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A contrastive study of english and vietnamese proverbs about moral values of family relationships

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A. THESIS

A CONTRASTIVE STUDY OF ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE
PROVERBS ABOUT MORAL VALUES OF FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
(NGHIÊN CỨU ĐỐI CHIẾU TỤC NGỮ VỀ GIÁ TRỊ ĐẠO ĐỨC GIA ĐÌNH
TRONG TIẾNG ANH VÀ TIẾNG VIỆT)

NGUYỄN ĐỨC LONG

Field: English Language
Code: 60220201

Hanoi, 2017


MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY


M.A. THESIS

A CONTRASTIVE STUDY OF ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE
PROVERBS ABOUT MORAL VALUES OF FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
(NGHIÊN CỨU ĐỐI CHIẾU TỤC NGỮ VỀ GIÁ TRỊ ĐẠO ĐỨC GIA ĐÌNH
TRONG TIẾNG ANH VÀ TIẾNG VIỆT)

NGUYỄN ĐỨC LONG

Field: English Language
Code: 60220201

Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Võ Đại Quang, Ph.D.

Hanoi, 2017


Certificate of originality
I, the undersigned, hereby certify my authority of the study project report entitle
A CONTRASTIVE STUDY OF ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE PROVERBS
ABOUT MORAL VALUES OF FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS submitted in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master in English language. Except
where the reference is indicated, no other person’s work has been used without due
acknowledgement in the text of the thesis.
Hanoi, 2017

Nguyen Duc Long

Approved by
SUPERVISOR

(Signature and full name)
Date: ..................................

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Acknowledgements
I would like to address my most sincere gratitute to the following people for their
invaluablesupport and encouragement.


First and foremost, I would like to thank my supervisor – Assoc. Prof. Võ Đại
Quang, Ph.D. for his outstanding supervision, kind treatment and remarkable
devotion and for guiding, supporting, encouraging me and providing me with all the
materials I would need for the research in order for me to complete this final
assignment. He was always there for me, without his help, things must be extremely
difficult and impossible.
I would also like to give my thank-you to all of my colleagues and students at
Hanoi University of Business and Technology (HUBT) where I am working in for
helping me answer the surveyquestionnaire, from that I am able to bring out the
results of the survey and have the most suitable suggested applications for learning
English proverbs about moral values of family relationships at classrooms and in
daily conversations.
In addition, I would like to thank all of the teachers and professors at Hanoi Open
University for guiding, helping and motivating when I am studying there.

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Abstract
This thesis attempts to investigate syntactic and cultural features of English and
Vietnamese proverbs about moral values of family relationships. The study is
implemented via the adoptions of statistical, descriptive and contrastive, inductive,
and deductive methods.
The investigation of the study depended on many samples of English and
Vietnamese proverbs about moral values of family relationships from a variety of
dictionaries, books and websites about proverbs. The findings are compared and
contrasted to find out the major similarities and differences between English and
Vietnamese with respect to proverbs about moral values related to family
relationships in terms of syntax and culture. In addition, the study also gives some
applications for the more efficient learning of English proverbs about moral values
of family relationships by carrying out survey questionnaire on 100 non-major
second-year students of Hanoi University of Business and Technology.

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List of abbreviations
A

Adverb

C

Complement

EVPMVF

English and Vietnamese proverbs about moral values of
family relationships

EPMVF

English proverbs about moral values of family
relationships

HUBT

Hanoi University of Business and Technology

O

Object

PMVF

Proverbs about moral values of family relationships

S

Subject

SC

Subordinate Clause

V

Verb

VPMVF

Vietnamese proverbs about moral values of family
relationships

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List of tables and figures
Table 3.1.Frequency of English and Vietnamese proverbs in three roles in family.55
Table 4.1. Student’ Results of EPMVF Questions....................................................60
Table 4.2. Students’ Difficulties of Learning EPMVF..............................................61
Bar 4.1. Students’ Benefits of Learning EPMVF .....................................................62

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Certificate of originality
Acknowledgements
Abstract

i
ii
iii

List of abbreviations
List of tables and figures

iv
v

Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION................................................................................1
1.1. Rationale for the study.........................................................................................1
1.2. Aims and objectives of the study.........................................................................2
1.3. Research questions...............................................................................................2
1.4. Methods of the study............................................................................................3
1.5. Scope of the study................................................................................................4
1.6. Significance of the study......................................................................................4
1.7. Design of the study..............................................................................................5
Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW.....................................................................6
2.1. Previous studies....................................................................................................6
2.2.Syntactic features.................................................................................................8
2.2.1.Word components..........................................................................................8
2.2.2.Clause components......................................................................................12
2.2.3.Simple and complex sentence......................................................................15
2.3.Overview of proverbs.........................................................................................17
2.3.1. Definitions....................................................................................................17
2.3.2. Classifications..............................................................................................18
2.3.3. Proverbs about moral values........................................................................18
2.3.4. Proverbs and idioms.....................................................................................20
2.4. Language and culture.........................................................................................21
2.4.1. Language......................................................................................................21
2.4.2. Culture..........................................................................................................23
2.4.3. The relationship between language and culture...........................................25
2.4.4. Characteristics of British culture and people...............................................27
2.4.5.Characteristics of Vietnamese culture and people.......................................30
2.5. Summary............................................................................................................31


