09_Object Subject Verb

The property Object Subject Verb has the value "yes" when the order Object Subject Verb 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. 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 Object Subject Verb 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.


Nadëb is "yes" for Object Subject Verb:

awad kalapéé hapúh
jaguar child see.IND
"The child sees the jaguar."

Dryer, Matthew S. 2008. Order of Subject, Object and Verb. In Haspelmath et al., chapter 81. Available online at http://wals.info/feature/81. Accessed on 2009-03-09.

English does have Object Subject Verb word orders, but they are not used in neutral contexts. Therefore, the property Object Subject Verb has the value "no" in English:

A: What happened?
B: I dropped the mug.
B': #The mug, I dropped.
(# stands for grammatical but not appropriate)

Japanese is "yes" for Object Subject Verb:

A: nani-ga at-ta no?
what-NON happen-PST C
"What happened?"

B: dareka-ga koppu-o otosi-ta no
someone-NOM cup-ACC drop-PST COMP

B': koppu-o dareka-ga otosi-ta no
cup-ACC someone-NOM drop-PST COMP
"Someone dropped a cup."

Contributed by: Andrea Cattaneo, Chris Collins, Jim Wood
Language Value Contributor Comments
   =Hoan No Chris Collins
+ Acehnese No Julie Legate
  Contributor: Julie Legate
   Afrikaans No Theresa Biberauer Since Afrikaans is obligatorily V2 in main clauses and object-fronting is essentially impossible in embedded clauses, this structure is not standardly permitted. Where the object is separated from the rest of the structure by comma intonation and the following clause contains a resumptive, OSV orders are, however, marginally possible in spoken Afrikaans. Thus: Daardie boek, ek het dit geweldig geniet! that book, I have it tremendously enjoyed, i.e. "That book - I tremendously enjoyed it!".
   Agni indénié No Amoikon Dyhié ASSANVO
  Words: ∗ ballo Kofi bɔ -ɔ
  Gloss: ball Kofi play -PST
  Contributor: AUGUSTINA OWUSU
+ Albanian No Dalina Kallulli
  Words: *Akullore Eva bleu.
  Gloss: ice-cream Eva bought
  Translation: Eva bought (an) ice-cream.
  Comment: compare with 04; i.e. if the subject is dropped, there are non-neutral contexts where this is fine
  Contributor: Dalina Kallulli
   American Sign Language No Natasha Abner
+ Amharic Yes Girma Demeke
  Words: saba gänzäb all-Ø-at
  Gloss: S. money exists-3mss-3fso
  Translation: 'Saba has money', lit. 'money exists to Saba'
  Comment: OSV, as unmarked order, is found in verb-to-have and experiential constructions.
  Contributor: Girma Demeke
+ Ancient Greek Yes Richard Faure
  Words: taútēn tḕn táfron basileùs poieî
  Gloss: DEM-ACC.F.SG ART-ACC.F.SG trench-ACC king-NOM.SG make-IND.PRS.3SG
  Translation: the king had constructed this trench
  Comment: Historical present. Xenophon, Anabasis, 1.7.16
  Contributor: Richard Faure
+ Arabic, Gulf No Dimitrios Ntelitheos
  Words: * Al-ketaab Ahmed qaraa
  Gloss: DET-book Ahmed read.PST
  Translation: Ahmed read the book
  Contributor: Dimitrios Ntelitheos
+ Armenian (Eastern) Yes Sona Haroutyunian
  Words: salor-e Ani-n kerav
  Gloss: Plum-DET ANi-DET eat.3SG.PST
  Translation: Ani ate plum
  Contributor: Sona Haroutyunian
   Atayal (Squliq) No Sihwei Chen
   Babanki No Pius Akumbu
   Bafut No Pius Tamanji
   Bajau, West Coast No Mark Miller
   Bambara No Bryan Villa
   Bandial Yes 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: * Un libru al Mario u=vö
  Gloss: a book the Matio he=want.PRS.3SG
  Translation: Mario wants a book.
  Contributor: Andrea Cattaneo
   Beng No Denis Paperno
   Bengali No Priyanka Biswas OK under contrastive focus interpretation.
