Read the word order rules and tendencies and then try the practice exercise.
Rules and Tendencies
- For expressions of time and place, the order is subject + verb + object + place + time.
I write my reports at my desk every morning. (subject/verb/object/place/time)
Kate swims laps in the pool every night. (subject/verb/object/place/time)
- We put adverbs of frequency before the main verb or after the verb to be.
Adverbs of frequency include always, usually, normally, generally, often, sometimes, never. Sometimes is an exception — it can also be placed at the beginning of a sentence.
John often gets to work early.
John is often here early.
Sometimes John gets to work early.
John sometimes gets to work early.
- We don’t normally put an adverb between a verb and its object.
I like English a lot.
I like a lot English.
- Some questions have prepositions at the end of clauses.
Where are you from?
What school did you go to?
What was the meeting about?
- The subject and verb must be inverted in a variety of situations. See this explanation from about.com.
Every sentence has a common word order mistake that English language learners make. Write the correct word order of the sentence in the blanks. More than one answer may be possible.
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1. Rebecca was all morning stuck in traffic.CorrectIncorrect
Rebecca was stuck in traffic all morning.
2. I like more Macs than PC’s.CorrectIncorrect
I like Macs more than PC’s.
3. Already I’ve finished the project.CorrectIncorrect
I’ve already finished the project.
I’ve finished the project already.
4. I worked for six months in Paris.CorrectIncorrect
I worked in Paris for six months.
5. Could you tell me what time is the meeting?CorrectIncorrect
Could you tell me what time the meeting is?
6. I go sometimes to the gym after work.CorrectIncorrect
I sometimes go to the gym after work.
Sometimes I go to the gym after work.
7. I never am productive at night.CorrectIncorrect
I am (I’m) never productive at night.
8. I started last week working on a new assignment.CorrectIncorrect
Last week I started working on a new assignment.
I started working on a new assignment last week.
9. For who are you waiting?CorrectIncorrect
Who are you waiting for?
Also For whom are you waiting? (formal, not common in spoken English)
10. About what was the argument?CorrectIncorrect
What was the argument about?
11. Carla finished at home the project.CorrectIncorrect
Carla finished the project at home.
12. We started offering last week a new course.CorrectIncorrect
Last week we started offering a new course.
We started offering a new course last week.
13. Scott created at work the document.CorrectIncorrect
Scott created the document at work.
14. Who works normally the night shift?CorrectIncorrect
Who normally works the night shift?
15. With who did you work?CorrectIncorrect
Who did you work with?
16. To who did you speak?CorrectIncorrect
Who did you speak to?
Also To whom did you speak? (formal, not common in spoken English)
17. Even I didn’t have time to eat lunch today.CorrectIncorrect
I didn’t even have time to eat lunch today.
Additional word order exercises from around the web: