Kabardian verbs

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In Kabardian, like all Northwest Caucasian languages, the verb is the most inflected part of speech. Verbs are typically head final and are conjugated for tense, person, number, etc. Some of Circassian verbs can be morphologically simple, some of them consist only of one morpheme, like: кӏуэ "go", щтэ "take". However, generally, Circassian verbs are characterized as structurally and semantically difficult entities. Morphological structure of a Circassian verb includes affixes (prefixes, suffixes) which are specific to the language. Verbs' affixes express meaning of subject, direct or indirect object, adverbial, singular or plural form, negative form, mood, direction, mutuality, compatibility and reflexivity, which, as a result, creates a complex verb, that consists of many morphemes and semantically expresses a sentence. For example: уакъыдэсэгъэпсэлъэжы "I am forcing you to talk to them again" consists of the following morphemes: у-а-къы-дэ-со-гъэ-псэлъэ-жы, with the following meanings: "you (у) with them (а) from there (къы) together (дэ) I (со) am forcing (гъэ) to speak (псэлъэн) again (жы)".


Verbs in Kabardian can be transitive or intransitive.

In a sentence with a transitive verb, nouns in the absolutive case (marked as -р) play the role of direct object. In the sentences of this type the noun in the subject's position is in the ergative case (marked as -м):

Щӏалэм письмэр йотхы "The boy is writing the letter";
Пхъащӏэм уадэр къыщтащ "The carpenter took out the hammer";
Хьэм тхьак1умкӏыхьэр къыубытащ "The dog has caught the hares".

In these sentences the verbs етхы "is writing", къыщтащ "took out", къыубытащ "has caught" are transitive verbs, and the nouns письмэр "letter", уадэр "hammer", тхьак1умк1ыхьэр "hare" are in the absolutive case (suffix -р) and express direct object in the sentences, while the nouns щӏалэм "boy", пхъащӏэм "carpenter", хьэм "dog" are subjects expressed in the ergative case.

In a sentence with a intransitive verb, there is no direct object, and the real subject is usually expressed by a noun in the absolutive case.

Жэмахъуэр щыт "The shepherd is standing (there)";
Пэсакӏуэр макӏуэ "The security guard is going";
Лӏыр мэжей "The man is sleeping".

In these sentences with intransitive verbs, nouns that play role of subject are expressed in the absolutive case: жэмахъуэ-р "shepherd", пэсакӏуэ-р "guard", лӏы-р "man".

There are verbs in the Kabardian language that in different contexts and situations can be used both as transitive and intransitive. For example:

Абджыр мэкъутэ "The glass is being broken",
Щӏалэм абджыр йокъутэ "The boy is breaking the glass".

In the first sentence the verb мэкъутэ "is being broken" is used as an intransitive verb that creates a absolutive construction. In the second sentence the verb йо-къутэ "is breaking" creates an ergative construction. Both of the verbs are formed from the verb къутэ-н "to break".

In the Kabardian language, intransitive verbs can have indirect objects in a sentence. The indirect objects are expressed by a noun in the oblique case (which is also marked as -м). For example:

Щӏалэр пщащэм йоплъ "The boy looking at the girl",
Лӏыр жыгым щӏэлъ "The man lays under the tree".
Щӏалэр тхылъым йоджэ "The boy reads the book".

In these sentences with intransitive verbs, nouns that play role of indirect object are expressed in the oblique case: пщащэ-м "girl", жыгы-м "tree", тхылъы-м "book".

Intransitive verbs can be turned into transitive with the causative affix -гъэ- (meaning "to force, to make"). For example:

Ар мажэ "He is running", but Абы ар е-гъа-жэ "He forces him to run",
Ар матхэ "He is writing", but Абы ар е-гъа-тхэ "He makes him to write".

The verbs in the first sentences мажэ "is running", матхэ "is writing" are intransitive, and the verbs in the second sentences егъажэ "forces ... to run", егъатхэ "makes ... to write" are already transitive.



