"One day as they were walking along they looked down on the ocean and wondered what was beneath it."

They(subject) - on the ocean(object) - One day (preposition) - looked down(verb) | (complimentizer) | as(prep) they(subject) - along (adjective? object?) - were walking(verb) | and (conjunction) | What(subject) - beneath(prep) it(object) - wondered was(verb)

I'm converting to an SOV language

Word Order should be like the following...

Sentence Structure : [Subject] [Indirect Object] [Direct Object] [Verb]
Noun Phrase : [Adpositional Phrase] [Adjective] [Noun] [Possessive] [Complementizer]
Verb Phrase : [Adpositional Phrase] [Adverb] [Verb] [Copula] [Complementizer]
Adjective Phrase : [?] [Adjective]
Positional Phrase : [Noun] [Preposition?]

So an I getting this right? Or no?

  • 2
    You are mixing up your parts of speech and your grammatical relations. Subject, Object and so forth are grammatical reltions. Preposition, noun and so forth are parts of speech or word categories. Feb 26, 2017 at 13:35
  • @Araucaria yes and no... I see how you'd take it that way from what I wrote, but I'm trying to figure out their relation to the sentence to put them in the right place and use them correctly and am expressing that rather than what would probably be more accurate in labeling... Sorry I'm not very good with the jargon if there is an easier way to do that. and have to constantly look it up. I need to know if I got the basic understanding of what each is and if they're in the right order.
    – Durakken
    Feb 26, 2017 at 13:46

1 Answer 1


For this sort of exercise, I think you need to take into account verb phrases (VP) and make some assumptions about the SVO structure of an English sentence and what the heads of various phrases are, and assume that heads are consistently ordered either first in their phrase (SVO) or last in their phrase (SOV). (Consistent ordering of heads in real languages is at best just a tendency.)

An SVO language and an SOV language both have sentences divided into S and VP, but the VP of an SVO language has the head of a VP, the verb, before any complement to the verb, while the VP of an SOV language has its head last, after any complement. Typically. Similarly, you expect an SVO language to have head first PPs (where P is the head), but an SOV language to have head final PPs (so that the head P comes at the end of a PP).

Put aside the adverb "one day as they were walking along", the rest of the SVO language sentence of your example has subject "they" followed by a compound VP, and let's assume the conjunction "and" is the head.

Starting with English SVO (head initial) order "They [[looked-down on the ocean] and [wondered about it]]" and moving all the heads to the ends of their phrases, we'd expect the SOV (head final) order to be, using English morphemes,

   They the-ocean on looked-down it about wondered and.
  • i prefer the "and" conjunction where I have it, but why would it be at the end? Also the major problem I am having is the "one day as they were walking along" I take that as a preposition and a complimentizer rather than an adverb... Am I wrong in that thought?
    – Durakken
    Feb 26, 2017 at 14:57
  • I'd take "one day as they were walking along" as an adverb modifier of the following sentence, and I'd assume that modifiers are heads. So for the example, that would put this adverb at the end in the SOV version. As for the internal structure of the adverb, there might be a preposition "on" understood at the beginning. I don't even want to guess about how "as they were walking along" fits in. // I put "and" at the end because I assume it is the head of the compound VP (as I said).
    – Greg Lee
    Feb 26, 2017 at 15:13

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