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English is taught as a strict Subject–Verb–Object, but I have seen quite a few exceptions to this rule. I noticed that I really enjoy such exceptions; one of my favourite ones is this phrase:

– Off you go!

And off she went.

This probably can be understood as "moving a word to the beginning as a way to emphasise". In this case the Subject is right next to the opening word. Other examples of Subject having the second place would be (sorry, no good quotes come to mind in this hour, so I'm half-googling them, half-making these up and so may be making mistakes):

Usually I didn't wonder at all whether spaghetti could talk.

Rich as you may be, you can't buy sincere friends.

There're other possibilities, however, with the Verb remaining on the second place:

Seldom have I read such a good book.

Foolish were my attempts to contest the rule.

I thought this was just a matter of taste until learning German, in which you can move almost anything at the beginning of the sentence, provided that you always keep the Verb on the second place. Maybe there's a norm after all: what are the rules?

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Kris, anongoodnurse, FumbleFingers, Rory Alsop Jan 7 '14 at 9:25

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  • Not quite a "strict Subject–Verb–Object". So the question is a NARQ. – Kris Jan 6 '14 at 5:55
  • Well it's indeed taught as one, and if it's not quite that, I'd appreciate if you elaborated on that instead of dismissing the question. – valya Jan 6 '14 at 6:00
  • @EdwinAshworth thanks! That could be a good source of examples, but there's unfortunately no explanation for the particular choices – valya Jan 6 '14 at 6:01
  • English may, as you say, be taught as a strict S-V-O language, but I'd avoid those teachers claiming that it is. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 6 '14 at 6:02
  • Yes there is: SVO is the ground state. Deviations from this (and other norms) by syntactic rules are used to form variant clause and phrase types, to indicate focussed elements, to express emotions, and to improve parseability. Depending on the rules, of course. – John Lawler For a more detailed analysis, you need a decent book on grammar. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 6 '14 at 6:04

There is no common rule for deviation of Subject - Verb -Object rule. It depends on what type of sentence you are using/forming.E.g : Imperative, Interrogative, exclamatory are such examples where we do not use Subject - Verb -Object rule. Eg:Imperative sentence uses Verb - subject/object rule, Interrogative sentence uses Verb - Subject - Object rule.

  • And we're avoiding mentioning the role and distribution of auxiliaries. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 6 '14 at 12:16

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