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Getting started on ancient Greek
Getting started on ancient Greek

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2 Sentence patterns

Behind a sentence like ‘the dog chases the cat’ lies a simple pattern:

Subject + Verb + Object

The dog (Subject) chases (Verb) the cat (Object)

The verb describes an action (‘chases’, ‘eats’, ‘speaks’) or a state (‘is’, ‘seems’, ‘rests’).

The subject is in charge of the verb. If the verb is ‘chases’, the subject is doing the chasing.

The object is on the receiving end of the verb. If the verb is ‘chases’, the object is the person or thing being chased.

The sentence might contain other words, but at its heart lies a simple pattern:

(Every morning) the (yapping) dog (angrily) chases the (startled) cat (out of the garden and across the road).

The dog chases the cat.

In English, subject, verb and object are expected in that order. Languages that adopt this order are sometimes referred to as ‘Subject Verb Object (SVO)’ languages. Knowing the pattern allows predictions to be made about the way a sentence might unfold. Some continuations can be ruled in and others excluded.

Activity 2 Complete the sentence

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Choose the items that could fill the gap and complete the following sentence:

The dog chases ___________ .

a. 

the elephant


b. 

[a subject]


c. 

the kangaroo


d. 

an object


The correct answers are a, c and d.

Discussion

An object would complete this sentence. ‘The elephant’ or ‘the kangaroo’ could play this role. The sentence already has a subject, and, anyway, with the arrival of the verb the moment for a subject has now passed, at least in English.