I'm making a Conlang, and this conlang uses a Verb-Subject-Object Sentence Structure. I'm trying to convert part of the poem "The New Colossus" into the Conlang, but I'm stuck trying to figure out which parts of the poem are which. Specifically, I'm stuck trying to find (and convert to VSO) this part;

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

If someone could assist me with finding and converting the structure here, it would be great.

1 Answer 1


This sentence is in the imperative mood, so there is no subject (it´s implied to be the addressee). The verb is give, me is the indirect object (the target of give), and the rest of the sentence is the direct object.

The direct object is a complex noun phrase, with masses being the head, a set of determiner/adjective groups (your tired etc) as pre-modifiers, and a post-modifying clause yearning to breathe free. This could be interpreted as a relative clause with who are being omitted for poetic reasons.

[Note: I have labeled the possessive pronoun your as a determiner here, as it has the same function, and cannot be used at the same time as another determiner.]

UPDATE: It has occurred to me after Anton´s comment that there is also a slightly different interpretation of the direct object possible. Instead of it being a single noun phrase with the head masses, it could also be a list of three different groups of people:

  • give me your tired (people)
  • give me your poor (people)
  • give me your huddled masses

This is ambiguous, so it really depends on how you read it. The adjectives tired and poor could in that interpretation also act as nouns.

So the direct object could either be a single noun (masses), or an enumeration of three. But this does not affect the overall sentence analysis otherwise.

  • Are you saying that tired, poor, huddled all apply equally to masses? That never occurred to me! Dec 3, 2021 at 6:08
  • @AntonSherwood Yes, it´s an enumeration of adjectives. For poetic reasons they all have your in front of it; you could equally well say "give me your tired, poor, and huddled masses" (but that doesn´t scan as nicely). Actually, see update. Dec 3, 2021 at 8:09
  • I don't think it's ambiguous at all: the context should make it clear it's talking of the poor, the tired, and the huddled masses (ie three groups). And given the way English orders its adjectives, they usually follow the order opinion > size > physical quality > shape > age > colour > origin > material > type > purpose. "Tired" is a physical quality, "poor" is an opinion, and "huddled" is a shape. So, if they were all adjectives, they should be "poor tired huddled masses", not "tired poor huddled masses". The latter just sounds wrong. Dec 3, 2021 at 16:40
  • @KeithMorrison I had in mind applying all three adjectives in parallel, not in series as it were; your tired masses and your poor masses and your huddled masses are distinct though likely overlapping groups – as they are also in your preferred analysis (and as I had been reading it all these years). Dec 4, 2021 at 1:26
  • @KeithMorrison The structure is ambiguous, but the context usually resolves any ambiguity. However, I would interpret this different from you, in that all adjectives refer to the masses. Because of the repetition of your the usual order of adjectives doesn't apply, so while you are right in your analysis if it was simply a list, I think here it works differently. It might be resolved either way in the full text, however. Dec 6, 2021 at 8:17

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