Japanese sentence structure

anybody particularly comfortable with explaining the Japanese sentence structure?
Is there a general structure that you should follow if your speaking or writing in Japanese?
for example, the verb goes at the last part of the sentence. a specific date or time goes first at the beginning of the sentence before the topic or subject.

Japanese is a subject-object-verb language: Man sushi ate.

There are particles that mark the function of each noun in the sentence: Man ga sushi wo ate.

Time and place of the action usually come at the start of the sentence:
Last week, Okinawa in, man sushi ate.

Often the subject is omitted, if it would be understood from context: sushi wo ate.

Often the sentence starts with a topic. The topic marker is “wa”.

Relative clauses go before the noun, instead of after as in English:
“the man who is holding a bunch of flowers” => “flowers holding man”.

As hibernicus says, in general it’s subject-object-verb. However, like English, you can always create more complex formulations that aren’t standard.

For example, this is proper English, makes sense, and yet is arranged like a Japanese sentence: My dog and I, to the store we walked.

In Japanese, you can arrange stuff like English: Watashi, sanpou wo yatta, uchi no inu wo mise made.

Of course, that’s not the recommended way for talking usually.

ok, i see. but if you had a sentence a little more complex like i was eating food while watching tv, which sentence would be first?

TV watching-while food eating-was.

Are you learning Japanese or just curious?

Nit pick: No need to translate tabete ita as “eating-was.” It’s one word, so “was eating” is more correct. I know it doesn’t sound as funny, but we call all live with that.

I can live with that. I wasn’t really aiming for funny, just trying to illustrate how the word order would come out in Japanese for the specific example vanotd21 asked about. The straightforward answer to his question is that the “while…” clause comes first.

it’s more for fun. I took the language in high school and decided to see how much I remembered. it’s been about 3 years and I’m only getting bits and pieces. One of the problems i had was the sentence structure because I wouldn’t put it in the right format. I was leaning toward an English sentence structure.

Pretty much what others have said above, although there are variations. Also, common, everyday speech among one’s peers is very relaxed and doesn’t always hold to formal structure.

Dunno, but recommendation for writing English: your and you’re are different words. Also we tend to capitalize the first words of sentences, the word “I”, and abbreviations such as OK.