   Bole No Alhaji Gimba
   Brazilian Portuguese No Bruna Moreira
   Breton No Steve Hewitt
   Bulgarian No Ljuba Veselinova This is a pragmattically marked order; it's possble but the object has to be marked by an object clitic, that is it cannot be a bare noun or simple NP
   Burgenland-Romani Yes Michelle McComb
   Burmese No Timothy Ho
   Calabrian (Northern) No Giuseppina Silvestri
   Cantonese (Guangzhou) No Zixian Qiu
   Catalan No Txuss Martin
   Chalcatongo Mixtec No Jess Combs
   Chichewa No Sam Mchombo
   Chickasaw Yes Pam Munro
   Chol No Jessica Coon
+ Cypriot Greek No Marios Andreou
  Words: *Pagoton o Kostas eferen.
  Gloss: ice-cream the Kostas brought
  Translation: Kostas brought ice-cream.
  Contributor: Marios Andreou
+ Czech No Pavel Caha
  Words: #Petra pes kousl.
  Gloss: Petr.acc dog.nom bit
  Translation: A dog bit Petr.
  Comment: The sentence is infelicitous as an answer to `what happened.' To my ear, it contrasts the activity expressed by the verb with conceivable alternatives.
  Contributor: Pavel Caha
  Words: Petra kousl pes.
  Gloss: Petr.acc bit dog.nom
  Translation: A dog bit Peter.
  Contributor: Pavel Caha
   Dagaare No Adams Bodomo
   Danish No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Dholuo Yes Hilda Koopman Yes, fits the definition (neutral context, no passive) cf example
  Words: ere manyien? Onge wach. En mana ni Achieng guok o.kay.o
  Gloss: where ma.new? NEG.exist word. 3s.cop MANA that Achieng dog 3SPERF.bit.perf
  Translation: What happened? Nothing. Except that a dog bit Achieng. (maybe closer to: Achieng got dog-bitten)
  Comment: The object is clearly fronted, and represents new information. The predicate is otherwise active, with both the subject and the object precede the verb. This is also an answer to a "what happened today" question: angoma o.timoro kawuono (what SA.PERF.happen.MID today?. Answer: Achieng guok okayo.
  Contributor: Hilda Koopman
+ Dida Lakota (diéko) No Gohon Fabienne Stéphanie Attéby ALS4 workshop 2016
+ Digo Yes Steve Nicolle
  Words: pesa sino hu-na-hewa
  Gloss: CL10.money 1PL 1PL-PRS-give.PASS
  Translation: we are given money (lit. money we are given)
  Comment: The object NP has been topicalized. A coreferential verb complement marker is optional.
  Contributor: Steve Nicolle
   Digor Ossetic Yes David Erschler
   Dutch No Hilda Koopman
+ Eastern Armenian Yes Karine Megerdoomian
  Words: khndzor-a Mariam-a kerav
  Gloss: apple.DEF Mariam.DEF eat.3SG.PST
  Translation: Mariam ate the apple
  Contributor: Arwa Rangwala
   Egyptian Arabic No 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 No Naír García
   Garifuna No Teresa O'Neill (contributor till 2012)
   georgian Yes Lea Nash
   German No Chris Collins
   Ghɔmáĺá' No Francine Moguo
   Gothic No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Greek No Arhonto Terzi
  Words: *To vivlio o Petros dhiavase.
  Gloss: the book the Peter read
  Translation: Peter read the book
  Contributor: Arhonto Terzi
   Greek (Cappadocian) No Petros Karatsareas
   Greek (Homer) Yes Chiara Bozzone
   Greek (Medieval) No Io Manolessou
+ Greenlandic, West (Kalaallisut) No Stephen Mayeaux # by the example indicates grammatical but not in a neutral context (object thematization only)
  Words: #puisi piniartu-p pisar-aa
  Gloss: seal hunter-ERG catch-3s.3s.IND
  Translation: ‘The hunter caught the seal’
  Contributor: 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 Yes Geoffrey Hunt
  Words: koroto ma koosira
  Gloss: fish I sell-ing
  Translation: I'm selling fish
  Comment: Someone announcing their wares
