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
(adverbs of manner)
|(in what way) e.g. quickly, slowly, clearly etc.|
(adverbs of place/time)
|e.g. here, there, now, then, recently, today, tomorrow, at once.|
|e.g. for, since, e.g. in a clear manner, in London, on Sunday, etc.|
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.