Sentence Pattern Study: Pattern 5

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Welcome back to the fourth entry in my series about sentence patterns. Remember, if you recognize the pattern of a sentence’s core parts, the grammar of the sentence (or its word arrangement) will make more sense. So far, you know about Pattern 1, Pattern 2, Pattern 3, and Pattern 4.

To get ready for Pattern 5, let’s first look at the Pattern 4 sentence from last time.

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Patterns 4 and 5 are closely related because of the linking verb. Pattern 4 links the subject noun to the predicate noun (PrN). Now, check out Pattern 5: SN LV PA.

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In Pattern 5, we still have a linking verb. But instead of getting linked to a noun after the linking verb, the subject noun gets linked to an adjective after the linking verb. We call that kind of adjective a predicate adjective (PA). You can always tell if a word is an adjective because it answers the question, “What kind?” about the noun it describes.

What kind of chickens?  FAST! Fast describes chickens in this Pattern 5 example, even though the word fast is located in the predicate part of the sentence. It’s the linking verb that does the connecting.


am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, seem(s), look(s), become(s), grow(s), and feel(s)


Now, you give it a try! Look at these extra examples. Then, use the pattern and compose some Pattern 5 sentences on your own!

1. The bugs were creepy.

2. The clowns look silly.

3. Math is easy.

4. The firemen were brave.


Shurley English teaches Patterns 6 and 7 also, but I won’t feature them in this series. To check them out, please go to our website and request a free preview of our seventh or eighth grade digital edition.

Sentence Pattern Study: Pattern 4

Pattern 4 with Shurley English.jpg

Welcome back to the third entry in my series about sentence patterns. Remember, if you recognize the pattern of a sentence’s core parts, the grammar of the sentence (or its word arrangement) will make more sense. So far, you know about Pattern 1, Pattern 2, and Pattern 3.

Now…on to Pattern 4. For this sentence pattern, you need to pay careful attention to verb. Take a look at our sample sentence:

Pattern 4 with Shurley English.png
Pattern 4 Chickens with Shurley English.png

In Pattern 4, we use a linking verb instead of an action verb. The linking verb links the subject noun to the noun that comes after the linking verb. A noun after a linking verb is a predicate noun (PrN). You know you have a Pattern 4 on your hands when you can read it forwards and backwards:

Chickens are birds  -OR-  Birds are chickens.

Even though the reverse sounds funny, it’s still true. Here is a list of common linking verbs that make this kind of connection happen: am, is, are, was, were


Look at these other examples of Pattern 4 sentences. Notice the linking verbs!

1. Cars are machines.

2. A butterfly is an insect.

3. A cat is a feline.

4. A dog is a canine.

5. The sun is a star.


Remember: If a noun comes after a linking verb and basically renames the subject noun, you have a Pattern 4!

Sentence Pattern Study: Pattern 3

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Last week, we began our study of sentence patterns. Remember, if you recognize the pattern of a sentence’s core parts, the grammar of the sentence (or its word arrangement) will make more sense. Last time, we discussed Pattern 1 and Pattern 2.

Today, let’s start our study with a new Pattern 2 Sentence: Jackson throws some bread. Remember, transitive verbs (V-t) transfer action to an object.

Pattern 2 Review.png

Now, let’s remake this sentence into a Pattern 3. We will simply add an indirect object (IO).

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The chickens get the bread Jackson is throwing. That makes the chickens the indirect object. Here is the pattern: SN V-t IO DO.

You can talk yourself through it like this: 

Jackson throws what? bread – direct object

Jackson throws bread to what?  chickens – indirect object


The chickens are the indirect objects that get the bread. Now, practice some Pattern 3 sentences on your own, using these steps:

Step 1 – Substitute the subject noun, verb, and direct object in your own sentence.

Step 2 – Add an indirect object that can receive your direct object…and still make sense!

Next time, we’ll learn about Pattern 4!

