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07_Verb Subject Object

Definition
The property Verb Subject Object has the value "yes" when the order Verb Subject Object can be used in a neutral context. The clause in this property is an active (non-passive) declarative (non-interrogative) clause. In this property, the subject and object are not pronouns. Furthermore, the verb must be clause initial (see German example below). As with all word order properties, we restrict our attention to productive word order patterns.

Definition of Subject
Definition of Object

General Note on Word Order Properties:
A "yes" value for Verb Subject Object does not exclude a "yes" value for any other order of these categories.

NA (Not Applicable): All known languages have subjects and objects in the defined sense, so this property is always defined and never has the value NA.

Examples:

1. Welsh is "yes" for Verb Subject Object:

Bwytodd Llion fara
eat.PST.3SG Llion bread
"Llion ate bread."

2.
In general, a language will be classified as Verb Subject Object when that order is possible with a clause initial verb. German admits the order Verb Subject Object, but only in the presence of an initial adverb (this is the so-called Verb-Second property). Therefore, we assume that German is not Verb Subject Object.

Heute kauft Hans den Wein
today buz.3SG Hans the.ACC wine
"Today Hans buys the wine."

3.
English is "no" for Verb Subject Object since this order is always ungrammatical:

*sees John the airplane.
(* means ungrammatical)

