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of languages
SOV "She him loves." 45% 45
Proto-Indo-European, Sanskrit, Hindi, Ancient Greek, Latin, Japanese
SVO "She loves him." 42% 42
English, French, Hausa, Indonesian, Malay, Mandarin, Russian
VSO "Loves she him." 9% 9
Biblical Hebrew, Arabic, Irish, Filipino, Tuareg-Berber, Welsh
VOS "Loves him she." 3% 3
Malagasy, Baure, Proto-Austronesian
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."

Use in languages[edit]

Commonly cited examples include Austronesian languages (such as Malagasy, Old Javanese, Toba Batak, Dusun, and Fijian) and Mayan languages (such as Tzotzil). In Hadza the word order VOS is very common, but the default is VSO.[3]

In constructed languages[edit]

The Romulan language developed by Diane Duane for her Star Trek novel series Rihannsu (and expanded by both Duane and the novels' fandom) permits verb-object-subject as an alternative to subject-verb-object.[4]

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
  3. ^ Dryer, Matthew S. (2000). "Word Order" (PDF). University of Tübingen Department of Linguistics. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  4. ^ "Syntax". Imperial Romulan Language Institute.