It only works with pronoun objects. «Я человека вижу» or «Я твою маму вижу» would already require justification because the word order is strained. «Я его вижу» or «Я её вижу» require none.
I read an excellent post by some user on this forum explaining how this generally works in Russian in simple terms. There are some pretty rigid rules like putting prepostions before nouns or adjectives before nouns they modify (with poetry as the main exception). The order of the blocks you build you sentence from is rather flexible—still, there is a neutral, generic word order that does not express much.
Deviations from a typical neutral word order create tension. If you know what you are doing, in the flow of conversation you can use that to your advantage, making your message clearer and more powerful. Or you may confuse the listener by emphasising random places that don't lead anywhere.
Here is an example. Let's assume I eat apples but don't much like oranges and want to connect «Я ем яблоки» and «Я не ем апельсины» into a single sentence. First, the most neutral and obvious ways to do that:
- Я ем яблоки и не ем апельсины.
- Я ем яблоки, но не ем апельсины.
It sounds like a bland list of things you do and do not do. Too bland, even. Now, since we already established "I eat" as the topic of the first half, why not switch to "oranges" as a topic to make my "I don't like" a more emphasised message ("as for oranges—nope, I don't eat these")?
Yeah, we can do that and it sounds perfectly natural. The first half of the sentence is already good enough justification to place more contrast on "don't eat":
- Я ем яблоки, а апельсины не ем.
- Я ем яблоки, а вот апельсины не ем.
- Я ем яблоки, а апельсины — нет.
Now imagine someone asked you why you brought a few pounds of apples but no bananas or, say, oranges. In such a situation your explanation may use the flexibility of Russian word order even further:
- Потому что яблоки я ем, а апельсины — нет. = Because I eat apples and do not eat oranges.
Our course usually goes from the most common to the most specific word orders when considering with options we should and should not accept. We should draw the line SOMEWHERE lest you think they are all equivalent rephrasings. The translations may not seem 100% consistent when they are a few steps from failure but most common options are routinely included everywhere.
Whoa, that's a great explanation, спасибо!
I think it's great that the course doesn't jump into these specific word orders too soon, so don't worry. Once we engage with native speakers, we'll start to make more sense of all these grammatical constructions. So far it's good for us beginners to focus on the simplest sentences (that's the reason why I asked my question here in the first place).