In my country, students while learning English language are taught that all written sentences can be categorized into certain five types, which are...

1st. Subject + Verb--I am running.
2nd. Subject + Verb + Subject Complement--I feel good.
3rd. Subject + Verb + Object--I made a pie.
4th. Subject + Verb + Indirect Object + Direct Object--I got him a present
5th. Subject + Verb + Object + Object Complement--I helped him hide.

,and that sentences, which do not fit in any of these types seemingly, have their elements reduced or inverted. For example, an imperative sentence "Stop" is actually "You, stop;" as for interrogative sentences, they are regarded as are having their subject and verb inverted. Students are highly recommended--or arguably forced--to memorize these types in order that they be better at understanding structures of sentences.

I heard that countries using this kind of method are only Korea and Japan. So I've got some questions: Does any of you have any clue about how this method has become adopted? I mean, was there any scholar who insisted this? And is there another country that teaches the same thing?


The five sentence structures you list in your post are only a small part of possible sentence structures. A. S. Hornby, a grammarian, lexicographer and pioneer in ELT ( English language teaching) developed what later became known as Advanced Learner's Dictionary. He also developed a survey about sentence structures, which he called verb patterns. In older editions of OALD there is an annexe containing Hornby's patterns. He has 25 main patterns with subdivisions, so that I guess there are about 50 patterns.

Horny edited a small book with these patterns entitled Guide to Patterns and Usage in English. As a student of English I made use of this guide. Hornby had an excellent idea, but his form of presentation was not optimal. He did not develop a good system of presentation with good subdivisions and it would be necessary to improve Hornby's patterns.

Today it is seldom that you see anything of verb patterns, though this is a grammar chapter of primary importance as one can easily see from the many questions here on this forum referring to sentence structure.

Even what you find on the Internet about Hornby's patterns is very meagre.





The last web side on verb patterns is the best what I have seen up to now. I've just discovered it. Remarkable that it is a side of SE-Asia.

From my own experience I can say, having learnt Latin, I instinctively see the diverse sentence structures and I often consulted Hornby's patterns in my student years. I think that grammar without a knowledge of sentence structures is no use. What I find clumsy is that such structures are notated with such cumbersome abbreviations as S V O. I think it is self-evident that a sentence has a subject. The important thing is what sentence parts can come after the verb.


As a native Canadian, I have taken english courses through all my elementary, secondary, and (currently) post-secondary education.

Never in my life have I been taught to formulate sentences like this, nor memorize any form of structural template for building sentences.

However I am fluent in french as well, and have studied at a variety of french immersion and full-french schools. I can tell you that we were taught something very similar to this for the structural analysis of phrases.

I would not be surprised if other countries used similar rules when teaching foreign languages as to allow the students to grasp the necessary elements for formulating sentences in said language.

As for the question regarding how this method of teaching came into practice: I have no insight into the matter. Apologies.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.