2. Verbs

Kash grammarians distinguish three types of verbs: (1) kota lepes roughly 'descriptive words', corresponding to adjectives, which in many ways behave verbally in Kash; (2) kota mepu 'action words' or ordinary verbs for actions or states; and (3) kota pila roughly 'thought words', corresponding to experiential or psychological verbs. "Descriptive" verbs are usually intransitive (adjectival or stative); the others can be either transitive or intransitive, but that is not considered an important distinction in Kash grammar. Within each class there are basic and derived verbs. Conjugation is entirely regular-- all verbs use the same tense markers and personal prefixes, and can be considered to be "active"-- that is, there is no specifically marked "passive voice". However, certain changes in word order change the focus of a sentence, which can often be tranlated with a passive verb. This will be discussed further in the Syntax.

Basic-stem verbs

These are forms without derivational affixes, and are the most common. Examples: le˝ 'good', vanat 'white', inji 'young', šindi 'speak', cosa 'to go', mepu 'do, make', vele 'give', lato 'wander, roam', tikas 'see', nuwak 'ask'. All adjectival bases, and some purely verbal ones (semantics permitting), can occur as modifiers after nouns-- e.g.ana šangi 'a/the sick child', puna vanat 'a/the white house'; findu paha 'an/the open door'; sende šindi 'a/the spoken language', leroš cosa 'days gone by, the past'-- but there are restrictions on verbal modifiers, and limits on the number of adjectives that may follow a noun (see the Syntax). .

A verbal noun (a gerund, or infinitive) is formed by adding the suffix -ale (-le after vowel), but has limited uses, e.g. šindile kaš yatata 'to speak ~speaking Kash is easy'. The form is moribund at best, as there are alternatives both in written and spoken language. Similarly, nouns are made adjectival/verbal with a suffix -kale (after vowels, nasals and r; -ale elsewhere) with the sense "pertaining to..."-- punakale 'pertaining to houses, domestic'; karungale 'pertaining to the karun (duke), ducal''-- but these too are uncommon in speech, and alternatives exist.

All finite verbal forms are marked for tense, and conjugated with personal prefixes in the three persons, singular and plural. These affixes were given in the Morphology section, but we repeat them here: 1st pers. sing. ma-, plural mi-, 2nd pers. sing. ha-, plural hi-, 3rd pers. sing. ya-, plural i-. Present tense is unmarked, the bare stem; past tense suffixes -sa (without sandhi), future -to, but these markers are frequently omitted in speech and written work if the context is clear.

The perfect tenses are formed with invariant mende 'finished; already' placed before the main verb, thus mende yacosa 'he has gone'; any pronominal clitics go between mende and the verb: mende yan ne masorom 'I have sold it (anim.) to him' (the neuter object pronoun yu is usually omitted, so mende ne masorom 'I have sold (it, neut.) to him'). In everyday usage, where the context is clear, this form can also express the past or future perfect, while in formal settings, where the sequence of tenses may be important-- in historical writing, legal documents or testimony-- the tense markers are used: anju mende yacosasa 'when he had gone...', or mende ne matikasto 'I will have seen him....' Reduplicated memende expresses 'to have just...', as memende manahan 'I have just eaten'; the full reduplication mende-mende is more emphatic, as mende-mende manahan 'I have just eaten'. As a verb in its own right, mende means 'finished, done, over with', with a causative form rumbende 'to finish s.t., to complete s.t.'

Just as in many Terran languages, the simple present is often used to express past or future time-- yarata ro lero cosa 'he arrived two days ago' or mifosi sapat 'we sail tomorrow'. Use of the future tense usually implies a certain definiteness or necessity-- mifosito sapat 'we will sail tomorrow (e.g. regardless of weather, or, because it is scheduled)'. (In fact, the wholesale omission of tense markers is one of the characteristics of colloquial speech, to be discussed more fully in the Syntax.) Typically in prose or traditional story-telling, the first sentence will contain a marked tense form, with subsequent verbs unmarked until a new topic is introduced (often with ende 'and so, and then...'), when a marked form will be used again.

