Understanding the construction and use of major clause patterns
The importance of learning common clause patterns
Knowledge of clauses is important primarily because they constitute units of meaning. This is reflected in the fact that they are punctuated as such; a single clause may constitute a full sentence terminating in a full stop but combined clauses need to be separated by commas.
There is a limited number of common clause patterns which are commonly used in academic English and they are worth learning because once you do you'll notice them in your reading, your reading will become faster, and you'll start to be able to use these patterns with ease in your writing.
These clause patterns rarely stand alone as complete sentences; in normal academic writing they are embedded in other structures and there can be deep levels of embedding. Often, the only time you see them stand alone is in a grammar book in made-up examples.
The examples presented in these pages are all taken from authentic texts. For each example the important features are highlighted and there are links to further explanations.
1. subject – verb pattern
And indeed, as you go deeper into the Earthadverbial , the temperaturesubject increasesintransitive verb. (Huang 2023) (info) The verb "increase" may be transitive or intransitive.
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2. subject – verb – adverbial pattern
The answer to this questionsubject lies intransitive 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.
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3. subject – verb – direct object pattern
Solar panels on this roofsubject createtransitive verb energydirect object. (Abbas 2019)
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4. subject – verb – subject predicative pattern
The mimic octopussubject iscopular verb particularly cleversubject predicative. (Spencer and Papastamatiou 2022) (info)The subject predicative is an adjective phrase.
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5. subject – verb – prepositional object pattern
Unstable atomssubject turn intoprepositional verb stable atomsprepositional object over time at a steady and predictable pace. (Skromne 2022)
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6. subject – verb – direct object – adverbial pattern
Another helpful trait is that cockroachessubject laytransitive verb their eggsdirect object in little protective cases obligatory adverbial. (Lovett 2022)
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7. subject – verb – indirect object – direct object pattern
Many towns and citiessubject have madeditransitive verb thisindirect object the ruledirect object. (O’Neill 2023)
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8. subject – verb – direct object object predicative pattern
Theysubject findcomplex transitive verb such explanationsdirect object excitingobject predicative. (Satterley 2020)
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9. subject – verb – direct object – prepositional object pattern
Wesubject findditransitive prepositional verb dinosaur fossilsdirect object in the ground, in riverbeds and lakes, and on the sides of cliffs and mountainsprepositional objects. (Ausich 2021)
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10. subject – verb – complement clause pattern
Wesubject knowtransitive verb
that the Earth has had at least five major ice ages that clause . (Su 2022)
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11. subject – verb – noun phrase – complement clause pattern
Animalssubject showtransitive verb usnoun clause that there are many places to make a home that clause . (Wishart 2020)
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