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Learn to Write English Clearly and Correctly

Set 3 - Lesson 5  ( Go to the Answer Key )

Lesson 5, Building Basic Sentences Using Nouns, Verbs, Pronouns and Articles:

In their simplest form, four basic sentence structures are:

  • Noun + Transitive Verb + Noun  (N+TV+N)
  • Noun + Intransitive Verb  (N+IV)
  • Noun + Linking Verb + Noun  (N+LV+N)
  • Noun + Linking Verb + Adjective  (N+LV+Adj)

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What does this mean in plain English? First of all, it means that there is some order in English; there is some regularity and there are some rules that one can depend on most of the time.  Let us define the terms used above.

  • Noun: a word that names a person, a place, a thing, an action, an emotion.  In other words, a noun is the name of anything.  Examples: boy, cousin, car, knife, water, New York, kitchen, happiness, fear, democracy, space, meaning, love. Sometimes, other types of words act like nouns in a sentence when they name an activity or a feeling: Running is my favorite activity. (running , which is a verb form called a GERUND, is used as the name of an activity and becomes the Subject of this sentence.) To teach English has always been my goal. (To teach English is an Infinitive Phrase, doing the job of a noun as the Subject of the sentence.)
  • Transitive Verb is a word that expresses an action that requires somebody or something to receive that action.  In other words, the Subject noun performs the action at or to the object noun: The boy hit the ball.  The boy performs the action  HIT.  The ball receives the action of being hit.  HIT is the action.
  • Intransitive Verb expresses an action that the subject performs.  Nothing or nobody receives that action - the subject just does it.  Example: Trees grow.  Volcanoes rumble. Traffic lights blink. Other words can be added to tell where, when, how or why the action took place, but they are not necessary to make the sentence complete.
  • Linking Verb refers to the presence or existence of somebody or something.  These words act much like an equal sign and tell us that the words after the linking verb are the same as or describe the words that come before the linking verb.  Mr. Ortega is a mechanic.  The truck driver was sleepyPlaying tennis became my favorite activity.  Mr. Ortega and mechanic are the same thing linked by is.  Sleepy describes truck driver, linked by was.  Playing Tennis is the same thing as favorite activity; they are linked by became.
  • Adjectives are words that describe.  They tell what kind something is, what color, what size, and how many.  Some examples are: large, small, young, old, ugly, pretty, fast, slow, honest, dishonest, dirty, clean.


Exercise A: Make five sentences using one term from each of the columns below for each sentence.  Example: take a word or group of words from the NOUN column + a word or group of words from the TRANSITIVE VERB column +  a word from the final NOUN column that will form a complete sentence.  Write the sentences on the numbered lines.

Noun Transitive Verb Noun
The children will send flowers.
Dogs can carry dirt.
The dump truck play baseball.
Dr. Jackson need cars.
Butterflies will chase bills.

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1.  ___________________________________________________________________

2. ___________________________________________________________________

3. ____________________________________________________________________

4. ____________________________________________________________________

5. ____________________________________________________________________


Exercise B. Make five sentences. For each sentence, choose one term from each of the columns below.  Write the sentences on the following lines.

Noun Intransitive Verb (How, When, Why, Where)
The donkey grows in the sun.
The watermelon runs for the exercise.
The river races very quietly.
The tractor speaks in the morning
Patricia rattles all the time.

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1. ____________________________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________________________

3. ____________________________________________________________________

4. ____________________________________________________________________

5. ____________________________________________________________________

Exercise C: Make five sentences.  For each sentence, choose one term from each of the columns below.  Write the sentences on the following lines.

Noun Linking Verb Noun or Adjective
George was sick.
Going to school is my favorite activity.
Winter seems terrible.
Flying will be fun.
Mr. Smith is our friend.

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1. _________________________________________________________________

2. _________________________________________________________________

3. _________________________________________________________________

4. __________________________________________________________________

5. __________________________________________________________________


Examination, Part 1: Fill in the missing part for each of the following sentences.  Use the kinds of parts you studied in this lesson: Nouns or words that act like nouns, transitive verbs, intransitive verbs, linking verbs.  There are many possible answers, but be sure your answers agree with the other words in the sentence.

1. ______________________ bought a new swimming suit.

2. Robert ______________________ black coffee.

3. Uncle John is ______________________________.

4. Swimming _________________ good exercise.

5. The soccer player kicks ___________________________.

6. Martin and Maria ________________________________ every day.

7. ________________________ was a good teacher.

8. ______________________ write _________________________.

9. The horses galloped ___________________________________.

10. Mrs. Harris _______________________________ very sick.


Examination, Part 2: Label the main parts of the sentences below - the nouns, the verbs, and the adjectives.  Do not worry about words in the sentences that are something else.


1. Yesterday   morning,   the rooster   crowed   loudly.

 2. Sam   Smith   pounded   the   spike   with   a   large,   heavy   hammer.

3. My   old   doctor   became   too   sick   to   continue   seeing   patients.

4.Writing  sentences   for   English   lessons   is   not   my   favorite   job.

5. Ninety-nine   red   balloons   floated   into   the   sky.

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