Lesson 7: WORD ORDER

These two sentences have opposite meanings:

Brazil beat Spain 4-2. Brazil won and Spain lost.

Spain beat Brazil 4-2. Spain won and Brazil lost.

The form of the words in these sentences cannot help us to understand that their meanings are different. Only the order of the words tells us the meaning. Word order is very important in English. Here are some basic rules.

In statements, the subject always comes before the verb.

[s]:Subject, [v]:Verb

[s] John [v] woke up.
[s] He [v] could not sleep after that.
Each night[s] he [v] had the same problem.
[s] The airport [v] was nearby.
[s] The planes [v]used to make a terrible noise.

In questions a part of the verb must come before the subject (Lesson 9).

Only adverbs (Lesson 64) can go between subject and verb, especially
A. frequency adverbs (Lesson 73):
[s] They never [v] have time to watch TV.

B. these words: almost, already, also, just, nearly and still
[s] They also [v] work in the evenings.

No other kind of word can go in this position.

If subject and verb alone are not enough to complete the sentence, the other part of the sentence goes after them (never before them).

For example: John was, John bought, John gave, John put

are not good sentences by themselves. They need something else to complete them.

[C]:CORRECT, [W]:WRONG

[C] John was a student.
[W] John a student was.
[W] A student John was.

[C] John bought a book.
[W] John a book bought.
[W] A book John bought.

[C] John gave Maria the book.
[W John Maria the book gave.
[W] Maria the book John gave.

[C] John put the book on the table.
[W] John the book on the table put.
[W] The book on the table John put.

NOTICE: Different verbs need different kinds of words to complete a sentence (Lessons 62 and 63).

If we want to put in some extra information about the sentence, it must go at the beginning or the end (not anywhere in the middle).

[E]:EXTRA, [B]:BASIC

[B] John was a student [E] in Vancouver for five years.

[E] In the town [B] John bought a book [E] to give to Maria.

[B] John gave Maria the book [E] for her birthday.

[B] John put the book here [E] last night.

[E] In November [B] the weather became cold.

[E] In the end [B] I found the book [E] in the bedroom.

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