Word order is important in English. It tells us who the subject or the object of the sentence is. Getting this wrong may change the meaning of a sentence.

For example, the meaning of “I invite you” is different to “you invite me”.

Here’s the formula (for positive sentences):

subjectverbindirect objectdirect objectplace time
I will tellyouthe storyat worktomorrow.

I often get this mistake, “I was in Leipzig shopping”. In English, this is wrong. The main verb comes before place. The correct form is, “I was shopping in Leipzig”. Subject-Verb-Indirect Object.

Another very common mistake among my German students is, “He played yesterday football”. They translate word for word from German, but you have to remember that time comes at the end of a sentence in English (or at the beginning, sometimes). The correct word order is, “He played football yesterday”. Subject-Verb-Direct Object-Time.

The only way you’re going to learn word order in English is by practicing. Whenever you read a text in English, pay attention to the order of words. Where is the verb? Who is the main subject? Where does the action take place? The more you practice, the easier it will become.

Activity

What is the correct word order of the following sentences:

  1. I will go tomorrow to the store.
  2. The news I will tell you later.
  3. We fly at 11:30 to Spain.
  4. I give 5 euros to him.
  5. You passed the ball to me.

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