Word Order

Writers can craft the best sentences when using effective word order. Word order may seem like a trivial part of the writing process, but consider an extreme instance of unfamiliar word order, such as Yoda’s dialogue in Star Wars (Yoda is the character in Star Wars who always inverts his word order).

When nine-hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not. (Yoda)

What has happened here? Yoda has inverted his word order, placing the verbs before the subjects and making the listener sit up and take notice in order to comprehend the idea.

Yoda actually means:

When you reach nine-hundred years old, you will not look as good (as I do).

Inverting word order can be a clever technique to get the reader’s attention, but only when done well and done sparingly. Playing with word order is particularly useful when writing poetry, but not so much in an academic essay.

Yoda’s inverted word order speech may work well in the movies, but deciphering his meaning by untangling his word order to better assimilate to the English language could be tiresome after a while. Word order can be crucial when deciphering meaning, as can be seen by the “only” example below. Moving the word “only” around completely shifts the meaning of the sentence.