Derived verbs

There are four classes of derived verbs: (1) causatives, (2) inchoatives, (3) accidentals, and (4) potentials, all formed by prefixes to base forms. The accidental prefix lacks a clear etymology, but the others derive from base forms meaning, respectively, 'to cause, to become, to be able', which are still in use and can (sometimes must) be used in place of the derived forms. The accidental form is quite productive, the others somewhat less so, though scientists and clever speakers still manage to create new forms. Many derived forms have undergone changes in meaning, to the extent that they are almost distinct lexical items.

The prefixes are mutually exclusive; that is, it is not possible to form an inchoative from a causative, an accidental from a potential, etc. Nor is it usual to form a˝-/ka˝- nominals from derived verbs, though a few technical terms are so formed, e.g. a˝ukamon 'gestation period' (< çukamon 'gestate' < kamon 'be born')

Causatives are formed with the prefix rum- (< rumek 'to cause')-- but it has that form only before vowels, behaving as if it were ru˝- for sandhi before consonants. It creates transitive verbs from (usually) intransitive bases, with the general meaning "cause X to be or become (base)". They seldom, if ever, mean "make/force s.o.to do (base)". Some examples:

- rumale 'to create' < ale 'to be' (cause to be) - rundakale 'to annihilate, destroy' < tak ale 'not to be'
- rundikas 'to show, exhibit' < tikas 'see' - rumbaha 'to open s.t.' < paha 'open (adj.)'
- rumbende 'to complete' < mende 'finished' - rumanat 'to whitewash, paint white' < vanat 'white'
- rupasan 'to heat s.t.' < fasan 'hot' - rumakram 'to explain' < akram 'clear'
- rundaka 'to enlarge' < raka 'big' - rundahan 'to feed' < nahan 'eat'

Unlike bare verbs, causative and inchoative forms are seldom used as noun modifiers-- it can be done, but is considered awkward, and there are alternatives. In many cases, causatives have transitive basic verb synonyms-- e.g. ahan 'create', šakrum 'destroy'-- which do have derived forms.

Inchoatives are formed with the prefix çu- (~çuk- always before vowels, sometimes before consonants with irregular sandhi. (The prefix is irreg. derived < yukar 'to become'). It creates intransitive verbs from (almost always) intransitive bases, with the general meaning "to become or begin to be (base)". Some forms may take an indirect object, in particular those few with a transitive base. Some examples:

- çukramba 'to darken, get dark, grow dark' < oramba 'dark'
- çupaha 'to open' (as in, 'the door opened') < paha 'open'
- çufasan 'to heat up, to get hot' (as in, 'the food is heating', 'the weather is getting hot(ter)' < fasan 'hot'
- çutikas 'to become visible, emerge, appear' < tikas 'to see'
- çukakram 'to become clear, to be clearing up' < akram 'clear'
- çusisa 'to fall in love with (+ ind. obj.)' < sisa 'to love'

Accidentals are formed with the prefix caka- which takes the form cak- before vowels and r, ca- before k and h (which changes > k) and before bases of 3 or more syllables, and sometimes before š/c or if there is š/c/k within the base. The forms are usually intransitive, usually derived from intransitive bases, tend to be adjectival, and may even function as nouns-- their usage and peculiarities are discussed further in the Syntax. The accidental prefix is quite productive if the semantics of the base permit, and gives a general passive meaning "overcome by..., afflicted with..., suddenly/unexpectedly...."-- quite like the Engl. "paranoid passive" with 'get' ('he got kicked', 'I got fired', 'her blouse got torn'). The resulting state is almost always undesirable or culturally negative; if used in a humorous context, it can imply sarcasm or ridicule. Some examples:

- cakoramba ~cakramba 'overtaken by darkness, caught out in the dark'
- cakapaha 'to open up suddenly, fly or burst open'
- cakašindi 'to speak suddenly/out of turn; to blurt out, babble senselessly' < šindi 'to speak'
- cakamende 'to be cut off, interrupted; colloq., to get killed'
- cakafasan, cakalero 'to be overcome by the heat; have a heat- or sunstroke'
- cakasisa 'madly/obsessively/inappropriately in love with; smitten, besotted'
- cakavatip (< vatip 'personal, private') might be said of s.o. with an extremely closed or private personality

