English Word Order – The order of words in the English sentence

The order of words in the English sentenceThis article focuses on the order of words in the English sentence. The article gives the examples and demonstrates the proper positions of each part of a sentence.

Direct Word Order

English sentences have direct word order which is rather strict. In synthetic languages you can shuffle sentence parts thanks to cases. English as an analytical language has no such category thus making sentence parts correlated.

English word order has the following formula: (M-)S-P-O-M.

After a subject comes a predicate.

We speak.

Objects if any go after a predicate.

We speak English.

Modifiers if any usually end sentences.

We speak English together.



English word order turns inverted in questions. Interested questions are also pronounced with rising intonation. In inversion a subject and predicate change their places.

So general English questions begin with verbs – a predicate or its helping verb if the predicate is complex: P-S-O-M?

Do we speak English together?


Inversion is neglected in Americanized colloquial speech:

You’re sure?


Inversion is also used in following emphasis (emotionalization). Emphasis may be expressed by exclamation or inversion.

Agreement Inversion

– after so/nor/neither (meaning «also not»):

We don’t know French. Neither do you.

You can’t watch this happen. Nor can I.

– I’m fond of soccer. – So am I.

It equals “not…either” with direct word order:

We don’t know French. You don’t know it either.



Adverbial Inversion


– after as (similarity), so/such (degree), here:

The minister condemned the act, as did the President.

So excited were the pupils that they couldn’t stop fidgeting.

Such was her ecstasy that screamed around.

Here comes the lunch break.

– after never, rarely/seldom:

Never have I read such an exciting book.

Rarely can you see such a strange animal in real.

Seldom does she come out of herself.


– after hardly/scarcely/no sooner (sequence):


Hardly had I looked at the exam paper when I understood its difficulty.

Scarcely did they say “Oops!”

No sooner had we entered the room than we saw the mess.


– after no, only, little (time/place modifiers):


In no way can this be done better.

At no time did we come to the right conclusion.

Only there did we feel at home.

Little do you know about life!



Conditional Inversion

– after had, were, should:

Had I known how much it cost, I’d have brought extra money.

Were I in your shoes, I’d run straight away.

Should you see Tom, give him my best regards.