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Object Subject Verb

Object Subject Verb

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

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.

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.

Final Object Subject Verb Quiz

Question

Object-subject-verb is the most ________ word order.

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Answer

uncommon

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Question

Most languages that use object-subject-object as their natural word order are spoken in or around where?

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Answer

Brazil

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Question

The subject in a sentence refers to what?

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Answer

A person or thing that carries out an action.

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Question

The object in a sentence refers to what?

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Answer

A person or thing that receives the action of the verb.

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Question

How many word orders are there in the world?

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Answer

6

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Question

Object-subject-verb can be shortened using which initialism?

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Answer

OSV

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Question

Change the following sentence to object-subject-verb word order:


Mary bought a puppy.

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Answer

A puppy Mary bought.

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Question

Change the following sentence to object-subject-verb word order:


I attended ballet classes.

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Answer

Ballet classes I attended.

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Question

Change the following sentence to object-subject-verb word order:


We are eating cheese.

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Answer

Cheese we are eating.

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Question

A natural word order is also known as what?

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Answer

Unmarked word order.

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Question

What does a natural word order refer to?

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Answer

 A natural word order refers to the dominant, basic word order we use without having to add or change anything for emphasis.

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Question

The opposite of an unmarked word order is what?

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Answer

A marked word order

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Question

Fill in the blank:


Object-subject-verb can be used in marked sentences to add _______ to a certain part of the sentence.

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Answer

emphasis

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Question

True or false?


When object-subject-verb is a marked word order, it can only be used to emphasize the object in a sentence.

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Answer

False

Show question

Question

The English language does not use the object-subject-verb word order as its default word order. What does it use instead?

Show answer

Answer

Subject-verb-object

Show question

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