Chapter 3: THE SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES ENGLISH AND
VIETNAMESE PROVERBS ABOUT MORAL VALUES OF FAMILY
RELATIONSHIPS ACCORDING TO SYNTACTIC AND CULTURAL
FEATURES……………………………………………………………………..32
3.1. In terms of syntax...............................................................................................32
3.1.1. English proverbs about moral values of family relationships…..................32
3.1.1.1. Simple sentence PMVF..........................................................................32
3.1.1.2. Complex sentence PMVF......................................................................35
3.1.2. Vietnamese proverbs about moral values of family relationships...............40
3.2. In terms of culture..............................................................................................44
3.2.1. . English proverbs about moral values of family relationships....................44
3.2.1.1. Husband and wife...................................................................................44
3.2.1.2. Parents and offspring.............................................................................47
3.2.1.3. Brotherhood and sisterhood..................................................................48
3.2.2. Vietnamese proverbs about moral values of family relationships...............49
3.2.2.1. Husband and wife...................................................................................49
3.2.2.2. Parents and offspring.............................................................................51
3.2.2.3. Brotherhood and sisterhood..................................................................53
3.3. Comparison and contrast between EVPMVF....................................................53
3.3.1. Syntactic features.........................................................................................53
3.3.2. Cultural features...........................................................................................55
3.4. Summary............................................................................................................56
Chapter 4: DIFFICULTIES FACED BY LEARNERS OF ENGLISH WHEN
USING ENGLISH PROVERBS ABOUT MORAL VALUES OF FAMILY
RELATIONSHIPS..................................................................................................57
4.1. Survey questionnaires........................................................................................57
4.1.1. Subjects........................................................................................................57
4.1.2. Questionnaires..............................................................................................57
4.1.3. Procedures....................................................................................................58
4.1.4. Data analysis and findings...........................................................................59
4.2. Main causes of students’ poor performance.......................................................63
4.2.1. Insufficient language competence................................................................63
4.2.2. Differences between cultures.......................................................................63


4.3. Suggestions for teaching and learning EPMVF efficiently...............................64
4.4. Summary............................................................................................................64
Chapter 5: CONCLUSION....................................................................................66
5.1. Concluding remarks...........................................................................................66
5.2. Limitation of the study.......................................................................................67
5.3. Recommendations/Suggestions for further study..............................................67
REFERENCES
APPENDIX


Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Rationale for the study
Language is the ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication,
particularly the human ability to do so, and a language is any specific example of
such a system. The importance of language is essential to every aspect and
interaction in our everyday lives. We use language to inform the people around us
of what we feel, what we desire, and question or understand the world around us.
We communicate effectively with our words, gestures, and tone of voice in a
multitude of situation.
Among many favourite languages such as French, Chinese etc, English has still
played its decisive role in international communication and has been learned by a
large number of people in the world. All foreign learners of English desire to master
English as the native speakers but they usually face many difficulties that prevent
them from gaining successful conversations. One of the reasons for these problems
lies in the way people perceive and use proverbs.
Through the saying of Horace, R. (1959) “a proverb in hand is often worth a
thousand words”, we can understand that knowing proverbs are extremely
important and necessary and even it also plays a very essential role in deciding
whether learners of English can be better at English or not.
Firstly, proverbs as traditional wisdom are never absent from our daily speech.
They are a main part of each nation’s culture, which reflects all aspects of the life.
People epitomize their way of thinking and their ideas through proverbs. We can
use them to solve our daily conflicts or support our arguments. Proverbs are the
mirrors that reflect human culture.. Hence, it can be said that proverbs can help
learners know more about social and cultural characteristics of that language.
Secondly, proverbs are used to express ideas in figurative way. It brings the
vividness and richness for the speaker’s speech. Anyone who much concerns
proverbs owns a very attractive manner of speaking. Especially, they can do provide
users with a whole new way of expressing concepts linguistically. Without them, it
can be stated that English migh lose its color and vitality.
Studying English proverbs in comparison with Vietnamese ones, we can find the
similarities and differences in two languages and cultures when talking about the
moral values between family members, which therefore, help learners of English to
understand and have a better use of English proverbs and Vietnamese ones in

