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Clause Pattern: Subject – Verb – Adverbial (SVA)

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

This pattern consists of a subject SA 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..., a copular verb A verb which links a subject to a complement. more..., and an obligatory 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....

  • Sneezing is a phenomenon that occursintransitive verb in both people and animals obligatory adverbial . (Sorg 2021)     (info) Without the adverbial the sentence is syntactically correct but incomplete.

  • Without the adverbial the sentence makes no real sense - it is incomplete.
  • The answer to this questionsubject liesintransitive verb in how our brains are hardwired to think obligatory adverbial. (Anderson-Sieg 2021)      (info)"The answer to this question lies" is clearly incomplete; it needs an adverbial to make sense.

  • The first onesubject ("one" refers to "ice age" mentioned earlier in the text) happenedintransitive verb about 2 billion years ago obligatory adverb and lastedintransitive verb about 300 million years obligatory adverb . (Su 2022)      (info)Two examples in this sentence.

  • Some [mushrooms] have pores that lookintransitive verb like sponges obligatory adverb . (Hughes 2021)     (info)"that look like sponges" is a dependent (relative) clause so there is no subject here.

Common verbs used in this pattern are: be, get, happen, last, lie, look, occur, remain.

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

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