Sentence Patterns for 9th and 10th grade Students
Varying your sentence patterns, adds interest and complexity to your prose; it also allows
you to be more effective in communicating your ideas by controlling the manner in which
your reader responds to what you want to say. As you experiment with variety, you will
also improve your knowledge of grammar and expand your vocabulary
Use Strong, Active Verbs
This pattern de-emphasizes use of any form if the verb to be. Verbs may indicate action
(run, manufacture, write); condition (feel, sleep); or process (become, grow):
1. Fire belched from the dragon’s mouth.
2. The human brain does not shrink, wilt, perish, nor deteriorate with age.
3. The cloud darkened with the moon
4. The problem perplexed the student
Open with an Adverb
An adverb modifies (changes the meaning of) a verb, an adjective or another adverb.
Adverbs answer these questions: How? When? Where? Why? How much? How many
times? Many adverbs in the English Language end in –ly. Use a comma after an adverb
as a sentence opener if the adverb receives special stress.
1. Ironically, the very success of Carter’s populist appeal may cause him special
2. Honestly, it took my breath away when I saw her.
3. Brilliantly the star shines.
4. Carefully and cautiously they walked through the brush.
Open with a Prepositional Phrase
A preposition describes the direction (from the hill); describes the position ( above the
door); tells time (at dinner time); describes means(with pen or pencil); or shows some
abstract relationship ( except Jack, for the party of independence.). Use a comma after a
long introductory prepositional phrase or if the prepositional phrase requires special
stress. Omit the comma after relatively short phrases.
Direction: along, down, from, into, over, through, to, toward, up
Position: above, across, against, among, around, at (the fair), before (the mantle), behind,
beneath, beside, between, by (the lake) in, off, on, under, upon, within (the house)
Time: after, at (nine o’clock), before (dinner), by (dawn), during, in (ten minutes),
until, within( a short time)
Means: by (hard work), with ( no help), without (help)
Abstract: against (all odds), except, for, of
1. Without plan or purpose we slide from substance to sensation.
2. Toward his goal he plodded
3. After a moment of suspense, I went and kissed my mother.
4. On the affirmative side, the debaters included Toby and Larry
Write a Sentence in which the Verb Precedes the Subject
In the following sentences the subject appears underlined and the verb in bold. In
these particular examples we also start sentences with an adverb or a prepositional
1. Beside the house grew a large maple tree.
2. Closer and closer floated the blimp.
3. Through out the story appear thinly disguised references to the authors own
4. Loudly roared the engine.
5. Down the street tottered a feeble, shabbily-dressed man.
Appositives-nouns or pronouns- extend the meaning of preceding nouns or
pronouns. As a nonrestrictive (or non-essential) modifiers, they require commas to set
them off from the rest of the sentence. Restrictive (essential appositives and those
used as part of a person’s name requires no commas.
1. My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious and excellent counsel.
2. The landlord tactfully suggested that we get rid of Mei-Mei, our Siamese cat.
3. William the Conqueror invaded England from Normandy
4. I thought the question referred to Lewis the novelist rather than to Lewis the
Open with an Adverbial Clause…
An adverbial clause has a subject and a predicate, but it cannot stand alone; it
functions as part of the sentence.
Adverbial clauses modify verbs, adjectives, adverbs, or main clauses. They
usually express a relationship of time, place, direction, cause, effect, condition, manner or
after before so that whenever
although if though where
as in order that till wherever
as if provided that unless while
as long as since until
because so when
1. Because he reads faster, he finishes before I do.
2. If the barometer drops sharply, a change in weather will occur.
3. Since she works afternoons, she can’t go to the tea.
4. Whenever his eye fell upon me, my blood ran cold.
Use Parallel Structure in Words, Phrases, Clauses and Sentences…
Parallel structure places words, phrases, clauses, and sentences in a series of the same
grammatical elements. Creating parallel constructions shows the reader that two or more
things relate to each other as equal importance.
1. He drew her to him, whispered in her ear, and kissed her.
2. He expressed gratitude to his teachers, to his parents, and to the school system
3. He walked to the platform, he stood still a moment, and he hesitantly began to
4. Wind and spray together blind, deafen and strangle you.
5. I resolved to lash myself securely to the water-cask, to cut it lose from the
counter, and to throw myself with it into the water.
Open with an Adjective
Adjectives enable a writer to specify, to distinguish (Not shelf, but lowest shelf).
They add descriptive details. They also limit or make more definite the meaning of a key
word (The first book)
The words they modify; however, pulled away from those words and placed on
the front of a sentence and followed by a comma, they gain emphasis
1. Breathless and weary, she sped down the road
2. Self-conscious, Anthony stumbled to his feat.
3. Influential, the senator swayed the opinions of his colleagues.
Open with an Adjective Phrase
Adjective phrases consist of adjectives plus a group of words, often a
prepositional phrase, without a subject and verb.
Adjective phrase serve the sane function as adjectives: they modify nouns or
pronouns. They also tell what kind, what color, how many, which one, whose.
Placed as sentence openers, adjective phrases end with a comma.
