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Sentence Structure. Part I - AVM's English Review

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(Sentence Structure. Part I)

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The Normal Pattern in a Simple English Sentence

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Before defining the parts of a sentence, it might be wise to define a sentence itself. See "Common Rules-Introduction" for detail.

English sentences take several forms and there are rules governing the various types (see "Sentence Types).

, :

  • The Affirmative Statements or The Positive Statement
  • The Negative Statements or The Negative Statement
  • The Imperative Sentenses or The Command

- : .


=> (Declarative sentences or Statments) , - : . - ( ) - ( ). .

=> - (: Agents of the sentence - ).

Subject Predicate
The car stopped.

, , - (the Attribute - :), (the Object - : ), (the Modifier - : ). . , .

( ), ( ):

(Subject Group)

(Predicate Group)
The blue car stopped at the gate.

=> , . , . , , : , , .. , , : , .. . , . , , . , , ; , , , .

The boy caught a fish . , , : A fish caught the boy . , , . fish , caught. , : boy , , , . : The boy a fish caught, aught the boy a fish ..

, .. .

Note , . : 1) , 2) , 3) , 4) .

  • Common word pattern in declarative sentence:






John and me


a pizza

last night.


are studying

"present perfect"

this week.

 . .
Negation. The Affirmative and Negative Statements

=> , , (: Affirmative Statements - ) (: Negative Statements - ).


  • The positive statement:


John was ill.


Joan has lost her ball.


Bill is giving his friend a computer


  • The negative statement:


John was not ill / John wasn't ill.


Eric has not lost his bicycle / Eric hasn't lost his bicycle.


Joan is not giving her mother a present / Joan isn't giving her mother a present.

 . .
Command. The Imperative Sentenses

(: Imperative Statements - )


=> , .



The buyers chartered   a streamer.        
We sent the buyers the document.        
We sent   them to the buyers.      
We have sent them the document from the buyers     for two months.
The sellers received   a telegram from the buyers.      
I met   him   by chance at the theatre a few days ago.
I sold him a big fish   by chance at the theatre a month ago.

Note : the Objects - .

Note : the Adverbial Modifier - .

Note , . :

  1. ( )
  2. ( )
(: the Attribute - ).

Note , ( ), ( ). : .


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The Special Patterns in a Simple English Sentence

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(: The Normal Pattern in a Simple English Sentence) . (: Question).

(: ). (: Voice) (: Exclamation), , .

, , (: ), , .


, ( - : The Normal Pattern in a Simple English Sentence), , , . , , .

  1. => :

    'There' + V['to be'] + S ...


    • There is a telephone in that flat.
      (.. , , - , - ).
      A telephone is in that flat.
      (.., , , ).
    • There was a meeting at the club yesterday.
      . (.. , )
      A meeting was at the club yesterday.
      (.. , ).
    • There has been a ghost in the castle since the old earl suddenly made a die of it.
    • There can be some foods on that shelves.

    'It' + V['to be'] + S ...


    • It is the story that amazed our townsfolk.

  2. => 'there' 'here' :

    {'Here' | 'There'} + V + S ...


    • Here is the book you are lookinhg for.
    • Here comes my brother.
    • There is your book!
    • Here and there saw Alice maps and pictures hung upon pegs.

    Note , , .


    • Here it is!
    • Here he comes!
    • There she is!
    • Here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs.

  3. => :

    {Mm | Mp} + Vintr + S ...

    Note .


    • On the right is the Lenin Library.
    • From the window came sounds of music.

  4. => :

    {'Hardly' | 'Only' | 'Nor' | other adverbial} + Vaux + S + V...

    Note : .

    Note , , , Present Past Indefinite, 'to do'.


