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Verb Patterns in English
Verb Pattern 1:
This pattern is for the verb “be”. The
subject complement may be a noun, a
pronoun, an adjective, an adjective phrase
(e.g. a propositional group). There may be
an adverbial or an infinitive “to”. Click here
to see some examples.
Examples of VP1
Subject + BE
1. This is
2. This suitcase is
3. The children are
4. This book is
5. This is
Subject complement/adverbial
a book.
for you.
where I work.
VP1 Continued
There are variations with introductory there/it.
There/It + BE
There was
It was impossible
a large crowd.
to go further.
It was a pity
the weather was so bad.
Examples of VP2A
1.We all
2.The moon
3.A period of political unrest
breath, drink and eat.
Verb Pattern 2A (cont)
There are variations with introductory
1. There followed
2. It doesn’t matter
a long period of political unrest.
whether we start now or later.
Verb Pattern 2A (cont)
That-clauses are possible after seem, appear,
happen, chance and follow.
1.It seemed
(that) the day would never
2.It so chanced/happened (that) we were out when she
3. It doesn’t followed
(that) they are husband and
Verb Pattern 2B
Verbs in this pattern are used with an
adverbial adjunct of distance, duration,
weight, cost, etc. For many occur before
adverbials of distance and duration. An
indirect object may occur after cost, last
and take (meaning ‘require’). Click here for
some examples.
Examples of VP2B
Subject + vi
(for) + adverbial adjunct
1.We walked
(for) five minutes.
2.The meeting lasted (for) two hours.
3.The book costs (me) $1.20.
4.This book weighs
five kilos.
Verb Pattern 2C
Many intransitive verbs are used with an
adverbial adjunct (including an adverbial
particle alone, or an adverbial particle
followed by a preposition). Click here to
see some examples.
Examples of VP2C
Subject + vi
adverbial adjunct
1. Go
2. Please come in.
3. I’ll soon catch up with you.
4. It’s getting
on for midnight.
5. It looks
like rain/as if it were going to rain.
Verb Pattern 2D
Verbs in this pattern are followed by an
adjective, a noun or, in the case of a
reflexive verb, a pronoun. Inchoative verbs
(eg become, come, get) and verbs of the
senses (eg smell, taste, feel) are among
the many verbs used in this pattern. Click
here to see some examples.
Examples of VP2D
Subject + vi
1. Her dreams have come
2. The fire has burnt
3. She married
4. He died
5. Later he became
6. You’re not looking
a millionaire.
an acrobat.
Verb Pattern 2E
In this pattern the predicative adjunct is a
present participle.
Subject + vi
1. She lay
2. Do you like to go
3. The children came
present participle
smiling at me.
running to meet us.
Verb Pattern 3A
Verbs in this pattern are followed by a
preposition and its object (which may be a
noun, pronoun, gerund, phase, or clause).
The verb and preposition function as a
unit. Click here to see some examples.
Examples of VP3A
Subject + vi
1. You may rely
preposition + noun/pronoun
on that man/his discretion/his
being discreet.
2. Can I count
on your help?
3. What has happened to them?
Verb Pattern 3A (cont)
An infinitive phase may follow the
1. We’re waiting
2. I rely
3. She pleaded
for our new cat to be delivered.
on you to be discreet.
with the judge to have mercy.
Verb Pattern 3B
The preposition is omitted before a thatclause, thus producing the same word
order as in [VP9] (for transitive verbs).
He insisted on his innocence.
He insisted that he was innocent. [VP3B]
Cf He declared that he was innocent. [VP9]
Verb Pattern 3B (cont)
The preposition may be retained if its
object is a dependent question, or if a
preceding ‘preposition + it’ construction is
used. Click here to see some examples.
Examples of VP3B
Subject + vi (preposition (+it)) clause
1. I agree
2. You must see
(to it)
3. I hesitated
4. Have you decided (upon)
5. Don’t worry
that it was a mistake.
that this sort of thing
never occurs again.
whether to accept your
where you will go for
your holiday?
how the money was lost.
Verb Pattern 4A
In this pattern the verb is followed by a toinfinitive of purpose, outcome, or result.
