|SOV||"She him loves."||45%||Pashto, Latin, Japanese, Afrikaans|
|SVO||"She loves him."||42%||English, Hausa, Mandarin, Russian|
|VSO||"Loves she him."||9%||Hebrew, Irish, Zapotec, Tuareg|
|VOS||"Loves him she."||3%||Malagasy, Baure|
|OVS||"Him loves she."||1%||Apalaí?, Hixkaryana?|
|OSV||"Him she loves."||0%||Warao|
In linguistic typology, a verb–subject–object (VSO) language is one in which the most typical sentences arrange their elements in that order, as in Ate Sam oranges (Sam ate oranges). VSO is the third-most common word order, after SVO (as in Standard Average European) and SOV (as in Latin and Japanese).
Examples of languages with VSO word order include Semitic languages (including Arabic, Classical Hebrew, and Ge'ez (Classical Ethiopic)), and Celtic languages (including Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton).
Other families where all or many of the languages are VSO include the following
- the Afroasiatic languages (including the Berber languages and the Egyptian language)
- the Mayan languages (including Classic Maya)
- the Otomanguean languages (including Zapotec languages and Mixtecan languages)
- the Salishan languages
- the Austronesian languages (including Tagalog, Cebuano, Hawaiian, Pangasinan, Māori, Malagasy, and Tongan).
Both the Spanish and Greek language resemble Semitic languages such as Arabic in allowing for both VSO and SVO structures: e.g. "Jesús vino el jueves" / Vino Jesús el jueves, "Tu madre dice que no vayas"/"dice tu madre que no vayas".
Formal Arabic is an example of a language that uses VSO. For example:
|Sentence||يقرأ المدرس الكتاب|
|Transliteration||yaqraʼu l-mudarrisu l-kitāba|
|Gloss||reads||the teacher||the book|
|Translation||The teacher reads the book|
|Sentence||...וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה|
|Romanization of Hebrew||Vayidaber YHWH el-Moshe...|
|Translation||And YHWH spoke to Moses...|
^* Words in Hebrew, as in Arabic, are written from right to left.
In Welsh, some tenses use simple verbs, which are found at the beginning of the sentence followed by the subject and any objects. An example of this is the preterite:
|Sentence||Siaradodd Aled y Gymraeg.|
|Translation||Aled spoke Welsh.|
Other tenses may use compound verbs, where the conjugated form of, usually, bod (to be) precedes the subject and other verb-nouns come after the subject. Any objects then follow the final verb-noun. This is the usual method of forming the present tense:
|Sentence||Mae Aled yn siarad y Gymraeg.|
|Words||Mae||Aled||yn siarad||y Gymraeg|
|Translation||Aled speaks Welsh.|
Inversion into VSO
There are many languages that switch from SVO (subject–verb–object) order to VSO order with different constructions, usually for emphasis. For example, sentences in English poetry can sometimes be found to have a VSO order, and Early Modern English explicitly reflects the VSO order that in modern English has been made implicit by the suppression of the imperative's (now merely understood) subject (for example, contrast "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" with modern "Gather rosebuds while you may"). Arabic sentences use an SVO order or a VSO order depending on whether the subject or the verb is more important. In Biblical Hebrew a sentence can be in SVO order if it is in past perfect tense, since Biblical Hebrew has no helper verbs. Also, Arabic sentences use a VOS order, the construction of the word changing depending on whether it is a subject or an object.
The North Germanic languages invert word order to VSO in questions as well, (ex: Spiste du maten? - Ate you the food?) but there are also many circumstances, such as an expression preceding the subject and verb, and when using the preterite form of a verb (ex: Igår leste (V) jeg (S) boka (O) - Yesterday read I the book), where the order is also VSO.
- Category:Verb–subject–object languages
Notes and references
- Introducing English Linguistics International Student Edition by Charles F. Meyer
- Russell Tomlin, "Basic Word Order: Functional Principles", Croom Helm, London, 1986, page 22