4.
Japanese is "no" for Verb Subject Object, since this order is always ungrammatical:

*otosi-ta dareka-ga koppu-o.
drop-Past someone-NOM cup-ACC
"Someone dropped a cup."
Contributed by: Andrea Cattaneo, Chris Collins, Jim Wood
Language Value Contributor Comments
   =Hoan No Chris Collins
   Acehnese No Julie Legate
   Afrikaans No Theresa Biberauer This is an order which is exclusively possible in narrative contexts.
+ Agni indénié No Amoikon Dyhié ASSANVO
  Contributor: Amoikon Dyhié ASSANVO
  Words: èsɾòlɛ̀ jɛ̀ kòfí sɾò ámá ɔ̀
  Gloss: Peur Foc Koffi apeurer Ama Part
  Translation: Littérale: (C’est le fait d’avoir peur que Koffi a peur d’Ama.) Littéraire:Koffi n'a peur que d'Ama.
  Comment: Le déplacement du verbe en position initiale est sujet à contrainte. En effet, pour se maintenir dans cette position, le verbe doit nécessaire avoir le trait sémantique [+argument], donc changer de catégorie grammaticale, tout en conservant surplace une copie de sa morphologie.
  Contributor: Amoikon Dyhié ASSANVO
   Akan-twi No AUGUSTINA OWUSU
+ Albanian Yes Dalina Kallulli
  Words: Bleu Eva akullore.
  Gloss: bought Eva ice-cream
  Translation: Eva bought (an) ice-cream.
  Contributor: Dalina Kallulli
   American Sign Language No Natasha Abner
   Amharic No Girma Demeke
+ Ancient Greek Yes Richard Faure
  Words: misoûsi, fēsín, Athēnaîoi toùs daneízontas
  Gloss: hate-IND.PRS.3PL say-IND.PRS.3SG A-NOM.M.PL art-ACC.M.PL money-lenders-ACC.NOM.PL
  Translation: ‘The Athenians, he says, hate money-lenders’
  Comment: Demosthenes 37.52
  Contributor: Richard Faure
+ Arabic, Gulf Yes Dimitrios Ntelitheos
  Words: ketab Ahmed r-resalah
  Gloss: write.PST Ahmed DET-letter
  Translation: Ahmed wrote the letter
  Contributor: Dimitrios Ntelitheos
  Words: ketab Ahmed r-resalah
  Gloss: write.PST Ahmed DET-letter
  Translation: Ahmed wrote the letter
  Contributor: Dimitrios Ntelitheos
  Words: ketab Ahmed r-resalah
  Gloss: write.PST Ahmed DET-letter
  Translation: Ahmed wrote the letter
  Contributor: Dimitrios Ntelitheos
  Words: ketab r-resalah Ahmed
  Gloss: write.PST DET.letter Ahmed
  Translation: Ahmed wrote the letter
  Contributor: Dimitrios Ntelitheos
+ Armenian (Eastern) Yes Sona Haroutyunian
  Words: Kerav Ani-n salor
  Gloss: eat.3SG.PST Ani-DET plum
  Translation: Ani eat plum
  Contributor: Sona Haroutyunian
   Babanki No Pius Akumbu
   Bafut No Pius Tamanji
   Bajau, West Coast Yes Mark Miller
   Bambara No Hilda Koopman
   Bandial No Wolfgang Berndt
   baoulé - faafouê de kokumbo Yes kouakou koffi salomon
   Bardi Yes Claire Bowern
   Basaa No Paul Roger Bassong
   Basque No Karlos Arregi
   baule-kôdeh Yes Andréa ALLA
+ Bellinzonese No Andrea Cattaneo
  Words: * Mangia al Gianni la turta
  Gloss: eat.PRS.3SG the Gianni the cake
  Translation: Gianni eats the cake.
  Contributor: Andrea Cattaneo
   Beng No Denis Paperno
   Bengali No Priyanka Biswas
   Bole No Alhaji Gimba
   Brazilian Portuguese No Bruna Moreira
   Breton Yes Steve Hewitt
   Bulgarian No Ljuba Veselinova
   Burgenland-Romani No Michelle McComb
   Burmese No Timothy Ho
   Calabrian (Northern) No Giuseppina Silvestri
   Cantonese (Guangzhou) No Zixian Qiu
   Catalan No Txuss Martin
+ Chalcatongo Mixtec Yes Jess Combs
  Words: Nì-naa inì čáá ndoɐʔò
  Gloss: CP-lose insides man basket
  Translation: 'The man forgot his basket'
  Contributor: Jess Combs
   Chichewa No Sam Mchombo
   Chickasaw No Pam Munro
+ Chol Yes Jessica Coon
  Words: tyi i-ch'äx-ä ja' jiñi wiñik
  Gloss: COMPL 3ERG-boil-TR water DET man
  Translation: The man boiled water.
  Contributor: Jessica Coon
+ Cypriot Greek Yes Marios Andreou
  Words: Eferen o Kostas pagoton.
  Gloss: brought the Kostas ice-cream
