Word order

    From sona pona
    (Redirected from word order)

    Toki Pona's word order is subject–verb–object (SVO).

    The verb is introduced with the particle li. The direct object is introduced with e.

    • The subject is the main character of a sentence. It can be a person or an object or anything really. What's important is that we describe what the subject is or is doing.
    • The verb (also called the "predicate") is the thing the subject is, or is doing. It can be an action — like working, playing, talking — or a description — like blue, good, tall — or a thing — like house, animal, food.
    • The direct object is the thing that the action is done to. It can also be basically anything. It is the reciever of the action in the verb performed by the subject.

    subject li verb (e object).
    Subject verbs (object).

    Multiple subjects are connected with en. Multiple verbs and objects are introduced by repeating the particle for each. In standard grammar, all of the subjects go first, but objects can tag onto their respective verbs.

    subject en subject li verb (e object e object) li verb (e object e object).
    Subject and subject verb (object and object) and verb (object and object).

    Modifiers follow their heads.

    • The main idea that you're talking about is the "head", and that can't be dropped without changing entirely what you're referring to. In the english phrase "the red dog", you're talking about a dog, and taking it away (leaving only "the red") changes the meaning entirely
    • The idea that modifies the head to some extent, giving more information that can often be left out, is called a "modifier". In "my house", the house is what you're talking about, but it being yours gives more information about it.

    In toki pona, toki ("language") is the head, and pona ("good") is the modifier.
    sike loje mi is literally "ball red my", and means "my red ball".
    This is typically the opposite of English, but there are counterexamples like "someone special", "anything new", "time immemorial", and "Alcoholics Anonymous".

    Free word order[edit | edit source]

    An experimental system for free word order was created as an April Fools' Day joke. Most speakers do not use or easily understand it.

    In this system, the subject, verb, and object can go in any order. The subject is introduced with en if it does not start the sentence.

    SOV ona e kasi li moku. "They plants eat."
    SVO ona li moku e kasi. "They eat plants."
    VSO li moku en ona e kasi. "Eat they plants."
    VOS li moku e kasi en ona. "Eat plants they."
    OVS e kasi li moku en ona. "Plants eat they."
    OSV e kasi en ona li moku. "Plants they eat."

    Besides its lack of acceptance, there are some potential problems with this system. The correspondence between multiple verbs and objects may be lost, and it unclear what would happen to context phrases. Also, sentence boundaries may be unclear.