Lesson 3.2 SVOPT Word Order

3.2.1  Word order in a sentence in English is fairly strict compared to other languages. We often use SVOPT word order in a sentence:

This is the order in which English native speakers want to get their information. We generally want to know:

3.2.2  It is possible to put the time phrase first in the sentence, if you want to emphasise that piece of information:

However, it is better to start with the subject so that we establish WHO is doing the action first. We also get time information from the verb tense. For example, by using the past tense verb ‘ate’ we understand immediately that the action happened in finished time, in the past. This time information is sufficient until we get final confirmation of the exact time at the end of the sentence: ‘last night’.

3.2.3  However, changing the word order in other ways is not permitted in English. For example, the following sentences would be incorrect:

They just sound like jumbled up sentences, rather than English. It may be that the person listening can work out what you are saying because all the keywords are present and they are able to ‘unjumble’ them in their mind as you speak, but it makes a lot of extra work for your listener, who is rather expecting to hear the information presented in SVOPT order.

3.2.4  Not every verb has an object, so sometimes this part of SVOPT will be blank. They are called intransitive verbs. For example:

The verb ‘go’ does not have an object. It is intransitive, so the O part of SVOPT is blank.

3.2.5  Similarly, we do not need to include every part of SVOPT word order in every sentence. It is the order that is important and should be followed:

3.2.6  We can easily turn a SVOPT sentence into a compound sentence but using a conjunction such as:

Jenny ate a sandwich in the kitchen last night…


Ex. 3.2.1 Writing  Write 10 sentences with SVOPT word order. You don’t need to include an object each time:

Ex. 3.2.2 Writing  Complete the worksheets: make-a-sentence-with-svopt-word-order-1-4.

Ex. 3.2.3 Writing  Complete the worksheets: sentence-building-with-svopt-word-order-1-2.

Ex. 3.2.4 Writing  Complete the worksheet: practice-with-svopt-r-word-order.