  Translation: Kostas brought ice-cream.
  Contributor: Marios Andreou
+ Czech No Pavel Caha
  Words: #Píše Petr dopis.
  Gloss: write.3sg Petr letter
  Translation: Petr is writing a letter.
  Comment: The sentence is grammatical as a question.
  Contributor: Pavel Caha
   Dagaare No Adams Bodomo
   Danish No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Dholuo No Hilda Koopman
   Dida Lakota (diéko) No Gohon Fabienne Stéphanie Attéby ALS4 workshop 2016
   Digo No Steve Nicolle
   Digor Ossetic Yes David Erschler
   Dutch No Hilda Koopman
+ Eastern Armenian Yes Karine Megerdoomian
  Words: kerav Mariam-a khndzor-a
  Gloss: eat.3SG.PST Mariam.DEF apple.DEF
  Translation: Mariam ate the apple
  Contributor: Arwa Rangwala
   Egyptian Arabic Yes Arwa Rangwala
   English No Chris Collins
   English (Singapore) No Adam Chong
   European Portuguese No Salvador Mascarenhas
   Ewe No Chris Collins
   Farefari No Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu
   Faroese No Gunnar Hrafn Hrafnbjargarson
   Farsi No Natasha Schimka
   Fijian No Zhenyu Sun
   Finnish No Anders Holmberg
   French No Chris Collins
   French (Ivorian) No Akpoué Josué
   Frisian (West Frisian) No Jarich Hoekstra
   Ga No Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu
   galician Yes Naír García
   Garifuna Yes Teresa O'Neill (contributor till 2012)
   georgian Yes Lea Nash
   German No Chris Collins
   Ghɔmáĺá' No Francine Moguo
   Gothic Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Greek Yes Arhonto Terzi
  Words: Espase o Petros to kipelo.
  Gloss: broke the Peter the mug
  Translation: Peter broke the mug.
  Contributor: Arhonto Terzi
   Greek (Cappadocian) No Petros Karatsareas
   Greek (Homer) No Chiara Bozzone
   Greek (Medieval) Yes Io Manolessou
   Greenlandic, West (Kalaallisut) No Stephen Mayeaux
   Guébie No Hannah Sande
   Gungbe (Porto-Novo) No Enoch Oladé Aboh
   Gurene No Samuel Atintono
   Haitian No Michel DeGraff
   Hakka No Iris Wu
   Hanga No Geoffrey Hunt
   Hausa No Russell Schuh
   Hebrew No Ur Shlonsky
+ Hebrew (Biblical) Yes Massimo Gargiulo
  Words: Natan YHWH 'et-'oyebekem (Jdg 3,28)
  Gloss: gave.PRF the Lord.SBJ the enemies.ACC PARTICLE-NOUN
  Translation: The Lord gave the enemies
  Contributor: Massimo Gargiulo
   Hindi No Anoop Mahajan
   Hittite No Mattyas Huggard
   Hixkaryana No Laura Kalin
+ Hungarian Yes Anna Szabolcsi
  Words: Fel-tör-i a villa-nyél a tenyer-ed-et.
  Gloss: up-break-3SG.SUBJ.DEF.OBJ the pitchfork-handle[NOM.SG] the palm-2SG.POSSESSOR-ACC
  Translation: `The handle of the pitchfork will blister your palms'
  Contributor: Anna Szabolcsi
   Ibibio No Willie Willie
   Icelandic No Jim Wood
   Igala No Johnson Folorunso Ilori
   Igbo No Mary Amaechi
   Iha No Mark Donohue
   Ijo (Kaiama) No Hilda Koopman
+ Ilokano Yes Jeremy Rafal
  Words: Binisito ni Juan ni Maria
  Gloss: Prf.PV-kiss PN Juan PN Maria
  Translation: John kissed Mary
  Comment: Prf.PV=Perfective Patient Voice, PN=person name marker
  Contributor: Jeremy Rafal
   imbabura quichua No UCLA Linguistics 210
   Indonesian No Mark Donohue
+ Irish Yes Bridget Nixdorf
  Words: Dúnann Bríd an doras.
  Gloss: Closes Bríd the door
  Translation: 'Bríd closes the door.'
  Contributor: Bridget Nixdorf
   Iron Ossetic Yes David Erschler
   Isbukun Bunun Yes Iris Wu
   Italian No Andrea Cattaneo
   Italian (Napoletano Antico) No Adam Ledgeway
   Italian (Reggiano) No Giovanni Roversi
   Jamaican Creole English No Tonjes Veenstra
   Japanese No Ken Hiraiwa
   Jarawara No Alan Vogel
   Jingulu Yes Rob Pensalfini
   K'iche' Yes Pam Munro
+ Kannada (Bengaluru-Mysore) No Amrit Amritavalli
  Words: hoDey-utt-aane avanu cheND-anna
  Gloss: hit-nonpst-3sg.m. he ball-acc.