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particular situations. This can also help learners to avoid unnecessary mistakes
made by not knowing or misunderstanding the meaning of each proverb related to
the moral values of family relations.
The idea is also supported by a saying of Professor Denis, B. (Pittsburgh
University, America, 1995) about the practical effect of learning proverbs that:
“Through proverbs I know your points of view, the attitudes of your ancestors.
Each time I know a new Vietnamese proverb, I become Vietnamese a little. I believe
when we know all proverbs of each other, we are brothers”.
Being interested in proverbs for a long time, I choose proverbs as my thesis topic
as both English and Vietnamese are expecially rich in proverbs. Many of them are
corresponding in meaning or close enough to make comparison interesting and
rewarding. However, due to the limited time and knowledge, I just focus on a small
part of the huge proverbial treasure “A contrastive study of English and Vietnamese
proverbs about moral values of family relationships”.
Hopefully, the study may be an interesting and helpful material for learners,
teachers of English and for people who are interested in cultural pattern in
communication and cross-cultural communication.
1.2 Aims and objectives of the study
The study aims to investigate the syntactic and cultural features of English and
Vietnamese proverbs about moral values of family relationships in order to explore
the similarities and differences between EVPMVF to help the non-major secondyear students of HUBT learn more efficiently.
To achieve the targets mentioned above, the following objectives are put forward:
• Investigating the syntactic and cultural features of English and Vietnamese
proverbs about moral values of family relationships;
• Exploring the similarities and differences between English and Vietnamese
proverbs about moral values of family relationships in terms of syntax and
culture;
• Providing some suggestions for the learning Englishproverbs about moral
values of family relationships in particular.
1.3. Research questions
The research questions of the study consist of three different ones as follows:
1) What are the syntactic and cultural features of English and Vietnamese
proverbs about moral values of family relationships?

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2) What are the similarities and differences between English and Vietnamese
proverbs about moral values of family relationships in terms of syntax and
culture?
3) What are some suggestions for the learning English proverbs about moral
values of family relationships in particular?
1.4. Methods of the study
In this study, the statistical method is used for collecting, analyzing, presenting
and organizing samples of English and Vietnamese proverbs about moral values of
family relationships. The descriptive method is used in the study to describe and
interpret English proverbs about moral values of family relationships with the
support of a source of dictionaries (nine in English and four in Vietnamese) and
lexicons to obtain their syntactic and cultural features. The contrastive method is
used to identify the structural differences and similarities between English and
Vietnamese proverbs. The deductive method is applied to present the general
features of English and Vietnamese proverbs to more specific ones, and on the
contrary, the inductive method is used for demonstrating the specific characteristics
to more general ones. By applying these five methods, it is capable for the
researcher to find out the syntatic and cultural features of English and Vietnamese
proverbs about moral values of family relationships.
In addition, the study uses the two methods: quantitative and qualitative. By virtue
of the quantitative method, the study has collected data for the study, including both
English and Vietnamese proverbs about moral values of family relationships. The
qualitative method is employed to describe and analyze the data of the study. The
steps of the study are in the order as follows:
• Collect EVPMVF from nine dictionaries in English (e.g., The New Oxford
Dictionary (1996), The Oxford English Dictionary (2001), Dictionary of
Proverbs by Fergusson (1983), Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary by
Hornby (1995), The facts on file dictionary of proverbs, 2nd edition by
Martin (2002), The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs by Simson &
Speake (1998), The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs by Simson
(1999), The Oxford dictionary of proverbs, 5th edition by Speake
(2008)and The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs, 3rd edition by
Wilson (1970))and four in Vietnamese (e.g., Từ điển Thành ngữ, Tục ngữ
Nghệ Tĩnh by Nguyễn Nhã Bản (2004), Kho tàng tục ngữ người Việt by

