Word Order - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability Verbal Notes | EduRev

IBPS Clerk Prelims - Study Material, Mock Tests

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Verbal : Word Order - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability Verbal Notes | EduRev

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Word order

Most English sentences (clauses) conform to the SVO word order. This means that the Subject comes before the Verb, which comes before the Object. Examples:

  1. I (S) bought (V) a new computer (O).
  2. She (S) doesn't like (V) dogs (O).
  3. Why did you (S) do (V) that (O)?

It is more complicated when an indirect object (I) is added to the sentence. In this case the word order depends a.) on whether the direct and indirect objects are nouns or pronouns, and b.) on whether the indirect object is preceded by the word to. Here are the basic rules:

Indirect object with to: SVOI

Two nouns

Two pronouns

Pronoun object/noun indirect object

I showed the computer to my friends.

I showed it to them.

I showed it to my friends.

She gave the present to her mother.

She gave it to her.

She gave it to her mother.

Indirect object without to: SVIO

Two nouns

Two pronouns

Noun object/pronoun indirect object

I showed my friends the computer.

I showed them it.

I showed them the computer

She gave her mother the present. She gave her it.

She gave her the present.

Many English sentences also contain adverbials. The problem for the English learner is that some adverbials can be located in different places within the sentence, while other adverbials must appear in one place only. For example, it is correct to say both: I very quickly did my homework .. and I did my homework very quickly .., but only I did my homework in a hurry ..is possible. I in a hurry did my homework .. is wrong.

Learners who want to get their English word order right should ask a native speaker. Alternatively, they can consult a good usage guide such as Swan's Modern English Usage or 'google' the sentence/clause.*

* For example, the learner might not know which of the following sentences contains the more normal word order: "a. I want to get this right .." or "b. I want to get right this ..". If he or she enters the words into Google, the results are: sentence a - 731 hits; sentence b - 0 hits. The correct choice is clear!

Example 1: Let's take up a sample problem and understand how solving Para-jumbles operates. Remember, we will learn some critical skills from this single problem. Go through the following set of sentences labeled A to F:

  • The book was Jonah Lehrer's how We Decide and the epiphany was that consciousness could reside in the brain.
  • He was a twenty-year-old philosophy major at Hamilton College.
  • In January 2010, while driving from Chicago to Minneapolis, Sam McNerney played an audio book and had an epiphany.
  • The quest for an empirical understanding of consciousness has long preoccupied neurobiologists.
  • The standard course work-ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophy-enthralled him.
  • But McNerney was no neurobiologist.

Which are these answer options?

  • DCAFBE
  • CAFDBE
  • CAFBED
  • CADFBE

Solution: In this case, the right answer is option 4. Let us look how?
The first observations we make for this question are:
Which are these answer options?

  • The pair 'BE' is present in every answer option. This is what option analysis is: picking out clues from the answer options. By not even reading the statements, we have managed to figure out one set of connected statements.
  • The second thing we learn from answer options is that the first sentence of the question is either D or C
  • All you need to do is read these two sentences and establish which forms the better opening for the given paragraph.

The next thing that you actually need to do is to establish connections between various statements. Look carefully at the highlighted sets of words in this case:

  • The book was Jonah Lehrer's how We Decide and the epiphany was that consciousness could reside in the brain.
  • He was a twenty-year-old philosophy major at Hamilton College.
  • In January 2010, while driving from Chicago to Minneapolis, Sam McNerney played an audio book and had an epiphany.
  • The quest for an empirical understanding of consciousness has long preoccupied neurobiologists.
  • The standard course work-ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophy-enthralled him.
  • But McNerney was no neurobiologist.
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