FCE Grammar Revision

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Word Order: Adverbs & Adjectives

 

The meaning of highlighted words is explained at the end of the passage.

We depend heavily on word order because there are so few inflections in English. In fact, as inflections have gradually disappeared over the centuries, word order has become more and more rigid. For instance, there is a great difference in meaning between "Happily she died." and, "She died happily."

Simple English sentences use the sequence SUBJECT-VERB-COMPLEMENT (e.g. Sarah raised her hand). However, word order becomes more complicated as other elements are added to a sentence. This article intends to clarify, the main areas of difficulty for learners.  

Adverbs

Adverbs can go at the beginning of a sentence, at the end, or before the verb:

Quickly Sarah raised her hand.
Sarah raised her hand
quickly.
Sarah quickly raised her hand.
   

  • In other words we never put the adverb between the verb and its object.

  • ADVERBS OF MANNER go before the verb (IF THE ADVERB IS ONLY ONE WORD) or at the end of the sentence and after the verb "to be". BEFORE THE VERB means "before the main verb but after the auxiliary verb", if one is used. Nearly all adverbs ending -ly are adverbs of manner.
    e.g.: She was never happy at home.
    e.g. Sarah hap
    pily raised her hand    or   Sarah raised her hand happily.

  • ADVERBS OF FREQUENCY (always, usually, generally, frequently, often, sometimes, seldom, occasionally, rarely, never) go before the verb . 
    e.g. Sarah
    sometitnes raises her hand. 

  • ADVERBS OF DEFINITE TIME go at the beginning or the end of a sentence.
    e.g. Yesterday Sarah raised her hand
       or   Sarah raised her hand
    yesterday.

  • EVALUATING ADVERBS are placed at the end of sentences.
    e.g.
    He read the poem well  
    or    I like this coffee very much.

  • The NORMAL ORDER OF ADVERBS is MANNER (how?) - PLACE (where?) - TIME (when?);
    e.g. Sarah raised her hand
    quickly in class yesterday 
      or
         
    Sarah quickly raised her hand in class yesterday.  

However, adverbs (or adverbial phrases) of time are also often placed at the beginning of the sentences for clarity. e.g.: Yesterday Sarah raised her hand quickly in class.   

Some Specific Adverbs

STILL >> is usually used mid-position (i.e. before the main verb).
e.g. Are
you still talking about that?   or
       I still can't decide which dress to buy   or    
       It's still snowing..


YET >> is placed at the end of the sentence.
e.g.
Has she arrived yet?   or   I haven't seen "American Psycho" yet.

ALREADY >> is usually placed before the main verb.
e.g. She
has already finished the course

However, for emphasis it can be placed at the end of the sentence;
e.g. S
he has finished the course already! 

QUITE >> if quite is followed by a noun, it usually goes before the article.
e.g. It
was quite a good film, but I'm not sure
you would like it.
e.g. Paris is quite a beautiful city.

RATHER >> can be used before or after the article if there is an adjective.
e.g.
That's rather a good idea    or  
That's a rather good idea. 

REALLY >> in spoken English, really at the beginning or the end of a sentence makes a sentence more hesitant (expressing doubt, unsure) and less strong.
e.g.
I don't think you should have said that, really. 

Really can be placed before the auxiliary verb to make a sentence more emphatic.
e.g. I really don't like him   or   He really has improved the work in this office.
 

HERE >> if a sentence begins with here, the verb comes before the subject (unless the subject is a pronoun). e.g. Here comes John!     but   Here he comes! 

 

Adjectives

Adjectives usually go before the noun they describe. When there are several adjectives the order is:

  • FIRST >> more general or subjective adjectives; (e.g. pretty, nice).
    e.g. She wore a be
    autiful, golden costume.

  • LAST >> more specific and objective adjectives; (e.g. colours, styles, nationalities and nouns used as adjectives). e.g. An exquisite, old carved wooden table; A long boring technical book; An unbelievable ghost story

  • If two adjectives are EQUALLY EXACT, we put the shorter one first.
    e.g. a quiet intelligent woman.

Remember: ENOUGH can qualify a noun or an adjective, and comes before nouns and after adjectives.
e.g.
I haven't got enough money    
or    Is your car big enough for all of us?
e.g.
The baby isnt big enough for the bed.

Word Order of Objects

  • The indirect object is usually placed before the direct object.
    e.g. They ga
    ve the camels water.
       

  • However, if the indirect object is much longer than the direct object, the order is reversed.
    e.g.
    They gave water to the thirsty Indian camels.

  • With some verbs the indirect object has to be used after the direct object. These are: explain, describe, announce, introduce, suggest, propose and say.
    e.g. They announced the na
    me of the winner to the expectant people.

  • After as, how, so and too, the adjective comes before the indefinite article (a, an), if there is one.
    e.g. It was so war
    m a day that we went swimming (= It was such a warm day .. ).

    e.g.
    However well-trained your dog may be, you cannot bring him into the restaurant.
    e.g. It was too generous an offer
    for me to refuse
    (= reject, not accept).
    e.g. So superstitious were they that
    (they) always touched wood everywhere.

Glossary
raised: lift, put high in the air (e.g. when a child wants to answer a question in class)
carved: cut into an artistic shape

 

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