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 among the world's languages, after SOV (as in Hindi and Japanese) and SVO (as in English and Mandarin).
|SOV||"She him loves."||45%||Urdu, Ancient Greek, Bengali, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Persian, Sanskrit, Malayalam, Kannada|
|SVO||"She loves him."||42%||Chinese, English, French, Hausa, Italian, Malay, Russian, Spanish, Thai|
|VSO||"Loves she him."||9%||Biblical Hebrew, Arabic, Irish, Filipino, Tuareg-Berber, Welsh|
|VOS||"Loves him she."||3%||Malagasy, Baure, Car|
|OVS||"Him loves she."||1%||Apalaí, Hixkaryana, Klingon|
|OSV||"Him she loves."||0%||Warao|
Families where all or many of the languages are VSO include the following:
- the Celtic languages (including Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton)
- the Afroasiatic languages (including Berber, Assyrian, Egyptian, Arabic, Biblical Hebrew and Ge'ez)
- the Austronesian languages (including Tagalog, Visayan, Pangasinan, Kapampangan, Kadazan Dusun, Hawaiian, Māori and Tongan).
- the Mayan languages (including Classic Maya)
- the Oto-Manguean languages (including Zapotec languages and Mixtecan languages)
- the Salishan languages
- many Mesoamerican languages
Many languages, such as Greek, have relatively free word order, where VSO is one of many possible orders.
Formal Arabic is an example of a language that uses VSO:
|Sentence||يقرأ المدرس الكتاب|
|Transliteration||yaqraʼu l-mudarrisu l-kitāba|
|Gloss||reads||the teacher||the book|
|Translation||The teacher reads the book|
|Sentence||... בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם|
|Words *||בָּרָא||אֱלֹהִים||אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם|
|Romanization of Hebrew||Bara Elohim et ha-shamayim...|
|Translation||God created the heavens...|
^* et is a particle marking the direct object of the verb.
^* The Hebrew script is written from right to left.
Word order is rather flexible in Spanish and VSO word order is allowed in practically all situations, but it is particularly common where some element other than the subject or direct object functions as the subject of predication. Some resemble V2 word order, with an adverb or oblique argument at the front:
- Todos los días compra Juan el diario. Every day buys Juan the newspaper, “Juan buys the newspaper every day”
- Ayer presentó María su renuncia. Yesterday handed-in Maria her resignation, Maria handed in her resignation yesterday.
- A María le regaló su abuelo un caballo de pura raza. To María dat.cl. gave her grandfather a horse of pure breed, María's grandfather gave her a purebred horse.
Other examples of VSO in Spanish:
- Me devolvió María el libro que le presté. Returned María the book that to-her (I) lent, “María returned to me the book that I lent her.”
- Se comieron los niños todo el pastel. Ate up the boys all the cake, “The boys ate up all the cake.”
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.|
In Irish, phrases also use VSO:
|Sentence||Labhraíonn Seán Gaeilge.|
|Translation||John speaks Irish.|
In Irish, when forming a question the following would be true:
|Sentence||An labhraíonn tú Gaeilge?|
|Translation||Do you speak Irish?|
The typological classification of Breton syntax is problematic. It has been claimed that Breton has an underlying VSO character, but it appears at first sight that V2 is the most frequent pattern, which arises as a result of a process which usually involving the subject noun phrase being fronted. It has been suggested that this fronting has arisen from a development in which clefting and fronting, very common in Celtic languages, became completely pervasive. A very similar development is seen in literary Middle Welsh but this did not continue into Modern Welsh.
Inversion to VSO orderEdit
There are many SVO languages that switch to VSO 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 is now implicit in Modern English by the suppression of the imperative's now-understood subject. For example, "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" contrasts with modern "Gather rosebuds while you may".
Arabic sentences use either SVO or VSO, depending on whether the subject or the verb is more important.
In languages with V2 word order, such as most of the Germanic languages (though not Modern English) as well as Ingush and Oʼodham, the verb is always the second element in a main clause; thr subject precedes the verb by default, but if another word or phrase is put at the front of the clause, the subject is moved to the position immediately following the verb. For example, the German sentence Ich esse oft Rinderbraten (I often eat roast beef) is in standard SVO word order, with the adverb oft (often) immediately following the verb. However, if that adverb is moved to the beginning of the sentence for emphasis, the subject ich (I) is moved to the third position, placing the sentence in VSO order: Oft esse ich Rinderbraten.