Potentials are formed with the prefix po- (< pole 'be able, can'), somewhat productive but liable to unpredictable shifts in meaning. The forms are transitive or intrasitive depending on the base-- generally if the base is intransitive, the meaning is "able to (base)"; if transitive, "able to be (base)". But there are exceptions. Some examples:

- pošindi 'able to speak' < šindi 'speak' - popaha 'openable', cf. 'this door opens easily'
- powumit 'usable, useful' < umit 'to use' - polama 'able to share, participate in' < lama 'to share'
- potikas 'visible' < tikas 'to see' - pomepu 'doable, feasible' < mepu 'to make, do'

Many of these forms have taken on specialized meanings, and tend to describe inherent abilities: pošindi, for example, is usually used of children who have just begun to talk, and although pole šindi could be used, it more commonly implies simple ability or opportunity to speak-- "I can speak French", "you can speak next." Similarly, poharan 'able to walk' refers only to toddlers; otherwise, of locations, it means "able to be walked to, within walking distance". But someone whose broken leg has healed would say pole maharan veluni 'I can walk again'. A computer is powumit-- a person pole umit a computer; the moon may be potikas-- but we pole tikas it.


Sentences are negated with ta (tak before vowels) 'not'. There is also a negative prefix tra- (tar- before vowels) that serves to negate, or create the opposite of, many verbs (especially adjectivals and potentials), and even some nouns. Thus it corresponds to Engl. "un-", "non-" or "in-". But it is not particularly productive, and many of the forms are lexicalized. Some examples:

- virik 'pretty, beautiful' : travirik 'ugly' (but note synomym volap)
- uha˝ 'clean' : taruha˝ 'unclean, dirty' (synonym vecut)
- powumit 'useful' : trapowumit 'useless' (no synonym)
- pošindi 'able to speak' (child) : trapošindi 'mute, unable to speak' (physical disability)-- syn. sufa;
but of a child, ta pošindi 'not (yet) able to speak'


The imperative is formed with the suffix -ka (sing.) ~ -ki (plur.), without stress-shift; the plural form is little used in colloquial speech. Examples: nßhanga 'eat (it)!', cˇsaka 'go!', rumbÚndeki '(pl.) finish (it)!'. Such commands are usually softened by adding the suffix -po (no stress shift; it means 'just, only', but is essentially meaningless here)-- nßhangapo '(just) eat!'.

Negative imperatives are introduced with yanda 'do not...'-- yanda cosaka(po) '(please) don't go!', yanda nile rungayaka 'don't let them know, don't tell them'. It is permissible, and common, to omit -ka/-ki in negative imperatives.

The -ka/yanda imperative is appropriate in almost all situations, but when addressing dignitaries, the elderly, someone of known high status, or a complete stranger, a more formal and polite form uses maturo lit. 'I beg' or turole lit. 'begging'; the negative is maturo/turole yanda...with -ka/-ki(+po) even in colloquial speech.

There is also a familiar form-- -ha, plural -hi, nowadays used only, if at all, to children within one's family. Formerly it could be used for all children, family members or very close friends.

There is also a "1st person imperative" or hortative: ara mi+(verb) 'let's....; come on, let's ...'. It can also occur alone as an interjection-- ara! 'come on!; let's!' or with -mi (usually pronounced ßrami, but, in these cases, the syllable ra may also be stressed for greater emphasis). The negative is ara ta mi... if a verb follows; ara(mi) tayi if not.