Intransitive verbs :

Plurality Person Cyrillic IPA Meaning
Singular First-person солажьэ sawɮaːʑa I work, I am working
Second-person уолажьэ wawɮaːʑa You work, You are working
Third-person мэлажьэ maɮaːʑa He works, He is working
Plural First-person долажьэ dawɮaːʑa We work, We are working
Second-person фолажьэ fawɮaːʑa You (pl.) work, You are working
Third-person мэлажьэх maɮaːʑax They work, They are working

Transitive verbs :

Plurality Person Positive Negative
Cyrillic IPA Meaning Cyrillic IPA Meaning
Singular First-person соджэ sawd͡ʒa I read, I am reading седжэркъым sajd͡ʒarqəm I don’t read, I am not reading
Second-person уоджэ wawd͡ʒa You read, You are reading уеджэркъым wajd͡ʒarqəm You don’t read, You are not reading
Third-person йоджэ jawd͡ʒa He read, He is reading еджэркъым jad͡ʒarqəm He doesn't read, He is not reading
Plural First-person доджэ dawd͡ʒa We read, We are reading деджэркъым dajd͡ʒarqəm We don’t read, We are not reading
Second-person фоджэ fawd͡ʒa You (pl.) read, You are reading феджэркъым fajd͡ʒarqəm You don’t read, You are not reading
Third-person йоджэх jawd͡ʒax They study, They are studying еджэхэркъым jad͡ʒaxarqəm They don’t read, They are not reading

Transitive verb examples :

Сэ адыгэбзэ грамматикэр содж (I study Circassian grammar)
Уэ адыгэбзэ грамматикэр уодж (You study Circassian grammar)
Абы адыгэбзэ грамматикэр едж (He/she studies Circassian grammar)
Дэ адыгэбзэ грамматикэр додж (We study Circassian grammar)
Фэ адыгэбзэ грамматикэр фодж (You (pl.) study Circassian grammar)
Абыхэм адыгэбзэ грамматикэр ядж or Адыгэбзэ грамматикэр яджхэр (They study Circassian grammar)

Intransitive poly-personal verb examples :

Сэ тхылъым соджэ (I read the book, I am reading the book)
Уэ тхылъым уоджэ (You read the book, you are reading the book)
Абы тхылъым йоджэ (He/she reads the book, he/she is reading the book)
Дэ тхылъым доджэ (We read the book, we are reading the book)
Фэ тхылъым фоджэ (You (pl.) read the book, you are reading the book)
Абыхэм тхылъым йоджэ or Тхылъым йоджэхэр (They read the book, they are reading the book)


Indicating certainty :

Plurality Person Cyrillic IPA Meaning
Singular First-person сылэжьэнущ səɮaʑanawɕ I will [definitely] work
Second-person улэжьэнущ wəɮaʑanawɕ You will [definitely] work
Third-person лэжьэнущ ɮaʑanawɕ He will [definitely] work
Plural First-person дылэжьэнущ dəɮaʑanawɕ We will [definitely] work
Second-person фылэжьэнущ fəɮaʑanawɕ You will [definitely] work
Third-person лэжьэнущ ɮaʑanawɕ They will [definitely] work

Indicating some uncertainty :

Plurality Person Cyrillic IPA Meaning
Singular First-person сылэжьэнщ səɮaʑanɕ I will/may work
Second-person улэжьэнщ wəɮaʑanɕ You will/may work
Third-person лэжьэнщ ɮaʑanɕ He will/may work
Plural First-person дылэжьэнщ dəɮaʑanɕ We will/may work
Second-person фылэжьэнщ fəɮaʑanɕ You will/may work
Third-person лэжьэнщхэщ ɮaʑanɕxaɕ They will/may work

Negative :

Plurality Person Cyrillic IPA Meaning
Singular First-person сылэжьэнкъым səɮaʑanqəm I won’t work
Second-person улэжьэнкъым wəɮaʑanqəm You won’t work
Third-person лэжьэнкъым ɮaʑanqəm He won’t work
Plural First-person длэжьэнкъым dəɮaʑanqəm We won’t work
Second-person флэжьэнкъым fəɮaʑanqəm You (pl.) won’t work
Third-person лэжьэнхэкъым ɮaʑanxaqəm They won’t work


Type 1 :

The past tense of verbs of type 1 are formed by adding -aщ /-aːɕ/. In intransitive verbs it indicate that the action took place, but with no indication as to the duration, instant nor completeness of the action.

Plurality Person Cyrillic IPA Meaning
Singular First-person седжащ sajd͡ʒaːɕ I [have] read
Second-person уеджащ wajd͡ʒaːɕ You [have] read
Third-person еджащ jad͡ʒaːɕ He [has] read
Plural First-person деджащ dajd͡ʒaːɕ We [have] read
Second-person феджащ fajd͡ʒaːɕ You [have] read
Third-person еджащ jad͡ʒaːɕ They [have] read

In transitive verbs it convey more specific information as regards to completeness of the action, and therefore they indicate some certainty as to the outcome of the action.

