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Verb patterns and structures

Subject + intransitive verb

Some sentences have just two words – a noun and an intransitive verb.

  • Birds fly.
  • Dogs bark.
  • Fire burns.
  • Time flies.
Subject + transitive verb + direct object

A transitive verb must have an object. The normal order of words in an English sentence is subject + verb + object.

  • John likes milk.
  • The principal punished the boy.
  • The unruly demonstrators invaded the platform.
  • The scoundrels should be given a good thrashing.
  • The government should ban all military organizations.

‘John likes’ …what? Milk.
‘The principal punished’ … whom?’ The boy.
The direct object is the answer to the question whom or what.

Subject + verb + object + adverb particle

Some verbs are followed by particles (e.g. put on, take off, give away, bring up, call in). Sometimes the particle is detached from the verb and put after the object.

  • John put his hat on.
  • They called the doctor in.
  • He threw it away.
  • You must send them back.

The particle is put after the object, when the object is a personal pronoun (e.g. him, them, me, us, it) or when it is comparatively short.

When the object is long or has to be made prominent or when it is qualified by an adjectival phrase or clause, the particle comes before the object.

  • The principal gave away the prices.
  • He put on an air of innocence.
  • We will not throw away anything useful.
  • The poor widow had to bring up all three children.
  • The sailors put out the fire in the hold of the ship.
  • They called in Dr Smith, a famous specialist.
Subject + verb + indirect object + direct object

This order is preferred when the indirect object is shorter than the direct object or when the direct object has to be made prominent.

  • The president awarded him a gold medal.
  • He told us an interesting story.
  • The robber dealt the traveller a heavy blow.
  • We promised our guide a handsome reward.
  • The teacher wished the boys all success.
Subject + verb + direct object + preposition + indirect object

This order is preferred when the direct object is shorter than the indirect object, or when the indirect object has to be stressed.

  • He distributed sweets to all the boys in the class.
  • I don’t lend books to anybody.
  • She bought a present for her mother.
  • She ordered a new dress for herself.
  • He made coffee for all of us.

Sections In This Article
Verb patterns - I
Verb patterns - II
Verb patterns - III
Verb patterns - IV
Verb patterns - V
Conversational structures

 

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