Auxiliary verbs

These co-occur with main verbs and have various meanings, usually modal. In correct usage, the construction is: (pronominal objects, if present) personal prefix+auxiliary+tense followed by personal prefix+main verb, e.g. mamelosa macosa 'I wanted to go', ne macayi mašindi 'I have to speak to him'-- but in practice (even in written work) the personal prefix may be omitted from one or the other verbal form (usually the main verb, though individual speakers vary-- thus, melosa macosa or ne macayi šindi). The principal auxiliaries are:

- melo 'want to' - pole 'able to, can'
- rumbo 'may' (permission) - poro 'be going to...'
- cayi 'have to, must' (requirement) - anjayi 'should, ought to' (moral obligation)
- upat 'be willing to...' - tarupat ~tak upat 'be unwilling to...'

In the perfect tenses, mende precedes: mende ne mapole mašindi 'I've been able to speak to him...', ta mende yu hanjayi hamepu 'you shouldn't have done that'.

In context, the auxiliaries can also occur by themselves, as main verb: ta mamelo 'I don't want to', hanjayi 'you ought to', yatarupatsa ~ta yawupatsa 'he was unwilling; he refused to.'

The following two are classed as auxiliaries, but are invariant and function more as adverbials-- they never take person or tense affixes (those go on the main verb):

- senda 'be...ing' (the action is actually in progress; more definite than a simple tense form)
- kunak 'maybe, may, might, perhaps, possibly' (uncertainty)

In the perfect tenses, they precede mende and the main verb: senda mende ne mašindi 'I have been talking to him'; kunak mende yašangi 'maybe/perhaps he has been sick ~he may/might have been sick'. (In this case, kunak is functioning more as an adverb, as also when it precedes an auxiliary-- kunak mapole mepu 'maybe I can do (it)'-- or stands by itself, e.g. in answer to a question: ena, kunak 'well, maybe...'). Senda does not usually occur with auxiliaries other than mende. Examples:

- senda minahansa anju yarata(sa) 'we were eating when he arrived'
- yanda me kraku, senda manolit 'don't bother me, I'm reading'
- kunak yacosasa ri šenjiyi 'maybe he went to Shenji's place'
- kunak yaripa 'it may be raining', kunak yaripato 'it may rain (later on), maybe it will rain'-- (though colloquially, kunak yaripa could mean the same)

Compound verbs

In a construction similar to that of auxiliaries, it is possible to have two or more verbs in succession referring to related actions by the subject. This is especially common with verbs of motion, for example: mayamasa manopra ratuni lit. I ran I cross the street, or 'I ran across the street', yakasisa yaharan lit. he began he walk 'he began to walk'. Generally both verbs have a personal prefix, but only the first carries a tense marker. Similarly, yakasisa yaharan nopra ratuni 'he began to walk across the street'-- and even yaporo yašasa haran nopra ratuni 'he's going to try to walk across the street' (this is approaching the limit of good usage; the deletion of ya- from haran and nopra here is more a matter of stylistics than a grammatical requirement-- speakers avoid too many identical forms in a row).


Base-form verbs, especially adjectivals, are frequently reduplicated, whereby, generally, the meaning of the base is intensified, but there are many variations, and some forms have become lexicalized. See further in the Syntax. Another reduplicative process, not very productive, may be mentioned here: base+ma˝+base 'reciprocal or mutual action', for example:

- sisa 'love' > sisa-matisa 'love one another' (alternative: sisa liya-liya)
- leka 'argue' > leka-mandeka 'argue back and forth'
- handa 'load cargo' > handa-makanda 'load and unload cargo'

endo and kendi

These are also classed as auxiliaries, though they function more as sentential modifiers. endo can be considered an optative particle-- it expresses wishes or hopes, "may X happen..., may it be..., let it be..." and since it refers inherently to a future time, its verb is never marked for tense. Thus, endo yarata sapat 'may he come tomorrow! ~I hope he comes tomorrow' expresses a wish, while e.g. matova(r) re yarata sapat 'I hope (that) he will come tomorrow' simply states my expectation. There is also endo pun 'if only...', also with future reference: endopun yaripa 'if only it would rain!'. endo and endopun may also occur by themselves, as exclamations meaning roughly "I hope so!" and "if only (it would happen)!" respectively-- thus referring to events that might take place in the future.

kendi is used in contrary-to-fact and conditional if-then statements, introducing both parts of the statement, which are in present or past tense: kendi male hat, kendi mamepu 'if I were you, I'd do it'; kendi yaripa, kendi ta micosa 'if it's rainy ~if it should be rainy, we won't go'. Unlike in English or other languages, the order of the clauses is fixed; they may not be reversed. Past tense is marked only in the first (the "if") clause: kendi yaripasa, kendi ta micosa 'if it had been raining, we would not have gone'; kendi me hanuwaksa, kendi te mamandum 'if you had asked me, I would have lent (it) to you'.

