English Word Order
Learn how to sort the different elements of a sentence and how to use correct word order in statements and questions.
English operates as an “S-V-O” language in terms of word order. This means that the subject comes first, followed by the verb, and then the object, if there is one. The subject in a simple sentence consists of a noun or pronoun. The verb is the action being performed or the state of the noun or pronoun.
Roy plays golf.
Sheila is friendly.
In the examples, Roy and Sheila are the subjects. The verbs are “play” and “be,” but are conjugated to reflect the singular subjects (“plays” and “is”). In the first one, “golf” is the object of the sentence (what is being played). In the second sentence, “friendly” is a predicate adjective that describes the subject (Sheila).
Other things to keep in mind regarding basic word order in sentences:
-adverbs can be placed first in a sentence to add emphasis to an element of time, manner (less common) and place
Examples (adverbs in italics):
Tomorrow, I will go to the store. (time)
Slowly, he opens the door. (manner)
At home, we can relax. (place)
-objects occur after verbs and before other elements (time, manner, place) of the sentence
Examples (direct objects in italics):
Melissa buys food at the grocery store. (place)
Doug and Amy watch TV in the evening. (time)
We leave the room quietly. (manner)
Note that there is some variation possible in word order, such as the placement of an adverb before the verb, adjective, or other adverb it modifies:
We quietly leave the room.
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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.