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Object Subject Verb

Different languages across the world follow certain word orders when creating sentences. There are six main word orders in all languages:

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Object Subject Verb

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Different languages across the world follow certain word orders when creating sentences. There are six main word orders in all languages:

  • SOV - subject, object, verb
  • SVO - subject, verb, object
  • VSO - verb, subject, object
  • VOS - verb, object, subject
  • OVS - object, verb, subject
  • OSV - object, subject, verb

The focus of this article - and the most uncommon word order across all languages - is: Object Subject Verb.

Let's take a look in more detail!

Object Subject Verb Structure

Before we take a look at the object-subject-verb structure, here's a quick reminder of the elements of a sentence:

  • Subject = a person or thing that carries out an action, e.g., "Lauren read a book."

  • Verb = the action, e.g., "Lauren read a book."

  • Object = a person or thing that receives the action of the verb, e.g., "Lauren read a book."

In sentences that follow the object-subject-verb structure, the object comes first. This is then followed by the subject and, lastly, the verb. For example, instead of saying, "Greg ate pizza," you would say, "Pizza Greg ate." To native English speakers, this may seem quite unusual, as we typically follow the subject-verb-object structure instead!

Object Subject Verb Languages

You may be wondering, which languages use the object-subject-verb structure?

Very few languages use object-subject-verb as their natural word order. A natural word order (also known as an unmarked word order) refers to the dominant, basic word order we use without having to add or change anything for emphasis. In English, the natural word order is subject-verb-object.

The languages that do use the object-subject-verb order naturally include:

  • Xavante

  • Jamamadi

  • Apurinã

  • Warao

  • Urubú-Kapoor

  • Jupda

  • Kayabí

  • Nadëb

  • Mizo and other Kuki-Chin-Mizo Languages

We will be looking at some of these in more detail later on!

So what about the other languages that use object-subject-verb?

The languages that do not use object-subject-verb as their natural word order tend to only use it when they need to add emphasis to a certain part of the sentence (usually the object, but sometimes the subject). This is known as a marked word order, as it differs from the natural word order. Such languages include:

  • Chinese

  • Korean

  • Japanese

  • Portuguese

  • Hungarian

  • Finnish

  • Hebrew

  • Arabic

  • Turkish

  • Malayalam

  • Nahuatl

As object-subject-verb is only used in marked sentences by the above languages, this means the natural word order will be something different.

Object Subject Verb Examples

Let's first take a look at a couple of examples from languages that use object-subject-verb as their natural (unmarked) sentence structure:

Natural/Unmarked Word Order

The object-subject-verb word order is rarely used as a natural/unmarked word order. Here are just a few examples:

Apurinã

Apurinã is an Indigenous language spoken by the Apurinã people of the Amazon basin (South America). As of 2006, there were around 2800 native speakers of Apurinã.

Take the following sentence:

Apurinã: "ι-wako n-aroka."

English translation: "His hand I wash."

In English, we would typically write this as "I wash his hand."

Another Apurinã example is:

Apurinã: "anana nota apa."

English translation: "Pineapple I fetch."

In English, we would write this as "I fetch (a/the) pineapple."

Urubú-Kaapor

Urubú-Kaapor is a language belonging to the Tupí language family, spoken by the Ka'apor people of Brazil. As of 2006, there were around 600 native speakers.

Urubú-Kaapor: "pako xua u' u."

English translation: "Bananas John (he) ate."

In English, we would write this as "John ate bananas."

Nadëb

Nadëb is a Nadahup language (specifically the Macuan sub-family) spoken in the Brazilian Amazon. As of 2011, there were around 370 native speakers.

Nadëb: "samuuy yi qa-wùh."

English translation: "Howler-monkey people eat."

In English, we would write this as "People eat howler monkeys."

Xavante

Xavante is a Macro-Gê language spoken by the Xavante people in the surrounding areas of Eastern Mato Grosso (Brazil). As of 2006, there were around 9600 native speakers.

Xavante: "aro te tsub- dza'ra."

English translation: "Rice they winnow."

In English, we would write this as "They are winnowing rice."

Object Subject Verb Brazilian Flag StudySmarterFig. 1 - Most languages that use object-subject-verb as their natural word order are spoken in or around Brazil.

Marked Word Order

Now let's take a look at some languages that use object-subject-verb as a marked word order:

Finnish

The Finnish word order is very lenient, and object-subject-verb is often used to emphasize the object in a sentence. Take the following sentence:

"Sinuan minä tarvitsen."

