Lugamun’s typical sentence structure can be described as subject – verb – object (SVO), just as in English. Both the subject and the object are noun phrases or pronouns, which will be described later. The verb phrase will also be described later.
Simple sentences have just a subject and a verb.
Ya nulis. – He/She is reading.
The object, if present, is usually placed after the verb.
Mi ama ti. – I love you.
Prepositional phrases are most typically placed at the end of the clause, after the object (or after the verb, if there is no object).
Mi li da buku a Tom. – I gave the book to Tom. / I gave Tom the book.
Note: Among the world’s languages, subject-object-verb (SOV) is somewhat more frequent (41%) than SVO (35%), but both are very common (WALS 81). SVO is used by eight of our ten source languages (all except for Hindi and Japanese) and by most creole languages (APiCS 1), therefore we prefer it.
The subject and object markers
Lugamun has two little words – typically called markers – that can be placed at the beginning of the subject or the object to mark them unambiguously as such. I marks the subject, while o marks the object. In sentences that use the typical SVO order, these markers are optional and usually omitted. Instead of the above example, you could also say:
I mi li da o buku a Tom.
But such usage is rare, because the sentence is clear without the i and the o.
However, the object marker must be used if you place a prepositional phrase between the verb and the object. For example, you could also say:
Mi li da a Tom o buku.
In this case, the o is required and cannot be omitted.
From time to time there may be sentences that are so long and complex that it’s not trivial to detect where the object starts. In such cases, it may be a good idea to use o to clarify this.
Alisa no miru no tem prepre o rabit gen au poket jilet au kotoke gi tu estre de it. – Alice (Alisa) had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it.
In such longish sentences, the o helps to clarify their structure, making it easier for the reader or listener to make sense of them. Using it is therefore helpful, though the sentence remains legal without it.
The markers i and o also allow varying the word order, deviating from the usual SVO order. The various verb markers that permit unambiguously marking the beginning of the verb phrase can be useful for the same purpose. This will be discussed later.