1. Afloat with confidence, Blackford told his contact everything.
2. Passionate on the subject, he spoke for an hour.
3. Vivacious in her demeanor, Helen played the role of hostess with warmth.
Open with an Infinitive or Infinitive Phrase
Infinitive = unconjugated verb (it hasn’t taken a tense) Ex. To love, to play, to run
Infinitives look like verbs; however, they act like:
Nouns-To improve one’s mind becomes a worthwhile goal.
Adverbs-She struggled to improve her mind.
Adjectives-He had a desire to improve his mind.
Infinitives for long phrases in three ways:
1. By combining with adverbs: He wanted to sit quietly by himself.
2. By combining with prepositional phrases:
To sing in the shower became a daily habit.
3. By taking objects: He yearned to see his sweetheart.
Commas usually follow infinitive phrases that open sentences.
Note: In its usage as an adjective, an infinitive will never appear as a sentence opener.
The noun or pronoun that the infinitive modifies must appear in front of the infinitive;
this we will not have an infinitive an opener.
1. To cope with the new tax law, taxpayers must attempt to comprehend subtle
variations in meaning.
2. To reduce expenses, the newspaper has had to trim its editorial staff from
twenty-one to twelve.
3. To win the race, the athlete trained every day, rain or shine.
4. To quickly finish his chores, Mark asked his brother for help.
Open with a Present Participle
The present participle = the ing form of the verb (drumming, twisting,
Like a verb, the participle often expresses an action. Like an adjective, it describes
or modifies a noun pr pronoun.
A participle may form a participial phrase in three ways, similar to the infinitive:
1. by combining with an adverb:
Writing hurriedly, I finished the lesson.
2. by combining with a prepositional phrase:
Writing in my diary, I spilled the ink.
3. by taking an object:
Writing the last page, I sighed with relief.
When a participle/participial phrase opens a sentence, use a comma after it
The noun pr pronoun immediately following the comma must serve as the word
modified by the participle; otherwise, the participle dangles. Look at this
Standing on the hilltop, the sky was red and golden.
The wording of this example indicates that the sky does standing. Thus, the
participle dangles. To correct it, we must show who does the standing.
Standing on the hilltop, we admired the red and gold sky.
1. Watering the flowers, Martha stood in the garden.
2. Stepping up to the door, I saw my father dozing on the sofa.
3. Writing rapidly, I finished the essay.
Open with a Past Participle
The past participle = the third principal part of the verb (satisfied, compared,
Past participles form participial phrases in two ways:
1. by combining with adverbs: deeply grieved
2. by combining with prepositional phrases: disturbed by the events
Past participles do not take objects, as do present participles.
When a past participial phrase opens a sentence, use a comma following it.
1. Scared with glacial grooves, the crag loomed ahead.
2. Torn badly and exhausted physically, he scrambled to the summit.
3. Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered, I fell in love.
4. Satisfied that the man in the canoe could have no arms, Deerslayer did not
hesitate to dash alongside the retiring boat.
Open with a Perfect Participle
The perfect participle = having + the third principal part of the verb (having
deposited, having kisses, having begun, having come).
Perfect participles from perfect participial phrases in three ways:
1. by combining with adverbs: having shrieked loudly.
2. by combining with prepositional phrases:
having come to the abandoned quarry
3. by taking objects: having kissed his forehead
1. Having kisses his forehead, she returned with her buoyant step to the window.
2. Having slipped the pack strap from his shoulders, he sat quietly.
3. Having barely begun to read, Stefan laid the newspaper down.
Open With a Present Gerund
Gerunds serve as half verb, half noun.
The present gerund = the ing form of the verb (drumming, twisting, shimmering).
It looks identical to the participle, but remember that the participle functioned as an
adjective whereas the gerund operates as a noun.
A present gerund may form a gerund phrase in three ways, similar to the infinitive
and the participle:
1. by combining with an adverb: Driving dangerously becomes a bad habit.
2. by combing with a prepositional phrase: Writing in my diary has become a daily ritual.
3. by taking an object: Writing the last chapter gave me a feeling of success.
1. Opening the heavy gate took longer than he thought.
2. Standing in the doorway blocks the view.
3. Talking incessantly annoys the class.
4. Asking me the questions won’t necessarily get you the answers.
Open with a Perfect Gerund
The perfect gerund = having + the third principle part of the verb (having deposited,
having kissed, having begun, having come).
1. by combining with adverbs: having shrieked loudly
2. by combining with prepositional phrases: having come to the abandoned quarry
3. by taking objects: having kissed his forehead
In its most frequent usage, the perfect gerund will appear as the object of a
preposition. Gerund phrases will end with a comma. The noun or pronoun immediately
following the comma must serve as the person, place or thing doing the action of the
gerund; otherwise, the perfect gerund dangles.
1. After having written the essay, I analyzed it carefully for erroes.
2. By having gone through one ordeal, I felt better about coping with future
3. Without having had any previous experience, he secured the position over the
Use a Restrictive Adjective Clause
A restrictive adjective clause = a group of dependent words with a subject and a
predicate, modifying a noun or pronoun in the main part of the sentence, and essential to
the meaning of the sentence.
This type of clause does not take commas.
