Skip to Main Content

Writing Style

Word Order (~)

Common Word Order in English 

In general, simple sentences in English begin with a subject (s), followed by a verb (v) and then an object (o) which has the action applied to it .

ex. Aisha is a girl.   Aisha = subject; is = verb; girl = object 

Questions have the word order reversed: Is Aisha a girl?

Different sentence types like compound and complex sentences add phrases and clauses to a simple sentence. 

Common Errors With Word Order

The order of words determines the meaning of a sentence, so a word in the wrong place can change or confuse your intended meaning.

The most common mistakes with word order are with adverbs (modifying words or phrases around verbs).

Example with Error: I usually do not focus on mistakes.
Example with Correction: I do not usually focus on mistakes.

Another common error is word order and adjectives.

In a sentence, adjectives modify the noun. We can use multiple adjectives in a sentence, but they need to be a) separated by commas and b) follow the correct order based on their function:

1. quantity (1, 2)

2. opinion (good, bad)

3. size (big, small)

4. condition or quality (hot, cold)

5. shape (round, flat)

6. age (young, old)

7. colour (black, red)

8. pattern (striped, polka-dotted)

9.origin (Canadian, Qatari)

10. material (glass, wood)

11. type (boxed, empty)

12. purpose (sleeping, cooking)

Ex.  The nice (2), short (3), young (6), Somali (9) girl said hello to us. 

Ex. The man drove an big (3), old (6), black, (7) scratched, (8) Toyota (9) farm (12) truck.

Ex. The present was in pretty (2), colourful ,(7) sparkly (8), wrapping (12) paper.

note: in general, use no more than 3 adjectives before a noun.


This video is 8-minutes long and explains word order for adjectives.

Oxford Online English. (2016, April 22). Adjective order in English - English grammar lesson [Video]. YouTube.

More Information

Word order in English