|SOV||"She him loves."||45%||Proto-Indo-European, Sanskrit, Hindi, Ancient Greek, Latin, Japanese, Korean|
|SVO||"She loves him."||42%||Cantonese, English, Hausa, Italian, Malay, Mandarin, Russian|
|VSO||"Loves she him."||9%||Biblical Hebrew, Classical Arabic, Irish, Filipino, Tuareg-Berber, Welsh|
|VOS||"Loves him she."||3%||Malagasy, Baure, Proto-Austronesian|
|OVS||"Him loves she."||1%||Apalaí, Hixkaryana|
|OSV||"Him she loves."||0%||Warao|
In linguistic typology, subject-verb-object (SVO) is a sentence structure where the subject comes first, the verb second, and the object third. Languages may be classified according to the dominant sequence of these elements in unmarked sentences (i.e. sentences in which an unusual word order is not used for emphasis). The label is often used for ergative languages which do not have subjects, but have an agent-verb-object order.
SVO is the second-most common order by number of known languages, after SOV. Together, SVO and SOV account for more than 75% of the world's languages. It is also the most common order developed in Creole languages, suggesting that it may be somehow more initially 'obvious' to human psychology.
Languages regarded as SVO include: Albanian, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), English, Estonian, Finnish (but see below), French, Ganda, Greek, Hausa, Icelandic (with the V2 restriction), Italian, Javanese, Kashubian, Khmer, Latvian, Macedonian, Malay (Malaysian and Indonesian), Modern Hebrew, Polish, Portuguese, Quiche, Reo Rapa, Romanian, Rotuman, Russian (but see below), Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Thai, Ukrainian (but see below), Vietnamese, Yoruba and Zulu.
Subject-verb-object languages almost always place relative clauses after the nouns they modify and adverbial subordinators before the clause modified, with varieties of Chinese being notable exceptions.
Although some subject-verb-object languages in West Africa, the best known being Ewe, use postpositions in noun phrases, the vast majority of them have prepositions as in English. Most subject-verb-object languages place genitives after the noun, but a significant minority, including the postpositional SVO languages of West Africa, the Hmong-Mien languages, some Sino-Tibetan languages, and European languages such as Swedish, Danish, Lithuanian and Latvian, have prenominal genitives (as would be expected in a SOV language).
Outside Europe, subject-verb-object languages have a strong tendency to place adjectives, demonstratives and numerals after the noun they modify, but Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Indonesian place numerals before nouns, as in English. Some linguists have come to view the numeral as the head in this relationship to fit the rigid right-branching of these languages.
There is a strong tendency for SO languages to have auxiliaries precede main verbs: I am thinking. He should reconsider. Etc.
An example of SVO order in English is:
In analytic languages such as English, subject-verb-object order is relatively inflexible because it identifies which part of the sentence is the subject and which one is the object. ("The dog bit Andy" and "Andy bit the dog" mean two completely different things, while, in case of "Bit Andy the dog", it may be difficult to determine whether it's a complete sentence or a fragment, with "Andy the dog" the object and an omitted/implied subject.) The situation is more complex in languages that have no word order imposed by their grammar; example: the Russian, Finnish, Ukrainian, and Hungarian languages have both the VO and OV constructs in their common word order uses. In some languages, some word orders are considered more "natural" than others. In some, the order is the matter of emphasis. For example, Russian allows the use of subject-verb-object in any order and "shuffles" parts to bring up a slightly different contextual meaning each time. E.g. " " (loves she him) may be used to point out "she acts this way because she LOVES him", or " " (him she loves) is used in the context "if you pay attention, you'll see that HE is the one she truly loves", or " " (him loves she) may appear along the lines "I agree that cat is a disaster, but since my wife adores it and I adore her...". Regardless of order, it is clear that "" is the object because it is in accusative case. In Polish, SVO order is basic in an affirmative sentence, and a different order is used to either emphasize some part of it or to adapt it to a broader context logic. For example, "Roweru ci nie kupi?" (I won't buy you a bicycle), "Od pi?tej czekam" (I've been waiting since five).
In Turkish, where normally SOV is used, SVO can be used to emphasize the verb in some instances. For example, "John terketti Mary'yi" (Lit. John/left/Mary: John left Mary) is the answer to the question "What did John do with Mary?" instead of the regular [SOV] sentence "John Mary'yi terketti" (Lit. John/Mary/left).
In German, Dutch, and Kashmiri, SOV with V2 in main clauses coexists with SOV in subordinate clauses, as given in Example 1 below; and a change in syntax - for instance, by bringing an adpositional phrase to the front of the sentence for emphasis - may also dictate the use of VSO, as in Example 2. (See V2 word order.) In Kashmiri the word order in embedded clauses is conditioned by the category of the subordinating conjunction, as in Example 3.
English developed from such a reordering language and still bears traces of this word order, for example in locative inversion ("In the garden sat a cat.") and some clauses beginning with negative expressions: "only" ("Only then do we find X."), "not only" ("Not only did he storm away but also slammed the door."), "under no circumstances" ("under no circumstances are the students allowed to use a mobile phone"), "never" ("Never have I done that."), "on no account" and the like. In these cases do-support may or may not be required, depending on the construction.