Verb-object language

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A verb-object language or VO language for short is a language that places the verb in front of the object, in contrast to the OV language (object-verb language) . The division into VO and OV languages ​​is linked to the thesis that the sequence of verb and object is the most important aspect for the division of syntactic types, whereas the relative position of the subject is less important; The VO type is therefore represented by SVO languages ​​and, as a rule, VSO and VOS languages ​​equally. The opposite OV type is practically only represented by SOV, since OVS and OSV are extremely rare as basic word order in natural languages. The asymmetry between the two types that can be seen here is an important subject of research in grammar theory.


VO languages ​​mostly use prepositions and place relative clauses (or participle constructions) behind the noun, whereas in OV languages ​​the reverse tendency prevails.


The Indo-European language family is split over the VO / OV difference. OV languages ​​are e.g. B. Indo-Aryan languages ​​like Hindi . VO languages ​​are all Romance languages such as B. French . Among the Germanic languages ​​are English and the Scandinavian languages VO. For example, German and Dutch have the OV type (which is sometimes obscured by the verb-second phenomenon ). The status of the Slavic languages ​​in relation to this classification is controversial; possibly they are an example of a third, neutral type, in which the grammar does not make a fixed specification for the sequence of V and O.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Matthew Dryer: On the six-way word order typology . In: Studies in Language, 21 (1997), pp. 69-103. (online via .
  2. ^ Dryer, 1997, p. 86.
  3. ^ Hubert Haider: Symmetry breaking in syntax. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK) 2013. pp. 99ff.

See also