Sentence Patterns

What are the four most common sentence patterns in Standard Written English? How can I identify which sentence patterns to use in my texts?

A woman selecting a book - image by freestocks.org is licensed under CC0 1.0 / “A girl in a library”

Related Concepts: Parts of a Sentence; Sentence


Sentence patterns refer to the way sentences are constructed in terms of their grammatical structure. In Standard English, as in many languages, there are specific patterns that sentences tend to follow. These patterns are based on the arrangement of subjects, verbs, objects, and other elements.

The basic building block of a sentence in standard English, as illustrated by the article on Sentence Parts is

“Subject + Predicate.”

The subject is the actor in the sentence. It is whatever is doing what the verb describes. The predicate includes the rest of the sentence—the verb or the action in the sentence—and anything else that the verb is affecting.

Writers, speakers, knowledge workers . . . use a variety of sentence patterns in their texts, choosing the pattern that best expresses their thoughts. An important attribute of a professional writing style is the ability of the writer to choose patterns that help readers see connections between ideas.

Most simple English sentences conform to these five (5) patterns:

  1. S-LV-SC
  2. S-TV-DO
  3. S-TV-IO-DO
  4. S-TV-DO-OC
  5. S-ITV

Related Concepts: Sentence Types; Sentence Structure


1. Subject – Linking Verb – Subject Complement (S LV SC)

2. Subject – Transitive Verb (S TV DO)

3. Subject – Transitive Verb – Indirect Object – Direct Object (S TV IO DO)

4. Subject – Transitive Verb – Direct Object – Object Complement (S TV DO OC)

5. Subject – Intransitive Verb (S ITV)

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