Quick Ways to Build Easy English Sentences
Before you begin, there are two things you should know about English Grammar:
1. Whenever we use [noun], you can replace it with a [pronoun]. For example, you can say “Sam is tired,” or you can say “He is tired.” Both are correct.
2. Whenever we use “is,” you will need to replace it with the correct form of “to be.” Choose the right form based on this list for the present tense:
He / she / it is.
You / they / we are.
And this list for the past tense:
I / he / she / it was.
You / they / we were.
That’s all! Now you are ready to begin.
Making Statements About the Present
1. Describing something or someone.
Form: [Noun] is [adjective].
I am happy.
They are busy.
Notes: If the noun you are using is not a pronoun, the name of a place or the name of a person, add the word “the” (or “this,” or “that”) before it.
The flower is red.
You are wonderful.
The Empire State Building is tall.
2. Stating the location of something or someone.
Form: [Noun] is [preposition] [location].
Notes: To state the location of something or someone, a preposition is usually necessary. Choose the correct preposition to give the right information. You can also say someone was “here” or “over there.” Since these terms are relative (their meaning depends on your own location), you do not need to add the final “location.”
Once again, nouns that are not names of people or places get “the” added before them.
The cat is under the bed.
Charlie is next to Anne.
He is on the train.
The dog is here.
The men are over there.
3. Explaining what someone is doing.
Form: [Noun] is [verb -ing].
Notes: The “-ing” form of a verb means an action is taking place right now. Use this form when talking about an action that has not ended yet.
He is reading.
The cat is napping.
Kate is singing.
4. Stating what someone does for a living or a hobby.
Form: [Noun] [verb -s].
Notes: Using this structure implies the subject of your sentence does the action regularly (like a hobby, or a job), even if they are not necessarily doing it right now.
The cat naps.
5. Expressing feelings.
Form: [Noun] [feeling verb -s] [noun]. / [Noun] [feeling verb -s] [to verb / verb -ing].
Notes: Feeling verbs are verbs like “love,” “like” or “hate.” You can love or hate an object, or an action. When you describe someone’s feelings about an action, you can use either the “to verb” or “verb -ing” forms. In most cases, both are correct! You can also use this form to describe needs and wants, but remember that in that case, the “verb -ing” form cannot be used. For example, you don’t “need sleeping.” You “need to sleep,” or just “need sleep.”
I love sunshine.
The elephant likes painting.
Tom hates his job.
I need to eat.
I want food.
She wants to sleep.
She needs sleep.
6. Making a suggestion.
Form: Let’s [verb]. / Please [verb].
Notes: To suggest an action that you will also take part in, use the first structure. To politely ask someone to do something, use the second one.
Please move. (Please note: This might be grammatically correct, but it is actually not very polite! The polite way to ask someone to move is to say “excuse me.”)
Making Statements About the Past
7. Describing something or someone in the past.
Form: [Noun] was [adjective].
Notes: You describe someone in the past tense almost the same exact way as in the present—just change the “is” to “was.” Using this structure suggests that either the description is no longer accurate, or that the description is for a specific moment.
The flower was red. (…It is not red anymore.)
You were wonderful. (…You played the violin so well in the concert.)
The Empire State Building was tall. (…Until the giant apes tore it down.)
8. Stating the location of something or someone in the past.
Form: [Noun] was [preposition] [location].
Notes: As with a description, describing a location in the past and the present is very similar. The rules remain the same; only the verb tense changes. Remember, again, that using this form means the location has changed, or that the statement was only true for a specific time period in the past.
The cat was under the bed. (…But then it ran away.)
Charlie was next to Anne. (…Then he went behind her.)
He was on the train. (…That is how he knew the train was going to be late.)
The dog was here. (…But then its owner took it away.)
The men were over there. (…Until they finished their job and went home.)
9. Explaining what someone did, or used to do in the past.
Form: [Noun] was [verb -ing]. / [Noun] [verb -ed].
Notes: There is a slight difference between the “verb -ed” form of an action, and the “was verb -ing” form. Using the “verb -ed” form describes something that has finished happening. Using the “-ing” form of a verb describes something that was happening during a specific period of time in the past.