Subject + vi
1. We stopped
2. How did you come
3. Will he live
4. Someone has called
to rest / to have a rest.
to know her?
to be ninety?
to see you.
Verb Pattern 4B
The infinitive may be equivalent to a
co-ordinate clause.
Subject + vi
1. He awoke
2. The good old days
have gone
3. Electronic music
has clearly come
4. He looked round
to find the house on fire.
never to return.
to stay.
to see the door slowly
Verb Pattern 4C
The infinitive adjunct is used after some
verbs which, in [VP3A], are used with
Don’t trouble / bother about that.
Don’t trouble / bother to meet me.
Subject + vi
1. She hesitated
2. She was longing
3. He agreed
to tell anyone.
to see her family again.
to come at once.
Verb Pattern 4D
The verbs seem and appear are used in this
pattern. If the infinitive is be with an adjective
or noun as complement, to be may be omitted
(unless the adjective is one that is used only
predicatively, as in [VP4E]).
Subject + seem/appear
1. He seemed
2. This seems
3. I seem
(to be)+ adjective/noun
(to be) surprised at the news.
(to be) a serious matter.
(to be) unable to enjoy myself.
Verb Pattern 4D (cont)
There is a variation of this pattern with
introductory it, when the subject is an infinitive
or gerund, or a clause.
It + seem/appear noun
1. It seemed
reasonable to try again.
2. It seems
a pity
to waste all that food.
3. It doesn’t seem much use going on.
4. It appears
that we’ll arrive on
Verb Pattern 4E
If the adjective after seem/appear is used
only predicatively (eg awake, asleep,
afraid), to be is obligatory. Happen and
chance are also used in this pattern. Click
here to see some examples.
Examples of VP4E
1. The baby seems
2. My enquiries seem
3. She happened
4. We chanced
5. There seems
to be asleep/to be sleeping.
to be have resented.
to be out when I called.
to meet in the park.
to have been some mistakes.
Verb Pattern 4F
The finites of be are used with a to-infinitive
to convey a variety of meanings → be* (3)
Subject + BE
1. We’re
2. At what time am I
3. How am I
to be married in May.
to come?
to pay my debt?
Verb Pattern 5
In this pattern the auxiliary verbs or
anomalous finites will/would, shall/should,
can/could, must, dare, need are followed
by a bare infinitive (ie without to). The
phrase had better, had/would rather and
would sooner fit into this pattern. Click
here to see some examples.
Examples of VP5
Subject + anomalous finite
1. You may
2. You needn’t
3. You’ll
4. I didn’t dare
5. You’d better
leave now.
find it in that box.
tell anyone.
start at once.
Verb Pattern 6A
The verbs in this pattern have a noun or
pronoun as direct object. Conversion to
the passive voice is possible. Click here to
see some examples.
Examples of VP6A
Subject + vt
1. Did you enjoy
2. We all had
3. Everyone likes
the film?
a good time.
Verb Pattern 6B
The verbs in this pattern have a noun or
pronoun as direct object, but conversion to
the passive voice is not possible. Have,
meaning ‘possess/take/eat/drink’, follows
this pattern. Reflexive verbs, and verbs
with cognate objects, follow this pattern.
Click here to see some examples.
Examples of VP6B
Subject + vt
1. Have you had
2. She has
3. Have you hurt
4. She smiled
5. He dreamed
breakfast yet?
green eyes.
her thanks.
a very odd dream.
Verb Pattern 6C
In this pattern the object is a gerund, not
replaceable by a to-infinitive.
Subject + vt
1. She enjoys
2. Have you finished
3. I resent
playing tennis.
being spoken to so rudely.
Verb Pattern 6D
In this pattern the object is a gerund. This may
be replaced by a to-infinitive. For the
difference between like swimming and like
to swim, see the notes on [VP6D] in Guide
to Patterns and Usage.
Subject + vt
1. She loves
2. I’ll continue
3. He began
going to the cinema.
working while my health is good.
talking about his clever children.
Verb Pattern 6E
After need, want (=need) and won’t/wouldn’t bear,
the gerund is equivalent to a passive infinitive.