There is also kendipun 'if only...' (with present or past tense): kendipun ta yaripa 'if only it weren't raining!', kendipun hanuwaksa 'if only you had asked...!'-- referring to events in the present or past.

The kendi construction can also take the future tense, in which case it suggests a promise or agreement: kendi me hihangato, kendi hin malolan 'if you (will) pay me, I will protect you.' It is most common in legalisms and negotiations. This usage, and some cases of kendi + present tense can be paraphrased in colloquial speech with pun 'if'. Compare:

- kendi ne matikas, kendi ne marungaya 'if I (should) see him [I may not], I would inform him'
- kendi ne matikasto, kendi ne marungaya 'if I see him [and I agree to], I will inform him'
- pun ne matikas, ne marungaya 'if I see him [it's not certain, though likely], I will inform him'

and unlike kendi clauses, a pun clause may be moved-- ne marungaya, pun ne matikas 'I'll inform him, if I see him' is a permissible variant, and equivalent, of the third example above. This will be dealt with in more detail in the Syntax.

Some non-productive formations

Whereas many verbals can undergo full or partial reduplication, a few fossilized forms show that final syllable reduplication must have been possible in some earlier stage of the language: cf. le˝a 'tear; to weep' : le˝a˝a 'to shed tears' or vacan 'to believe' : vacanjan 'to trust, rely on'.

A handful of forms also exhibit a prefix pe- ~pe˝- 'having, full of', probably derived from ape˝a 'to own, possess': cf. toye 'money' : pendoye 'wealthy'; šaka 'power' : pešaka 'powerful'; pando 'much' : pepando (archaic) 'rich in..., endowed with...'

The verb ale 'to be'

Apparently ale was originally an infinitive form (*a+le?), but it is now a base form (and has no infinitive/gerund *alele). In the singular, the prefix-final a's coalesce with the initial a-- male 'I am' < ma+ale. It is used almost exclusively in statements of identity or location-- erek yale tišami 'Erek is my cousin', mina yalesa marenji ereki 'Mina was Erek's girlfriend', punani yale i ratu panger 'their house is in Panger Street' (i is the form of the preposition ri 'in, at' before an r-initial word); etengišni iyale riyan 'the books are over there'. In colloquial speech, most forms of ale are usually omitted, even avoided-- but the intonation pattern differs.

Invariant 3rd person yale is used for existential "there is/are...", as in yale fanu latondrele 'there are eight planets' (in Cindu's solar system); yale cici ri tuwimi 'there's a bug in my soup'; ta yale _perola_ ri Cindu 'there are no dogs (< Span. perro) on Cindu'. It can also be "yes" in replies to yes-no questions, more emphatic than simple hayi 'yes': haporika? 'are you tired?' yale 'yes, I am'; inahansaka? 'were they eating?' yale 'yes, they were.' Negative ta yale (colloq. tale) 'no, there isn't/aren't; no, I'm not' etc.

Since predicative adjectives (Engl. "...is adj.") are expressed verbally in Kash (yašangi 'he is sick', yapaha 'it is open') it follows that ale is not used ( so *yale vanat is ungrammatical for 'it is white'-- but cf. yale yu vanat 'it is the white one'); nor is ale used in the sense 'to become', as in Engl. 'he wants to be a doctor'-- that calls for yukar: yamelo yukar kandumbra. Nor can "passives" (Engl. "be + past participle + by...") be formed with ale-- the closest Kash equivalent merely changes the word order (see the Syntax).


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