Sentence Word Order
Subject + Verb + Object
English uses a subject→ verb→ object word order.
Note: When there is both a direct object (answering the question “what” or “whom”), and an indirect object (answering the question “to what, to whom, from what, from whom etc.”) the direct object usually is spoken first, and the indirect object usually follows. As an example, see the following: The boy threw the ball to his friend. NOT The boy threw to his friend the ball.
Yes, there are exceptions for reasons of variety and/or importance, but we will describe the exceptions a little later.
The verb is the state or action performed.
The subject is a “who” or a “what” that does the action (a person, a place, a thing, a concept).
The object is the “who” or “what” that receives the action (a person, a place, a thing, a concept).
Example of Word Order
The boy hit the ball. “The boy” is a “who” and is the subject, “hit” is the verb, “the ball” is a “what” and is the direct object.
What is the word order where there is more information in a sentence?
Sentences often contain one or more of the following: where, when, how and why.
Remember that order: Subject – Verb – Direct Object – Where – When – How – Why.
Note – Separating the subject and the verb or the verb and the object can often lead to confusion or an awkward sentence.
Some verbs require a direct object. These are referred to as transitive verbs.
Transitive verbs describe an action. The following is a list of a few common transitive verbs: Annoy, break, bring, buy, call, check, contain, eat, edit, get, hit, make, phone, send, take, talk, tell, wash.
Some verbs don’t require an object. These are referred to as intransitive verbs.
Intransitive verbs describe a state or condition. The following is a list of a few common intransitive verbs: act, arrive, cough, cry, laugh, lie, sit, smile.
Some verbs require an object at times and at other times don’t require an object depending on usage.
Article -title -adjective – noun
Auxiliary -main verb
Noun – (who or what)
Preposition – location
Time – (small to large)
|Black cats||drink||milk||at home||in the evening.|
|I||paid for||supper||by Visa|
|The elderly woman||was talking to||her lawyer||in his office||at 10 o’clock in the morning||in person||because it was important.|
|My children||passed||their exams||by studying.|
|The Johnsons||invited||their friends||to their home||on Sunday||for supper.|
|**The Queen||was waving to||the crowd||from Buckingham Palace||yesterday.|
*Although the above is the usual order, the order is sometimes changed by placing the “when” at the beginning of the sentence, but only when it is very important to the sentence. On rare occasions, “how” or “why” can come at the beginning of a sentence.
**What did the Queen do yesterday? The Queen was waving to the crowd from Buckingham Palace yesterday.
**When was the Queen waving to the crowd? Yesterday, the Queen was waving to the crowd from Buckingham Palace.