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Word order – Rules and exercises for intermediate level

Sunday, 14 October 2018
Woman juggling with apples Example: I like apples very much. (not ‘I like very much apples.’) Designed by Nensuria

An overview of how word order works in English sentences and the rules you need to follow for correct word order. Examples and exercises will help you learn how to structure sentences in the correct order. This is an intermediate level online English lesson.

Word order in English sentences is usually subject, verb, object. It is important to get this right, as having your words in the wrong order can completely change the meaning of the sentence. For example, 'The dog chased the cat.' has a completely different meaning to 'The cat chased the dog.' When you add more verbs, adjectives and adverbs to your sentences, there are simple rules to follow to get them in the correct position.

Word order: verb and object

Verbs and the objects of verbs go together in the sentence and we do not usually put words in between them. We keep the verb and the objects of the verb together.
Examples

I like apples very much. (not ‘I like very much apples.’)

Tom enjoys sports a lot. (not 'Tom enjoys a lot sports.')

The boy kicked the football hard. (not 'The boy kicked hard the football.')

I will not go to the shop. (not 'I to the shop will not go'.)

Do you have this jumper in green? (not 'Do you this jumper have in green?')

Word order: place and time

A verb and the place usually go together. Examples

I go home on the bus. (not 'I on the bus go home.')

I live in a city. (not 'I in a city live.')

I walk to work. (not 'I to work walk.')

If the verb has an object, time and place come after the verb + object.

Examples

I like to eat breakfast in the garden. (not 'I like in the garden to eat breakfast.')

I can meet you tomorrow. (not 'I can meet tomorrow you.')

In a sentence with place and time, place usually comes first in the sentence, then time.

Examples

I bought the shirt in town last week.

The party is at Tom's house this evening.

We can also put time at the beginning of the sentence.

Examples

The park is closed today.

or

Today the park is closed.

The train broke down yesterday.

or

Yesterday the train broke down.

Word order: adverbs with the verb

Some adverbs go with the verb in the middle of the sentence.

Example

Tom always goes to work by train. (not Tom goes to work by train always.')

These are some general rules about where to place our adverb (but there are exceptions).

- If the verb is one word, the adverb usually goes before the verb.

Example

Tom always goes to work by car. (not Tom goes always to work by car.')

- Adverbs go after am/is/are/was/were.

Example

We were also hungry. (not 'We also were hungry.')

- If the verb is two or more words, the adverb goes after the first verb.

Example

My parents have always lived in London. (not 'My parents have lived always in London')

- “Probably” goes before the negative.

Example

I probably won’t see you. (not 'I won't probably see you.')

- We use 'both' and 'all' in these positions.

Examples

We all felt ill after the meal.

We are all going out this evening.

My parents are both teachers.

We have both applied for the job.

- Sometimes we use will/is/did etc. instead of repeating part of a sentence.

I’ve never done it and I never will (= I will never do it)

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Last modified on Monday, 19 November 2018 20:55

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