Word Order in Sentences #3

Changes in Standard Word Order


Below is the standard word order, followed by changes in word order

Subject – Auxiliary Verb – Main Verb – Direct Object – Indirect Object

Followed by: Where – When – How – Why

  1. Questions – “Wh” word – Auxiliary Verb – Subject – Main Verb – Object – Why did you buy a hat?
  2. Imperative – Main Verb – Object – Close the door!
  3. Passive Voice – Object – Auxiliary Verb – Main Verb – Subject – The house is being painted by my neighbour.
  4. Time of major Importance – When – Subject – Auxiliary Verb – Main Verb – Object – This morning, I had to shovel the snow.

If you are comfortable with the standard form, continue reading to understand when we don’t use the standard word order form.

Put the most important part of the sentence at the beginning

By changing the word order and placing a different element at the beginning, that element is emphasized. There must be a reason for changing the word order. One reason is to add suspense to your statement, another reason may be that we want to illustrate some sort of comparison.

The car screeched to a stop suddenly, to avoid hitting the children. (standard word order)

Screeching to a stop suddenly, the car avoided hitting the children. (emphasizes the “screeching” sound that the car was making)

Suddenly, the car screeched to a stop to avoid hitting the children. (emphasizes the need for immediate action)

To avoid hitting the children, the car screeched to a stop suddenly. (adds suspense to the sentence)

Written Changes

The element placed at the beginning, is usually followed by a comma, to help the reader understand that it is of major importance in a sentence.

Spoken Changes

When speaking, emphasize the important element that you have put at the beginning. Say it a little louder, and add a slight delay at the end of the word before continuing on with the remainder of the sentence.

Test Yourself