3

Does O-S-V sentence like this sound normal for native speakers? (context: a wiki page for a knowledge database)

  • The detailed information you can find in chapter 1.

Or I had better use one of these:

  • You can find the detailed information in chapter 1. (S-V-O)
  • The detailed information can be found in chapter 1.

Thank you for you help!

  • 1
    Is this the full sentence or is there more to it? You don't have any periods on the end so it's unclear. This actually matters to your question, by the way. :) – Catija Jun 13 '18 at 21:32
  • Yes, this is the full sentence. I edited the question in order to add periods. – Pennatus Jun 13 '18 at 21:40
  • O-S-V is fine, but I think it works better in the context where you want to draw attention to the object, to compare it with something else. In general it's just verbal adornment and is mostly superfluous. – Andrew Jun 13 '18 at 21:44
  • 1
    You would say The detailed information instead of Detailed information only if you had been giving a summary or cursory overview, and were distinguishing between the overview and the much more comprehensive information. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 13 '18 at 22:30
  • 1
    This construction is generally called "Topicalization" in generative grammar. You can find more examples at the bottom of p. 5 in this list of transformations. It's normally not used in formal writing. – John Lawler Jun 14 '18 at 2:46
3

OSV can certainly arise naturally, but usually only in the context of a marked subject. For instance, it can be used to contrast the subject with some other object:

After the party, Alice was left with a bottle of white wine and a bottle of red. She gave the white to Bob. The red, she drank.

In this example, "the red" has been fronted, partly to contrast it with the other bottle, and partly to lend the sentence an air of finality. I spent quite a lot of time debating with myself whether the comma was necessary, but I eventually decided to include it to denote the ellipsis of the word "bottle." Regardless of whether it is correct, a native speaker would almost certainly pause at that point.

In more typical contexts, however, OSV is rare. While your first example is perfectly grammatical, it places an emphasis on "the detailed information" which really only makes sense if you had just been talking about some other, non-detailed information. For example:

You will find only summaries in this slide deck. Detailed information you can find in chapter 1.

Even this is a stretch, however, because academics simply do not write like that. They tend to prefer more straightforward sentence structures, like one of your alternative constructions:

This slide deck is a summary. You can find detailed information in chapter 1.

Most native speakers would find this version easier to read and understand, even if it doesn't sound as fancy.

  • Awesome Thank you I couldn't for the life of me come up with a construction that made the O-S-V sound acceptable/grammatical. Your example does that. – DRF Jun 14 '18 at 7:50
6

You're definitely better off in most situations going with one of the other two options (in my opinion), though you don't need "the" in either:

You can find detailed information [about this subject] in chapter 1.
Detailed information [about this subject] can be found in chapter 1.

Your first sentence reads to me like a fragment. It's definitely part of a good construction and would be quite formal but you're missing half of the statement:

The detailed information you can find in chapter one will help you better understand this subject.

With this formatting, it makes much more sense.

  • 3
    This answer is wholly missing the point. The example you give at the end has a completely different structure, with an embedded relative clause. The example in the question is a simple sentence, with the object fronted for emphasis. – Colin Fine Jun 13 '18 at 23:46
  • 3
    I don't see how it's missing the point. I specifically say "it reads like a fragment". – Catija Jun 13 '18 at 23:48
  • 1
    And I am saying that in context it does not read like a fragment, but as a topicalised sentence. – Colin Fine Jun 13 '18 at 23:52
  • 3
    There is no context! The OP gave nothing other than the sentence. Initially there wasn't even a period at the end... and I'm really not sure how the suggested version is better than the nearly-identical (and preferable and more common) "Detailed information can be found in chapter 1." This is has the benefit of being "topicalized" AND it reads more cleanly and avoids "you". – Catija Jun 13 '18 at 23:55
  • Sounds to me like the question should've been closed as Unclear instead of answered, if the lacking context is that important. – Mast Jun 14 '18 at 5:11
4

Fronting the object like this is perfectly grammatical, but it is highly marked, and would only be used when there is a particular reason to put emphasis on the object.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.