OV language

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In linguistics, an OV language is a language in which the object comes before the verb. OV languages compose approximately forty-seven percent of documented languages.[1] [2]

They are primarily left-branching, or head-final, i.e. heads are often found at the end of their phrases, with a resulting tendency to have the adjectives before nouns, to place adpositions after the noun phrases they govern (in other words, to use postpositions), to put relative clauses before their referents, and to place auxiliary verbs after the action verb.[3] Of those OV languages that make use of affixes, many predominantly, or even exclusively, as in the case of Turkish, prefer suffixation to prefixation.

For example, English would be considered a VO language while Japanese would be considered to be OV. A basic sentence demonstrating this would be as follows.

Japanese: Inu ga neko (object) o oikaketa (verb)
English: The dog chased (verb) the cat (object)

Some languages, such as Finnish, Hungarian, Russian, and Yiddish, use both OV and VO constructions,[4] though in other instances, such as Early Middle English, some dialects may use VO and others OV.[3] Those languages which contain both OV and VO construction may solidify into one or the other construction. A language which moves the verb or verb phrase more than the object will have surface VO word order, while a language which moves the object more than the verb or verb phrase will have surface OV word order.[4]


See also


  1. Tomlin, Russell (March 1988). "Basic Word Order: Functional Principles". Language. Linguistic Society of America. 64 (1): 196–197. doi:10.2307/414811.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Dryer, Matthew S. (2013). "Order of Object and Verb". In Dryer, Matthew S.; Haspelmath, Martin (eds.). World Atlas of Language Structures. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Retrieved 31 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Trips, Carola (2002). From OV to VO in early Middle English: Volume 60 of Linguistik aktuell - Issue 60 of Linguistik Artuell/Linguistics Today Series. John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN 90-272-2781-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hróarsdóttir, Thorbjörg (2001). Word Order Change in Icelandic: From OV to VO. Philadelphia, PA, USA: John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN 9789027299208.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>