  Translation: ‘He hits the ball (well, with great force,etc.)’
  Comment: used in habitual contexts with focus on the verb, or in on-going description (sports commentary)
  Contributor: Amrit Amritavalli
   Karachay No Steve Seegmiller
   Kashaya Yes John Gluckman
   Kayan No Ken Manson
   Khasi Yes Gracious Temsen
   KiLega No Kasangati Kinyalolo
   Kinande No Patricia Schneider-Zioga and Philip Mutaka
   Kiswahili No Aggrey Wasike
   Kiyaka Yes Lukowa Kidima
+ Kom No Richard Kwamong
  Words: à lèng wáyn Ngóng
  Gloss: FOC beat child Ngong
  Translation: It is the child that has beaten Ngong.
  Comment: Not neutral: focus on child.
  Contributor: Richard Kwamong
   Konni No Michael Cahill
   Korean No Chung-hye Han
   Koyo No Hilda Koopman
   Kuot Yes Eva Lindström VSO is the unmarked word order
   Kurdish (Sorani) No Yadgar Karimi
   Kusaal No Hasiyatu Abubakari
   Kusunda No Mark Donohue
   Laal No Florian Lionnet
   Lango No Arwa Rangwala
   Lani No Mark Donohue
   Lao No Alif Silpachai
+ Latin Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
  Words: Interfeci-it Opimius Gracchum
  Gloss: Kill.3SG.PRF O.NOM Gracchus.ACC
  Translation: Opimius killed Gracchum
  Comment: Cic. (de Or. 2.132)
  Contributor: Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Latin (Late) No Giovanni Pairotti a value 'no' was assigned since the statistical distribution is below 30%
  Words: et offeret episcopus ibi oblationem
  Gloss: and consecrate: PRS: 3SG the bishop: NOM there the offering: ACC
  Translation: ‘and the bishop makes the offering there’
  Comment: (Itin. Eg. 35.2). The pattern amounts only to 16,1% (my own data) of the main active declarative clauses in the sample. See Spevak 2005: 240-249. See also Sznajder and Bortolussi 2010 for the same pattern in the Vulgata – Itin. Eg. = Itinerarium Egeriae, 4th cent. CE, electronic LLT-A edition (=CCSL 175, P. Geyer / O. Cuntz, 1965, p. 37-90).
  Contributor: Giovanni Pairotti
   Lebanese Arabic Yes Lina Choueiri
+ Lithuanian Yes Felix Thies
  Words: Turėjo karalius gražią dukterį.
  Gloss: have.PST.3 king.NOM.SG beautiful.ACC.SG.F daughter.ACC.SG
  Translation: A king had a beautiful daughter.
  Contributor: Felix Thies
   Lubukusu No Aggrey Wasike
   Maasai (Kisongo) Yes Hilda Koopman
   Mada No Bebey Théodore
+ Malagasy Yes Ed Keenan and Laura Kalin
  Words: Enjehi+ny izy
  Gloss: chase.TT+3.GEN 3.NOM
  Translation: He/she/they chase(s) him/her/them
  Comment: See note for VS property setting.
  Contributor: Ed Keenan and Laura Kalin
   Malayalam No Mythili Menon
   Mandarin No Arthur Wang
   Mankanya No Tim Gaved
+ Maori Yes Ray Harlow
  Words:  Ka kite au i a ia
  Gloss: T/A see Isg DO pers IIIsg
  Translation: ‘I saw him’
  Comment: P109
  Contributor: Zhenyu Sun
+ Marshallese No Heather Willson Sturman
  Words: *E=j dāpij leddik eo kuuj eo
  Gloss: 3SG.AGR=PRS hold.TR girl the.SG cat the.SG
  Translation: The girl is holding the cat.
  Contributor: Heather Willson Sturman
   Masarak No Jessica Chen
   Mbuko No Richard Gravina
   Medumba No KEUPDJIO HERMANN SIDOINE
   Middle Dutch No Gertjan Postma
   Miya No Michael A. Estrada
+ Moroccan Arabic Yes Arwa Rangwala
  Words: ka.t.shouf Laila al.film
  Gloss: PRES.F.watch.3SG Laila DEF.film
  Translation: Laila watches the film.
  Contributor: Arwa Rangwala
+ Muyang No Bebey Théodore
  Words: ⃰ * é dí Satai ɗaf
  Gloss: * 3sg cook Satai food
  Comment: No VSO/ VOS possible
  Contributor: Bebey Théodore
   N|u No Chris Collins
   Nahuatl (Central Huasteca) Yes John Garcia
   Nahuatl (Classical) Yes John Garcia
   Naki No Jeff Good
   Nawdm No Hannah Kim
   nda'nda' No Christelle Niguieu Toukam and Bertille Baron ALS4 workshop 2016
   Ndut No Daniel Morgan
