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Inverted Word Order: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:02 What Is Word Order?
  • 0:49 Inverted Word Order
  • 1:22 Examples
  • 3:57 More Examples
  • 5:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

In this lesson, the importance of word order in language you will learn. Does the previous sentence sound like something Yoda would say? It's an example of inverted word order. Learn about the purpose of inverted word and see some examples. Then, test your knowledge with a quiz.

What is Word Order?

The English language is full of hundreds of thousands usable words, all with one specific purpose: to communicate. That communication greatly depends not just on the words you use, but on the order in which you use them. Look at the following sentence:

  • Mom, I hope you're making dinner soon.

This is a clear statement indicating that you are hungry and will want food soon. This idea is communicated because the words make sense in the order in which they are said.

Now, look at this sentence using the same words:

  • Hope soon Mom dinner you're I making.

The same words are used, but now it is complete gibberish! Accurate word order is extremely important for communication to actually occur.

Inverted Word Order

In the example we just used, the first statement used normal word order. Normal word order occurs when the subject comes before the verb. The subject is the main person or object in a sentence and the verb is the action word. In that sentence, 'I' is the subject and 'hope' is the verb or the action.

Sometimes there are times when you must use inverted word order to communicate the intended idea. Inverted word order occurs when the subject comes after the verb, in between verb parts, or is not included at all.

Examples of Inverted Word Order

There are three situations where inverted word order is used. Let's look at some examples of those three situations:

Questions

  • Mom, you are making dinner soon.
  • Mom, are you making dinner soon?

What is the difference between these two sentences? They are communicating almost the exact same idea, but with one important difference. The second sentence is a question. Questions, for the most part, use inverted word order. In questions, the subjects come in between verb parts or after the verb. Look at the first sentence again:

  • Mom, you are making dinner soon.

What is the subject? Who is doing the action? You should see the word 'you' is the subject. What, then, is the verb? This sentence has two verbs working together: 'are making.' This phrase is the action. The subject comes before the action, so this is normal word order.

Now look at the question:

  • Mom, are you making dinner soon?

What is the subject and what is the verb? They are exactly the same as in the first sentence: 'you' and 'are making.' The difference here is that the word 'you' comes in between the two verb parts. This is inverted word order with the subject in between verb parts.

Commands

  • Turn off the television.
  • Drive to the store.

After reading those two sentences, did you notice what's different about them? Could you identify a verb? How about a subject? You should have been able to find the verbs 'turn' and 'drive.' Those are the action words. However, there are no subjects. These sentences are commands or words demanding some action. In many commands, the subject is not clearly stated. Instead, it is the implied subject, 'you.' This is an example of inverted word order with a missing subject.

Run across this field! I command you!
Summer

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