8 Sentence Patterns for Academic and Technical Writing

An expert academic or technical writer needs only a few basic sentence patterns to produce easy-to-understand writing. Each of the sentence patterns below will result in clear academic or technical writing. However, do not use any one pattern more than twice in a row to prevent the writing from sounding repetitive and boring. Also, use the more complex sentence patterns less frequently. They are more challenging for the reader and may make the writing overall more complex than necessary.

All effective sentence patterns start with the Subject-Verb-Object (S-V-O) sentence structure. Optional components are additional S-V-O structures and descriptive words, phrases, and clauses (D), which can be placed in various locations.

In the samples below, the subjects are underlined, and the main verbs are in italics.

1. Simple sentence (S-V-O): A simple sentence has one subject–verb pair. It starts with the subject (or an adjective and the subject). The subject is immediately followed by the verb (or an adverb and the verb). A simple sentence may contain an object.
Example 1: The computer desktopprovides access to your files.

2. Simple sentence with a simple introductory description (D + S-V-O): The main sentence is a simple sentence. It is preceded by a simple descriptive phrase with only one level of description (2a) or a simple descriptive clause with only one subject and verb (2b). If you need to describe some aspect of the introductory description, use two sentences. Otherwise, the description will be overly complex and increase the potential for confusion.
Example 2a: As designed, the computer desktopprovides access to your files.
Example 2b: When your computer is working properly, the computer desktopprovides access to your files.

3. Compound simple sentence (S-V-O + S-V-O): Two simple sentences are joined by a conjunction.
Example 3: The computer desktopprovides access to your files, and the external hard drivestores back-up files.

4. Compound simple sentence with a simple introductory description (D + S-V-O + S-V-O): This pattern combines the previous two patterns.
Example 4: According to the instructions, the computer desktopprovides access to your files, and the external hard drivestores back-up files.

5. Simple sentences with compound predicates (S-V-O + V-O): The subject has two main verbs.
Example 5: The computer desktopprovides access to your files and containsshortcuts to common programs and folders.

6. Simple sentences with compound objects (S-V-O +…

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