Does an adverb come before or after the verb? I'm writing (or at least trying to) the sentence "Never step inside of/on the tokonoma." Now, knowing how to write that sentence specifically would be great, but I would really love to know: in general, where does the adverb go in the "subject-object-verb" sentence format??
In Japanese verbs always come last (except for poetry and in such cases that is often a noun which concludes the sentence). Which means that adverb always come before the verb.
Examples: (adverbs in bold)
- 速く走る : to run fast
- 早く起きる : to wake up early
- 恐らく雨が降るでしょう : it will probably rain
- 日本語を話せるように一生懸命勉強している。: I work hard in order to become able to speak Japanese
The adverb of interest here is never. The "big" problem is that there is no one-to-one correspondence between never and a Japanese word (whereas in many romance languages there are direct equivalents: mai (in Italian), nunca or jamás in Spanish, jamais in French, etc.)
But if you look at it, "Never step inside of/on the tokonoma." is an order, or more precisely an interdiction. Thus, it can be rewritten this way: "(No matter the situation,) do not step on the tokonoma."
To express a negative order in Japanese, you can add な to the 終止形 (the form used to conclude a sentence) of a verb.
- 飲む : to drink → 飲むな Do not drink
- 来る : to come → 来るな Do not come.
Nevertheless adding な is very direct.
An other possibility is to append てはいけない to the 未然形 of the verb. (Literally, if you do so, it won't be any good)
- 飲む → 飲んではいけない You'd better not drink
- 来る → 来てはいけない You'd better not come
More softly, you can append こと after the negation of the verb.
- 飲まないこと → You should not drink
- 来ないこと → You should not come
If you want to be polite.
- 踏む (step on) → 床の間を、お踏みにならないように（ご注意ください）。 Please make sure not stepping on the tokonoma.
I am sure there are other ways to say it.
I would like to point out that although Japanese is indeed a SOV language, the rules of word ordering are fairly free: as you have particles that provide hints as to which role the word fulfils, you do not need a precise word order.
Setting this aside, these recommendations will help you:
- The verb should always come last
- The subject, if present is most often the first word
- Adverbs can be placed anywhere, but their position influences their scope (see Can placements of adverbs be altered freely? ).
Thus they will often be placed:
- At the beginning of a sentence, when they qualify it entirely
- Before a noun, to qualify it
- Right before a verb, when they modify the action.
In your case, I would probably place it at the beginning:
But I guess it would be acceptable before the verb: