SENTENCES

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					                                SENTENCE PATTERNS

A sentence is a string of words that makes complete sense, or a group of words that carries a
complete thought.

Sentences are generally divided into Subject (Noun Phrase) and Predicate (Verb Phrase).
The Subject is what the sentence is about and the Predicate carries the Verb (which shows the
state or action of the Subject). A Verb that shows state (‘to be’) is followed by what is known as
a complement and one that shows action is followed by what is known as an object.

Simple Sentences
Here are some examples of simple English sentence patterns:
S +V
Jane sings.
I talked. We eat.
The dog barks.

S+V+O
We eat mangoes.
Jane sings a song.
He kicked a ball.

S+V+C
She is beautiful.
John is dead.

When writing, it is important to ensure that your sentences have these basic components.

The above examples are known as simple sentences. You can write an entire essay using simple
sentences, but it may become limited and boring to read. You need to use variety in your
sentence patterns by combining these basic patterns to come up with both compound sentences
and complex sentences.

Compound Sentences
In compound sentences you combine the basic patterns with a joining word known as a
conjunction such as ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘or’.
        We eat mangoes + We sing songs = We eat mangoes and sing songs.
Note the Subject is omitted in the second part.

Complex Sentences
        Although my lecturer invited me to the meeting, I did not go.
Note the comma which separates the two parts of the sentence. The first part is dependant on the
second one for meaning to be complete. It is known as a dependent clause. The sentence is
made up of two simple sentences: My lecturer invited me to the meeting + I did not go. You have
to be careful to give the two parts of the sentence and not just the dependent part, as in
        Although I went to town.
        Because I sing alto.

When writing an assignment, use a mixture of these patterns to provide variety and make your
work more interesting to read!

UCT Writing Centre
2004

				
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