Finally, we come to the noun s-v-o, a word group that can be used anywhere a noun shows up, as S’s or O’s. The most commonly used signal words for noun s-v-o’s are that, who, how, if, what, when, where, and why, with that used most often. Others, used less often, include because, whatever, wherever, whether, which, whichever, whoever, whom, whomever, and whose. This that (the shortened “thut”) is strictly a connector, not part of the pattern it signals, and can often be dropped out of the sentence. For example, “I know that he did it” can become “I know he did it.” There’s a group of V’s related to mental or speaking processes (know, believe, say, remember, dream, ask, etc.) that often take a noun s-v-o as the O, as in “I know why he did it. I asked how she knew my name. I remembered where I saw her.” Isn’t this fun? Okay, here are some examples of typical noun s-v-o’s.
And one more use of the noun s-v-o that's a little hard to spot, when it's used as a restrictive appositive that's not set off in commas. For example, "The idea that he could do such a thing is ridiculous." See, "that he could do such a thing" is the idea, just restated as an appositive. Probably a better way to say it is to make it the subject and get rid of "the idea." "That he could do such a thing is ridiculous." You'll notice that in this case the signal word that can't be dropped from the sentence. There, so much for that.
Here’s another challenge sentence. I’ll give you the pattern and you can figure out what the sentence is doing.
"Later, when he returned from wherever he’d gone, I asked him if he knew who broke the right headlight on my car."
That makes up about 98% of the possibilities. The other 2% consist of reversals, like questions, and the expletive intro words, there is and there are and the empty it.
That's it. That's all there is. If there's anyone out there following these segments on sentence structure, either out of curiosity or a desire to know more about your own writing, I encourage you to go to Lulu.com to buy one of my e-books called ES3. There's a lot more there than I was able to include in this blog. And if you're sincere about improving your own writing, you simply need to practice with the structural units available to you, become more aware of the possible arrangements and rearrangements of the s-v-o’s, 1-o’s, 2-o’s, 3-o’s, and 4’s in your own writing and take notice of the stylistic tricks of professional writers. You can now work at varying the kinds of patterns you use, varying the length and complexity of your sentences. You can write short, simple sentences. Or you can write longer sentences by building up layers of added information that make your ideas more and more specific as you continue to add to your sentences. By using the important but often overlooked front position, you can get away from always beginning your sentences with the S. You can add weight to your sentences by employing similar units in a series, keeping each unit in the series parallel in structure, stacking up ideas one after the other. Just remember that English sentences are made up of simple, easy-to-use word units. The sentences themselves can be as unique as you care to make them, thanks to the infinite number of combinations of these few types of structural units.
Has it been fun being in my on-line classroom?