Star Wars may be the best thing that ever happened to Shakespeare. The speech patterns of Yoda the Jedi Master can help students get past one of the biggest obstacles in studying Shakespeare: the syntax. Yoda speaks “Galactic Basic” in his own peculiar dialect—sort of the Bible meets King Lear. The ancient Jedi plays around with the usual position of adjectives, adverbs, verbs, phrases, and complements.

In English, the most common word order is subject-verb followed by an adjective, adverb, complement, or phrase. Some examples include:

  • She is pretty. (predictive adjective)
  • We drove slowly. (adverb)
  • They play tennis. (direct object)
  • She is the supervisor. (predicate nominative)
  • We sailed across the lake. (prepositional phrase)

Yoda inverts the typical English syntax, saying things like, “Strong you are, Luke,” or “Into the mist sadly go I.” The unusual speech pattern has proven to be contagious. Young children who see the Star Wars films pick up on Yoda-speak immediately, saying things like, “Smart you are,” or “Fun it is.”

Inverted syntax is part of a grand literary tradition that need not be a stumbling block to modern readers. Reading comprehension boils down to recognizing speech patterns. Pointing out the parallels between “Yodish” (the official name) and other written patterns will give students the confidence to tackle classical literature. Here are some examples of inverted syntax from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

  • “Doubtful it stood, / As two spent swimmers, that do cling together / And choke their art.”
  • “Round about the cauldron go: / in the poison’d entrails throw.”
  • “The castle of Macduff I will surprise.”
  • “Near Birnam Wood / Shall we meet them; that way are they coming.”

Yoda’s speech pattern also appears in the English translation of Homer’s Iliad (“Proud is the spirit of Zeus-fostered kings”), and the King James Version of the Bible (“Of their flesh shall ye not eat”; “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.”).

George Lucas uses the poetic pattern to characterize Yoda as both ancient and wise. That a whole new audience exposed to reverse syntax finds it interesting and worthy of imitation attests to the power of poetic language.

Here are some more memorable Yoda quotes:

Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

  • “Agree with you, the council does. Your apprentice, Skywalker will be.”
  • “Always two there are, no more, no less: a master and an apprentice.”
  • “Need that, you do not.”

Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)

  • “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.”
  • “Begun the Clone War has.”
  • “Much to learn, you still have.”

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)

  • “To question, no time there is.”
  • “Twisted by the Dark Side, young Skywalker has become.”
  • “Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not.”
  • “Not if anything to say about it, I have.”

Star Wars Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

  • “Always in motion is the future.”
  • “Judge me by my size, do you?”
  • “Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things”

Star Wars Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

  • “Strong am I in the Force.”
  • “When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not.”

Star Wars Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)

  • “Oh, Skywalker, missed you I have.”
  • “Page turners, they are not.”
  • “The greatest teacher, failure is.”

Mary Jane McKinney is the creator and owner of, a publisher of grammar, style, and proofreading exercises that use sentences from literature. She is a former high school English teacher and dedicated grammarian whose column Plain English appears in several Texas newspapers. Search Prestwick House for the full line of Grammardog products.

This post originally appeared on Prestwick House’s Prestwick Café Blogspot.