Basic Sentence Patterns
STRUCTURES OF LANGUAGE (Based on Francis
Generative Rhetoric of the Sentence; adapted from a handout
first developed by Jim Berlin and
Glenn Broadhead, both at Wichita State University in the late
FOUR FRAMES USEFUL FOR CLASSIFYING WORDS AS PARTS OF SPEECH
Frame 1: They seem _________________________.(adjective)
Frame 2: They did it _________________________.(adverb)
Frame 3: I was thinking of_____________________(s).(noun)
Frame 4: They might _______________________(them).(verb)
FOUR COMMON BASIC SENTENCE PATTERNS (BSPs)
- BSP 1: noun + verb
- Jim laughs.
- Jim laughed.
- Canaries sing.
- The man escaped.
- BSP 2: noun + verb + noun
- Jim drives a truck.
- Canaries eat seeds.
- The thief bribed the jailor.
- BSP 3: noun + L-verb + noun
- Jim is a fireman.
- Canaries are birds.
- BSP 4: noun + L-verb + adj.
- The thief was clever.
- Canaries are yellow.
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PASSIVE VOICE TRANSFORMATION: (BSP 2 turns into BSP 1 + optional
The letter interested Louise.
Louise was interested in the letter.
Jim drives a truck.
The truck is driven (by Jim).
Canaries eat seeds.
Seeds are eaten (by canaries).
The thief bribed the jailor.
The jailor was bribed by the thief.
BOUND MODIFIERS: (STRUCTURES THAT CAN BE INSERTED INTO A SENTENCE
PATTERN WITHOUT CHANGING THE PATTERN)
- ADJECTIVES are signalled structually by -er and -est or by
more and most (e.g., sharp, sharper, sharpest; useful, more
useful, most useful).
Other common structural signals of adjectives include -ous
and -al added to nouns (marvelous, institutional) and -
able added to verbs (practicable). Less common signals
include -y (healthy), -ful (hopeful), -en (wooden), -ary
(legendary), -ish (childish), and quite a few others.
- ADVERBS are often signalled sturcturally by -ly added to an
adjective (hopefully, eagerly), by -wise added to a noun
(lengthwise, crabwise), or by a- added to the beginning of
nouns (ahead, away), verbs (adrift, astir) and adjectives
(anew, abroad). Adverbs, like adjectives, are also
signalled by -er, -est, and so on.
- BOUND PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES consist of a preposition and a
noun. The eleven most common prepositions are the
at, by, for, from, in, into, of, on, over, to, with
- OTHER ONE-WORD BOUND MODIFIERS may include all of the prep-
ositions above (occuring alone) and also the following
again, always, even, maybe, only,
ever, moreover, perhaps,
ahead, anyway, furthermore, never,
almost, anywhere, hardly, nevertheless, quite,
already, away, here, not, seldom,
indeed, now, sometimes,
altogether, else, just, nowadays, too.
A main clause is any BSP or any BSP + its bound modifiers.
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All contents copyright (C) 1997. All rights reserved.
Revised: April 7, 1997