source: John Seely's Grammar for Teachers, a short, succinct, clear, and useful distillation of Quirk and Greenbaum.
Teaching English composition, I now start with these three 'canonical' sentence patterns:
For the SVC and SVO patterns, I use Phyllis Davenport's ur-sentences:
SVC: Something (or somebody) is something.
SVO: Something (or somebody) did something.
For my 'core' SV examples I like:
From the first three, I move on to:
And from there to:
Spelled out, using John Seely's examples:
Elephants like grass.
SVOO: Subject+Verb+Indirect Object+Direct Object
Elephants give children rides.
Elephants are animals.
Elephants make children happy.
Elephants live here.
The elephant thrust him away.
In these sentence patterns, all "sentence slots" -- S, V, O, C, A -- must be filled. If a slot is not filled, the sentence becomes "grammatically incomplete."
I've written "5+2" because the final two patterns - SVA and SVOA - are, in Seely's words, "much less common": "They only occur with a very small number of verbs, but they are important."
Seely's book is fantastically helpful. I've been using the iPad version, but I may order a hard copy, too.
* John 11:35