So, I'm working on my very first conlang, which happens to be OSV (object-subject-verb word order). But I seem to have run into something of a roadblock. How could I handle clauses such as, for example, 'the bird sings when the sun rises'? I'm considering adding some kind of marker or even creating some sort of word hierarchy, but I don't want to wind up with anything excessively complicated. Again, we're dealing with OSV here. Any advice for a struggling amateur here?

  • Note: "the bird [S] sings [V] when the sun [S] rises [V]" is already in OSV order! In general, clauses like "when the sun rises" are called adverbial clauses, and their position is not fixed by the OSV type - you could put them at any position in the sentence. As for marking, note that there is also already a marker "when" present!
    – Cecilia
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 12:16

1 Answer 1


Adjuncts (which is "when the sun rises" here) can usually be placed anywhere in a sentence. Using another example with an object, the following are possible:

  • When the sun rises, a song the bird sings
  • A song when the sun rises the bird sings
  • A song the bird when the sun rises sings
  • A song the bird sings when the sun rises

They all sound a bit weird because English is not OSV, but are probably valid in a poetic context... Toki pona always puts temporal adjuncts at the front of a sentence. If you allow free variation, it's probably a good idea to impose a relative order (place before temporal before manner or similar), which is common in natural languages. But otherwise you have free reign -- it's your language!

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