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ESL Grammar Resources

Building Sentences



Remember, the S - V relationship is at the "heart" of every sentence. All sentences are built around this core.

To give a sentence more substance, you may enhance the subject or verb:

(VERB enhancements)

1. Change the verb in tense or aspect or a combination of the two.



He eats. (simple present)
He will eat. (future/modal)
He is eating. (continuous)
He has eaten. (perfect)
He has been eating. (combination)
He should have been eating (combination)


2. Add an adverb or adverb phrase, or prepositional phrase.

He should have eaten already/ by now. He was eating in the kitchen.
He must to finish his homework. WRONG
He must finish his homework. RIGHT
Jack could heard the bell. WRONG
Jack could hear the bell. RIGHT
Penny will going to the movie. WRONG
Penny will go to the movie. RIGHT



3. Add an adverbial clause.

He was eating when the bus arrived.


4. Add a participial phrase.

Having finished his homework, he ate.


SUBJECT Enhancements

5. Change the noun to a pronoun or vice versa.

He eats.
John eats.



6. Add an article, demonstrative, or possessive.

The man eats.
This man eats.
His father eats.

Note: Subjects and Objects may be enhanced in similar ways.



7. Add an object.

Subject Object
John eats rice. The man eats an apple.


8. Add an adjective or adjectives.

Subject Object
The handsome man eats. The man eats the big, red apple.


9. Add a prepositional phrase.

Subject Object
The man in the kitchen eats. The man eats an apple from the bowl.


10. Add a relative (adjective) clause.

Subject Object
The man who lives next door eats. The man ate the apple that I bought.


11. Use quantifiers.

Subject Object
Some of the men eat. They eat some of the apples.


12. Use a noun clause.

Subject Object
Whoever gets here first can eat. He eats whichever apple he chooses.


Enhance both the subject and the verb to make sentences more interesting.

The man who lives on the corner is eating his lunch now.

The men from the health club eat every day after working out.

The tall, green men from Mars are eating tuna sandwiches.

Some of the men ate the apples (that) I left on the table.

Whenever he feels like exercising, the fat man eats a huge meal instead.

Basic Sentence Structures

S-V He sleeps. S-LV-N He is a doctor.
S-V-O She eats rice. S-LV-Adj The doctor is sick.
S-V-IO-DO She told him a lie. S-LV-Adv The doctor is here.


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