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Clause Pattern: Subject – Verb (SV)

Understanding the construction and use of the subject – verb clause pattern

This is the simplest verb pattern. It consists of a subject A noun phrase (a person or a thing) or a nominal clause normally placed before a verb phrase and which acts as the performer of the verb. more... and a one-place An indication of the number of grammatical items to which a verb may connect. more... (intransitive This refers to verbs which do not take an object or a predicative complement. more...) verb. It may also have an optional adverbial An adverb phrase used to provide circumstantial information about a clause, to indicate the writer’s stance, or to link units of discourse by indicating their relationship. more....

  • Isubject waitedintransitive verb for hours in emergency last night with this dreadful headachecomplex optionaladverbial, but eventually gave upintransitive verb and leftintransitive verb. (Yates 2021)      (info)This example has three verbs. The subject, I, applies to all three verbs so there is subject ellipsis for the second two verbs ([I] gave up and [I] left).

  • And indeed, as you go deeper into the Earthadverbial , the temperaturesubject increasesintransitive verb. (Huang 2023)     (info) The verb "increase" may be transitive or intransitive.

  • The adverbial shows a relationship between going deeper into the earth and temperature increase so it seems obligatory, but the sentence makes sense without it.
  • But even a tough old tree subject will eventually optional adverb dieintransitive verb. (Stevens-Rumann 2023)     (info)The verb "die" is one of the few verbs which is exclusively intransitive.

  • The trail of digital data yousubject leaveintransitive verb – both online and offline – is what makes you especially valuable. (Ashley 2019)     (info)SO, no adverbial. The verb "leave" may be transitive or intransitive.

  • A huge lake in Boliviasubject has almost entirely optional adverb disappearedintransitive verb. (Marti-Cardona and Torres-Batlló 2021)      (info)The verb "disappear" is one of the few verbs which is exclusively intransitive.

  • The research may involve looking at archival documents, interviewing people or visiting locations where important eventssubject happenedintransitive verb. (Farina 2022)      (info) (SV, no adverbial.)

  • Thissubject happensintransitive verb because onions release an irritating chemical that makes your eyes sting optional adverb . (Daughtry 2020)      (info)SV, plus adverbial - "because onions release an irritating chemical that makes your eyes sting")

Although a subject - object pattern is described without adverbials, most intransitive verbs are used with adverbials of one kind or another, as you can see in the examples above - only four examples have no adverbials (there are two in example one).
Common verbs used in this pattern are: appear, arrive, begin, continue, die, disappear, emerge, exist, fall, float, go, happen, laugh, listen, live, occur, rise, sit, sleep, smile, start, stop, think, vanish, wait.

Test your understanding of this Subject – Verb (SV) pattern Go to the (SV) exercise page.

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