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Writers' Center

Eastern Washington University

Grammar, Punctuation, and Sentences

Sentence Patterns

Sentence patterns are made up of phrases and clauses.

A phrase is a group of connected words, but it is not a complete sentence because it is missing a subject and/or a verb. Phrases are just one component that makes up a complete sentence.

A clause contains a subject (actor) and a verb (action). There are two types of clauses:

  1. An independent clause is a complete thought. It can stand alone as a complete sentence.

  2. A dependent clause (a.k.a. subordinate clause) cannot stand alone as a complete sentence (even though it may contain a subject and a verb). It begins with a subordinating conjunction (because, when, while, after… and many more).


The possibilities are endless for different types of sentences patterns. Here are the most common and basic sentence patterns:

  1. The chef cooked.

    Pattern: Subject + Verb

  2. The creative chef cooked.

    Pattern: Adjective + Subject + Verb

  3. The creative chef methodically cooked.

    Pattern: Adjective + Subject + Adverb + Verb

  4. The creative chef methodically cooked in the kitchen.

    Pattern: Adjective + Subject + Adverb + Verb + Prepositional Phrase