English sentence structure/Exercises

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This page is used in this Wikibook page: Rhetoric and Composition/Teacher's Handbook/Teaching Sentence Structure

Basic Sentence Models[edit]

Students are to copy the model sentence and then write 2 or 3 (or more, if you choose) sentences using the same structure—no more, no less. I teach ELL students, so I also insist on keeping the given verb tense, because I want them working on past tense irregular verbs or –ed endings or –s endings in present tense.

Basic Sentence Models: Intransitive[edit]

Pattern: N – V; Adj – N – V; Adj – N – Adv – V; Adj – N – Adv – V - PP; add “free modifiers”, compound subject; compound verb


1. The convict escaped.

2. The dangerous convict escaped.

3. The dangerous convict narrowly escaped.

4. The dangerous convict narrowly escaped through the window.

5. The dangerous convict, quiet as a mouse, narrowly escaped through the window.

6. The dangerous convict, young and quick, narrowly escaped through the window.

7. The dangerous convict, serving time for murder, narrowly escaped through the window.

8. The dangerous convict, who had beaten up a guard, narrowly escaped through a window.

9. The dangerous convict, who had beaten up a guard, and his hostage narrowly escaped through a window.

10. The dangerous convict, serving time for murder, beat up a guard and narrowly escaped through a window.

Basic Sentence Models: Linking Verbs[edit]

Sentence Patterns: N/P – V – Adj; N/P – V – N; N/P – V – Adj – N; N/P – V – N – N; N/P – N/P – V – Adj; N/P – V – V – VP; free modifiers

1. Sarah was brilliant

2. Sarah was a student.

3. Sarah was a brilliant student.

4. Sarah was a brilliant student and a kind friend.

5. Her sister and she were brilliant students.

6. Sarah was a brilliant student and expected to go to college.

7. Sarah was a brilliant student but did not expect to go to college.

8. A brilliant student, Sarah expected to go to college.

9. Mary, a brilliant student, expected to go to college.

10. Mary was a brilliant student who expected to go to college.

11. Mary and I remained hungry.

12. Mary and I remained hungry and tired.

13. Mary and I remained hungry and tired, but we worked hard.

14. Mary and I remained hungry and tired, but we still worked hard.

Basic Sentence Models: Transitive Verbs[edit]

Sentence Patterns: N-V-DO; Adj-N-V-DO; Adj-N-Adv-V-DO; Adj-N-Adv-V-DO-PP;Adj-N-V-Conj-Adv-V-PP

1. The girl kicked the dog.

2. The young girl kicked the dog

3. The young girl viciously kicked the dog.

4. The young girl viciously kicked the dog down the stairs.

5. The young girl and her brother viciously kicked the dog down the stairs.

6. The young girl and her brother viciously kicked the dog down the stairs and laughed.

7. The young girl and her brother viciously kicked the dog down the stairs and laughed nervously.

8. The young girl felt threatened and viciously kicked the dog down the stairs.

9. The young girl, feeling threatened, viciously kicked the dog down the stairs.

10. Feeling threatened, the young girl viciously kicked the dog down the stairs.

11. Toua broke his leg when his car hit the tree.

12. Mai Houa bought her dress after she fought with her mother.

13. Xai brought his mother before Bou made dinner.