English translation: "you I need."

Here, as the object "you" is placed at the beginning of the sentence, this adds emphasis to whoever "you" is referring to. This implies that the subject ("I") needs a specific person ("you") instead of someone else.

Another example is:

"Oranssin minä syön."

English translation: "Orange I eat."

This example emphasizes that the orange is being eaten; it does not necessarily matter who is doing the eating.

Korean

The typical word order of Korean is subject-object-verb. In some cases, however, object-subject-verb is used. It is important to know that, as well as subjects and objects, Korean also has "topics." The topic of a sentence is the main focus of the sentence and can refer to either the subject or the object. To differentiate between subject, object, and topic, each one uses different particles (also known as markers) at the end of the word:

Subject: 이 / 가

Object: 을 / 를

Topic: 은 / 는

When an object is the topic of a sentence, it is placed at the beginning. When this happens, the object-subject-verb structure is followed. For example:

그 가방은 제가 좋아해요

English translation: "The bag, I like."

Or more specifically, "(As for) the bag, I like (it)."

Japanese

Following on from Korean, Japanese is almost exactly the same:

Japanese: "そのりんごは私が食べました。"

English translation: "The apple, I eat."

More specifically: "(As for) the apple, I eat (it)."

Hungarian

Unlike the previous examples, Hungarian uses object-subject-verb to add emphasis to the subject of the sentence. For example:

Hungarian: "A virágokat Kristof szereti."

English translation: "Flowers Kristof likes."

Meaning: Kristof likes flowers, not anyone else.

Turkish

Turkish also uses object-subject-verb to emphasize the subject. For example:

Turkish: "Yemeği ben pişirdim."

English translation: "The food I cooked."

Meaning: I cooked the food, not anybody else.

Subject Verb Object English

Let's move away from Object- Subject- Verb now and take a look at the typical word order of English, which is:

Subject Verb Object

For example:

SubjectVerbObject
Sophiewritesa poem.

Subject-verb-object is the second most common word order across all languages - the first being subject-object-verb, which is used in languages like Korean, German, and French.

Subject Verb Object Sentences

What would subject-verb-object sentences look like if they followed the object-subject-verb word order instead?

Take a look at some examples of English sentences, first written in the typical subject-verb-object word order and then in the object-subject-verb order:

Subject-verb-objectObject-subject-verb
Harry painted the fence.The fence Harry painted.
I watched a movie.A movie I watched.
They walk the dogs.The dogs they walk.
I want to eat some chocolate.Some chocolate I want to eat.
She tied her shoelaces.Her shoelaces she tied.
I opened the cupboard.The cupboard I opened.
He is a doctorA doctor he is.
We danced with our friends.Our friends we danced with.

And finally...

What better way to end an article than give a quote from an iconic movie character, Yoda from Star Wars:

"The greatest teacher, failure is."

Do you notice anything about this quote? It uses the object-subject-verb structure!

ObjectSubjectVerb
The greatest teacherfailureis.

Object Subject Verb Yoda Illustration StudySmarterFig. 2 - Yoda speaks in a very unique way, using a range of sentence structures.

Object Subject Verb - Key takeaways

  • In sentences that follow the object-subject-verb structure, the object comes first. This is then followed by the subject and, lastly, the verb.
  • The object-subject-verb word order is the most uncommon word order in the world.
  • Very few languages use object-subject-verb as a natural (unmarked) word order. Most of the languages that do are spoken in or around Brazil.
  • The languages that use object-subject-verb as a marked word order tend to do so when adding emphasis to a certain part of the sentence (usually the object, sometimes the subject).
  • The English language uses subject-verb-object as its unmarked word order. It is the second most common word order in the world.

Frequently Asked Questions about Object Subject Verb

An example of subject verb object is:


"I painted a picture."


Subject: I

Verb: painted

Object: a picture

Object subject verb is a sentence structure. The object comes first, followed by the subject, and finally, the verb.

Subject = a person or thing that carries out an action.

Verb = the action.

Object = a person or thing that receives the action of the verb.

The subject in a sentence is a person or thing that carries out an action, whereas the object is a person or thing that receives the action.

To find the subject, look for the person or thing that carries out an action. To find the object, look for the person or thing that receives the action. To find the verb, look for the action itself.

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