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Verb at the end

It looks like the word order always has the verb at the end of the sentence.

Students books read

My question is about the history, no romance language which evolved vulgar Latin have this word order.

How did the modern word order happen ?

Students read books

April 8, 2020



Probably lots of reasons why this resulted, but a big motivating factor was probably that case-marking (via endings on the end of Latin words) mostly fell away - and you can see this already happening in orthographies and pronunciations while recognizable Latin was still being spoken. (In fact, classical Latin had already dropped/coalesced several cases from proto-Indo-European anyway.) When you can't use the ending to distinguish subject and direct object, it makes sense to show that via word order when it isn't clear semantically. In the sentence 'students books read' it doesn't seem to matter (you can still understand the meaning despite the lack of case marking and given contextual knowledge about how reading words), but think of a sentence like 'fathers sons love' - is 'fathers' the subject or is it 'sons'? In classical Latin case endings would show which was the subject and which the object clearly, so reordering the words would change the implication (e.g. 'sons love fathers' vs 'sons LOVE fathers,' which we might indicate via tone) but not the basic meaning. In the absence of such case marking, though, word order is a good solution to preserve meaning - e.g. put 'sons' before verb to show that its the subject.


Thanks for the reply! I find this very interesting! Take my lingot :)


Hi! Latin doesn't always have the verb at the end of the sentence. It's usually there because it's- well I can't really explain. So, I'm sure you might know English is a Germanic language, though it may have mostly Latin derivatives. Most languages kind of have their own thing, I guess. My not-very-much-approved-answer-which-is-probably-not-good-enough is that the languages were based off of Latin, but they don't have to follow the word order. It's 2:30 AM, I warn you, my mind is never stable and, well yeah, it's also 2:30 AM. Good combo.


The point is languages you would think are closest to Vulgar Latin "at least the ones Duolingo supports" Italian and Romanian do not have this type of sentence structure.


Well, it's sometimes at the end, because it's possible due to the declension and conjugation scheme that doesn't rely on word order. If orators or well-educated authors are confronted with such a possibility, they seize their chance: putting the main verb at the end

  • creates suspense (how might the phrase end?)
  • demonstrates intellectual capability (Look at me! I can form page-long phrases and still don't forget what I want to say here: I can prove that by remembering the main verb the whole time and mention it last)
  • is able to create brackets (e.g. from subject to main verb) that encapsulates the main idea
  • and so on

I, being German, am used to flexible word order (to a lesser degree than Latin) and I can absolutely relate to some of these ideas mentioned above. Flexible word order gives you a plethora of style options.


Google Latin SOV to Romance SVO and you'll find plenty of reasons suggested, for ex.. FWIW, I've got a few French books discussing this change; if I can dig them out from where they're packed I'll take a look for you.


Well this is a special linguistic situation in Classical Latin. The purpose of this is to made a rhyme in every sentence, and they didnĀ“t use pronouns too much . This might be changed when Rome falls and the Latin development change completly with the introduction of Eclessiastical Latin a different form of Latin more actual. This form of the language uses the pronouns ( in classical latin ,it is not necessary to use them) and the introduction of new gramatical laws.

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