    • Never in my life have I seen such a thing.
    • No sooner had I arrived than he fell ill.
      , .
    • Scarely had he entered the house when it started to rain.
      , .
    • In vain did we try to make him do it.
    • There was nothing so VERY remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so VERY much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!"
      ; , , : ", ! , ! !".
    • Only by hard work will we be able to accomplish this great task.
      i.e. We will be able to accomplish this great task only by hard work
    • Hardly does Juan remember the accident that took his sister's life.
      i.e. Juan hardly remembers the accident...
    • Seldom does class let out early.
      i.e. Class seldom lets out early
    • Never have so many people been unemployed as today.
      i.e. So many people have never been unemployed as today
    • Hardly had he fallen asleep when he began to dream of far-away lands.
      i.e. He had hardly fallen asleep when he began to dream...

  5. => , , , , - 'to say', 'to ask', 'to answer', 'to reply' :

    Note , . .


    • "I shall return the book to-morrow," reply my frend.
    • "Who has taken my dictionary?" asked the student in an angry voice.
    • "I am glad to see you," said the old man.
    • "I am glad to see you," said the old man kindly.
    • "I am glad to see you," said the old man to him.

    Note , .


    • "I don't smoke," he said.

    Note , - . , - , .


    • "Read aloud every day," the teacher used to say.
    • "What is the matter with you?" the doctor will ask.
    • "What is the matter with you?" the doctor asked her.
    • : "I am glad to see you," said the old man to him.

  6. => - :

    Note , . : Conditional Sentences - .


    • Should need arise, we shall communicate with you again.
    • Were I to see him to-morrow, I should ask him about it.
      , .
    • Had I seen him yesterday, I should have asked him about it.
      , .

  7. => :

    Note 'So do I', 'Neither do I'. : Modal and Auxiliary Verbs - .


    • I get up very early.
      So do I.
    • She did not see him yesterday.
      Neither did I.


( - : The Normal Pattern in a Simple English Sentence). . .

    1. =>
      Transformation of direct and indirect objects

      Note (: ).

    2. => ,

      Note , , .


      • We have received from them some illustrated catalogues containing a deteiled description of these machines.
      • We have sent there all the specifications of electrical equipment received from Leningrad.

    3. => ,

      Note , .


      • I have read with great pleasure the letter sent me by Vadim Petrov.

    1. => (: ).
    2. => ,

      Note , (: ).

    3. => , 'there' 'here'

      Note - , 'there' 'here', .


      • He will work here with pleasure.
      • I met him there by chance.

    4. => ,

      Note , , .


      • He went to the theatre with his sister.
      • The steamer "Svir" sailed from Leningrag with a cargo of machinery.

    5. => ,

      Note , (: ).

    6. => ( )

      Note (: ).


  1. the positive question: verb reversal type

    AUX S V

    Are you going fishing?

    AUX S V DO

    Have you seen my book?


    Has my father given his friend some books?

  2. the positive question: question word type

    QW V S

    What is your name?

    QW C V S

    How big is your house?


    Why is Bill giving his friend some money?

  3. the positive question: tag type

    S V C, V S

    Your name is David, is not it?

  4. the negative question: verb reversal type

    AUX S V C

    Is Mary not coming with us? /Isn't Mary coming with us?

    AUX S V DO

    Have you not visited London? /Haven't you visited London?


    Have you not brought me a French dictionary? /Haven't you brought me a French dictionary?

  5. the negative question: question word type

    QW AUX S V C

    Why has he not come yet?

    Why hasn't he come yet?


    Why is he not teaching his class?

    Why isn't he teaching his class?


    Why have you not brought me a cup of tea?

    Why haven't you brought me a cup of tea?

( : Interrogative Sentences - )


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(: Voice - )



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- , - , (, , ..). .



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Common Rules


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A sentence is a group of words containing a subject and predicate.

, .

=> , .. , . , - , (Agents of the sentence - : ). : .

=> , . . - (. Sentence types).

=> (), . : . Subject-Verb Agreement.

, - :

Sentence types

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(. Sentence) . , ( ).


=> .

(unextended) (extended), . : Normal Sentence Pattern in English).

