordination, the subject names a single flag, a
single meal, and a single pub respectively. Contrast:
• Danish bacon and eggs sell very well in London.
 Arithmetical sums may be used with a singular or plural
 Two and two is four.
 So also Ten times five is (or are) fifty; Two fives make
(or makes) ten. But Two fives are ten; Ten minus two
is eight; Ten into fifty is five.
Coordination within a singular subject

 A singular noncount noun head may be premodified by phrases

coordinated by and. As subject, the resulting noun phrase may imply two
(or more) separate sentences, and may then be legitimately followed by a
plural verb:
• American and Dutch beer are (both) much lighter than British beer.
• White and brown sugar are (equally) acceptable for this recipe.
 But a singular verb is often used in this context, and is required when the
phrases are postmodifying:
• Beer from America and Holland is much lighter than British beer.
 When the subject is a nominal relative clause, coordination reduction
allows some variation in number interpretation:
• What I say and do are my own affair.
• What I say and do is my own affair.
 A generic noun phrase with a singular count head requires a plural verb
when the head is premodified and the premodification contains
coordination by and:
• The short-term and (the) long-term loan are handled very differently by the
• A first-language and (a) second-language learner share some strategies in their
acquisition of the language.
Coordinative apposition
 In coordinative apposition, each of the
coordinated units has the same reference. Hence,
a singular verb is required if each noun phrase is
singular. .
• This temple of ugliness and memorial to victorian bad
taste was erected in the main street of the city
 However, the following examples could either a
singular or plural verb, depending on the
• His aged servant and the subsequent editor of his
collected papers was/were with him at his deathbed.
• Law and order has/have been established.
 Subject noun phrases may be linked by quasi-coordinators, i.e.
prepositions (such as along with, rather than, and as well as)
that are semantically similar to coordinators. Grammatical concord
requires a singular verb if the first noun phrase is singular:
• The captain, as well as the other players, was tired.
• One speaker after another was complaining about the lack of adequate
 If an adverbial is attached to a second noun phrase linked to the
first noun phrase by and, the construction is considered
parenthetic, and grammatical concord similarly requires the verb
to agree in number with the first noun phrase :
• A writer, and sometimes an artist, is invited to address the society.
• The ambassador - and perhaps his wife too - is likely to be present.
 The same grammatical rule applies when the second phrase is
negative, whether or not linked by and, though here the principle
of notional concord reinforces the use of the singular:
• The Prime Minister, (and) not the monarch, decides government
Coordination with or and nor
 The principle of proximity prevails in either…or construction:
• Either the Mayor or her deputy is bound to come.
• Either the strikers or the bosses have misunderstood the claim.
• Either your brakes or your eyesight is at fault.
• Either your eyesight or your brakes are at fault.
 When or is used for coordinative apposition, grammatical
agreement requires the number of the verb to agree with the first
appositive if the two appositives differ in number:
• The hero, or main protagonist, is Major Coleman.
 The rules for the negative correlatives neither. . . nor are the
same as for either. . . or in formal usage.
• Neither he nor his wife has arrived.
 The coordinating correlatives nor. . . but and nor
only/just/merely. . . but (also/even) behave like or with respect to
number concord:
• Not only he but his wife has arrived.
• Not (only) one but all of us were invited.
Indefinite expressions as
 No people of that name live here.
 Some/any/half/all has/have been taken away.
 None (of the books) have/has been placed on the
 The two guests have arrived, and either/but
neither is welcome.
 Nobody, not even the teachers, is listening.
 These sort of parties are dangerous (informal)
 A (large) number of people have applied for the
 The majority are Moslems.
Verbs: transitive vs. intransitive vs. link

 If a main verb requires a direct object to complete the sentence,

it is a transitive verb. The term ‘transitive’ comes from the notion
that a person (represented by the subject of the sentence)
performs an action that affects some person or thing: there is a
‘transition’ of the action from the one to the other. Indeed, the
object typically refers to a person or thing directly affected by the
action described in the sentence:
• Helen received my email.
• They ate all the strawberries.
• I dusted the bookshelves in my bedroom.
• Anthony stroked his beard.
 One way of identifying the direct object in a declarative sentence
is by asking a question introduced by who or what followed by the
operator and the subject. The object is the constituent that who
or what questions:
• Sandra recorded the adverse effects of the changes.
• What (dO) did (op) Sandra (S) record?
• The adverse effects of the changes
 If a main verb does not require another element to
complete it, the verb is intransitive:
• Everyone is waiting, but he didn’t care.
• She sighed and yawned.
• We walk to the park and then we run round it.
 Verbs with or without objects
• She was so sad she could not speak.
• Do you speak English?
 Some verbs are usually used without objects but can take
cognate objects.
• Chris will sing a song for us.
• She lived a good life.
• They fought a clean fight.
• He breathed his last breath.
• He died a miserable death.

 The structure SV is basic because we can always

add optional elements to them. These optional
elements are adverbials. Adverbials (A) convey
a range of information about the situation
depicted in the basic structure. In below, the
adverbial noisily depicts the manner of the action,
and the adverbial outside the White House
indicates the place of the action:
• The protestors were demonstrating noisily (A) outside
the White House (A).
 As the above example indicates, a sentence may
have more than one adverbial. Moreover, the
position for adverbials is in many cases flexible.
• Like the subject, the object is normally
noun phrase or a nominal clause.
• The object normally follows the subject
and verb. If both objects are present,
the indirect object normally comes
before the direct object:
 I gave him [Oi] my address [Od].
 (i) The object function requires the objective form for pronouns that have distinctive
case forms:
• They amuse me.
• I amuse them.
 (ii) If an object is coreferential with the subject, it usually requires a reflexive
pronoun which agrees with the subject in person and, where relevant, in number and
gender. Similar agreement is required for an emphatic genitive (my own, etc) within
the object:
• You can please yourself.
• I[S] have given myself a treat.
• They type their own letters.
 (iii) The object of an active clause may generally become the subject of the
corresponding passive clause:
• We have finished the work. - The work has been finished.
 If both objects are present, it is often possible to make either the subject in a
corresponding passive clause:
• We sent Jack a copy of the letter.
• Jack was sent a copy of the letter. [1]
• A copy of the letter was sent Jack [Oil. [2]
 But [l] is far more common than [2]. Instead of the retained indirect object in [2],
the prepositional paraphrase is more usual:
• A copy of the letter was sent to Jack.
 (iv) The indirect object generally
corresponds to a prepositional phrase,
which is generally placed after the direct
• I'll send Charles another copy. - I'll send
another copy to Charles.
• Pour me a drink. - Pour a drink for me.
 (v) The indirect object can generally be
omitted without affecting the semantic
relations between the other elements:
• David saved me a seat. - David saved a seat.
David saved me.
 (i) The direct object typically refers
to an entity that is affected by the
action denoted in the clause:
• Norman smashed a window in his
father's car.
 (ii) The indirect object typically refers
to an animate being that is the
recipient of the action.
Ditransitive construction
 Indirect object following the verb
• I will send you a postcard.
 Indirect object following a preposition.
• I will send a postcard to you.
 To+Oi is used for such ditransitive verbs as send, give, hand, bring, lend, offer, pass,
post, read, sell, show, teach, tell, throw, write while for +Oi fo buy, do, make, build,
cook, cut, draw, fetch, find, get, keep, leave, order, pick, save.