Another form you can use is: [Noun] used [to verb]. This form is used for any kind of action that someone used to do in the past, but has since stopped doing.
All these forms can be used with feeling verbs, as well! Just add the “noun” or “verb -ing” after the feeling verb for a complete sentence.
The cat napped. (…That’s why he is so happy now.)
Kate sang. (…The concert was wonderful.)
He was reading. (…That is why he did not hear the doorbell ring.)
The Statue of Liberty used to shine. (…But being in the salty water all those years has made it green.)
I used to love shrimp. (…But then I learned that I am allergic to it.)
Sally hated swimming. (…She had to do it every day in school.)
Making Statements About the Future
10. Stating what someone will do in the future.
Form: [Noun] is going to [verb]. / [Noun] will [verb].
Notes: The great thing about the future tense is that you don’t need to remember any verb forms! To turn a sentence into the future tense, just add the words “is going to” or “will” before the verb. Using this structure without any additional details means you will be doing the action very soon.
I am going to dance.
We are going to eat.
The baby is going to sleep.
11. Stating when something will happen.
Form: [Noun] will [verb] [preposition] [time]. / [Noun] is going to [verb] [time adverb].
Notes: Use this structure to talk about things that will happen in the future. When you use a specific time, a preposition is needed. Use “at” when stating a clock time, and “on” when stating a day or date. Use “in” when stating a year, month or another time frame (like “a couple of years” or “two minutes”). When you use a time adverb like today, tomorrow or yesterday, you don’t need a preposition.
The train will leave at 5:00 AM.
I will visit my parents in October.
Anthony is going to dance tomorrow.
Making Negative Statements
12. Stating what someone is not, or not doing.
Form: [Noun] is not [adjective / verb-ing].
Notes: Changing a sentence into a negative one is as easy as adding the word “not.”
The flower is not red. (…It is white.)
You are not wonderful. (…That’s not very nice!)
The Empire State Building is not tall. (…We never said the sentence has to be true!)
Kate is not singing. (…Why did she stop?)
13. Stating what someone did not do.
Form: [Noun] did not [verb]. / [Noun] was not [verb -ing].
Notes: Remember the rules from before. Using the first form above puts the focus on the action (in this case, saying it did not happen at all). “Verb -ing” puts the focus on the time the action took place (saying it was not happening at a specific moment).
I did not sleep. (…I stayed awake all night.)
I was not sleeping. (…While the teacher gave her lesson.)
The customer did not pay. (…At all. How terrible!)
14. Stating what someone will not do in the future.
Form: [Noun] is not going to [verb]. / [Noun] will not [verb].
Notes: Changing the future tense into a negative sentence is just as easy. Just add “not” before the verb.
I am not going to eat. (…I will not eat green eggs and ham!)
Sam will not dance. (…He has ants in his pants.)
The cat will not nap. (…He is going to eat first.)
15. Asking where someone is.
Form: Where is [noun]?
Notes: You can also use this form to ask about places, things and any other kind of noun you might be trying to find.
Where is the dog?
Where is George?
Where is the bathroom?
16. Asking what someone is doing.
Form: What is [noun] doing?
Notes: The noun in this case should be a living thing. (Generally, non-living objects don’t do much!)
What is that dog doing?
What is Sal doing?
What is the baby doing?
17. Asking about when something will happen.
Form: When will [noun] [verb]?
Notes: This is a useful sentence structure to know when you want to find out about events in the future.
When will the train leave?
When will Fran visit?
When will your mom call?
18. Asking who is doing something.
Form: Who is [verb -ing]? / Who is [verb -ing] [noun]?
Notes: This structure is a bit different. It can be used to refer to the present, and to the near future tenses. Use it to find out who is doing a certain action (for example, if you hear a trumpet and want to know who is playing it). Or, you can use it to find out who will be doing an action in the near future—for example, if you are going on a trip and want to know who will drive the car.
If the action is being done to something, don’t forget to add that something in for a complete thought!
Who is playing the trumpet?
Who is driving?
Who is cooking? (…It smells great!)
The easy sentences you learned above are just the beginning.
You have the first Legos in place.
Now go build a castle!