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Nguyễn Xuân Kính (2002), Tuyển tập thành ngữ tục ngữ cao dao Việt –
Anh thông dụng by Nguyễn Đình Hùng (2007) and Từ điển Thành ngữ Tục ngữ Việt Nam Nguyễn Lân (2002))and then sort them out.
• Investigate and analyze the general syntactic and cultural features of
English and Vietnamese proverbs about moral values of family
relationships.
• Compare and find the similarities and differences between English and
Vietnamese about moral values of family relationships.
1.5. Scope of the study
Proverbs about moral values of family relationships are a large part in both
English and Vietnamese proverbs, so it is impossible for the author to carry out an
exhaustive study on them; just from the syntactic and cultural perspective.
In this study, the syntactic and cultural features of EVPMVF are extensively
analyzed and discussed when English proverbs are compared with Vietnamese ones.
113 samples of English proverbs about moral values of family relationships and
157 Vietnamese ones are collected from 13 dictionaries (e.g., The New Oxford
Dictionary (1996), The Oxford English Dictionary (2001), Dictionary of Proverbs
by Fergusson (1983), Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary by Hornby (1995),
The facts on file dictionary of proverbs, 2nd edition by Martin (2002), The Concise
Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs by Simson & Speake (1998), The Concise Oxford
Dictionary of Proverbs by Simson (1999), The Oxford dictionary of proverbs, 5th
edition by Speake (2008)and The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs, 3rd edition
by Wilson (1970) and Từ điển Thành ngữ, Tục ngữ Nghệ Tĩnh by Nguyễn Nhã Bản
(2004), Kho tàng tục ngữ người Việt by Nguyễn Xuân Kính (2002), Tuyển tập thành
ngữ tục ngữ cao dao Việt – Anh thông dụng by Nguyễn Đình Hùng (2007) and Từ
điển Thành ngữ - Tục ngữ Việt Nam Nguyễn Lân (2002))those kinds of dictionaries.
It should be noted that the research may not cover all proverbs about moral values
of family relationships; just those of common use.
1.6. Significance of the study
English and Vietnamese language are rich in proverbs. A strong knowledge of
proverbs will help teachers and students be better speakers. The high number of
proverbs and their high frequency in discourse make them an important aspect of
vocabulary. In this thesis, proverbs about moral values of family relationships are
studied in terms of three aspects: syntax, semantics and culture. The results of this

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study can be applied to increase the efficiency of communication and can be of
some supports to the teaching and learning of English and Vietnamese proverbs
about moral values of family relationships.
1.7. Design of the study
There are five chapters in this research paper:
Chapter 1 – Introduction – involves a general introduction to the study
regarding rationale, aims and objectives, research questions, methods, the scope,
significance, and design of the study.
Chapter 2 – Literature Review – shows previous studies, notions of proverbs
and proverbs about moral values of family relationships, the theory of proverbs and
common and distinctive syntactic and cultural features of English and Vietnamese
proverbs about moral values of family relationships.
Chapter 3 – Findings and Discussion – pays attention to analyze the syntactic
and cultural features of English and Vietnamese proverbs about moral values of
family relationships. English proverbs about moral values of family relation are
thoroughly discussed in comparison with Vietnamese ones. As a result, the
similarities and differences between English and Vietnamese proverbs about moral
values of family relationships are brought out.
Chapter 4 – Applications – involves subjects, interview, questionnaire,
procedures, data analysis and findings of the study as well as possible suggested
implications for the teaching and learning English and Vietnamese proverbs about
moral values of family relationships more efficiently.
Chapter 5 – Conclusion – consists of concluding remarks, limitation of the
study and some recommendations for further study in the future.
This thesis closes with References and Appendixes – which represent many
dictionaries in English and Vietnamese, the names of authors of referenced books,
website addresses and involve a list of English and Vietnamese proverbs about
moral values of family relationships and the survey questionnaire for students.

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Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1. Previous studies
A lot of cultures scholars have written books on the history of both the
paremiographical publications and paremiological studies. Such books trace the
development of various types of proverb collections and deal with the origin and
dissemination of proverbs in the given language and culture, discuss definition
problems of the various genres, analyze stylistic and structural aspects, investigate
the function and use in different contexts (oral communication, literature, mass
media), and attempt to give an inclusive picture of the meaning and significance of
proverbs as verbal strategies. The English language is no exception in this regard. In
the middle of the nineteenth century the philologist and theologian Richard
Chenevix Trench (1807–1886) presented his slim volume On the Lessons in
Proverbs (1853) that went through seven editions during his lifetime and several
more later on, including a final edition in 1905 with the slightly changed title of
Proverbsand Their Lessons. The book represents an important survey of the
origin,nature, distribution, meaning, and significance of proverbs in the Englishspeaking world.
Fifty years after Trench’s book,Hulme (1902) basically replaced Trench’ s popular
volume,and it was appropriate that it was reprinted in 1968 to honor the work of this
folklore scholar. But according to proverbial wisdom, “All good things come in
threes,” and thus there is alsoThe Proverbof Taylor (1931). As the world’s leading
paremiologist of the twentieth century, Taylor wrote the definitive book on the
subject and pioneered a vigorous American interest in proverbs that included
suchrenowned scholars as Alan Dundes, Wolfram Eberhard, Stuart A. Gallacher,
Richard Jente, Wayland D. Hand, John G. Kunstmann, Charles Speroni, and Bartlett
Jere Whiting. The book was reprinted in 1962 together with a previously published
An Index to “The Proverb” (1934), and it was worth having the distinct honor of
reprinting The Proverb and an Index to “The Proverb”(1985), some 50 years after
the original publication.
Mieder, M.,(2004) with “Proverbs: a Handbook”, described the definition and
classification, origin of proverbs, as well as the context of the proverbs. He also
investigated proverbs in the slogans and titles of newspaper, in business, etc. In
view of Vietnamese proverb studies, it appears Vietnamese scholars have taken

