Grammar: Word Order

Word order

Subject + Verb + Object

The subject, verb and object normally go together. We do not usually put other words between the verb and the object.

  • I play football
  • He sees Jack
  • We eat apples

Study the following examples. Notice how the verb and the subject go together every time.

  • Do you watch television every night? (Not - Do you watch every night television?)
  • Our teacher speaks Spanish quickly (Not - Our teacher speaks quickly Spanish)
  • Everybody liked the match a lot (Not - Everybody liked a lot the match)

 

 

Place

Normally the verb and the place go together:

  • Walk to the park
  • Go home
  • Live in the centre

If the verb has an object, the place goes directly after the verb

  • Meet a friend in a restaurant
  • Take somebody to a bar

 

 

Time

when? how long? how often?

Usually goes after the "place".

  • We arrived home at ten o'clock
  • I have been in Madrid since June
  • Did you drive to work this morning?

Study the following examples. Notice how the place goes before the time:

  • I went to Madrid on Monday
  • We arrived at work three hours late
  • They didn't go to the zoo yesterday as it was too dark

It is sometimes possible to put the time at the beginning of the sentence:

  • On Monday I went to Madrid
  • Yesterday, they didn't go to the zoo as it was too dark

 

 

Some adverbs

probably, almost, never, usually, etc

This adverbs go with the verb in the middle of the sentence

  • I never smoke
  • We usually go to work by car

Here are some general rules as to the positioning of adverbs:

 

1. If the verb is one word (e.g. walk / speak / does, etc) the adverb usually goes before the verb.

Exception:

"have to". In this case adverbs go before "have to".

  • They often speak Spanish to each other
  • Children always have to do their homework.

 

2. Adverbs go after "am / is / are / were"

  • We are always hungry
  • They are never late

 

3. If the verb is two or more words (e.g. do smoke / can swim, etc) the adverb goes after the first verb.

  • Laura and Vicky have never been to America
  • Maria doesn't usually smoke

 

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