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of languages
SOV "She him loves." 45% 45
Pashto, Latin, Japanese, Afrikaans
SVO "She loves him." 42% 42
English, Hausa, Mandarin, Russian
VSO "Loves she him." 9% 9
Biblical Hebrew, Irish, Filipino, Tuareg
VOS "Loves him she." 3% 3
Malagasy, Baure
OVS "Him loves she." 1% 1
Apalaí?, Hixkaryana?
OSV "Him she loves." 0% Warao

Frequency distribution of word order in languages
surveyed by Russell S. Tomlin in 1980s.[1][2]

In linguistic typology, a verb–object–subject or verb–object–agent language – commonly abbreviated VOS or VOA – is one in which the most-typical sentences arrange their elements in that order: "Ate oranges Sam."

Commonly cited examples include Austronesian languages (such as Malagasy, Old Javanese, Toba Batak and Fijian) and Mayan languages (such as Tzotzil). However, these have either (mixed) ergative or Austronesian alignment, and as such do not have a subject as it has been traditionally defined. Among languages with true subjects, in Hadza the word order VOS is extremely common, but is not the default, which is VSO.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Introducing English Linguistics International Student Edition by Charles F. Meyer
  2. ^ Russell Tomlin, "Basic Word Order: Functional Principles", Croom Helm, London, 1986, page 22