Order of Words: Basic Rules with Examples, Concepts, Questions, Videos

Compare the two sentences- ‘English is an easy language’ and ‘language English is an easy’. Definitely, the first sentence is a winner here. What’s the problem with the second sentence? Just like every language’s grammar, English grammar also follows an order of words.

Basic English Order of Words
In English grammar, the rule of thumb is that the subject comes before the verb which comes before the object. This means that most of the sentences conform to the SVO word order. Note that, this is for the sentences that only have a subject, verb and object. We’ll discuss more complex sentences and their order of words afterwards, but for now, we need to remember that for any type of sentence, we normally put the verb and object together. Some examples are:

I (S) am cleaning (V) the house (O).

He (S) loves (V) the cold breeze (O).

Basic English Order of Words

Now as we know about the basic word order used in simple sentences, we need to step our game up and learn about complex sentences. These sentences can contain, adverbs of place, time, two verbs, an indirect object, etc. The most used word order is:

Subject + Verb + Object + Adverb Of Place + Adverb Of Time

Again note that the verb and object are placed next to each other. An important thing to realize is that the time usually comes after the place. Hence the adverb of the place is kept before the adverb of time. Try to understand this with the help of the following example :

He (S) meets (V) George (O) at the park (Adverb of place) every day (Adverb of time).

We can also use the adverb of time at the beginning of a sentence in the order of words (except early and late). For example,

Every Monday he goes to the orphanage.

Note that there are some adverbs that can be used before the verb in the sentence. Always, also, sometimes, probably, often, never, rarely, almost, definitely, only are some examples.

Some sentences contain more than one verb, i.e. a formal verb and other informal verbs. In such cases, we usually put the adverb after the first verb which is the finite verb. To recall, a finite verb is the main verb in the sentence that directly relates to the subject of the sentence. Let’s have a look at some examples of such sentences:

I like (Finite verb) a lot (Adverb), when it rains (verb) in the morning(Adverb of time).

You may speak (Finite verb) slowly (Adverb) to the judge when we ask(Verb) you to.

Indirect objects

Lastly, there are certain sentences that have an indirect object couples with a direct object. Regardless of this, the sentence stays true to the SVO word order. In such cases, we follow the SVOI or the SVIO word order. A key point to remember is that if the indirect object is a noun or a pronoun we follow the SVIO order. On the other hand, if the indirect object is preceded by a ‘to’, then we follow the SVOI word order. We can understand this with the help of the following examples:

She gave her mother the present. ( SVIO)

She gave the present to her mother. (SVOI)

A Solved Example for You

Q: Arrange the following sentences:

  1. she/there/ every day/to work/goes.
  2. in this world/ looking/everybody/for happiness.
  3. a movie/was/I/when you called/watching.

Ans:

  1. She goes there to work every day.
  2. Everybody is looking for happiness in this world.
  3. I was watching a movie when you called.

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