Subject + NEED/WANT/BEAR gerund
1. He’ll need
looking after
(= to be looked after)
2. My shoes want
mending (= to be mended).
3. His language wouldn’t bear repeating (= was too
bad to be repeated).
Verb Pattern 7A
In this pattern the object of the verb is a toinfinitive. (For intransitive verbs with the
same word order, see [VP4].)
Subject + vt
(not) + to-infinitive
1. Do they want
2. He pretended
3. We hope/expect/intend
4. I forgot/remembered
to go?
not to see me.
to climb Mount Everest.
to post you letters.
Verb Pattern 7B
Ought, and the finites of have in this pattern
indicate obligation. In colloquial style have
got to is more usual than have to.
Subject + HAVE/OUGHT (not) + to-infinitive
1. Do you often have
2. You don’t have
3. You ought
to work overtime?
to leave yet, do you?
not to waste you
money there.
Verb Pattern 8
In this pattern the object of the verb is an
interrogative pronoun or adverb (except why
or whether), followed by a to-infinitive.
Subject + vt
Interrogative pronoun
+ to-infinitive
1. Do you know/see
2. I couldn’t decide
3. I’ve discovered
4. You must learn
how to do it?
what to do next.
where to find him.
when to give advice and
when to be silent.
Verb Pattern 9
The object of the verb is a that-clause. That is
often omitted, except after more formal verbs
(eg decide, intend).
Subject + vt
1. I suppose
2. I wish
3. Do you think
4. The workers decided
5. We intended
you’ll be leaving soon.
you wouldn’t interrupt.
it’ll rain?
that they would go on strike.
that John should be invited.
Verb Pattern 10
In this pattern, the object of the verb is a
dependent clause. The clause is introduced
by a relative adverb or pronoun, what, or
whether / if.
Subject + vt
dependent clause/question
1. Does anyone know
2. Come and see
3. I wonder
4. She asked
how it happened?
what I’ve done!
whether / if he’ll come.
why I was late.
Verb Pattern 11
The verb is followed by a noun or pronoun
and a that-clause.
Subject + vt pronoun that-clause
1. He warned
2. I convinced
3. We satisfied
that the roads were icy.
the policeman that I was innocent.
that the plan would work.
Verb Pattern 12A
The verb is followed by an indirect object (IO)
and a direct object (DO). The indirect object
is equivalent to a prepositional object with
to. As in [VP13A]
Subject + vt
1.Won’t you lend
2.He doesn’t owe
3.He denied/grudged
your car?
Verb Pattern 12B
In this pattern, the indirect object is equivalent
to a prepositional object with for. As in
Subject + vt IO
1. She made
2. Will you do
3. She cooked
her husband
a new dress.
a favour?
some sausages.
Verb Pattern 12C
Verbs in this pattern are rarely or never
convertible to [VP13]. The labels IO and DO
are not used.
Subject + vt
2.I envy
3.He struck
the door
his name.
your fine garden.
a heave blow.
Verb Pattern 13A
In this pattern, the verb is followed by a direct
object, the preposition to, and the
prepositional object. It is convertible to
Subject + vt DO
1. She told
2. He sold
3. I’ve sent
the news
his old car
to + noun/pronoun
to everyone in the village.
to one of his neighbours.
to everyone in my family.
Verb Pattern 13B
In this pattern the preposition is for. It is
convertible to [VP12B].
Subject + vt DO
for + noun/pronoun
1. She made a new dress for her daughter.
2. Will you do
a favour
for a friend of mine?
3. Can you cash
this cheque for me?
Verb Pattern 14
In this pattern the verb is followed by a direct
object and a preposition and its object.
This pattern is not convertible to [VP12],
as are [VP13A] and [VP13B], ‘Give
something to somebody’ [VP12A] may be
converted to ‘Give somebody something’
[VP13A]. ‘Explain something to somebody’
cannot be converted to ‘*Explain
somebody something’.
Verb Pattern 14
The preposition is linked to the verb and
they must be learnt together, e.g.
‘congratulate somebody on something’,
‘compare one thing to/with another’. In
[VP15] however the prepositional phrase
is variable, e.g. ‘put something on/under
the table, in the drawer’.