, . : - (Compound Sentenses - : ) - (Complex Sentences - : ). - (Principal or Main Clause), (Subordinate Clause).

=> Sentences are defined according to function:

  • declarative (99% of the sentences we use),
  • interrogative (which ask a question -- "What's your name?"),
  • exclamatory ("There's a fire in the kitchen!"),
  • and imperative ("Don't drink that!").

, :

  • (: )
  • (: )
  • (: )
  • (: )

=> , :

- -
++ ++ ++
++ ++ ++
++ ++ ++

Note (: ).

Note (: ).

The various Types of Sentences, structurally, are defined, with examples, under the section on sentence variety.


Subject-Verb Agreement

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=> Remember that the subject and verb in a sentence must agree in person and number.
















You must always check the subject and verb to be sure they agree. However, sometimes it is difficult to decide exactly what the subject is if the subject and verb are separated.




in the room

are studying





The subject and verb can be separated by:

  1. prepositional phrase:

    S + [prepositional phrase] + V...

    The prepositional phrase has no effect on the verb.


    • The study of languages is very interesting.
    • Several theories on this subject have been proposed.
    • The effects of that crime are likely to be devastating.
  2. several expressions:
    together with ,along with, accompanied by, as well as

    S + ,[the expressions], + V...

    This expressions has no effect on the verb.


    • The actress, along with her manager and some friends, is going to a party tonight.
    • Mr. Robbins, accompanied by his wife and children, is arriving tonight.
  3. conjunction and:

    S + ,and... + V in plural...

    If the conjunction and is used instead of one of these phrases, the verb would then be plural.


    • The actress, and her manager are going to a party tonight.



There are some exceptions:

  1. Words that always take singular verb and pronouns:
    Some words are often confused by students as being plural.


    The following words must be followed by singular verbs and pronouns in formal written English:
    any + singular noun

    no + singular noun
    no one
    some + singular noun



    • Everybody who has not purchased a ticket should be in this line.
    • Something was under the house.
    • Anybody who has lost his ticket should report to the desk.
    • No problem is harder to solve than this one.
    • Nobody works harder than John does.
  2. either and neither
    1. are singular if they are NOT used with or and nor:


      • If either of you takes a vacation now, we will not be able to finish the work.
    2. if they are used with or and nor
      When either and neither are followed by or and nor the verb may be singular or plural depending on whether the noun following or and nor is singular or plural. If or or nor appears alone, the same rule applies. Study the following formulas:

      {neither  | either } + noun + {nor  | or } + singular noun + singular verb

      {neither  | either   } + noun + {nor | or } + plural noun + plural verb



      • Neither John nor Bill is going to the beach today.
      • Either John or Bill is going to the beach today.
      • Neither John nor his friends are going to the beach today.
      • Either John or his friends are going to the beach today.
  3.     none and no
    None and no can take either a singular or plural verb depending on the noun which follows it. Study the following formulas:

    none + of the + non-count noun + singular verb

    none + of the + plural noun + plural verb

    no + singular noun + singular verb

    no + non-count noun + singular verb

    no + plural noun + plural verb



    • None of the counterfeit money has been found.
    • None of the students have finished the exam yet.
    • No example is relevant to this case.
    • No examples are relevant to this case.
  4. Gerund as subject
    If a sentence begins with gerund, the verb must also be singular.


    • Knowing her has made him what he is.
    • Dieting is very popular today.
    • Not studying has caused him many problems.
    • Washing with a special cream is recommended for scalp infections.
    • Being cordial is one of his greatest assets.
    • Writing many letters makes her happy.
  5. Collective nouns:
    Also many words indicating a number of people or animals are usually singular. In some case they are plural if the sentence indicates that the individual members are acting separately.


    • The committee has met, and it has rejected the proposal.
    • The family was elated by the news.
    • Our team is going to win the game.
    • The flock of birds is circling overhead.
    • A school of fish is being attacked by sharks

    See Appendix V  for more examples of collective nouns.



