29/11/2016 Kamerin

Sentence Structure Part 1

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The Big 5: Sentence Structure in English

Real accuracy in English is easy once you know how to order the words in a sentence. Without the proper word order you may confuse the person you are speaking to, or at the least make it harder for them to understand you. Once you know the basic rules of word order you will find it much easier to speak and write in English with confidence.

In this first part we look at the basic elements of sentence structure. Please check out Part 2 for more information.

There are five basic sentence structures in the English language.

1: Subject + Verb


  • The children play.
  • We study.
  • Sara reads.

2: Subject + Verb + Object


  • The children play football.
  • We study English.
  • Sara reads books.

3: Subject + Verb + Adjective

The only verb possible in this structure is a form of the verb ‘to be’.


  • The children are tired.
  • Sara is smart.
  • The book was long.

4: Subject + Verb + Adverb


  • The children speak loudly.
  • We study every day.
  • Sara reads quietly.

5: Subject + Verb + Noun


  • They are children.
  • We are students.
  • Sara is a teacher.

Parts of Speech

Before you can put a sentence together using any of the structures above, you must first know the parts of speech that are included in the structures and how they function.  The 4 main parts of speech are Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives and Adverbs. Here is a brief explanation of what they are and what they do.

Nouns: People, places and things. Ex: The children, Sara, books, school

Verbs: Actions (physical or mental). Ex: read, play, feel, think

Adjectives: Words that describe Nouns. Ex: smart, sad, tired, long, red

Adverbs: Words that describe how or when the action happens. Ex: loudly, quietly, every day

Subjects & Objects

Subject: Every sentence must have a subject.  The subject will always be a noun.  The subject is the person, place or thing that does the action (verb).  In simple sentences, the subject always comes at the beginning of a sentence.

Object: Not all sentences have objects, but all objects are nouns.  The object is the person, place or thing that receives the action (verb).  In simple sentences, the object will always come after the subject and verb.

It is common to refer to all the words that come after the verb as the ‘object’, whether they are nouns, adjectives or adverbs. However, that is just a general term for words that complement the verb. The actual object will always be the noun.


Would you like to practice?  You can try this game.

Be sure to read part 2 to learn more about sentence structure in English.

If you need more ideas on how to improve your English then contact us. By joining one of our specialized English courses you can develop your English skills quickly. And if you don’t feel like travelling you can have private online lessons. We are here to answer your questions!

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About the Author

Kamerin American, honorary South African ;) Passionate about people, cultures and English.