Plurality Person Cyrillic IPA Meaning
Singular First-person зджащ zd͡ʒaːɕ I [have] read
Second-person уджащ wd͡ʒaːɕ You [have] read
Third-person иджащ jəd͡ʒaːɕ He [has] read
Plural First-person дджащ dd͡ʒaːɕ We [have] read
Second-person вджащ vd͡ʒaːɕ You [have] read
Third-person яджащ jaːd͡ʒaːɕ They [have] read

Negative :

Plurality Person Cyrillic IPA Meaning
Singular First-person седжакъым sajd͡ʒaːqəm I didn’t read
Second-person уеджакъым wajd͡ʒaːqəm You didn’t read
Third-person еджакъым jad͡ʒaːqəm He didn’t read
Plural First-person деджакъым dajd͡ʒaːqəm We didn’t read
Second-person феджакъым fajd͡ʒaːqəm You (pl.) didn’t read
Third-person еджахэкъым jad͡ʒaːxaqəm They didn’t read

Type 2 :

This is the past perfect tense. It is formed by adding ~гъащ. It indicates that the action took place formerly at some certain time.

Plurality Person Positive Negative
Cyrillic IPA Meaning Cyrillic IPA Meaning
Singular First-person сытхагъащ sətxaːʁaːɕ I wrote сытхагъакъым sətxaːʁaːqəm I didn’t write
Second-person утхагъащ wətxaːʁaːɕ You wrote утхагъакъым wətxaːʁaːqəm You didn’t write
Third-person тхагъащ txaːʁaːɕ He wrote тхагъакъым txaːʁaːqəm He didn’t write
Plural First-person дытхагъащ dətxaːʁaːɕ We wrote дытхагъакъым dətxaːʁaːqəm We didn’t write
Second-person фытхагъащ fətxaːʁaːɕ You wrote фытхагъакъым fətxaːʁaːqəm You didn’t write
Third-person тхагъащэх txaːʁaːɕax They wrote тхагъакъым txaːʁaːqəm They didn’t write

Type 3 :

Verbs of this group designate repetition of action in a vividly expressed manner. They are formed by adding the suffix –т.

Сэ жысIэрт (I kept saying)
Дэ дылажьэрт (We worked repeatedly)
Ар еджэрт (He read many times)

Negative forms:

Сэ жысIэртэкъым (I did not kept saying)
Дэ дылажьэртэкъым (We did not work repeatedly)
Ар еджэртэкъым (He did not read many times)


The Kabardian language has an especially complex morphology. A verb by its set of morphemes can express subject's and object's person, place, time, manner of action, negative, and other types of grammatical categories. A verb can have some combinations of different affixes to describe a specific verbs in a different situations.

Verbal Prefixes[edit]

Causative (гъэ~)[edit]

The verbal suffix гъэ~ (ʁa~) designates causation; rendered by the verbs: to force, compel, make; to order, tell; to allow, permit; to give the opportunity to do something.; also forms transitive verbs; for example :

  • псэлъэн: to talk → гъэпсэлъэн: to make (somebody.) talk.
  • мэжэлІэн: to become hungry → гъэмэжэлІэн: to make (somebody.) go hungry.
  • шхэн: to eat → гъэшхэн: to feed (somebody.)
  • бзэхын: ещ disappear → гъэбзэхын: to hide/conceal (somebody., something.) quickly.

Comitative (дэ~)[edit]

The verbal suffix дэ~ (da~) designates action performed jointly with somebody.

  • шхэн: to eat → дэшхэн: to eat with somebody.
  • кӏуэн : to go → дэкӏуэн : to go with somebody.

Reciprocal (зэ~)[edit]

The verbal prefix зэ~ is used in formation of reciprocal verbs; for example :

  • зэзэуэн: to fight each other.

зэдэ~ is used in formation of reciprocal verbs; for example :

  • зэдэгушыIэн: to joke with one another.

Reflexive (з~)[edit]

The verbal prefix з~ designates reflexive action; for example :

  • зылъэщІын: to wipe oneself.
  • зыплъыхьын: to look about oneself.
  • зэгъэжьэн: to force oneself to wait;
  • зэлъэфэлӏэн: to drag to oneself.

Destination (здэ~)[edit]

The verbal suffix здэ~ designates destination of action; for example :

  • сыздэкIуэнур сощӏэ: I know where I am going to.

