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Sentences and Phrases

This site so far has been concerned with the forms and functions of individual words or short phrases, and although sentences have been given in examples, little has been said about sentence structure in general. However, you should know that adjectives usually follow nouns, and may have guessed that verbs usually occur at the end of the sentence. We will say more about that now.

Most sentences consist of a subject and a verb, and if the verb is transitive, there is a direct object too. Çomyopregi is what is known as an SOV language — that is, its basic word order in a sentence is subject, then object, then verb. (Other languages have SVO, VSO, VOS, OVS, and OSV orders. English is an SVO language.)

However, recall that Çomyopregi indicates the subject and direct object with different cases. The subject takes the nominative case and the direct object is in the accusative, so the subject and direct object are distinguished by different case endings. If that wasn't enough, the verb must take personal endings reflecting the person and number of the subject, further pointing out who does what to whom. The order of subject-object-verb is really just a convention, and isn't necessary to mark the roles of words in the sentence — the inflections, the actual word forms (morphology) do that already. Consequently, words can be mixed up and still make sense.

All of these different versions mean, "You see Paul," because is the nominative case for "you," Paul is clearly marked as the object by the ending -m, and the ending -s on the verb indicates a second person singular () subject. This could never happen in English, because rearranging "You see Paul" to "Paul see you" would create a sentence with the exact opposite meaning (and with bad grammar).

The OSV order (Pavilom tú oqués) is often used to emphasize the object, and VSO (Oqués tú Pavilom) is used sometimes at the beginning of stories, chapters . . . well, whenever something begins. It is also common in commands (Remoni oytom! "Remember that!"). SVO (Tú oqués Pavilom) is also encountered occasionally, and OVS and VOS (Pavilom oqués tú and Oqués Pavilom tú) are quite rare. Over all, SOV still predominates.

In Çomyopregi, descriptive words follow the words they describe (their heads). Thus the adjective comes after the noun, the participle comes after the noun, and the genitive comes after the noun possessed. Due to agreement of case and number with their heads, adjectives may also appear in front of nouns and be understood, but this is not the usual practice. (Might I also note that Çomyopregi in this way is unusual for an SOV language?) Just like adjectives, participles, and genitives, relative clauses follow their heads; the noun comes first, then the relative pronoun (whether subject, object, or whatever), then the rest of the clause. In this case, the order may not be violated.

Oddly enough it may seem, despite the "pre-" in "prepositional," prepositional particles sometimes follow the noun phrases they are associated with, and are then connected to the noun with a hyphen, like the possessive adjectives. This change of position is possible only when there are no adjectives (or any other components of the noun phrase) following the noun. Take the example of " brown fields":

Sentences may consist of other elements, such subordinate clauses and other noun or prepositional phrases. Subordinate clauses follow the main clause. Other noun phrases and prepositional phrases could theoretically appear anywhere in the sentence, but usually occur after the verb. (Since a lone noun in a particular case, especially the instrumental or locative, may represent an entire noun phrase in this language, we might also say that nouns in cases other than the nominative and accusative usually follow the verb.) The indirect object, represented by the dative alone, may occur both after and in front of the verb with about equal frequency.

In English, the expression of questions is largely a matter of word order. In Çomyopregi questions have the same word-order as affirmative statements, although questions are intoned differently (and much like English). Optionally, the particle ulne (="or not") may be appended to the end of a question, if it is phrased the same as the equivalent affirmative. (Ulne also regularly appears after the main verb, but since the verb is usually last in a sentence, you often get the same result.) Questions end with question marks, and Çomyopregi also uses the exclamation mark for interjectory sentences. Çomyopregi uses the same punctuation marks as English, and mostly in the same manner.

Now, we have one last section to go . . .

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© 2005 by Damátir Ando