In English, there are six basic sentence types. But before moving forward, what are sentences, exactly? In a previous article, it was maintained that English sentences are necessary for communication. As mentioned, a person’s ability to write and speak effectively depends on how good they are at forming sentences.

Before beginning this lesson on sentence types, here’s a quick recap on sentences.

The Basic Elements of a Sentence

A sentence has two basic elements: the subject and the predicate. The subject is always a noun, a pronoun, or a group of words acting as a noun. It is what the whole sentence is about. Meanwhile, the predicate contains a verb that describes the subject. Take note, verbs do not always have to be action verbs. Lastly, subjects and predicates can be either simple or compound.

sentence types

In the following examples, the subjects are in bold, while the predicates are italicized:

  • Grandpa is asleep.
  • I prepared some coffee.

Aside from the subject and predicate, sentences also contain complements. Complements (not to be confused with compliments) are words that complete the meaning of a predicate. Two of the most important complements are the direct and indirect object.

Direct objects are nouns or pronouns that come after action verbs. They act as the receiver of the action verb. On the other hand, indirect objects name the person or object that something is given to, or done for. It is important to note that indirect objects cannot exist without a direct object. But a direct object can exist even without an indirect object.

Now that were done with this recap, it is time to proceed to the lesson proper.

The Six Basic Sentence Types

Sentences may present themselves in different patterns. These patterns refer to the arrangements of the elements of a sentence. It starts from the most basic, to the most complex. As mentioned, there are six basic sentence types or patterns in English.

sentence types

S – IV

The S–IV pattern is the simplest sentence type. It includes a subject and an intransitive verb. Intransitive verbs are verbs that do not have a direct object.

Take note of the subject and the intransitive verb in the following examples:

  • Peter sneezed.
  • Evil exists.
  • Fame ends.

S – TV – DO

Next, the S–TV–DO pattern includes a subject, a transitive verb, and a direct object. Unlike intransitive verbs, transitive verbs are verbs that have a direct object.

Take note of the subject, transitive verb, and direct object in the following examples:

  • The Chinese people have interesting traditions.
    • S: Chinese people
    • TV: have
    • DO: traditions
  • She slapped me.
    • S: She
    • TV: slapped
    • DO: me
  • Students should respect their teachers.
    • S: Students
    • TV: respect
    • DO: teachers

S – LV – C

Then we have the S–LV–C sentence type. This includes a subject, a linking verb, and a complement. Linking verbs are verbs that connect the subject with an adjective or another noun. Common linking verbs include be, am, are, is, was, were, and seem. On the other hand, a subjective complement is a word or a group of words that often follow a linking verb. Subjective complements can either be nouns, pronouns, or adjectives.

Take note of the subject, linking verb, and complements in the following examples:

  • Albus Dumbledore is the headmaster.
    • S: Albus Dumbledore
    • LV: is
    • C: headmaster
  • Pandas and polar bears are endangered species.
    • S: Pandas and polar bears
    • LV: are
    • C: endangered species
  • That girl should be a singer.
    • S: girl
    • LV: be
    • C: singer

S – TV – IO – DO

Next,  S–TV–IO–DO sentence types includes a subject, a transitive verb, an indirect object, and a direct object.

In the following examples, take note of the subject, the transitive verb, the indirect object, and the direct object:

  • I gave the conductor our tickets.
    • S: I
    • TV: gave
    • IO: conductor
    • DO: tickets
  • Faith gave Josh a new jacket.
    • S: Faith
    • TV: gave
    • IO: Josh
    • DO: new jacket
  • Neil taught us the recipe.
    • S: Neil
    • TV: taught
    • IO: us
    • DO: recipe

S – TV – DO – OC

Next, the S–TV–DO–OC sentence type includes a subject, transitive verb, direct object, and an objective complement. Unlike subjective complements, objective complements describe a direct object. Generally, objective complements are nouns or adjectives that describe direct objects.

Look at the following examples and take note of the subject, transitive verb, direct object, and objective complement:

  • He called the girl beautiful.
    • S: He
    • TV: called
    • DO: girl
    • OC: beautiful
  • Dean defeated Sam fairly.
    • S: Dean
    • TV: defeated
    • DO: Sam
    • OC: fairly
  • The class elected Josephine as president.
    • S: The class
    • TV: elected
    • DO: Josephine
    • OC: president

V – S pattern in sentence types

Lastly, the V–S pattern or the inverted sentence type contains a verb followed by the subject. Sentences that follow this pattern are usually interrogative sentences—sentences that ask questions. Basically, an inverted sentence may begin with any type of verb. But typically, these sentences start with here, there or it. Meanwhile, interrogative sentences usually begin with either of these words: how, what, when, where, which, who, whose, or why.

In the following examples, take note of how the subject always follows the verb:

  • Here are photographs of my grandmother in her youth.
  • There goes the boy who never knew his parents.
  • Beyond the meadow flows a beautiful river.
  • When will the shipment come?

Take note, inverted sentences can usually be transformed into the more common S–V pattern.

  • Photographs of my grandmother in her youth are here.
  • The boy who never knew his parents goes there.
  • A beautiful river flows beyond the meadow.
  • The shipment will come. (*For this sentence, take note how the question ‘when’ was removed.)

There you have it, the six basic sentence types or patterns. Want to see how well you’ve understood the lesson? Take a look at the following sentences. Then try to determine the pattern that each sentence follows. (Answers are below.)

  1. The class studied.
  2. Sarah took the test.
  3. I am.
  4. William Shakespeare was a popular playwright.
  5. We wish you a happy new year!
  6. It was a dark, stormy night.
  7. We found the movie scary.


Before showing you the answers, take a moment to breathe first and take a look at this happy pooch.

sentence types
This year, it’s time to take a leap of faith!

Now, here are the answers:

sentence types

So, how well did you do in the test? We would love to hear about how you fared in the comments.