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even more special interests in this field resulting in a great many works of large
scales following three so-called stages in this country’s long literature history.
Because of the fact that our national scripts have undergone some changes from
the standard Chinese characters (up to 19th century) to the Nom (13 - 19th century)
and finally the Vietnamese language (17th century), it is difficult to trace back the
early works related to the field. Therefore, not to mention those written in the Nom
by great scholars such as Quốc Âm Thi Tập(Nguyễn Trãi, 15th century), HồngĐức
Quốc Âm Thi Tập (Lê Thánh Tông and co-authors, 15th century), Bạch Vân Quốc
NgữThi Tập (Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm, 16th century)...Truyện Kiều (Nguyễn Du, 19th
century) and Lục VânTiên(NguyễnĐình Chiểu, 19th century) where a lot of forms
of folk proverbscan be easily found and which are a useful source for researchers to
collect and study Vietnamese proverbs, the first works written in Vietnamese
language to be taken notice of are Tục ngữ, cổngữ, gia ngôn ( Huỳnh Tịnh Của,
1897), Tục ngữ cách ngôn (Hàn Thái Dương, 1920),Điều tra về tục ngữ phương
ngôn (BanVăn học Hội Khai Trí Tiến Đức, 1922), An Nam tục ngữ (Vũ Như Lâm
and Nguyễn Đa Gia, 1933), Phong dao, ca dao, phương ngôn và tục ngữ (Nguyễn
Văn Chiểu, 1936), Ngạn ngữphong dao (Nguyễn Can Mộng, 1941). During this
time, the most hard-working collection of proverbs containing the most affluent
content was Tục ngữphong dao (Nguyễn Văn Ngọc, 1928) consisting of some 6500
idioms and proverbs and up till now has been the one of the top scale.
From 1975 up to now, some elaborate works connected with proverbs have done
their share to the knowledge of the field and one of the wholehearted authors we
must not miss is Chu Xuân Diên with hisTiểu luậnvề tục ngữ Việt Nam (1997). His
other books include Tục ngữ Việt Nam withco-authors Lương Văn Đang, Phương
Tri (1975) and Văn học dân gian ViệtNam withĐinh Gia Khanh, Võ Quang Nhơn
(2002). The following worksreceiving much attention from the public are Từ điển
Thành ngữvà Tục ngữViệt Nam (Nguyễn Lân, 1997), Tục ngữ ca dao dân ca Việt
Nam (VũNgọcPhan, 1998) where the difference between idioms and proverbs is
mentioned based on two criteria: content and grammatical structures.
All in all, the above works present every aspect related to proverbs including
history, origin, distribution, definition, form, meaning, content, style, structure,
function and value, yet none gives fully detailedanalysis of the syntacticand
cultural features of English and Vietnamese proverbsabout moral values of
family relationships. This very reason inspires me to devote myself to thestudy so

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as to find out the similarities and differences in these aspects as well as the cultural
characteristics of the two countries.
2.2.Syntactic features
2.2.1.Word components
Quirk (1985) distinguished the term complementation from the term complement
and defined complementation as “the function of a part of a phrase or clause which
follows a word, and completes the specification of a meaning relationship which
that word implies. As such, complementation may be obligatory or optional on the
syntactic level.”
Simple sentences in English consist of the basic elements: S V O C and A. There
are seven basic clause patterns in English consisting of the subject and verb (SV)
(pattern 1); the subject, verb, obligatory adverbial (SVA) (pattern 2); the subject,
verb, subject complement (SVC) (pattern 3); the subject, verb, direct object (SVO)
(pattern 4); the subject, verb, indirect object, direct object (SVOO) (pattern 5); the
subject, verb, direct object, object complement (SVOC) (pattern 6) and finally, the
subject, verb, direct object, obligatory adverbial (SVOA) (pattern 7). The
combination of obligatory clause elements required after particular verb class with
one or more optional adverbials is possible, thus, a number of other clause patterns
could be created, e.g. the SVO(A), SV(A), SVOO(A) patterns, but also the other
combinations.
Below is the pattern:
Slot 1

Slot 2

Slot 3

Subject

Be Verb

Adverbial (Time or Place)

California

is

in the West U.S.

