Why is word Order Important?

Colin Young

Want to improve your English?  There are many methods and approaches one can take but here we will help you to discover the necessity and benefits of learning word order in English.

Word order is a key component to teaching English language students to form and create a grammatically correct sentence. Once a student has developed a basic vocabulary, word order and parts of the sentence should be taught to help students understand the basic building blocks of the English sentence.

The word order in the majority of English sentences is Subject-Verb-Object (SVO).  For example, in the sentence “I am eating cheese,” we begin with the subject, I, followed by the verb, am eating, and finally the object, cheese.  This basic sentence setup is crucial for students to understand as they try to formulate and arrange the necessary words in their head.

It is worth mentioning that, in order to teach word order, students must have the mental capacity and developmental abilities to understand the logic and reasoning behind learning the parts of the sentence.  Trying to teach a 3 year old what the difference between a subject and an object is would be a difficult, if not impossible challenge.  Students must be of an age and at a mental stage of life where they would be able understand the idea of dissecting and putting a sentence together systematically.

Once a student is able to analyse a sentence and make simple SVO sentences, they are ready to add more information and ideas to a sentence.  The next step would be to add an indirect object to a sentence after the verb but before the object, for example, “I gave him the cheese.” (SVioO)

We must further add additional information with an adverbial clause or adjunct.  This is not a necessary part of the sentence, but will tell us more information such as where, when or how something happens.  In our example, “I gave him the cheese this morning.” (Subject-Verb-iO-dO-Adv)

The five main patterns of the English sentence (see chart below) are an important aspect not only because it will help to bring logic to their learning, but also because the word order may vary greatly from their mother tongue (L1).

If we take Turkish for example, the basic word order in Turkish is not SVO, but rather SOV.  In Turkish, the sentence ‘ben peyniryirorum,’ would be translated in English as I cheese eating am.  This causes great difficulties for learners whose L1 has a different word order than English.  To make things even more difficult in Turkish (and Korean, Japanese, Finnish, Quechua, plus a few more languages), the subject at the beginning of the sentence can, and often is, left out entirely. The final verb morpheme, -orum, in Turkish infers not only that the verb is progressive, but that it is being done by the speaker (1st person, singular - um).

As we can see, there are many solid reasons to teach students word order as part of a comprehensive curriculum.  The students will be able to relate or differentiate from the order of their native tongue, they will be able to think logically about sentence structure, and it gives the teacher an added developmental and correction tool.

If you are having troubles organizing your sentences in English, if you are finding it challenging arranging your vocabulary into coherent phrases, then keep working on your word order.

Beyond our article today, we have included some links below to help you on your mission to improve word order.



Word Order Explained      http://linguapress.com/grammar/word-order.htm

Word Order Exercises      https://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar/word-order


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