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Basic Patterns And Their Word Order

Despite their complexity and diversity, most of sentences follow some basic patterns, and thus basic word order. Before we go to the intricate word order problems, we need to learn these basic patterns. The knowledge you have gained by reading the chapter Words and Word-groups and the infomation in the above section should help you understand the grammatical terms in most of the following cases.

  1. Subject + Verb + Adverbials
    This structure is a simple pattern where the action expressed by the verb requires only one noun to give the required sense. Adverbials are optional, but quite frequent.

Study the following examples

  • The applicants (subject) are waiting (verb) in the conference room (adverbial).
  • The kid (subject) was talking (verb) excitedly (adverbial) to her mother (adverbial).

Though the above sentences would have given complete sense even without the adverbials, (in the conference room, and excitedly to her mother), such very short sentences are quite infrequent in the G-matic language.

  1. Subject + Verb + Complement
    Subject is what the sentence is about. Verb tells us the action and state of the subject. A complement is something that ‘completes’ the sentence by giving infomation about the subject in this case. That is why this is called subject complement. It may be a noun or adjective.

Study the following examples which are in this pattern.

  • The situation (subject) is (verb) fluid (complement adjective).
  • Mr John (subject) is (verb) a teacher (complement noun).
  • She (subject) went (v) mad (complement adjective).
  • His brother (subject) became (verb) a lawyer (complement noun).

This structure is used generally in sentences of description. The verbs generally used in this pattern are be forms or linking verbs.

Besides the be (is, am, are, was, were, be and been) forms, the following verbs are common linking verbs.

  1. Linking verbs followed by a noun or adjective: appear, become, look, prove, remain, seem, sound and stay.
  2. Linking verbs followed by adjectives only: feel, get, grow, smell, taste and turn
  3. Linking verb followed by noun or noun phrase: make.

Remember, the above verbs can function both as linking verbs and as usual verbs.

  • The situation looks problematic. (The verb look is a linking verb in this example.)
  • The man looked at me suspiciously. (The verb look is the ordinary verb in this sentence.)
  1. Subject + Verb + Object
    Object is something or someone that receives the action of the subject. The action denoted by verbs used in this pattern generally involves two nouns: one doer of the action and the other is the receiver of the action. The doer of the action is the subject in this pattern while the receiver is the object.

Study the following examples, which are in this pattern.

  • Blood (subject) absorbs (verb) oxygen (object).
  • Carbon dating (subject) establishes (verb) the accurate age (object).
  • European Naval exploration (subject) created (verb) new political order (object).

This structure is used with verbs that require two nouns (doer and receiver) for the completion of sense. Look at the sentence. I bought. The sense is not complete. We require something more to complete the sense. I bought a book. But some verbs do not require a second noun this way. Look at the sentence. I walked. This does not require another noun for the completion of the sense. Only verbs of the first kind, commonly called transitive verbs, are used in this pattern. The verbs of the second type, commonly called intransitive verbs, need a preposition to attach an object. Study the following sentence. I worked for two months.

  1. Subject + Verb + Indirect Object + Direct Object
    We use this pattern when the receiving of the action involves two nouns. Generally, verbs of giving or sending require this pattern. Something is given or sent to someone. Thus, the receiving of the action involves two nouns.
  • The manager (the subject) gave (verb) him (indirect object) the letter (direct object).
  • Our boss (subject) sent (verb) us (indirect object) the report (direct object).

In the above examples, the letter and the report are direct objects as they receive the action directly and him
and us are indirect objects as they receive the action indirectly.

The list of verbs that are generally used in this pattern and the next pattern:

  1. award, bring, feed, give, grant, lend, offer, owe, pass, pay, post, promise, read, sell, send, show, take, teach, tell, throw, write. (All these verbs the are followed by preposition to when they are used in the next pattern.)
  2. bring, buy, cook, fetch, find, get, keep, leave, make, order, pick, reserve, spare. (all these verbs are followed preposition for when they are used in the next pattern.)
  1. Subject + Verb + Direct Object + Preposition + Indirect Object
    This pattern is a variation of the above structure with word order change. We need to use a preposition when we change the word order in this way. Study the following examples.
  • The manager (the subject) gave (verb) the letter (direct object) to (preposition) him (indirect object).
  • Our boss (the subject) sent (verb) the report (direct object) to (preposition) us (indirect object).
  1. Subject + Verb + Object + Object Complement
    The sentences of this pattern will add some descriptive word or phrase to the object. Without this object complement, the sentence might give entirely different sense or incomplete sense.
  • She (subject) has found (verb) her life (object) quite boring (object complement).
  • I (subject) found (verb) the book (object) quite interesting (object complement).
  • They (subject) called (verb) him (object) a fool (object complement).

In the above examples, the complements describe the object. Thus, they are called object complements. In the absence of these this complement, the first sentence is incomplete in meaning and the other two sentences give entirely different meaning.

All these basic patterns represent the basic word order traditions that you need to follow in English. However, we will discuss the importance of word order from G-matic perspective now.

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