Sentence structure and Word order (syntax) in Glosa

A sentences is made up of words, and it is the order of the words in the sentence that gives us meaning; this order also tells us the word's function (verb, noun, or modifier) in that sentence.


In Glosa, words do not change according to their function: no Part-of-Speech markers are added to tell if the word denotes a thing, action or description. So, Glosa words are really “Concept/words”. Thus, each word is not identified as being a verb or noun, etc.

Glosa words do not change for reasons of grammar (system for getting meaning from words): and they can be used, within reason, as any part of speech. For example, vide = to see, is a ‘verb’ if it functions as a verb (An pa vide id.), and a ‘noun’ if it functions as a noun (Id pa es u boni vide.).

Words are built into small groups called phrases, and these phrases are built into sentences: the order of words in a phrase, and of phrases in a sentence indicates clearly the function of each word. The order of the words (syntax) gives us the meaning in Glosa; and so, we describe the language as having ‘syntax-based grammar’.


The phrase (small group of words) is the basic unit of sentence construction in Glosa. A small group of words might include a thing and some description of it (noun phrase); or the group might include an action and some modifications to this action (verb phrase). A small group of words at the start of a Glosa sentence might qualify the action of the sentence (adverbial phrase).

Within each phrase, each word is modified by the one before it; and, from the start to the end of the phrase, there is a gradual increase in importance of the words. The main concept/word of a phrase, be it ‘noun’ or ‘verb’, is the last word of the phrase.

        Noun Phrase        the three fast, loud red cars
                           plu tri celero fo-sono rubi vagona

        Verb Phrase        were quickly end excitedly talking loudly
                           pa du celero e excita fo-sono dice

        Adverbial phrase   while running     (relates to  --->  verb)
                           tem kursi

Marking of Phrases: in speech, phrases are spoken as one group, often with a raising then lowering of intonation (pitch) from start to finish; in written form, if it seems necessary for the understanding of meaning, the start and finish of phrases, is indicated using punctuation (commas).


A clause is a larger group of words containing two or more phrases, and such a simple two, or three, phrase clause can make up the whole sentence, called the Main Clause (MC).

        The sequence of phrases in a simple Main Clause is:-
               MC = NP + VP [+ NP]

    OR   Sentence = Subject + Verb + Object

How Hany ‘Verbs’ in a Sentence?

All sentences have at least one ‘verb’: in the Main Clause, this is in the middle of the sentence, in the Verb Phrase.

However, if the Noun Phrase or a Modifier in a Noun Phrase or Verb Phrase is expanded to include a ‘verb’ of its own, then we describe these larger, ‘verb’ containing, groups as clauses.

       There are:-  Noun Clauses: `verb' containing groups that function
                       as _things_ - in the place of Noun Phrases.

                    Adjectival Clauses: `verb' containing groups that
                       modify _things_ - used after the `noun' in a NP.

                    Adverbial Clauses: `verb' containing groups that modify
                       _actions_ - usually used at the start of a sentence,
                       but can follow the `verb' they modify.


In each sentence, the clause indicated in the right margin is underlined: for Main Clauses, the phrases will be underlined; and for Modifying Clauses, the word modified will also be shown.

      e.g.  The boy arrived.              U ju-an pa ariva.            MC
                                          ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~
      e.g.  The girl went home.           U ju-fe pa ki a fe domi.     MC
                                          ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~
      e.g.  The man will eat the meal.    Un andra fu vora u vora.     MC
                                          ~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~
      e.g.  She spoke so loudly that she was heard.
            Fe pa ta sono dice ke fe pa gene ge-audi.                AdvC
                          ~~~~ <-- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      e.g.  The girl went home after she had eaten a good meal.
            U ju-fe pa ki a fe domi, po fe pra vora u boni vora.     AdvC
                       ~~   <---     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      e.g.  The boy, who was fat and badly dressed, arrived.
            U ju-an; qi pa es paki e mali ge-vesti, pa ariva.        AdjC
              ~~~~~ <-- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      e.g.  I like to get away from the house.
            Mi amo gene ab u domi.                                     NC
      e.g.  The farmer hoped that it would rain.
            Un agri-pe pa spera: ke id sio pluvi.                      NC
      e.g.  Going home is the best part of work.
            Ki a mi domi es u maxi boni mero de mi ergo.               NC


Usually, the Subject-Verb-Object pattern has the Object directly receiving the Verb's action, done to it by the Subject. Such an object is called a Direct Object (DO).

      e.g.  Dog bites man.             U kanis morda un andra.