A subject fills Slot 1. The subject of a sentence is a noun phrase that functions as
the topic of the sentence. Examples include He is . . ., The kids are . . ., Swimming
is . . ., and To live is . . ..
A be verb fills Slot 2. A be verb is any verb form of be, such as is, are, was, or will
be.
Finally, an adverbial fills Slot 3. An adverbial is a structure (word, phrase, or clause)
that modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb; it can describe
the when, where, why, or how of the word it modifies. In this sentence pattern, the
main adverbial always modifies the be verb. Examples include at the mall (place)
and before the conference (time).

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The adverbial in this pattern describes the location of California. The modifying
phrase clearly fulfills the where function of an adverb. In the next pattern we’ll be
looking at how to construct sentences with modifiers that describe the subject rather
than the verb.
The second sentence pattern consists of Subject modifiers, or subjectcomplements,
explain or rename what the subject is.
Slot 2

Slot 3

Subject

Be Verb

Subject Complement

Michael

was

an Olympic gold medalist. (Noun
phrase)

That dog

is being

silly. (Adjective)

A subject fills Slot 1. The subject of a sentence fills the opening slot of the sentence
as a noun phrase or nominal structure that functions as the topic of the sentence.
A be verb fills Slot 2. A be verb is any verb form of be, such as is, are, was, or will
be.
Finally, a subject complement fills Slot 3. A subject complement is the noun phrase
or adjective that follows the linking verb. The subject complement renames (noun)
or describes (adjective) the subject. Examples include referee (noun) and openly
cynical (adjective phrase).
In the first example above, the noun phrase subject complement refers back to the
subject, stating what Michael was. For example, in the sentence “Mrs. Balensiefen
is my teacher,” the noun phrase my teacher tells us what Mrs. Balensiefen is, just as
in the reverse, “My teacher is Mrs. Balensiefen,” the noun (a name) tells us who is
the teacher of the subject position.
In the second example, the adjectival subject complement, silly, modifies the
noun dog, describing a characteristic belonging to the dog at that moment. Other
examples can include any adjective or adjectival, such as “That field of grass is not
very green.”
The third sentence patternuses linking verbs other than be and a subject
complement.
Slot 1

Slot 2

Slot 3

Subject

Linking Verb

Subject Complement

The lake

appears

calm. (Adjective)

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Kara

became

a teacher. (Noun Phrase)

After the sentence’s subject, a linking verb fills Slot 2. A linkingverb is typically a
verb “of the senses,” according to Kolln: taste, smell, feel, sound, and look. Other
common linking verbs include become, remain, seem, appear, and prove. Kolln
prefers to distinguish these “other” linking verbs from be verbs, since be verbs do
not have the restriction of connecting the subject to a subject complement
(remember, be verbs can be followed by an adverbial instead of a subject
complement). The linking verbs discussed here always tie the subject to its adjective
or noun phrase complement.
A subject complement fills Slot 3. Remember that a subject complement is the noun
phrase or adjective that follows a linking verb, renaming or describing the subject.
In the first example, the adjective describes a quality the exam “appears” to have. In
the second example, the noun phrase renames Karalyn as what she becomes;
similarly, Karalyn could be said to rename the noun “teacher.”
The fourth sentence patterninvolves only two components: a subject and an
intransitive verb. An intransitive verb is an action verb that requires no
complement. In other words, the verb can stand alone.
Slot 1

Slot 2

Subject

Intransitive Verb

The camera battery

died.

Audiences

laugh.

Note that the action verbs in the examples, died and laugh can stand alone. They
could certainly be accompanied by modifiers, too. For instance, the battery could
have died suddenly or audiences could laugh at the joke. The adverb suddenly and
the prepositional phrase at the joke both function as adverbials modifying the verbs
they follow. Therefore, this sentence pattern allows you to construct brief sentences,
then expand upon them by adding details in the form of adverbials.
The fifth sentence pattern from Rhetorical Grammar employs a different kind of
verb. Rather than intransitive, this pattern uses transitiveverbs, which must be
followed by a direct object. A direct objectis the person or thing receiving the
action of the verb.
Slot 1

Slot 2

Slot 3

Subject

Transitive Verb

Direct Object

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Joey

spoiled

his niece Rachel.

Our secretary

distributes

our weekly timesheets.