Verb Pattern 14
Subject + vt
prep noun
1. We congratulated him
on his success.
2. Compare
the copy with the original.
3. He compared
the heart to
a pump.
4. I explained
my difficulty to him.
Verb Pattern 14
Variations are possible. If the DO is
long, the prepositional phrase may
precede it. Introductory it may be
used when there is an infinitive
phrase or a clause.
Verb Pattern 14
Subject + vt
1. I explained
Prep + noun DO
to him
2. I must leave it to your own
the impossibility of
granting his request.
to decide whether you
should offer your
Subject + vt
prep + noun
1. I explainedthe problem to him.
2. I must leave
the decision to you.
Verb Pattern 15A
In [VP15A] the DO is followed by an
adverbial phrase of place, duration,
distance, etc which is obligatory. ‘I read
the book’ [VP6] is a complete sentence,
but ‘*I put the book’ is not. Put needs an
adjunct. Eg ‘I put the book down/away/on
the shelf’ with verbs marked [VP15A] the
adverbial is a prepositional phrase, which
is variable (unlike [VP14]).
VP 15A (cont)
Subject + vt
1. Don’t let the child put
2. The secretary showed
3. Please put
adverbial phrase
his head
out of the card window
to the door/into the reception room
these papers
on that desk/in that file
Verb Pattern 15B
In this pattern adverbial particles are used.
When the Do is a personal pronoun, the
adverbial particle follows. When the Do is
a noun or noun phrase, the adverbial
particle may either follow or precede. If the
DO is long, the adverbial particle usually
precedes. Click here to see examples.
Examples of VP 15B
Subject + vt
1. Take
2. Don’t throw
3. Did you wind
Subject + vt
1. Lock
2. She gave
3. Don’t Forget to switch
them/your shoes
it/ that old hat
it/ the clock
adverbial particle
adverbial particle
all your valuables.
all her old clothes.
the lights in all rooms downstairs
Verb Pattern 16A
In this pattern there is an adverbial adjunct
which is an infinitive phrase. This may be
introduced by in order to or so as to.
[VP16A] is to be distinguished from
[VP17A] (with the same word order).
Cf: I sent
I want
to buy some fruit. [VP16A]
to buy some fruit. [VP17A]
VP 16A (cont)
In [VP16A] the infinitive is one of purpose
or intended result. In [VP17] the infinitive is
part of the direct object.
Subject + vt DO
1. He brought his brother to see me.
2. He opened the door
to let the cat out.
3. They left
to do all the dirty work.
Verb Pattern 16B
The DO is followed by a noun introduced by
as or like, or a clause introduced by as if or
as though.
Subject + vt
1. I can’t see
2. Her parents spoilt
3. He carries
4. You mustn’t treat
my self
your wife
as/like + noun
as if/though + clause
as a pop singer.
as a child.
as soldier.
as if she were as servant.
Verb Pattern 17
In this pattern, the verb is followed by a noun
or pronoun and a to-infinitive. The
noun/pronoun + to-infinitive is the object of
the verb.
Subject + vt
pronoun (not) + to-infinitive
1. He likes
his wife
2. They warned
3. Do you want/wish me
to dress colorfully.
not to be late.
to stay?
Verb Pattern 18A
In this pattern the verb is used with a noun
or pronoun and a bare infinitive. The verbs
indicate physical perceptions. These verbs
are also used in [VP19]. [VP18] indicates
completed activity and [VP19] activity in
progress. Click here to see some
Examples of VP 18A
Subject + vt
pronoun infinitive
1. Did you see/notice anyone
leave the house?
2. We felt
the house shake.
3. I once heard
sing the part of Aida.
Verb Pattern 18B
A small number of verbs which do not
indicate physical perceptions are used in
this pattern. Make and let are examples.
Compare force/compel and allow/permit,
which are used in [VP17].
Please let
me go. [VP18B]
Please allow/permit me to go. [VP17]
Examples of VP 18B
Subject + vt
pronoun infinitive
1. What makes
2. Let
3. I’ve never known him
think so?
behave so badly before.
Verb Pattern 18C
Have is used in this pattern when it means
‘wish’, ‘experience’, or ‘cause’.
