Posts Tagged ‘sentence pattern’

Order of Words in a Sentence

February 8th, 2010 in English Grammar, English Learning

To make meaningful sentences words need to be arranged in a particular order. The following is the usual order of words in an English sentence:

The subject usually comes before the verb.

The dog bit the man. (Subject – dog, verb – bit, object – man)
He wrote a letter. (Subject – he, verb – wrote, object – letter)

The object usually comes after the verb.

He killed the spider. (Subject – he, verb – killed, object – spider)

When there are two objects – one direct object and one indirect object – the indirect comes before the direct.

Lend me your ears. (Indirect object – me, direct object – ears)
He gave me a book. (Indirect – me, direct – book)

Attributive adjectives come before the nouns they modify.

King Francis was a hearty king and loved a royal sport. (Here the attributive adjectives hearty and royal come before the nouns king and sport.)

When an adjective is used predicately, it comes after the verb.

The child fell asleep.
The dog became restive.

The adjective phrase comes immediately after the noun.

The tops of the mountains were covered with snow.

The adverb usually comes close to the word it modifies. But note that when an adverb is intended to modify the whole sentence it comes at the beginning of the sentence.

Certainly he made a fool of himself.

Qualifying clauses are generally placed as close as possible to the words which they modify.

He died in the village where he was born. (Here the qualifying clause ‘where he was born’ modifies the noun village.)
People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. (Here the clause ‘who live in glass houses’ modifies the noun people.)


The normal order of words in a sentence is sometimes altered for emphasis.

Sweet are the uses of adversity. (Here the subject ‘the uses of adversity’ comes at the end of the sentence.)
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. (Subject – the head that wears a crown)
Fallen, fallen is Babylon.
Blessed are the merciful.
Great is the struggle, and great is also the prize.