In the first example, the verb spoiled implies that there must be someone whom
Joey spoiled; in other words, someone must have been affected by his action.
Similarly, the second example uses the verb distributes. If there were no direct
object following this verb, it would be unclear what the significance of the
secretary’s action is.
One useful characteristic of transitive verb patterns is that sentences with transitive
verbs can be turned into passive sentences. That is, the direct object becomes the
subject, while the subject—the “doer”—is typically relegated to a prepositional
phrase at the end of the sentence. This transformation allows the writer to deemphasize the doer and emphasize what is done and to whom.
E.g., His niece Rachel was spoiled by Joey.
E.g., Our weekly timesheets were distributed by our secretary.
Both examples place the receiver of the action at the sentence’s beginning, thus
accentuating the verbs directly after these subjects. Because the subjects are now
contained within adverbials (both in prepositional phrases beginning with by), they
are now optional modifiers and can easily be omitted. Omitting the doer can be
useful if you want to keep from “pointing a finger” at someone.
Kolln’s sixth sentence pattern also uses transitive verbs. However, in this pattern,
the verb is followed by a direct object and an indirect object. An indirect object is a
noun or noun phrase that assumes an intermediary role in the action being described
in a sentence or, to put this another way, an object that is affected indirectly by the
verb.
Subject

Transitive Verb

Indirect Object

Direct Object

The sight of Big Ben

gave

me

goosebumps.

Nurse Baggins

handed

the child

a turquoise crayon.

How do you distinguish between a direct and an indirect object? If you can
reconstruct
the
sentence
so
that
there
is
an
object
being
transferred to or for someone, then that someone is the indirect object. For example,
with the sentence “Vince did us a huge favor,” we can make the sentence “Vince
did a favor for us.” Or with the sentence “I read Charlotte a story,” we can make “I
read a story to Charlotte.” In each case, the prepositions for and to indicate that
there is something being transferred to a receiver. That receiver is the indirect object
11


in a Pattern 6 sentence. Notice the order—the indirect object precedes the direct
object.
The seventh sentence pattern from Kolln’s book again uses a transitive verb, which
requires a direct object to receive the action, as well as an object complement to
modify or rename that object. Kolln compares this sentence pattern to her second,
which similarly includes a subject and subject complement.
Slot 1

Slot 2

Slot 3

Slot 4

Subject

Transitive Verb

Direct Object

Object Complement

My mom

calls

me

a klutz. (Noun phrase)

Darcy

considered

Jane

indifferent. (Adjective)

The key to understanding this sentence pattern is to remember that a verb
like considered, or feared from the example in the paragraph above, includes the
understood phrase “to be” directly after itself (E.g., “feared his house to
be destroyed…”). Kolln argues that omitting “to be” in this sentence pattern more
effectively emphasizes direct object complements (versus placing more stress on the
direct object when “to be” is used). It also eliminates awkward wording.
2.2.2.Clause components
Clauses can be classified as independent (main clauses) and dependent(subordinate
clauses). A typical sentence consists of one independent clause, possibly augmented
by one or more dependent clauses.
A dependent clause may be finite (based on a finite verb, as independent clauses
are), or non-finite (based on a verb in the form of an infinitive or participle).
Particular types of dependent clause include relative clauses, content
clauses and adverbial clauses.
A non-finite clause is one in which the main verb is in a non-finite form, namely
an infinitive, past participle, or -ing form (present participle or gerund); for how
these forms are made, see English verbs. (Such a clause may also be referred to as
an infinitive phrase, participial phrase, etc.)
The internal syntax of a non-finite clause is generally similar to that of a finite
clause, except that there is usually no subject (and in some cases a missing
complement; see below). The following types exist:
-

bare infinitive clause, such as go to the party in the sentence let her go to the
party.

12


-

-

-

to-infinitive clause, such as to go to the party. Although there is no subject in
such a clause, the performer of the action can (in some contexts) be
expressed with a preceding prepositional phrase using for: It would be a
good idea for her to go to the party. The possibility of placing adjuncts
between the to and the verb in such constructions has been the subject of
dispute among prescriptive grammarians; see split infinitive.
past participial clause (active type), such as made a cake and seen to it. This
is used in forming perfectconstructions (see below), as in he has made a
cake; I had seen to it.
present participial clause, such as being in good health. When such a clause
is used as an adjunct to a main clause, its subject is understood to be the
same as that of the main clause; when this is not the case, a subject can be
included in the participial clause: The king being in good health, his
physician was able to take a few days' rest.

-

gerund clause. This has the same form as the above, but serves as a noun
rather than an adjective or adverb. The pre-appending of a subject in this
case (as in I don't like you drinking, rather than the arguably more
correct ...your drinking) is criticized by some prescriptive grammarians.

