Word order in English and Dutch

Many Dutch writing business English struggle with English sentence structure. There is a simple rule to remember when structuring a sentence:

SUBJECT – VERB – OBJECT – MANNER – PLACE – TIME

or: S – V – O – M – P – T

  • SUBJECT + VERB + OBJECT + ADVERB OR ADVERBIAL PHRASEExample: I play tennis badly.
    Nothing must be put between the verb and the object.
  • Place comes before time
    SUBJECT + VERB + OBJECT + PLACE + TIMEExamples:
    You shouldn’t go to bed at 11.30 p.m.
    I will be there on Monday.
  • Manner usually comes before place and time
How?
(adverbs of manner)
(in what way) e.g. quickly, slowly, clearly etc.
Where/when?
(adverbs of place/time)
e.g. here, there, now, then, recently, today, tomorrow, at once.
How long?
Adverbial phrases
e.g. for, since, e.g. in a clear manner, in London, on Sunday, etc.

Emphasis

Seems easy right? You might however still struggle with this rule. After applying it and reading the sentence again it still does not feel right. Why?

Read the following example:
Nederlands: ‘Om het proces te versnellen vergaderen we van 9 tot 10.’
English ‘We are meeting from 9 to 10 to speed up the process.’

What do you see? The emphasis is different: in English the less important/ given information comes first followed by the most important/ new information.

Please note: The role of linking words is crucial in this, because they make the sentences flow.

 

 

Geschreven door: Marian
^

taal- en cultuurtrainer voor zakelijk succes