Order of Words in a Sentence

September 12, 2010pdf

To convey the intended meaning words must be arranged in the proper order in a sentence. The following is the usual order of words in an English sentence.

Subject before the verb

The subject usually comes before the verb in an English sentence.

  • The dog bit the postman. (Subject – the dog, verb – bit, object – the postman)
  • The people rang the bell for joy.

Object after the verb

The object usually comes after the verb.

  • The King wears a crown. (Subject – the king, verb – wears, object – a crown)
  • The boy killed the spider. (Subject – the boy, verb – killed, object – the spider)

Indirect object before the direct object

If there are two objects, the indirect object usually comes before the direct object.

  • She told me a story. (Indirect object – me, direct object – story)
  • Lend me your ears. (Indirect object – me, direct object – your ears)

Attributive adjectives

Adjectives used attributively comes before the nouns they qualify.

  • The other day I saw a little clownwith a crooked nose.
  • King Francis was a hearty king and loved a royal sport.

When an adjective is used predicatively it comes after the noun.

  • The child is asleep.

Position of the adverb

The adverb is generally placed close to the word which it modifies.

  • He solved only two problems.
  • He never tells a lie.
  • He is a lazy boy.

Notes

When an adverb is intended to modify the sentence as a whole, it is placed at the beginning of a sentence.

Certainly he made a fool of himself.

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