Word-Order Developments

Although syntactic relations of Old English were mostly indicated by inflections, studies illustrate that word order is established as a grammatical device before the loss of inflections. In the Old English Period, the formation of a sentence was restricted by a verb-second constraint for example, which means that the finite verb always occurred after the first constituent of the sentence. The gradual loss of inflections entailed the necessity for both a fixed word order and prepositions that took on the task of relation indicators. As early as the mid-fifteenth century, the verb-medial pattern of subject-verb-object (SVO) became customary in declarative sentences.

With regard to stylistic developments in the syntactic structures of Early Modern English, exemplary sentences by Caxton and Malory show that they tend to be loose and linear with repeated and or then coordination, and a limited amount of subordination, mostly introduced by which and ''that.

In the sixteenth century, authors attempted to imitate Latin syn-tax, gradually favoring Cicero’s way of designing complex subordination. Apart from the usage of conjunctions (such as because and for (that)), participial constructions contributed to the formation of long sentence constructions. Even if the imitation of Latin models seemed to be unprofessional at first, finally works like Paradise Lost by John Milton show the result of a development, that authors had to pass through.