   Neapolitan No Giuseppe Samo
   Nepali No Mark Donohue
   Niuean Yes Diane Massam
   Northern Thai No Alif Silpachai
   Norwegian No Marit Julien
+ Nupe No Jason Kandybowicz
  Words: *Gi Musa nakan.
  Gloss: eat Musa meat
  Translation: Musa ate the meat.
  Contributor: Jason Kandybowicz
   Nweh No Hilda Koopman
   Occitan No Patrick Sauzet
   Okinawan No Ken Hiraiwa
   Old English No Steve Seegmiller
+ Old French Yes Heather Burnett
  Words: Cunuit Brandans a l'air pluius/ Que li tens ert mult annüus
  Gloss: knew Brendan-NOM from the-wind wet/ that the-NOM weather was very worrisome
  Translation: Brendan know from the wet wind that the weather was very worrisome.
  Comment: Voyage de Saint Brendan. (1120). 56.675
  Contributor: Heather Burnett
   Old Norse Not Yet Set Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Old Saxon No George Walkden Clauses with this order are not infrequent, but assumed to be non-neutral. See section 3.3 of Walkden, George (2014). Syntactic Reconstruction and Proto-Germanic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  Words: Lêdid up thanen hêr heƀencuning thea hluttaron theoda
  Gloss: leads up thence high.NOM heaven-king.NOM the.ACC pure.ACC people.ACC
  Translation: The high king of heaven will lead the pure people there
  Comment: (Heliand 4448-4449)
  Contributor: George Walkden
   Oluwanga No Dimitrios Ntelitheos
   Oluwanga (Eji) No Ceciliane Odangah
   One No Mark Donohue
   Palue No Mark Donohue
   panjabi No Gurprit Bains
   Papuan Malay No Mark Donohue
   Pashto No Taylor Roberts
   Pima Yes Marcus Smith
+ Polish No Barbara Tomaszewicz
  Words: Pisze Piotr list.
  Gloss: write.3sg Piotr letter.acc
  Translation: Petr is writing a letter.
  Comment: Perhaps felicitous with emphasis on 'pisze', cf. English 'Peter IS writing the letter.'
  Contributor: Barbara Tomaszewicz
   Portuguese No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Q'anjob'al Yes Kathleen O'Flynn
+ Romanian Yes Oana Savescu
  Words: Au recitat copiii poezii.
  Gloss: have.AUX.PL.3 recited child-THE.PL.M poems
  Translation: The children recited poems.
  Contributor: Oana Savescu
  Words: Picteaza copiii peisaje
  Gloss: paint.3PL children.the landscapes
  Translation: The children are painting landscapes
  Contributor: Oana Savescu
+ Russian No Stephanie Harves
  Words: Kupil Ivan knigu, a Boris - žurnal.
  Gloss: bought Ivan.NOM book.ACC but Boris.NOM magazine.ACC
  Translation: Ivan bought a book and Boris a magazine.
  Comment: The order Verb Subject Object is felicitous only in non-neutral contexts, e.g. when the subject and object are both contrastively focused.
  Contributor: Stephanie Harves
  Words: Poterjal odnaždy Ivan sto rublej.
  Gloss: lost once Ivan.NOM hundred.ACC roubles.GEN
  Translation: Ivan once lost one hundred rubles.
  Comment: The order Verb Subject Object is felicitous only in non-neutral contexts, e.g. at the beginning of narrative contexts.
  Contributor: Stephanie Harves
   Salasaca Quichua No Pieter Muysken
   Samoan Yes Vincent Homer
   San Dionisio Ocotepec Zapotec Yes George Aaron Broadwell
   Sandawe No Helen Eaton
   Saramaccan No Tonjes Veenstra
   Sasak No Nur Ahmadi and Eli Asikin-Garmager
   Saweru No Mark Donohue
   Scottish Gaelic Yes Andrew Carnie
   Senaya No Laura McPherson
   Shan No Alif Silpachai
   Shupamem No Abdoulaye Laziz Nchare This order is possible when the subject is focussed.
+ Sicilian No Cristina Guardiano
  Words: vìtti Ggjovànni na kàsa
  Gloss: saw John a house
  Translation: John saw a house
  Comment: Marked order (cf. Cruschina 2008, Zanini & Damonte 2010)
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano
  Words: ammazzàrru i polizjòtti a n'wòmminu