    Majority can be singular or plural. If it is alone it is usually singular; if it is followed by a plural noun, it is usually plural.



    • The majority believes that we are in no danger.
    • The majority of the students believe him to be innocent.


    Collective nouns indicating time, money, and measurements used as a whole are singular.



    • Twenty-five dollars is too much to pay for that shirt.
    • Fifty minutes isnt enough time to finish this test.
    • Twenty dollars is all I can afford to pay for that recorder.
    • Two miles is too much to run in one day.
  6. a number of and the number of:

    a number of + plural noun + plural verb

    the number of + plural noun + singular verb



    • A number of students are going to the class picnic. (a number of  == many )
    • The number of days in a week is seven.
    • A number of the applicants have already been interviewed.
    • The number of residents who have been questioned on this matter is quite small.
  7. Nouns that always plural.
    Some nouns are always considered plural. They cannot be singular. In order to speak of them as singular, one must say : "a pair of ...".


    • The pants are in the drawer.
    • A pair of pants is in the drawer.

    See Appendix VI for more examples.

  8.   There is and there are.
    Remember that with sentences beginning with the existential there, the subject is actually after the verb.

    There is + singular subject (or non-count)...

    There was + singular subject (or non-count)...

    There has been + singular subject (or non-count)...

    There are + plural subject...

    There were + plural subject...

    There have been + plural subject...



    • There is a storm approaching. (singular)
    • There was an accident last night. (singular)
    • There was water on the floor where he fell. (non-count)
    • There were too many people at the party. (plural)
    • There has been an increase in the importation of foreign cars. (singular)
    • There have been a number of telephone calls today. (plural)



Verbs Agreement

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=> In complex & conpound sentences verbs must be agreed in different clauses.

See Conditional Sentencesfor more.

See Subjunctive Sentences for exceptions.


S Sequence of tenses in complex sentence

When two clauses make up a sentence, they show a time relationship based on certain time words and verbs tenses. This relationship is called "sequence of tenses".

=> The verb of the main clause will determine that of the dependent clause.

  1. If the main cause is present tense then the dependent clause will be:
    • present progressive
      By using a present progressive with a present tense, we show two simultaneous actions.


      • I see that Harriet is writing her composition.

I. A. e.g. I see that Harriet is writing her composition. Do you know who is riding the bicycle? B. will, can, or may + V in simple form These modals in the dependent clause indicate that the action takes place after that of the main verb. (be going to is also used in this pattern.) e.g. He says that he will look for a job next week. Mary says that she can play the piano. I know that she is going to win that prize. C. past tense Past tenses in the dependent clause show that this action took place before that of the main clause. e.g. I hope he arrived safely. They think he was here last night. D. present perfect Use of the present perfect in the dependent clause indicates that the action took place at an indefinite time before that of the main clause. e.g. He tells us that he has been to the mountains before. We know that you have spoken with Mike about the party. James says that he has already done his homework. II. If the main cause is past tense then the dependent clause will be A. past progressive or simple past Simple past or past progressive in the dependent clause indicates a simultaneous actions with the main clause. e.g. Mike visited the Prado Art Museum while he was studying in Madrid. I gave the package to my sister when she visited us last week. Lou told his friends that they were good tennis players. I wonder who said that blondes had more fun. (!!!) B. would, could, or might + V in simple form These modals in the dependent clause indicate the action takes place after that of the main verb.. e.g. He said that he would look for a job next week. Mary said that she could play piano. We known that you might move to France next year. We hoped that you could play tennis later. The student was asking the professor when the class would do the next experiment. Mark thought he was going to win the award. Because he could not tell the time, the boy arrived home very late one evening. C. past perfect Past perfect in the dependent clause shows that the action occurred before that of the main clause.. e.g. I hoped he had arrived safely. They thought he had been here last night. My sister told us that it had snowed in her town last week. I saw my friend in the library and said that I had wanted to talk to him. Note: No present form can come after the past tense.

 Affirmative Agreement

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 Negative Agreement

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