sentence structure (1): basic word order

1. subject - verb - object/complement
In an affirmative sentence, the subject normally comes before the verb; objects or complements come after the verb.
Example:
Ann smiles.
My father likes dogs.
Eric is a doctor.
In a few affirmative structures the verb can come before the subject (example: So can I, In came Mrs. Parker)

2. preparatory it and there
When the subject or object is an infinitive phrase or clause, we often put it at the end of a sentence, and use it as a preparatory subject or object
Example:
It's difficult "to understand what he wants".
She made "it clear that she disagreed".
"There" can be a preparatory subject for an indefinite expression.
Example:
"There"" is "a big spider" in the bath.

3. direct and indirect objects

The indirect object follows the direct object when it is formed with the preposition to:
The indirect object comes in front of the direct object if to is omitted.
Examples:
1.The doctor gave some medicine to the child.
or: The doctor gave the child some medicine.
2. She sent "the nurse some flowers". or She sent "some flowers to the nurse".

4. questions: auxiliary before subject
Questions normally have the order auxiliary verb - subject - main verb.
Examples:
Have you seen Andrew?
Where was she going?
Did Mary phone?
Indirect questions have the subject before the verb.
Example:
Do you know where she was going?

5. negatives: auxiliary + not
Examples: The train did not stop. (NOT The train stopped not.)
- Negative questions: Ex. Why didn't she come? / Why did she not come?

6. adjectives before nouns
adjectives + noun
Examples: an interesting book difficult questions

7. adverbs: possible positions
Different adverbs can go in different places in a sentence: at the beginning, with the verb, or at the end.
Examples: 'Suddenly' i had a terrible thought.
The children had 'probably' gone home.
I was playing 'badly'.
An adverb cannot normally come between a verb and its object.
Example:
I 'like mushrooms' very much. (NOT I like very much mushrooms.)
8. subordinate clauses (after...., if...., because..., etc.)
Adverbial subordinate clauses (beginning for example, after, before, when, while, if, because) can usually come either before or after the rest of the sentence.
Example: 'After I left school' I spent a year in China. (OR I spent a year in China after I left school.)
9. prepositions: in what.../ what...in
In an informal style, a preposition can be separated from its object in certain structures.
Compare: In what hotel did the President stay? (formal)
What hotel did the President stay in? (informal)
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