In certain uses, a non-finite clause contains a missing (zero) item – this may be an
object or complement of the verb, or the complement of a preposition within the
clause (leaving the preposition "stranded"). Examples of uses of such "passive" nonfinite clauses are given below:
- to-infinitive clauses – this is easy to use (zero object of use); he is the man to
talk to (zero complement of preposition to).
- past participial clauses – as used in forming passive voice constructions (the
cake was made, with zero object of made), and in some other uses, such as I
want to get it seen to (zero complement of to). In many such cases the
performer of the action can be expressed using a prepositional phrase with by,
-

as in the cake was made by Alan.
gerund clauses – particularly after want and need, as in Your car
wants/needs cleaning (zero object of cleaning), and You want/need your
head seeing to (zero complement of to).

A typical finite clause consists of a noun phrase functioning as the subject, a finite
verb, followed by any number of dependents of the verb. In some theories of

13


grammar the verb and its dependents are taken to be a single component called
a verb phrase or the predicate of the clause; thus the clause can be said to consist of
subject plus predicate.
Dependents include any number of complements (especially a noun phrase
functioning as the object), and other modifiers of the verb. Noun phrase constituents
which are personal pronouns or (in formal registers) the pronoun who(m) are
marked for case, but otherwise it is word order alone that indicates which noun
phrase is the subject and which the object.
The presence of complements depends on the pattern followed by the verb (for
example, whether it is a transitive verb, i.e. one taking a direct object). A given verb
may allow a number of possible patterns (for example, the verb write may be either
transitive, as in He writes letters, or intransitive, as in He writes often).
Some verbs can take two objects: an indirect object and a direct object. An indirect
object precedes a direct one, as in He gave the dog a bone (where the dog is the
indirect object and a bone the direct object). However the indirect object may also
be replaced with a prepositional phrase, usually with the preposition to or for, as
in He gave a bone to the dog. (The latter method is particularly common when the
direct object is a personal pronounand the indirect object is a stronger noun
phrase: He gave it to the dog would be used rather than He gave the dog it.)
Adverbial adjuncts are often placed after the verb and object, as in I met John
yesterday. However other positions in the sentence are also possible; see English
grammar § Adverbs, and for "phrasal" particles, Phrasal verb. Another adverb
which is subject to special rules is the negating word not.
Objects normally precede other complements, as in I told him to fetch
it (where him is the object, and the infinitive phrase to fetch it is a further
complement). Other possible complements include prepositional phrases, such
as for Jim in the clause They waited for Jim; predicative expressions, such
as red in The ball is red; subordinate clauses, which may be introduced by
a subordinating conjunction such as if, when, because, that, for example the thatclause in I suggest that you wait for her; and non-finite clauses, such as eating
jelly in the sentence I like eating jelly.
Many English verbs are used together with a particle (such as in or away) and with
preposition phrases in constructions that are commonly referred to as "phrasal
verbs". These complements often modify the meaning of the verb in an

14


unpredictable way, and a verb-particle combination such as give up can be
considered a single lexical item. The position of such particles in the clause is
subject to different rules from other adverbs.
Many clauses have as their finite verb an auxiliary, which governs a non-finite form
of a lexical (or other auxiliary) verb. Variations on the basic SVO pattern occur in
certain types of clause. The subject is absent in most imperative clauses and most
non-finite clauses. he verb and subject are inverted in most interrogative clauses.
This requires that the verb be an auxiliary or copula (and do-support is used to
provide an auxiliary if there is otherwise no invertible verb). The same type of
inversion occurs in certain other types of clause, particularly main clauses
beginning with an adjunct having negative force (Never have I witnessed such
carnage), and some dependent clauses expressing a condition (Should you decide to
come,...).
2.2.3.Simple and complex sentence
A simple sentence consists of only one clause. A set of words with no independent
clause may be an incomplete sentence, also called a sentence fragment.
Sentence 1, 2 and 3are examples of simple sentences as follows:
1. I like ice-cream.
2. I don't know how to sing English songs.
3. I enjoyed living in the countryside.
The simple sentence in example 1 contains one clause.
A simple sentence structure contains one independent clause and no dependent
clauses.
I run.
This simple sentence has one independent clause which contains one subject, I, and
one predicate, run.
The girl ran into her bedroom.
This simple sentence has one independent clause which contains one subject, girl,
and one predicate, ran into her bedroom. The predicate is a verb phrase that consists
of more than one word.
In the backyard, the dog barked and howled at the cat.
This simple sentence has one independent clause which contains one subject, dog,
and one predicate, barked and howled at the cat. This predicate has two verbs,
known as a compound predicate: barked and howled. This compound verb should

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