The Importance of Word Order in English
A monthly grammatical guide to help you build your English skills.

The Importance of Word Order in English

Mar 25, 2015

Word order refers to the way words are arranged in a sentence. The standard word order in English is: Subject + Verb + Object. To determine the proper sequence of words, you need to understand what the subject, verb and object(s) are.

Subject: typically a noun or pronoun—the person, place or thing
Verb: the action or state of being
Object: the word or group of words influenced by the verb

The sequence of words is critical when communicating in English because it can impact the meaning of what you’re trying to say. The sentence, “The chicken crossed the road” and “The road crossed the chicken” take on two different meanings because the subject and object are inverted. The same would be true if the verb was used out of order, for example: “Crossed the road the chicken.”

Here’s one for you to try. Choose the correct word order for the group of words below:

​A. Dropped the boy the ball.
B. The boy dropped the ball.
C. The ball dropped the boy.

If you chose option B, you would be correct. If not, consider listening to English conversations to help build your skills and pick up on these patterns. Do this often and you’ll be a word-order expert in no time! 

Think you’ve got the hang of it? See if you can organize the 12 statements in this Word Order Interview Activity>