Grammar Guide

Part A: The Simple Sentence

3. Noun Possession
In English, a noun is possessed by placing the words 'his, her, its' ahead of it. A noun is possessed in Denes¶øiné by adding a prefix be to the noun.

bes 'knife'
bebezé 'his knife'
¿ih 'garment'
be¿iyéh 'his garment'
jis 'mitts'
be jisé 'his mitts'

It will be observed that when each word is possessed, a suffix e is added to the noun. This does not always occur and no rule has yet been defined for using it. Note the following exceptions:

bechele 'his younger brother'
bekóp 'his house'

Other forms of the possessive prefix are se 'my', ne 'your', be 'his, her, its', nuh 'our, your (pl)', hube 'their or 'somebody's'.

seké ' my foot'
netthplé ' your (s g.) axe'
nuhtsíe 'our/your (pl) grandfather'
hubetá 'somebody's father'

The two meanings of nuh 'our' and 'your' can only be identified by the context. ye 'his, hers, its' is used to distinguish between persons when there is more than one person being talked about in the sentence.

Bekóp nádher 'He is staying at his house'
Yekóp nádher 'He is staying at his (someone else's) house'

Hube 'their' is used infrequently, the singular form be, being substituted if the context makes the meaning clear.

Certain variant forms of the possessive prefixes do occur in certain words, although these may be predictable on the basis of fusion. But because there seems to be only a small number of them, they can probably be just as easily memorized individually as they are discovered; e.g. ,

betßú 'his nose'
büyeze 'his son'
bunaghe 'his older brother'

Some nouns are used in place of verbs and are called verbal nouns. One of these, betßü 'he has it', we have already considered. Also note:

begqn 'He is thin'
biníé 'He is happy'

These words can also be used with other possessive prefixes; e.g.,

Setsü ‘I have it’ (it’s mine)
Negqn ‘you are thin’
Nuhiníéh ‘we are happy’
Netseø húsä? ‘are you wet?’

Sometimes betßü is used as a possessive word instead of a verbal noun. This is usually only used with the one word, øü, although in some dialects it can be used with certain other words.

Setßü øü ‘my dog’
Netßü øü ‘your dog’
Betßü øü nechá ‘his dog is big’


Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre