Word order is an essential part of English grammar. Through proper ordering of words, you can make meaningful sentences. So, adequate word order is a crucial part of writing and speaking.
Incorrect: Two brothers and two sisters have I at home.
Correct: I have two brothers and two sisters at home.
Incorrect: In middle school, I am.
Correct: I am in middle school.
With proper grammar understanding, you can figure out whether or not the words in a sentence are in the correct order.
BASIC WORD ORDER RULE:
The basic rule of thumb for word order is that the subject comes before the verb which comes before the Object (Subject + Verb + Object).
Mostly every sentence conforms to the SVO (Subject + Verb + Object) Rule.
Note: The rule applies to the sentences that only have a subject, verb and object.
The dog (Subject) + eats (verb) + pedigree (object).
She (subject) + is cleaning (verb) + the house (Object).
He (subject) + Is making (Verb) + pizza (Object).
While most of the sentences follow the Subject + verb + object rule, some sentences are more complex and include indirect objects, adverbs, modifiers, prepositions and so on.
A. Indirect Objects
When an indirect object is added in a sentence, a sentence follows a slightly different order. Indirect objects are always placed between the verb and the object of the sentence, following the pattern (Subject + Verb + Indirect Object+ Direct object) SVIO, like this:
I fed the kitten some milk.
Here, the sentence has “I” (Subject) “fed” (verb) “kitten” (indirect object)
“milk” (direct object).
B. Prepositional Phrases
Prepositional phrases are also placed at unique positions in the sentences.
When prepositions like ‘to’ or ‘for’ then the indirect object becomes part of a prepositional phrase and follows the order (Subject + Verb + Object + Preposition) SVOP.
I fed some milk to the kitten.
Note: Other prepositional phrases, determining time and location, can go at either the beginning or at the end of a sentence:
- I ordered some groceries from the store
- From the store, I ordered some groceries.
Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs, adding things like time, manner, degree; and often end in - ly, like “slightly,” “currently,” “shortly,” and so on. As a rule, an adverb or any modifier should be positioned close to the thing it is modifying.
Adverbs have a unique quality that they can usually be placed in more than one spot in the sentence and are still correct. So, there are rules about their placement of adverbs, along with multiple exceptions.
In general, when modifying an adjective or adverb, an adverb should go before the word it is modifying:
CORRECT: The boy was extremely angry.
(Adverb modifies “angry”)
INCORRECT: Extremely, the boy was angry.
INCORRECT: The extremely boy was angry.
INCORRECT: The boy was angry extremely.
As you can see, the word “extremely” only makes sense just before the adjective “angry.” In this situation, the adverb can only go in one place.
When modifying a verb, an adverb should generally go right after the word it modifies.
CORRECT: The boy ran quickly to the shop.
CORRECT: Quickly, the boy ran to the shop.
CORRECT: The boy quickly ran to the shop.
CORRECT: The boy ran to the fair shop.
Other sentences are also considered as correct, but the first sentence is most appropriate.
For adverbs expressing frequency (frequency of something happening) the modifier is positioned directly after the Subject:
The boy always eats cherries.
He never runs slowly.
I rarely see him.
Adverbs which express time (when something happens) can go at either the beginning or at the end of the sentence, depending what’s essential about the sentence. If the time isn’t significant, then it goes at the beginning of the sentence, but if you want to emphasize the time, then the adverb goes at the end of the sentence:
Now the boy wants cherries.
(Emphasis on “the boy wants cherries”)
The boy wants cherries now.
(Emphasis on “now”)
EXAMPLES OF ORDERING OF WORDS:
- was shining/ gentle breezes/ The sun/ and/ were blowing/
- was sailing/ three weeks/ The ship/ for/.
- half an hour/ arrived/ Fortunately/ another ship/ later/.
- were relaxing/ when/ on deck/ The passengers/ a loud bang/suddenly/ heard/ they/.
- We found some books in the library.
- I go to the bank every Friday.
- The ship was sailing for the three days.
- Fortunately, another ship arrived half an hour later.
- The passengers heard a loud bang when they were relaxing on deck.
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