Common Sentence Structures

Basic Sentence Patterns

Subject + verb

The simplest of sentence patterns is composed of a subject and verb without a direct object or subject complement. It uses an intransitive verb, that is, a verb requiring no direct object:

  • Control rods remain inside the fuel assembly of the reactor.
  • The development of wind power practically ceased until the early 1970s.
  • The cross-member exposed to abnormal stress eventually broke.
  • Only two types of charge exist in nature.

Subject + verb + direct object

Another common sentence pattern uses the direct object:

  • Silicon conducts electricity in an unusual way.
  • The anti-reflective coating on the the silicon cell reduces reflection from 32 to 22 percent.

Subject + verb + indirect object + direct object

The sentence pattern with the indirect object and direct object is similar to the preceding pattern:

  • I am writing her about a number of problems that I have had with my computer.
  • Austin, Texas, has recently built its citizens a system of bike lanes.


Identify the basic sentence pattern of the sentences below:

  1. All amplitude-modulation (AM) receivers work in the same way.
  2. The supervisor mailed the applicant a description of the job.
  3. We have mailed the balance of the payment in this letter.

Sentence Types

Simple Sentences

A simple sentence is one that contains a subject and a verb and no other independent or dependent clause.

  • One of the tubes is attached to the manometer part of the instrument indicating the pressure of the air within the cuff.
  • There are basically two types of stethoscopes.
    • In this sentence, the subject and verb are inverted; that is, the verb comes before the subject. However, it is still classified as a simple sentence.
  • To measure blood pressure, a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope are needed.
    • This sentence has a compound subject—that is, there are two subjects—but it is still classified as a simple sentence.

Command sentences are a subtype of simple sentences. These sentences are unique because they don’t actually have a subject:

  • Clean the dishes.
  • Make sure to take good notes today.
  • After completing the reading, answer the following questions.

In each of these sentences, there is an implied subject: you. These sentences are instructing the reader to complete a task. Command sentences are the only sentences in English that are complete without a subject.

Compound Predicates

A predicate is everything in the verb part of the sentence after the subject (unless the sentence uses inverted word order). A compound predicate is two or more predicates joined by a coordinating conjunction. Traditionally, the conjunction in a sentence consisting of just two compound predicates is not punctuated.

  • Another library media specialist has been using Accelerated Reader for ten years and has seen great results.
  • This cell phone app lets users share pictures instantly with followers and categorize photos with hashtags.

Compound Sentences

A compound sentence is made up of two or more independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, or, nor, but, yet, for) and a comma, an adverbial conjunction and a semicolon, or just a semicolon.

  • In sphygmomanometers, too narrow a cuff can result in erroneously high readings, and too wide a cuff can result in erroneously low readings.
  • Some cuff hook together; others wrap or snap into place.


Identify the type of each sentence below:

  1. The sphygmomanometer is usually covered with cloth and has two rubber tubes attached to it.
  2. There are several types of sentences; using different types can keep your writing lively.
  3. Words, sentences, and paragraphs are all combined to create a book.
  4. Before giving up, take a deep breath and look at things from a different perspective.