Directional (къэ~)[edit]

The verbal prefix къэ~ designates arrival, approach, movement directed to the speaker; for example :

  • мафӏэгур къэсащ: the train has arrived.

It also designates approach of some season, time; for example :

  • щӏымахуэр къэсащ: winter has arrived.

It also adds a tinge of definiteness to the verb; for example :

  • къэпсэлъэн: to deliver a speech; to begin to speak.

Involuntative (ӏэщӏэ~)[edit]

The verbal prefix ӏэщӏэ~ (ʔaɕʼa~) designates an action which was done unintentionally. for example :

  • хьэм бaжэр ӏэщӏэтхьэлыхьaщ - "The dog slaughtered the fox (unintentionally)"
  • хьэр бaжэм ӏэщӏэтхьэлыхьaщ - "The fox (unintentionally) slaughtered the dog"
  • щIaлэм дыгъур ӏэщӏэyкӏaщ - "The young man (unintentionally) killed the thief"
  • yэ yсӏэщӏэyкӏaщ - "I accidentally killed you"
  • щӏaлэм лӏыжьым дыгъур ӏэщӏигъэyкӏaщ - "The boy made the old man accidentally kill the thief"

Direction of motion (нэ~)[edit]

The veral prefix нэ~ (ны~) designates direction of motion from speaker to second person; for example :

  • ар уи деж нэкӏуащ: he went to you.
  • ар уи деж ныщӏыхьащ: he went to visit you.

It also forms verbs that convey a sense of completion of an action; for example :

  • нэдысын: to finish (sewing); нэвысын: to finish ploughing/tilling.
  • нэджысын: to finish (reading), to read to the end.

Against (фӏэ~)[edit]

The verbal prefix фӏэ~ (фӏы~) designates action done against somebody's will or interest. This verbal prefix can also be used indicate that the action was done to take an object or an opportunity away from somebody else.; for example :

  • кӏуэн: to go → фӏэкӏуэн: to go against somebody’s wish.

Benefactive (ху~)[edit]

The verbal prefix хуэ~ (xʷa~) designates action performed to please somebody, for somebody’s sake, in somebody's interests; for example :

  • анэм ӏуэху хуэщІэн: to do work for one's mother

Bypass (блэ~)[edit]

The verbal suffix блэ~ (bɮa~) designates movement bypass somebody or something; for example :

  • унэм блэжын: to run by/past the house.

Through (пхы~)[edit]

The verbal prefix пхы~ (пхыры~) designates action, motion directed through some obstacle, object; ex.: * пхырыжын: to run through smth.;

  • шэр nхъэбгъум пхыкІащ: the bullet went through the board;
  • пхивыкІын: to get wet/soaked through.

Across (пыры~)[edit]

The verbal prefix пыры~ designates action of transference over object that is of comparatively small height; ex.:

  • жыхьым пырыплъын: to look over the fence

It also designates action, motion directed across some obstacle; ex.:

  • псым пырышын (е зэпырышын): to take/lead across the river;
  • лъэмыжым пырышын: to take/lead across the bridge

After (кӏэлъ~)[edit]

The verbal prefix кӏэлъ~ (kʲʼaɬ) indicates action that happened towards after something or somebody; for example.:

  • мыщэм кІэлъыкІуэн: to go after the bear;
  • кІэлъежьэн: to set off/ out after, to start after, to leave after (smb., smth.);
  • кІэлъесын: to swim after (smb., smth.).
  • кІэлъытхэн: to write after (smb., smth.).

Verbal Infixes[edit]

Negative (~мы~)[edit]

~мы~ negatory infix; for example :

  • жыӏэ: say → жумыӏэ: do not say.
  • къакӏуэ: come → укъэмыкӏуэ: do not come.

Verbal Suffixes[edit]

Completion (~гъах)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~гъэхэ designates absolute accomplishment/realization of the action; for example :

  • кӏуагъэхэщ: he’s already gone.

Frequentative (~ж)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~ж designates recurrence/repetition of action; for example :

  • къэсын: to arrive → къэсыжын: to arrive again.
  • къэшэн: to bring → къэшэжын: to bring again.

Connective (~и)[edit]

~и (connective suffix) and, also; for example :

  • къакӏуи еплъ: come and have a look.

Negative (~къым)[edit]

~къым (verbal suffix) negatory suffix; for example :

  • хьэщӏэр иджыри къэс къэсакъым: the guest hasn’t arrived yet.
  • сэ еджапӏэм сыкӏуакъым: I didn’t go to school.