  Contributor: Geoffrey Hunt
   Hausa No Russell Schuh
+ Hebrew No Ur Shlonsky
  Words: *xatul-im Gabi 'ohev
  Gloss: cat-M.PL Gabi liks-PR
  Translation: Gabi likes cats
  Contributor: Ur Shlonsky
+ Hebrew (Biblical) No Massimo Gargiulo the natural order is: Verb—Subject—Object; a variation of the usual order of words frequently occurs when any member of the sentence is to be specially emphasized (Gesenius). E.g. we have O-S-V in 2 King 5,13
  Comment: the natural order is: Verb—Subject—Object; a variation of the usual order of words frequently occurs when any member of the sentence is to be specially emphasized (Gesenius). E.g. we have O-S-V in 2 King 5,13
  Contributor: Massimo Gargiulo
   Hindi No Gurprit Bains
   Hittite No Mattyas Huggard
+ Hixkaryana No Laura Kalin
  Words: kanawa amna n-a-no
  Gloss: canoe 1+3 3SBJ-take-IMMEDPST
  Translation: We (exclusive) took the canoe.
  Comment: Hixkaryana is canonically OVS. The pronoun "amna", however, as a subject, must appear left-adjacent to the verb. Thus, here we have exceptional OSV word order. (Derbyshire 1985:p. 10)
  Contributor: Laura Kalin
   Hungarian No Anna Szabolcsi
   Ibibio No Willie Willie
   Icelandic No Jim Wood
   Igala No Johnson Folorunso Ilori
   Igbo No Mary Amaechi
   Iha No Mark Donohue
   Ilokano No Jeremy Rafal
   imbabura quichua No UCLA Linguistics 210
   Indonesian No Mark Donohue
   Irish No Bridget Nixdorf
   Iron Ossetic Yes David Erschler
   Isbukun Bunun No Iris Wu
   Italian No Andrea Cattaneo
   Italian (Napoletano Antico) No Adam Ledgeway
   Italian (Reggiano) No Giovanni Roversi
   Jamaican Creole English No Tonjes Veenstra
+ Japanese Yes Ken Hiraiwa
  Words: koppu-o dareka-ga otosi-ta
  Gloss: cup-ACC someone-NOM drop-PST
  Translation: Someone dropped a/the cup
  Contributor: Ken Hiraiwa
   Jarawara Yes Alan Vogel
   Jingulu Yes Rob Pensalfini
   K'iche' Yes Pam Munro
+ Kannada (Bengaluru-Mysore) No Amrit Amritavalli
  Words: chappati(-annu) Raama tin-d-anu
  Gloss: chappati-bread (acc.) Rama eat-past-3sg.m.
  Translation: ‘As for the chappati-bread, Rama ate (it).’
  Comment: implicit list context (setting a bit tricky)
  Contributor: Amrit Amritavalli
   Karachay Yes Steve Seegmiller
   Kashaya Yes John Gluckman
   Kayan No Ken Manson
   Khasi No 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: no^ ncha? wáyndà bˆI chuf
  Gloss: even straw child not pick
  Translation: No child has eaten anyhting
  Comment: I , barreded i. This order is only possible in negative sentences. The preposed object can also follow the verb, as in the next examples
  Contributor: Richard Kwamong
   Konni No Michael Cahill
+ Korean Yes Chung-hye Han
  Words: Mantwu-lul Toli-ka mek-ess-ta.
  Gloss: dumpling-ACC Toli-NOM eat-PST-DECL
  Translation: Toli ate a/the dumpling.
  Contributor: Chung-hye Han
   Koyo No Hilda Koopman
   Kuot No Eva Lindström
   Kurdish (Sorani) No Yadgar Karimi
+ Kusaal No Hasiyatu Abubakari
  Words: i. *laad la pυa la da’ ii. laad la kà pυa la da’
  Gloss: i. things Def woman Def buy.perf ii. things DEF FOC woman DEF buy
  Translation: i. ‘the woman bought the items’ ii. ‘it is the things that the woman bought’ (as against any other things)
  Comment: The contrastive focus particle, kà, can be introduced after the fronted object corresponding to a contrastive focus interpretation of the fronted object.
  Contributor: Hasiyatu Abubakari
   Kusunda Yes Mark Donohue
   Laal No Florian Lionnet
   Lango No Arwa Rangwala
   Lani No Mark Donohue
   Lao No Alif Silpachai Possible only when object is under focus via topicalization.
