Did PIE put the adjective behind the noun (like Romance languages usually do) or before the noun (like Germanic languages)?

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    I don’t think there’s any way of knowing that. Most of the oldest languages attested have fairly free word order, so if there was a preferred order in PIE, it’s probably obscured by subsequent loosening of word orders. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 10 at 16:47

In Hittite, which is an archaic IE language with the oldest record, the order seems to be fairly free: both Adj+Noun or Noun+Adj are attested.


Here are some reconstructed phrases in PIE. It seems, the adjective could go both before and after the noun. Examples:

  1. Adjective before

h₁ōḱéwes h₁éḱwoes "swift horses"

dus menes "bad mind"

dus dius "bad sky"

  1. Adjective after

ḱléwos wéru "wide fame"

ḱléwos meǵh₂ "big fame"

ḱléwos ń̥dʰgʷʰitom "imperishable fame"

So it seems,

  1. The adjective dus "bad" was always put before the noun, but it can be interpreted as the prefix of the noun rather than a separate word. The same with the adjective h₁su "good". Again, it may be seen as a prefix.

  2. There were other prefixes that are similar to adjectives, adverbs or prepositions, such as sm(i)-, twi-, tri- (one, two, three), those pointing location etc, such as pri-, peri-, h₂nti-, h₂ntbhi-, proti- etc.

  3. Possessive participles were put before the noun, as in

sh₂uens kʷekʷlos "Sun's wheel"

dems potis "house master"

Other adjectives, possibly could go the both ways, or depending on context.

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