Conditional mood (~мэ)[edit]

The conditional suffix is indicated by ~м(э); for example :

  • ар къакIуэмэ, сэ бэзэрым сыкIуэнущ: If he comes, I will go to the market.

Concessive mood (~ми)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~ми designates concessive mood; for example :

  • укIуами: even if you had gone.

Infinitive (~н)[edit]

~н infinitive forming suffix; for example :

  • тхэн: to write.
  • кIуэн: to go.

Upwards (~еи)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~еи designates action in an upward direction; ex.:

  • дэкІуеин: to go upwards.
  • дэлъеин: to jump/leap up.

Downwards (~хы)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~х designates downward direction of action; ex.:

  • ежэхын: to roll down; to run down.
  • джабэм ежэхын: to roll down the mountain's slope.
  • псыр джабэм хуабжьу йожэх: the river is streaming down the mountain' slope.
  • ехьэхын: to lower, sink somebody or something.
  • щхьэр ехьэхын: to hang one’s head.
  • рабочэхэр шахтэм ехьэхын: to get the workers down to the mine.

Recurrence (~рей)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~рей (~raj) designates recurrence, presence of a characteristic; for example :

  • мэпсэлъэрей: he is fond of talking; he is garrulous.
  • мэдауэрей: he is given to brawling; he is a brawler.

Repetition (~рт)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~рт designates repetition/recurrence of action; ex.:

  • тхэрт: he wrote repeatedly.

Imperative mood (~т)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~т designates the imperative mood; for example :

  • жыӏэт: do say; just say.
  • тхэт: just write.

Subjunctive mood (~тэмэ)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~тэмэ designates subjunctive mood; for example :

  • укӏуатэмэ: if you had gone.

Concessive mood (~тэми)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~тэми designates concessive mood; for example :

  • укӏуатэми: even if you had gone.

Capability (~фы)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~ф designates the ability to perform the indicated action; for example :

  • жыӏэфын: to be able to speak/talk; to speak eloquently/articulately;to manage to say (something.)
  • хьыфын: to manage, be able, to take/carry (away) (something. somewhere.).

Completeness (~пэ)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~пэ designates completeness and fulfilment of the action; ex.:

  • илэжьыпащ: accomplished, realized, carried into effect;
  • шхыпэн: vt to eat (up) (smth.) entirely.

Absolute completeness (~хэ)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~кӏэ designates absolute completeness of action; ex.:

  • сщIакIэщ: I have already done it.

Directed towards (~лӏ)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~лӏ designates action directed towards, or applied to smb., smth.; ex.:

  • ежэлІэн: vi to run up (to smb., smth.), to come running up (to smb., smth.);
  • ехьэлІэн: vt 1. to take, carry (smb., smth. to smb., smth.);
  • хьэпшыпхэр автобусым ~: to carry the articles to the bus.
  • къекIуэлIащ: he appeared; he presented himself.

Slight excessiveness (~ӏуэ)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~ӏуэ designates slight excessiveness; ex.:

  • тхэӏуэн: to write more than is necessary.

Excessiveness (~къуэ)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~къуэ designates excessiveness; ex.:

  • псэлъэкъуэн: to out-talk somebody; to talk too much; to have a long talk with somebody, to get carried away by a conversation with somebody.

Plural (~хэ)[edit]

The pluralizing suffix is indicated by ~хэ; for example :

  • къэкIуахэщ: they came.

Preliminary condition (~хэ)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~хэ designates preliminary condition; for example :

  • зытхьэщIыхэн: wash yourself first.
  • зытхьэщIыхи шхэ: first wash yourself, and then eat.

Absolute negation (~ххэ)[edit]

~ххэ (verbal suffix) designates absolute negation; for example :

  • сыкIуэххэнкъым: I will definitely not go.

Around (~хь)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~хь designates action performed on a definite location or repetition of the action;

  • къэжыхьын: to run about;
  • къэкIухьын: to go/walk about;

It also designates movement round an object :

  • Іуащхьэм къэкIухьын: to walk/go round the hill;
  • жыгым къэкIухьын: to walk/go round the tree.

Optative mood (~щэрэ)[edit]

The verbal suffix ~щэрэ (~щэрэт) designates optative mood; ex.:

  • Налшык сыкIуащэрэ: if only I could go to Nalchik; I wish I could go to Nalchik.