+ Latin Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
  Words: Senatum consules vocant
  Gloss: senate.ACC consuls.NOM.PL call.3PL.PRS
  Translation: The consuls convoked the senate
  Comment: Livy 3.30.3
  Contributor: Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Latin (Late) No Giovanni Pairotti a value 'no' was assigned since the statistical distribution is below 30%
  Words: signa cameli attendunt
  Gloss: the signals: ACC the camels: NOM make for: PRS: 3PL
  Translation: ‘the camels make for the signals’
  Comment: (Itin. Eg. 6.2). This is the only example in the sample (3,2% of the main active declarative clauses: my own data). See Spevak 2005: 240-249 – 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 No Lina Choueiri
   Lithuanian No Felix Thies
   Lubukusu No Aggrey Wasike
   Maasai (Kisongo) No Hilda Koopman
   Mada No Bebey Théodore
   Malagasy No Ed Keenan and Laura Kalin
   Malayalam No Mythili Menon
   Mandarin No Arthur Wang
   Mankanya No Tim Gaved
   Maori No Ray Harlow
+ Marshallese No Heather Willson Sturman
  Words: *Kuuj eo leddik eo e=j dāpij.
  Gloss: cat the.SG girl the.SG 3SG.AGR=PRS hold.TR
  Translation: The girl is holding the cat.
  Contributor: Heather Willson Sturman
+ Masarak Yes Jessica Chen
  Words: ɲuɡu daʊd t-iɲɑn-ɑ
  Gloss: meat.SG Daowd 3SG-ate-PST
  Translation: 'Daowd ate the meat'
  Comment: Neutral order
  Contributor: Jessica Chen
   Mbuko No Richard Gravina
   Middle Dutch No Gertjan Postma
   Miya No Michael A. Estrada
   Moroccan Arabic No Arwa Rangwala
+ Muyang No Bebey Théodore
  Words: ⃰ * ɗaf ó zúm
  Gloss: food 3sg eat
  Translation: (intended) Food (he) eats.
  Comment: OK If food is topicalized, and followed by a comma. (cf Bebey, Theodore (2010, 2012)
  Contributor: Bebey Théodore
   N|u No Chris Collins
   Nahuatl (Central Huasteca) No John Garcia
+ Nahuatl (Classical) No John Garcia
  Comment: No examples found.
  Contributor: John Garcia
   Naki No Jeff Good
   Navajo Yes Hilda Koopman
   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 No Diane Massam
   Nkore-Kiga No Hilda Koopman
   Northern Thai No Alif Silpachai Possible only when object is under focus via topicalization.
   Norwegian No Marit Julien
+ Nupe No Jason Kandybowicz
  Words: *Nakan Musa ba.
  Gloss: meat Musa cut
  Translation: Musa cut the meat.
  Contributor: Jason Kandybowicz
   Nweh No Hilda Koopman
   Occitan No Patrick Sauzet
   Okinawan Yes Ken Hiraiwa
   Old English No Steve Seegmiller
   Old French No Heather Burnett
   Old Norse No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Old Saxon No George Walkden
   Oluwanga No Dimitrios Ntelitheos
   Oluwanga (Eji) No Ceciliane Odangah
   One No Mark Donohue
   Palue Yes Mark Donohue
   panjabi No Gurprit Bains
   Papuan Malay No Mark Donohue
   Pashto No Taylor Roberts
   Pima Yes Marcus Smith
+ Polish No Barbara Tomaszewicz
  Words: #Piotra pies ugryzł.
  Gloss: Piotr.acc dog.nom bit
  Translation: A dog bit Piotr.
  Comment: Felicitous with contrastive focus on 'Piotr'.
  Contributor: Barbara Tomaszewicz
   Portuguese No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Q'anjob'al No Kathleen O'Flynn
   Romanian No Oana Savescu
+ Russian No Stephanie Harves
  Words: #Knigu Ivan kupil.
  Gloss: book.ACC Ivan.NOM bought
  Translation: Ivan bought a book.
  Comment: The order Object Subject Verb is felicitous in Russian in non-neutral contexts, e.g. when the object is topicalized.
  Contributor: Stephanie Harves
   Salasaca Quichua No Pieter Muysken
   Samoan No Vincent Homer
   San Dionisio Ocotepec Zapotec No George Aaron Broadwell
