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In school I was taught to write sentences, with 'I/me' or any other pronoun first-person or not, always being at the beginning of a sentence like so:

僕はリンゴがダサいと思います。

Yet I frequently see sentences on this site and in "real-world Japanese" as:

リンゴがダサいと僕は思います。

*Note: the above are sentences created by myself so they may not be entirely grammatical but real world examples will follow

What I have noted is that in some cases it alleviates the need for certain particles such as this answer to a different grammar question I found on this site:

彼女のことをバカだと僕は思っている。

Whereas I would have written it as:

僕は彼女のことがバカだと思っている。

I would be most grateful to anyone willing to explain if there are rules to this sort of grammar, am I using it correctly? (probs not) and whether or not it changes the meaning to the sentence in any way

Thank you kindly

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Word order is less important in Japanese than in English, because Japanese uses particles (が, は, を, etc) to indicate the role of each word in a sentence. This makes Japanese very flexible in terms of word order:

There is an "ordinary" word order ("subject-object-verb" or SOV), which you have to respect when you learn to write good Japanese sentences. In your case, 僕はリンゴがダサいと思います is the normal word order which you should firstly get used to. However, in real-life conversations, especially in casual ones, you may encounter sentences in loose word order. リンゴがダサいと僕は思います feels a little less organized, but is still perfectly acceptable in speech. Actually, even ダサいと思いますリンゴが僕は still makes perfect sense, and sounds even realistic to me. You should not try to make such sentences intentionally, but eventually you may have to interpret such sentences correctly.

Next, AをBと思う, AをBだと思う and AがBだと思う are basically interchangeable. Your last attempt looks equally natural. For details, please read the following discussions:

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