Sentence Pattern Study: Pattern 1 and Pattern 2

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Learning English grammar can be tough, but, as the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words. So, I am taking the high road on this series and making it visual—thereby sparing well over 980 words…and your sanity!

If you are up on your brain science, you know that our brains seek patterns to make sense of the world. In English, even our sentences fall into patterns. If you recognize the pattern of a sentence’s core parts, the grammar of the sentence (or its word arrangement) will make more sense. Look at this:

Pattern 1 with Shurley English.png

This sentence follows the SN V pattern. In Shurley English, we call this Pattern 1. We know who the sentence is about and what he is doing.

Now, watch as the pattern changes to Pattern 2.

Pattern 2 with Shurley English.png

Pattern 2 sentences have a SN V-t DO pattern (DO stands for direct object). You still have the subject noun and a verb, but the verb is transitive this time. Transitive verbs (V-t) transfer action to an object. In this case, Jackson has become the object that gets chased…by the chickens. (Run, Jackson, run!) Jackson is now the direct object that is getting chased by the chickens. Jackson receives the action of the verb, chase.

Next time, we’ll learn about Pattern 3. (Stay tuned!)

What is a prepositional phrase?

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Have you ever tried to describe something without using a prepositional phrase?  Well, it’s almost impossible!  Although prepositional phrases are not a requirement in every sentence, they certainly do help us:  (a) add details, (b) create interest, and (c) make spatial and other relationships clear.

A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition (P) and ends with an object of the preposition (OP).  The OP can be a noun, pronoun, gerund, or clause

Prepositions with SHurley English 1.png

A prepositional phrase can also include one or more words between the P and OP.  These words are called modifiers because they modify the OP.  Since the object of the preposition is a noun, pronoun, gerund, or clause, modifiers within the prepositional phrase will most likely be adjectives (Adj).  Adjective labels include:  (a) regular adjectives (Adj), (b) article adjectives (A), (c) possessive pronoun adjectives (PPA), and (d) possessive noun adjectives (PNA).

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Did you know that a prepositional phrase can modify like an adjective or adverb?  It’s true.  Prepositional phrases can function either as adjectives by modifying nouns and pronouns or as adverbs by modifying verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.  These prepositional phrases add important details to sentences, and their location can help you identify them as an adjective or adverb modifier.


Here are some facts to know about an adjective phrase (or adjectival phrase):

  1. An adjective phrase modifies a noun or pronoun.

  2. A prepositional phrase functioning as an adjective modifies like a one-word adjective by telling what kind or which one.

  3. More than one adjective phrase can be used to modify the same noun.

  4. Location: 

· An adjective phrase usually comes directly after the noun or pronoun it modifies.

· If two prepositional phrases are located together, with one right after the next, most of the time, the second phrase will be an adjective phrase that modifies the object of the first phrase.

· Sometimes, the prepositional phrase that comes directly after a direct object will not modify the direct object, but will modify the verb.


Here are some facts to know about an adverb phrase (or adverbial phrase):

  1.  An adverb phrase usually modifies a verb but can also modify an adjective or adverb.

  2. A prepositional phrase functioning as an adverb phrase modifies like a one-word adverb by telling how, when, where, why, or to what extent.

  3. Location: 

· When an adverb phrase modifies a verb, it can be located directly after the verb, at the beginning of the sentence, or it can be separated from the verb it modifies by being located somewhere else in the sentence. 

· An adverb phrase can also follow another prepositional phrase.

It’s Application Time! Review the sentence below during your discussion on prepositional phrases. Take notice of how the prepositional phrases help us:  (a) add details, (b) create interest, and (c) make spatial and other relationships clear.

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Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. 

