Word Order - SOV

Posted by Rezwan Razani on Jun 24, 2013 at 05:19 PM

Persian word order is different from English in two ways.  First, the modifier comes before the word it modifies (“shoes red”).  Second, the sentences follow a Subject, Object, Verb (SOV) order.  “Sara shoes wore.”

Red Shoe Example

Take the sentence, “Sara wore red shoes.”

The subject is “Sara”.  The verb is “wore”.  The object is “shoes”.  The word “shoes” is modified by the adjective, “red”.  Let’s put it all together in the order determined by Persian grammar:

“Sara shoes red wore.” 
sArA kafshe qermez pushid. 
سارا کفش قرمز پوشید

Keep in mind also that Persian is read from right to left, the opposite direction of English. So it’s really:

.erow der seohs araS

That’s it!

Now you know all the tricks.  You just need to get your feet wet and play around with words and word order.

Bust open a kit of Persian-English word magnets and explore.  You are free to apply the rules of word order to your magnetic creations.  You are free to break the rules and make up your own word order.

For those who want a bit more explanation of the rules and how it shows up when you use the magnets, here they are!

Word Magnets and Word Order

If an English speaker flips over a sentence made from Persian magnets and reads it from left to right they will be reading the sentence backwards. Not to panic! They will still get the idea of what the sentence is about.

In fact, reading the sentence correctly from right to left may be more confusing to them than reading it backwards. This is because Persian word order is different from English in two key ways.

1. The modifier comes before the word it modifies.

The modifier comes before the word it modifies. Here is the phrase “Your Father”.

From right to left, you read it “Pedar(e) ShomA” - “Father (e)* Your.” To an English reader, it looks fine backwards since you start at the left and read it backwards!  “ShomA Pedar,” though backwards in Persian, is “Your Father” going from left to right.

*Important note about modifiers: In Persian, the modifier and the modified are connected with an “ezAfe.”  This is an “e” sound which is never shown but always pronounced that comes at the end of the modifier. While it looks like “Pedar shomA”, you have to sound it out as “Pedar-e shomA”. It can be translated to mean “of” (e.g., “father of you”).

2. Persian sentence word order is different from English

Persian sentences use this order: Subject (S), Object (O), Verb (V) - (SOV).

English sentences use Subject, Verb, Object (SVO).

Consider this sentence:
The subject here is “your father”, the verb is “was” and the object is “a brave man.”

In Persian, from right to left, you read: “Pedar (e) shomA mard (e) shojA-i* bud.” 

Which is “Father (e) your man (e) brave-a* was.”

In English, you would say “Your Father was a brave man.” If you used that word order in Persian, it would be “shomA pedar bud yek shojA mard” which makes no sense in Persian.

*The word particle ی (i, yeh) is very versatile. Here it is working as the “indefinite suffix.” “mard (e) shojA-i”, “a brave man” or “some brave man” rather than “the” brave man or “that” brave man.  We’ve translated it as “a” on the magnets, but it can be some, the and that, depending on its use.  Note, the “+” symbol indicates this is a suffix and doesn’t stand alone but must rather be connected to a word. Don’t feel limited by the definitions on the back of our Persian English Word Magnets.

It may take some time to get used to the word order differences, but once you do, you will feel your brain getting more flexible and versatile as you switch back and forth between languages.

For more information on word order, see Answers.com.

And don’t forget the fun you can have with words in Object-Subject-Verb (OSV) order, just like Yoda.

Yoda would say, of course: “A brave man your father was.”


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