  Gloss: killed the policemen to a man
  Translation: the policemen killed a man
  Comment: Marked order (cf. Cruschina 2008, Zanini & Damonte 2010)
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano
   Skou No Mark Donohue
+ Slovenian No Franc Marušič
  Words: Kupi kmet kravo.
  Gloss: buy.3.Sg peasant.NOM cow.ACC
  Translation: A peasant buys a cow.
  Comment: This order is possible but it is not neutral. It sounds very literary.
  Contributor: Franc Marušič
+ Spanish No Violeta Vazquez-Rojas
  Words: *Limpió Juan el espejo.
  Gloss: clean.PST.3SG Juan the.M mirror
  Translation: Intended: Juan cleaned the mirror
  Contributor: Violeta Vazquez-Rojas
   St'át'imcets Yes Lisa Matthewson
+ Swedish No fredrik heinat
  Words: Nu äter flickan en glass.
  Gloss: now eats girl.DEF an ice-cream
  Translation: Now the girl is eating an ice-cream.
  Comment: Swedish has V2 properties in mainclauses - see the comment on German in the property definition
  Contributor: fredrik heinat
   Swiss German No Cecile Meier
+ Tagalog Yes Edith Aldridge
  Words: B<in>ili nang babae ang kotse.
  Gloss: <Trans.Perf>buy Erg woman Abs car
  Translation: The woman bought the car.
  Comment: In transitive clauses with an ergative external argument and absolutive internal argument, the order in which the ergative argument immediately follows the verb is strongly preferred.
  Contributor: Edith Aldridge
   Taiwanese Southern Min No Arthur Wang
+ Teramano No Iara Mantenuto
  Words: maɲó Mariə na bananə
  Gloss: she.ate Mary a banana
  Translation: Mary ate a banana
  Comment: Marked order in questions only
  Contributor: Iara Mantenuto
   Thai No Peter Jenks
+ Tigre No Zhenyu Sun
  Words: təkabbat-att-om
  Gloss: meet-she-them
  Translation: ‘she met them’
  Comment: pronoun suffix exception Tigre grammar and texts / by Shlomo Raz.P39
  Contributor: Zhenyu Sun
   Titan No Claire Bowern
   Tiwa No Virginia Dawson
+ Tlingit Yes James Crippen
  Words: a-wu-0-si-teen wé shaawát-ch xóots
  Gloss: 3P-PFV-3A-CLF[−D,s,+I]-see DEM.MDIST woman-ERG brown.bear
  Translation: that woman saw a brown bear
  Contributor: James Crippen
   Tommo-So No Laura McPherson
   Tongan Yes Hilda Koopman
+ Triqui, Copala Yes George Aaron Broadwell
  Words: que-ne'en so' man soj
  Gloss: completive-see he acc you(pl)
  Translation: He saw you (pl).
  Contributor: George Aaron Broadwell
+ Tukang Besi Yes Mark Donohue
  Words: No-manga='e te kalambe na kaujawa
  Gloss: 3R-eat CORE girl NOM cassava
  Translation: A girl ate the cassava
  Contributor: Mark Donohue
   Tuki (Tukombo) No Edmond Biloa
   Tupi (Ancient) No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Turkish Yes Murat Kural
   Tuvan No Brian Hsu
   Twi No Chris Collins
   Udmurt No Orsolya Tanczos
+ Ukrainian No Roksolana Mykhaylyk possible in certain non neutral contexts
  Comment: possible in certain non neutral contexts
  Contributor: Roksolana Mykhaylyk
   Vata No Hilda Koopman
   Vietnamese No Binh Ngo
   Vlaški-Žejanski-Istro-Romanian No Zvjezdana Vrzic
   Wan No Tatiana Nikitina
   Warlpiri Yes Margit Bowler
   Welsh Yes David Willis
   West Flemish No Liliane Haegeman
   Western Armenian Yes Hrayr Khanjian
   Wolane No Hannah Kim
   Wolof No Harold Torrence
   Wuhu Chinese No Zhuo Chen
   Xhosa No Xiujie Ma
   Yémba No Elsie Mawamba
   Yan-nhaŋu Yes Claire Bowern
   Yawa No Mark Donohue
   Yiddish No Shannon Mooney
   Yoruba No Johnson Folorunso Ilori
+ Zamboageño Chabacano Yes Grace Gaspardo
  Words:  A: Cosa ya pasa ayer? B: Ya compra si Jose flores.
  Gloss: A: what PST happen yesterday B: PST buy DET Jose flowers
  Translation: A: What happened yesterday? B: Jose bought flowers.
  Contributor: Grace Gaspardo
   Zulu No Claire Halpert