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Clause Pattern: Subject – Verb – Complement (SVC)

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

This pattern 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.. , a monotransitive verb A verb which takes only a direct object realised by a noun phrase. more.., and a complement A complement is a word, phrase or clause which completes another element. Any element can take a complement. Complements add further information to the elements they complement. more.. clause. The complement clause may be a that-clause A finite dependent clause consisting of the word "that" and a finite clause. more.., a wh-clause A clause which begins with a wh-word (who, what, which, where, when, why, how, whether, whatever, whichever ) and acts either as a dependent interrogative clause or a nominal relative clause. more.., an infinitive clause Infinitive clauses are non-finite to-clauses. The infinitive verb is normally preceded by the marker "to". more.., or an ing-clause A participle clause (present participle) used as a noun phrase modifier, subject, direct object, adverbial, extraposed subject, subject predicative, and as part of an adjective phrase. more...

That clauses

  • Wesubject knowtransitive verb that the Earth has had at least five major ice ages that clause . (Su 2022)

  • Wherever we look, wesubject can seetransitive verb that the seasons are changing that clause . (Doddridge 2022)

  • Studiessubject showtransitive verb that rising temperatures are already affecting precipitation, glaciers, weather patterns, tropical cyclone activity and severe storms that clause . (Weatherhead 2021)     (info) That clauses can be quite long.

  • Wesubject knowtransitive verb that musical tastes begin to crystallize as early as age 13 or 14 that clause. (McAndrew 2019)

  • Thissubject showstransitive verb that babies prefer infant-directed speech to adult-directed speech that clause . (Lam-Cassettari 2019)


  • No onesubject knowstransitive verb who invented music wh-clause . (Dallman 2022)

  • There are a couple of ways wesubject can try to tellcomplex verb phrase how old a dinosaur was when it died wh-clause (how is a wh-word) . (Syme 2019)

  • Have yousubject ever wonderedtransitive verb why you feel sleepy wh-clause ? (Chronaki 2019)

  • Nobodysubject knowstransitive verb where human evolution will lead wh-clause. (Simons 2021)

  • Everyone was then tested to seetransitive verb if they could remember what they had typed wh-clause . (Noreen 2015)

Infinitive clauses

  • Theysubject were askedtransitive verb to memorise both listsinfinitive clause. (Noreen 2015)

  • Anyonesubject can claimtransitive verb to be a journalist infinitive clause , irrespective of their actual function. (Watson 2023)

  • Eat less meat and more vegetables, pulses and grains, and don’t forgettransitive verb to turn off the light when leaving a room or the water when shampooing infinitive clause . (Byskov 2019)

  • Remember transitive verb to check on elderly or frail neighbours infinitive clause. (Lopes, Power, and Crabtree 2020)      (info)This is an imperative so there is no subject.

  • So instead of avoiding products based on speculation, wesubject needtransitive verb to take a holistic look at our own consumption habits infinitive clause . (Marty et al. 2023)


  • Other electronssubject just keeptransitive verb running around in the atoms ing-clause . (Abbas 2019)

  • First, the woodsubject startstransitive verb getting hotter ing-clause . (Nolan 2019)

  • When the baby planet gets massive enough, the force of gravitysubject beginstransitive verb crushing it, making it denser ing-clause ("making it denser" is a result arverbial) . (Laycock 2023)

  • In fact, studies have found that by the time we turn 33, most of ussubject have stoppedtransitive verb listening to new music ing-clause. (McAndrew 2019)

  • Isubject can remembertransitive verb being a baby ing-clause . (Justice, Conway, and Akhtar 2018)

See more examples in the glossary

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

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