How to learn word order in English

How do we learn the correct word order in the English language?

If you are making a presentation at work or in school, this would be an excellent skill to fine-tune.   Your audience will understand your intent even if you don’t have the correct word order, but you would feel more proud of your English mastery if you did.   And it can be learned in ways that feel natural.

Observe and Imitate

One of these ways is to observe and imitate what you read.   Find a book with a writing style that you like.   A style that you would like to use in your writing or in your speech.   Then take just one paragraph and observe the word order in the sentences.   Observe the patterns.   Then go back to the first sentence and start substituting all the nouns, then all the verbs, then all the other parts of speech.  Do this even if the sentences do not make sense.   Your purpose is to practice the patterns.    You can read more details about this here.

Listen to conversations of native English speakers

Another way you can learn word order is by listening to native English speakers.    You can do this while you are driving.   Turn on the radio or listen to an audio book.  Do the same thing you did in the first technique.   The reason why this is valuable is because the most effective learning involves more of our senses.  Even though there are visual learners, audio learners, and kinesthetic learners, we probably use more than one learning style.   We may have a primary preference, but we still use other means to learn.   You can read more suggestions on how to use this method here.

How learning attitude affects effectiveness

Learning attitude may not be a method, but it will affect the effectiveness of your learning.  Educational systems in some countries put more emphasis on memorizing and studying to pass exams.   I notice that these students tend to put more pressure on themselves when they are learning English.   Applying the grammar or the vocabulary that they have learned feels less spontaneous.   I could see them searching in their memory bank for the correct expression.   This slows down their spontaneous conversation.

You cannot prepare yourself for a chat.   You don’t know what the person will say next, or how you would like to respond.  If you feel the need to speak correctly using the right vocabulary or word order, you can potentially lose the other person’s interest in the conversation.  I have seen this a number of times in discussions.


By observing instead of remembering the correct way, you will familiarize yourself with the natural flow of language as used by native speakers.  As you practice the techniques above, using the correct word order in English will feel more natural to you.   Give yourself time to not be perfect right away.   Give yourself as much time as you need.   When there is no pressure, learning is enjoyable.   And when you are relaxed, you can absorb much more information.

Here is the link to the full article by Estrella Chan.


Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a session with her, please email

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