Writing Toolbox: The Correlative Conjunction

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Having the right tools in your writing toolbox can make all the difference when it comes time to revise a composition.  Do your students need a creative way to link ideas and show association? Then look no further than the correlative conjunction! First, let's look at this simple definition:

Correlative Conjunctions with Shurley English.png

Today, we will focus on connecting two nouns for the purpose of simplification. Remember, the reason for the correlation determines which pair of correlative conjunctions to use. Here are three examples to model for your students that will show them how to associate two ideas in a logical manner.

Either – or  can show choices.

The dog made a mess in the kitchen. The cat made a mess in the kitchen.

Either the dog or the cat made a mess in the kitchen.


Neither – nor  can show the absence of choices.

Maria cannot go to the game tonight. Tammy cannot go to the game tonight.

Neither Maria nor Tammy can go to the game tonight.


Both – and  can show a link between two words or phrases.

Henry will be here soon.  His big brother will be here soon.

Both Henry and his big brother will be here soon.


Don't forget to mention to your students that both sides of their sentence should be parallel in structure when using correlative conjunctions. Any pronouns or verbs used at the end of the sentence should agree with whatever is mentioned last.


As your students grow in their abilities to use correlative conjunctions effectively, they will show an increased level of maturity in their writing. This is a skill that they can take with them into their future college and career adventures!


EXTEND THE LESSON: Why not make this a group activity?!? Here's an idea to get you started.

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Comment /Source

Cindy Goeden

Cindy Goeden has enjoyed being involved with Shurley English for the last sixteen of her twenty-six years in the field of education.  Working with various levels of students in elementary, junior, and high schools, in both the private and public arenas, Cindy surely is thankful for the providential day that she was introduced to Shurley English, which changed forever her approach to Language Arts instruction. That has led to her current job of having the joy of sharing about Shurley with other educators.  Her love of learning has prodded her to earn over two hundred and twenty hours, which includes two bachelor degrees in education.


Cindy currently lives with her husband, Donald, in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she enjoys puttering in her flowers, changing up her décor with the seasons, and occasionally getting out and traveling with Donald to either explore a new beach or view historic sights and gardens.

Grammar Study: How it can develop critical thinkers

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In a previous post, I shared my keen interest in Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. I discussed how the Shurley English Jingles give the intelligences of Word Smarts, Picture Smarts, and Body Smarts a workout. Now, I would like to take it just a bit deeper into the next level in Shurley English.

After students master the Shurley English Jingles, the jingles become a fertile knowledge base upon which the Question and Answer Flow (Q & A Flow) is built. The Q & A Flow is a simple, pattern-based system of questions that the students learn to ask aloud orally. Yes…Shurley English teaches kids to talk to themselves; rather, to ask themselves questions—questions that elicit logical answers that their brains know to be correct, based upon what they have learned from the jingles. I call this kind of questioning “Thinking Out Loud.”

After much practice and rehearsal, using the Q & A Flow, the students then know how to analyze every word in a sentence. We call this Sentence Classification, but it goes way beyond just determining if the sentence is a statement or a question. Students learn to classify the words in a sentence based upon the specific questions they answer from the Q & A Flow. Compared to the way English grammar was always taught years ago, students learned to classify words, but usually only so that they fit into a static list of seemingly unchanging vocabulary. With the Q& A Flow, something quite different and extraordinary replaces that old system. Instead of grouping words into lists that have parts of speech headings, students learn to evaluate how specific words are actually functioning in a sentence, based on context. You see, by the old system, the word basketball is just one of the words that fits into a Noun list. But with the Q & A Flow, students begin to think in terms of the attributes of a word and its use in the context of a sentence. For example, take a look at the following sentence:

We cheered loudly at the basketball game!

Students, using the Q & A Flow, determine that the word basketball, in this context, is really an adjective. I don’t know about you, but when I am working with students and trying to help them comprehend what they read and to be able speak and to write with expertise, I would prefer their brains be adept at this kind of analysis! Can you see how a student’s Word Smarts and Logic Smarts can benefit from this kind of thinking? I consider it nothing less than brilliant.

Comment /Source

David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.


He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.