Basic Sentence Patterns

STRUCTURES OF LANGUAGE

(Based on Francis Christensen's 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 1970s)

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)

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PASSIVE VOICE TRANSFORMATION:

(BSP 2 turns into BSP 1 + optional prepositional phrase.)

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)

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. BOUND PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES consist of a preposition and a noun. The eleven most common prepositions are the following:

    at, by, for, from, in, into, of, on, over, to, with

  4. OTHER ONE-WORD BOUND MODIFIERS may include all of the prep- ositions above (occuring alone) and also the following words:

    again, always, even, maybe, only, ago, anyhow,
    ever, moreover, perhaps, ahead, anyway, furthermore, never,
    rather, almost, anywhere, hardly, nevertheless, quite,
    already, away, here, not, seldom, also, awhile,
    indeed, now, sometimes, altogether, else, just, nowadays, too.

    MAIN CLAUSES

    A main clause is any BSP or any BSP + its bound modifiers.