But, we often get bored with straight sentences, and sometimes turn them around, effectively producing a Reciever-Action-Doer order. This is called Passive Voice.

      e.g.  Man bitten by dog.         Un andra gene ge-morda ex u Kanis.
                                               (gets got-bitten)


While the Subject usually does the action, described by the verb, directly to the Object, sometimes the last Noun Phrase looks like an Object, but does not directly recieve the Verb's action. This NP is called an Indirect Object (IO).

      e.g.  Dog bites man on the hand. U kanis morda un andra epi u mani.
                                                     ~~(DO)~~ ~~~(IO)~~~

      e.g.  She ran across the road.   Fe pa kurso trans u via.


These are the small words that are not concept/words, but which join these words together (conjunctions), lead us into a phrase or clause (prepositions), create negatives, introduce questions, or modify the timing of an action when placed before a ‘verb’ (tense particles). There are also the small words placed before ‘nouns’ to tell us that they are things, and how many, or how much, of them there are (determinants).

        Joining words:  e, sed, pluso, alo, ni

        Prepositions: tem, a, ex, de, anti, seqe, po, pre, vice, kron ....

        Negatives: ne, nuli, no-, ni ... ni, nuli-

        Questions: Qe, qestio, qod, qo-

        Tense particles: pa, fu, du, nu, pra, sio, ge-, gene

        Before ‘nouns’: u, plu, plura, uno, vario, poli, oligo, u mero de


Putting all the above together, in Glosa, as in English, sentences can be made up of various combinations of phrases and clauses – as long as the Subject-Verb-Object rule is observed. In Glosa, also, there is the added requirement that words in phrases follow the rule of increasing importance, with the main concept/word last.

If the sentence is made up of phrases only, there is a single ‘verb’, and the sentence is described as the Main Clause. If there are two or more ‘verbs’, then the ‘verb’ describing the main action forms the Main Clause, and the other clauses (NC, AdvC, AdjC) are called Subordinate Clauses. The whole sentence can, however, still be called the Main Clause.

The secret of good sentence formation is in using well-formed phrases to make up the sentences and their constituent clauses.


RULE: In a phrase, a word is modified by the word in front of it (its
RULE: In a normal sentence (Main Clause), there is a tendency for the
        first noun phrase (SUBJECT) to modify the verb phrase (VERB), and
        then, for the verb phrase to modify the second noun phrase (OBJECT).
RULE: A modifying clause (Adjectival or Adverbial) follows directly after
        the concept/word that it modifies; this structure is indicated
        by the placing of a semi-colon (;) or possibly a colon (:) before
        the new clause.

In a noun phrase, the sequence is:-

           determinant  -  number  -  quantity  -  modifier(s)  -  noun

        e.g. plu tri no-ge-numera, fo sono, no-puri ju-an
             the three uncounted, shouting, dirty boys

           Note.  The concept/word that is used as a noun is the only
              element of a noun phrase that is essential.

In a verb phrase, the sequence is:-

                                                    |   verb
  negative - tense - modifier(s) - auxiliary verb - |      OR
  particle                                          | verboid + amplifier

                     e.g. ne pa hedo, no-soni tenta | kursi
                                                    | ki ana

                       did not happily, quietly try | to run
                                                    | to go up

           Note, again.  The concept/word that is used as a verb is the
               only element of a verb phrase that is essential.


One last note: we can, where no confusion of meaning is likely to occur, omit some of the function words. This is known as “elipsis”; it is a normal part of English.

  e.g. He came and went.             An pa veni e [pa] ki.

  e.g. Boys and girls walked past.   Plu ju-an e [plu] ju-fe pa gresi pasa.

However, when you learn Glosa, it is best to use the full form of the language first, so that you know what you are leaving out when you do use elipsis.

Robin F. Gaskell

The Glosa Educational Organisation is a Registered Charity in the UK.

Wendy Ashby, GEO
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Kingston Upon Thames
Surrey KT2 5LR
ENGLAND, 2001 ... 2011-05-12