The words in an English sentence are arranged in a certain order which is fixed for every type of sentence and is, therefore, meaningful. There exist two ways of arranging words —direct order and inverted order.
DIRECT WORD ORDER The most common pattern for the arrangement of the main parts in a declarative sentence is Subject-Predicate-(Object), promise to respect your wishes.
Direct word order is also employed in pronominal questions to the subject or its attribute.
Who told you where I was?
END-FOCUS AND END-WEIGHT there are two useful guiding principles to remember:
(a) End-focus: the new or most important idea in a piece of information should be placed towards the end, where in speech nuclear stress normally falls. A sentence is generally more effective (especially in writing) if the main point is saved up to the end. Babies prefer sleeping on their back.
(b) End-weight: the more 'weighty' part(s) of a sentence should be placed towards the end. Otherwise the sentence may sound awkward and unbalanced. The 'weight' of an element can be defined in terms of length (e.g. number of syllables) or in terms of grammatical complexity (number of modifiers). Structures with introductory it and there, for instance, allow to avoid having a long subject, and to put what you are talking about in a more prominent position at the end of the sentence.
It becomes hard for a child to develop a sense of identity.
ORDER AND EMPHASIS
English grammar has quite a number of sentence processes which help to arrange the message for the right order and the right emphasis. Because of the principle of end-focus and end-weight, the final position in a sentence or clause is, in neutral circumstances, the most important.
But the first position is also important for communication, because it is the starting point for what the speaker wants to say: it is (so to speak) the part of the sentence which is familiar territory in which the hearer gets his bearings. Therefore the first element in a sentence or clause is called the Topic (or Theme). Instead of the subject, you may make another element the topic by moving it to the front of the sentence (fronted topic). This shift, which is called fronting, gives the element a kind of psychological prominence, and has three different effects:
1) In informal conversation it is quite common for a speaker to front an element (particularly a complement) and give it nuclear stress: An utter fool I felt, too. (topic-complement2) Fronting also helps to point dramatically to a contrast between two things mentioned in the neighbouring sentences or clauses, which often have parallel structure: His face I am not fond of, but his character I despise, (topic-object)
3) The word this or these is often present in the fronted topic, showing that it contains given information. This type of fronting is found in more formal, especially written English and serves the function of linking the sentence to the previous text. Besides fronting there are other ways of giving prominence to this or that part of the sentence:
1) cleft sentences (it-type) The cleft sentence construction with emphatic it is useful for putting focus (usually for contrast) on a particular part of a sentence expressed by a noun (group), a prepositional phrase, and an adverb of time or place, or even by a clause. It was from France that she first heard the news. 2) cleft sentences (wh-type) The wh-type is useful for putting focus on the verb, by using the substitute do:
3) wh-clauses with demonstratives It is a common type of sentence in English which is similar to wh-cleft sentences. This is how you start the engine.
4) auxiliary do You can emphasize a statement by putting do, does, or did in front of the base form of the verb. I do feel sorry for Roger.
5) the passive Passive constructions vary the way information is given in a sentence. The passive can be used: —for end-focus
—for end-weight where the subject is a clause I was astonished that he was prepared to give me a job.
—for emphasis on what comes first
All roads to the north have been blocked by snow.
There are three kinds of inversion:
1. grammatical ( in questionsIs he at home?In conditional clauses introduced asyndeticallyHad he gone to her aid he would only have got himself caught)
2. communicative ( to provide the final position in the sentence for the communicatively most important part) - in sentences with the introductory there
- in sentences beginning with adverbial modif.
- in sentences beginning with so or neither
3. emphatic - in sent. Beginning the words having a negative or restrictive meaning (never had he spoken with a more fiery eloquence)
- in sent. Begin. With a predicative, adverbial of manner or direction.