 With verbs such as describe or explain, we put the indirect object after a preposition,
not after the verb.
• He described the man to them.
• He explained the plan to us.
 Others include admit, announce, mention, murmur, report, shout, suggest, whisper
 With such verbs as cost, deny, forgive, grudge, refuse, fine, bet, etc. we must put the
indirect object after verb.
• The mistake cost us a lot of money.
 Ask can also take two objects:
• Can I ask you a favor?
• She’s never asked a favor of anybody.
 Clauses as Od
• I will remind him that you are here.
(other verbs including assure, convince, inform, notify, persuade)
• He admitted to the police that he had stolen the money.
(other verbs including boast, confess, declare, hint, propose reveal)
• She called him a fool.
• She called him a taxi.
• She called a fool to him.
• She called a taxi for him. (*)
Linking verbs and subject
 If a verb requires a subject complement (sC) to complete the sentence, the
verb is a linking verb (also know as copulas or copular verbs). The subject
complement (underlined in the examples that follow) typically identifies or
characterizes the person or thing denoted by the subject:
• [1] The show was splendid.
• [2] He seemed in a good mood.
• [3] Despite the scandal, he remained president.
• [4] The news sounds horrifying.
 The most common linking verb is be. Other common linking verbs (with
examples of subject complements in parentheses) include
• appear, seem, (to be/adj/noun)
• feel, sound, taste, look, smell (adj/prep.+noun)
• Become, get, go, turn, come, grow
• Keep, remain, stay (not used with to be)
Grammatical Hierarchy:
Grammatical Hierarchy:
Grammatical Hierarchy:
Simple, compound and
complex sentences
 Simple
• The inquiry left in its wake a number of
• I was one of them.
 Compound
• The inquiry left in its wake a number of
casualties, and I was one of them.
 Complex
• I didn’t realize that Brian wasn’t feeling well.
 Exercise 3.1 Subject, predicate, verb (cf. 3.2)
 In each sentence below, underline the subject and circle the verb
• 1. Since September, the airline industry has suffered its greatest ever slump in
• 2. Analysts predict several years of diminished business.
• 3. Several thousand airline workers lost their jobs.
• 4. Norma’s parents met her English and Biology teachers at the Open Day.
• 5. Caroline submitted a poem about her dog to the school magazine.
• 6. Outside, the company sign seems modest.
• 7. Inside, the atmosphere is one of rush and ferment.
• 8. Opossums frequently appear to be dead.
• 9. Sometimes they merely pretend to be dead.
 Use each verb below to make up a sentence containing both a direct
object and an
 indirect object.
• 1. pay 6. make
• 2. bring 7. cook
• 3. leave 8. spare
• 4. read 9. ask
• 5. find 10. charge
 Use each verb below to make up a sentence containing both a direct
object and an object complement.
• 1. like
• 2. consider
• 3. find
• 4. call
• 5. appoint
• 6. declare
 The sentences below are ambiguous. For each meaning,
state the structure (the set of sentence elements) and give
a paraphrase of the corresponding meaning. For example:
• They are baking potatoes.
• S + V + SC – ‘They are potatoes for baking’.
• S + V + dO – ‘They have put potatoes in the oven to bake’.
• 1. You will make a good model.
• 2. I’ll call you my secretary.
• 3. Your men are revolting.
• 4. They left him a wreck.
• 5. You should find me an honest worker.
• 6. She has appointed her assistant personnel manager.
• 7. She teaches the best.
• 8. He was subdued to some extent.
• 9. My solicitor gives the poorest free advice.
• 10. His hobby is making friends.
 The sentences below are ambiguous. For each meaning, state the structure (the set
of sentence elements) and give a paraphrase of the corresponding meaning. For
• They are baking potatoes.
• S + V + SC – ‘They are potatoes for baking’.
• S + V + dO – ‘They have put potatoes in the oven to bake’.
• 1. You will make a good model.
 S+V+SC
 S+V+O
• 2. I’ll call you my secretary.
 S+V+O+OC
 S+V+iO+dO
• 3. Your men are revolting.
 S+V
 S+V+C
• 4. They left him a wreck.
 S+V+iO+dO
 S+V+O+OC
• 5. You should find me an honest worker.
• 6. She has appointed her assistant personnel manager.
• 7. She teaches the best.
• 8. He was subdued to some extent.
• 9. My solicitor gives the poorest free advice.
• 10. His hobby is making friends.