Subject + HAVE
1. What would you have me
2. Have
the visitors
shown in, please.
3. I had
a frightening thing happen to me
4. We often have
our friends
visit us on Sundays.
Verb Pattern 19A
The verb is followed by a noun or pronoun
and a present participle. The verbs indicate
physical perceptions and are those used in
Subject + vt
pronoun present participle
1. Can you smell
2. She could feel
3. Did you notice
4. Didn’t you hear
her heart
beating wildly.
standing at the gate?
Verb Pattern 19B
This pattern is used for some verbs which
do not indicate physical perceptions.
Subject + vt
pronoun present participle
1. I found
2. They left
3. This set
4. Please start
5. He soon had
the clock
them all
working at his desk.
waiting outside.
Verb Pattern 19C
In this pattern the noun or pronoun is
followed by the –ing form of a verb, and
this may be either the present participle or
the gerund, depending upon whether it is
preceded by a noun or pronoun, or a
possessives. For fuller notes, see [VP19C]
in Guide to patterns and Usage. Click here
to see some examples.
Examples of VP 19C
Subject + vt
noun/pronoun/ -ing form
of the verb
1. I can’t understand
2. Can you image
3. Does this justify
4. I can’t remember
5. I admire
behaving so foolishly.
me/my being
so stupid?
taking legal action?
my parents/their ever being unkind to
Tom(’s) him/his standing his ground.
Verb Pattern 20
In this pattern the verb is followed by a
noun or pronoun, an interrogative adverb
(except why) or pronoun, and a toinfinitive. The pattern may be compared to
your name. [VP12A]
what to call you. [VP20]
Examples of VP20
Subject + vt pronoun
1. I showed
2. Tell
3. Ask
interrogative + to-infinitive
how to do it.
where to put it.
your teacher how to pronounce the word.
Verb Pattern 21
This pattern is similar to [VP20]. An
interrogative clause follows the noun or
Subject + vt pronoun interrogative clause
1. Tell
2. Ask
3. Show
what your name is.
where he put it.
what you have in your
Verb Pattern 22
The DO is followed by an adjective which
indicates result or manner.
Subject + vt
1. We painted
the ceiling
2. The sun keeps us
3. The mud made walking
Verb Pattern 23
The DO is followed by a noun (the object
Subject + vt
1. They made
Newton President of Royal Society.
2. They named
the baby Richard.
3. They usually call him
Verb Pattern 24A
The DO is followed by a past participle.
Subject + vt
past participle
1. You must make
your views known.
2. Have you ever heard this opera sung in Italian?
3. We want
the work
finished by
Verb Pattern 24B
Have is used in this pattern to indicate
what the subject of the sentence
experiences, undergoes, or suffers (as in
Nos 1 and 2), or what is held or possessed
(as in No 3). Click here to see some
Examples of VP24B
Subject + HAVE
past participle
1. King Charles had his head
cut off.
2. I’ve recently had my appendix
3. They have
scarcely any money saved for their
old age.
Verb Pattern 24C
Have and get are used in this pattern meaning
‘cause to be’.
Subject + HAVE
past participle
1. Can we have/get the program changed?
2. Please have/get these letters translated into English.
3. I’ll have/get
the matter seen to.
Verb Pattern 25
The DO is followed by to be (often omitted) and
an adjective or a noun. In spoken English [VP9]
(ie with a that-clause) is preferred.
Subject + vt
1. Most people considered
2. They all felt
3. I’ve always found
4. In Britain we presume
(to be) + adjective/noun
(to be) innocent.
the plan to be unwise.
Jonathan friendly/a good friend.
a man
(to be) innocent until
he is proved guilty.
Verb Pattern 25 (cont)
For 1, Most people considered that he was
innocent [VP9] is more usual. Introductory it
is used if, instead of a noun, there is a
clause, infinitive phrase, etc.
Do you consider long hair for men strange?
Do you consider it strange for men to let their hair
grow long?
Materials adapted by Yang Ying from Oxford
Advanced Learner’s English Chinese
PowerPoint Slides jointly put together by
SELF student helpers: Xuan, Jordan,
Yiwei, Dong Hao and Aik Hong in 2008

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