   Sandawe No Helen Eaton
   Sasak No Nur Ahmadi and Eli Asikin-Garmager
   Saweru No Mark Donohue
   Scottish Gaelic No Andrew Carnie
   Senaya No Laura McPherson
   Shan No Alif Silpachai Possible only when object is under focus via topicalization.
   Shupamem No Abdoulaye Laziz Nchare
+ Sicilian No Cristina Guardiano
  Words: na kàsa Gjovànni vìtti
  Gloss: a house John saw
  Translation: John saw a house
  Comment: Marked order. Preferred, in certain contexts (cf. Cruschina 2008, Zanini & Damonte 2010)
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano
  Words: (a) n'wòmminu i polizzjòtti ammazzàrru
  Gloss: (to) a man the policemen killed
  Translation: the policemen killed a man
  Comment: Marked order. Preferred, in certain contexts (cf. Cruschina 2008, Zanini & Damonte 2010)
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano
   Skou No Mark Donohue
   Slovenian No Franc Marušič
+ Spanish No Violeta Vazquez-Rojas
  Words: *El espejo Juan limpió
  Gloss: the.M mirror J. clean.PST.3SG
  Translation: Intended: 'Juan cleaned the mirror'
  Contributor: Violeta Vazquez-Rojas
   St'át'imcets No Lisa Matthewson
+ Swedish No fredrik heinat
  Words: En glass har flickan ätit.
  Gloss: an ice-cream has girl.DEF eaten
  Translation: The girl has eaten an ice-cream.
  Comment: O S V is possible only with a topicalized object and a finite auxiliary in V2 position.
  Contributor: fredrik heinat
   Swiss German No Cecile Meier
   Tagalog No Edith Aldridge
   Taiwanese Southern Min No Arthur Wang
+ Teramano Yes Iara Mantenuto
  Words: na bananə Mariə maɲó
  Gloss: a banana Mary ate
  Translation: Mary ate a banana
  Comment: Marked order
  Contributor: Iara Mantenuto
  Words: lu ladrə lu puliziottə kulpó
  Gloss: the thief the policeman hit
  Translation: the policeman hit the thief
  Comment: Marked order
  Contributor: Iara Mantenuto
   Thai Yes Peter Jenks
   Tigre No Zhenyu Sun
   Titan No Claire Bowern
   Tiwa No Virginia Dawson
+ Tlingit Yes James Crippen
  Words: xóots wé shaawát-ch 0-wu-0-si-teen
  Gloss: brown.bear DEM.MDIST woman-ERG 3.P-PFV-3.A-CLF[−D,s,+I]-see
  Translation: that woman saw the brown bear
  Contributor: James Crippen
   Tommo-So No Laura McPherson
   Tongan No Hilda Koopman
   Triqui, Copala No George Aaron Broadwell
   Tukang Besi No Mark Donohue
   Tuki (Tukombo) No Edmond Biloa This ordering is only possible if the object is topicalized.
+ Tupi (Ancient) Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
  Words: Paranã Pindobusu o-s-epîak?
  Gloss: Sea Pindobsu (3.SG) see.PRS/PST
  Translation: Pindobusu saw the sea
  Comment: Barbosa (1956: )
  Contributor: Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Turkish Yes Volkan Tümer
   Tuvan No Brian Hsu
   Twi No Chris Collins
   Udmurt No Orsolya Tanczos
   Ukrainian No Roksolana Mykhaylyk possible in certain non neutral contexts
   Vata No Hilda Koopman
   Vietnamese No Binh Ngo
   Vlaški-Žejanski-Istro-Romanian No Zvjezdana Vrzic
   Wan No Tatiana Nikitina
   Warlpiri Yes Margit Bowler
   Welsh No David Willis
   West Flemish No Liliane Haegeman
   Western Armenian Yes Hrayr Khanjian
+ Wolane Yes Hannah Kim
  Words: wurbɛ-y wɛrābɛ qɛtɛl-ɛ-y
  Gloss: lion-DEFi hyena kill:PV-3sm-o3smi
  Translation: 'A hyena killed the lion' (289).
  Comment: It is possible to put an accusative object in the topic position, where (being a topic) it is necessarily definite, i.e. it must represent known or salient information between hearer and addressee (288).
  Contributor: 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 No Grace Gaspardo
   Zulu No Claire Halpert