Only five words serve as openers for these clauses: who, whom, which, that,
whose. Who, whom, and whose refer to persons; which and that refer to things.
1. Students who plan to enter the university on the fall quarter should forward
transcripts of their records to the registrar.
2. Sir, you speak of the women whom I love!
3. I have certain information that the enemy has concentrated twenty thousand
troops of all arms on the Little Buttermilk.
4. A man whose face I knew walked in.
Use a Non-Restrictive Adjective Clause
A non-restrictive adjective clause = a group of dependent words with a subject
and a predicate, modifying a noun or a pronoun in the main part of the sentence, but
providing additional information not essential to the meaning of the sentence.
Non-restrictive adjectives serve as openers for these clauses: who whom, whose,
which. Who, whom and whose refer to persons; which refers to things. The word that
cannot introduce a non-restrictive adjective clause.
1. We took tea with the perplexed local policed inspector, who enevr really
understood tigers explinations.
2. He introduced me to his wife, whom he obviously adored.
3. Many people sought out Aristotle, whose wisdom spread through the ancient
4. She would soon find out about the Nationalist Party, which ruled China at that
Open With a Noun Clause
A noun clause may act as the subject of a sentence, the object of a verb, the
predicate noun, or the object of a preposition. These words may operate as noun-
clause openers: whoever, whomever, whatever, what, whichever, who, that, where,
when, how, why, wherever, whom, whosoever.
1. What Blackford had to gain, or lose, Trust could not know.
2. Who serves his country well has no need of ancestors.
3. Why people feel that way puzzles me.
4. Whom they want for president the committee hasn’t decided yet.
5. Whatever they could lay their hands on, they took.
Write a Compound Sentence, Using a Comma Before Such Conjunctions as and,
but, or, nor, yet, for ….
A compound sentence consists of two or more simple sentences joined together
by one of the coordination conjunctions: and, but, or, nor, yet, for.
In a compound sentence both ideas expressed have equal importance.
Customarily use a comma before the conjunction, especially in long clauses or in
an effort to emphasize distinctness.
1. I won’t go to the dance, nor will I buy a ticket.
2. He presented an easy target, for anyone could pull the wool over his eyes.
3. Out in the field Desmond squinted narrowly, and behind the dugout the spectators
hummed with excitement.
Write a Compound Sentence, With Semicolon, No Conjunction….
A compound sentence must make two or more closely related statements about
the same idea.
When one of the coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, yet, for) does not
connect the two or more statements of a compound sentence, punctuate with the
semicolon (;) between the statements.
1. The cry for freedom stops at no border; it echoes endlessly in the hearts of all
2. Despite its colorful blossoms, the oleander presents danger; the stems of the
shrub, when broken, exude a highly poisonous milky fluid.
3. The penalty for not turning work in on time may result in a lowered grade; the
penalty for not turning it in at all will result in failure.
4. They remembered Old Joe; his personality made him unforgettable.
Write a Compound Sentence Using the semicolon (;) Before Coordination
Conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, yet) Because Commas Already Appear In The
1. Of an ancient Huguenot family, he had once had wealth; but a series of
misfortunes had reduced him to want.
2. He said northing, however, and his conduct greatly astonished me; yet I
thought it prudent not to exacerbate the growing moodiness of his temper by
3. He did not press me to remain; but as I departed he shook my hand with even
more than his usual cordiality
Write a Compound Sentence Using the Semicolon Before And a Comma
After Such Connectives As however, therefore, consequently, nevertheless,
thus, in fact, then on the other hand……
1. I wanted very much to go; in fact, I had purchased a ticket.
2. The freeways in Los Angeles frequently become scenes of death and
destruction; nevertheless, those freeways rank around the safest in the world.
3. Some students know precisely what they want from college; on the other
hand, some students do not know what they want.
4. The American school year goes from September to June; however, Japanese
schools do not follow this pattern.
5. We had ordered the tickets for the musical; therefore, we felt we had to go.
Write a Compound Sentence With an Introductory, Or General, Statement
Followed By a Colon And a Specific, or Explanatory, Statement
The colon in this pattern performs a special function: it signals to the reader that
something important or explanatory will follow.
The first statement will contain a word or an idea that needs explaining the second
statement will give some specific information or example about that idea.
1. Darwin’s Origin of Species forcibly states a harsh truth: only the fittest survive.
2. The empty coffin in the center of the crypt had a single horrifying meaning:
Dracula had left his tomb to stalk the village streets in search of fresh blood.
3. People called me impractical: I wanted to marry a poet.
Use a Parenthetical Expression Between the subject and the Verb
A parenthetical expression consists of a word or words placed (in this case)
between the subject and the verb to explain or comment.
In this type of “interrupter,” you may use a pair of commas or a pair of dashes to
separate it from the main elements of the sentence. The dash serves as a more
emphatic way of setting off parenthetical expressions and also functions as a clearer
interruption if the sentence already has internal punctuation.
1. The startled youngsters, seeking escape in another direction, bolted off on a new
2. Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge, shall cry, “Havoc!”
3. In reality, the whole idea of a specifically feminine-or, for the matter of that,
masculine-contribution to culture contradicts culture.