Order: Adverbs & Adjectives
meaning of highlighted words is explained at the end of the
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
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 can go at the beginning of a sentence, at the end, or
before the verb:
raised her hand.
Sarah raised her hand quickly.
Sarah quickly raised
other words we never put the adverb between the verb and its
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 happily raised her
Sarah raised her hand happily.
OF FREQUENCY (always,
usually, generally, frequently, often, sometimes, seldom,
occasionally, rarely, never) go
before the verb .
sometitnes raises her hand.
OF DEFINITE TIME
at the beginning or the end of a sentence.
e.g. Yesterday Sarah raised her hand
Sarah raised her
placed at the end of sentences.
e.g. He read the poem
NORMAL ORDER OF ADVERBS is
MANNER (how?) - PLACE
(where?) - TIME (when?);
e.g. Sarah raised her hand quickly
in class yesterday
raised her hand in class yesterday.
adverbs (or adverbial phrases) of time are also often placed at
the beginning of the sentences for clarity. e.g.:
Sarah raised her hand quickly in class.
>> is usually used mid-position (i.e. before the main verb).
e.g. Are you
talking about that?
still can't decide which
dress to buy or
It's still snowing..
is placed at the end of the
e.g. Has she arrived
haven't seen "American Psycho" yet.
is usually placed before the main verb.
has already finished the course.
for emphasis it can be placed at the end of the sentence;
has finished the course already!
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.
quite a beautiful city.
>> can be used before or after the article if there is an
That's rather a good idea or
a rather good idea.
>> in spoken English, really at the beginning or the end of a
sentence makes a sentence more hesitant (expressing doubt, unsure)
and less strong.
should have said that,
can be placed before the auxiliary verb to make a sentence more
really don't like him or He really
the work in this office.
>> if a sentence begins with
here, the verb comes before the
subject (unless the subject is a pronoun).
e.g. Here comes John!
Adjectives usually go before the noun they describe. When there
are several adjectives the order is:
general or subjective adjectives; (e.g. pretty, nice).
e.g. She wore a beautiful,
>> more specific and objective adjectives; (e.g. colours,
styles, nationalities and nouns used as adjectives). e.g. An
old carved wooden table;
A long boring technical
unbelievable ghost story.
If two adjectives are
EQUALLY EXACT, we put the shorter one
e.g. a quiet intelligent woman.
Remember: ENOUGH can qualify a noun or an adjective, and
comes before nouns and after adjectives.
haven't got enough money
big enough for all of us?
e.g. The baby isnt big
for the bed.
Word Order of Objects
indirect object is usually placed before the direct object.
e.g. They gave the camels water.
if the indirect object is much longer than the direct object, the
order is reversed.
e.g. They gave water to the thirsty
some verbs the indirect object
has to be used after the direct
object. These are: explain,
e.g. They announced the name
of the winner
to the expectant
how, so and
adjective comes before the indefinite article (a, an), if there is
e.g. It was so warm a day that we
(= 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.
lift, put high in the air (e.g. when a child wants to answer a
question in class)
carved: cut into
an artistic shape