Grammar Guide

Part A: The Simple Sentence

2. The Transitive Sentence
In English the sentence 'he is drinking the water' contains an object; i.e.,'water' is the object of the action of 'drinking '. Some Denes¶øiné verbs require an object and are called transitive verbs.

Deneyu neø¿üh 'He is looking at the man'
tu hedq He is drinking the water
tßi heøtsi 'He is making a canoe'

When an object occurs it is placed ahead of the verb. If both a subject and an object occur, the subject comes first.

deneyu tßi neø¿ü 'The man is looking at the canoe'
tßékwi tu hedq 'The woman is drinking the water'

Transitive verb forms with subjects 'he, she, it', such as those listed cannot be said without their objects; i. e. , nüø¿ü hedq, heøtsi are meaningless to Denes¶øiné unless a noun object is present.

In English when we wish to substitute a pronoun object 'him, her, it' for the noun object, it is a matter of substituting words.

He is drinking the water' becomes 'He is drinking it'. 'It' substitutes for
‘the water’

In Denes¶øiné, this is done by substituting a prefix in the verb for the noun in the sentence.

Deneyu neø¿üh 'He is looking at the man'
Yeneø¿üh 'He is looking at him'
tu hedq 'He is drinking the water'
yedq 'He is drinking it'
deneyu tßi heøtsi 'The man is making a canoe'
deneyu yeøtsi 'The man is making it'

For the student learning to speak Denes¶øiné the most practical form to memorize is the form containing the direct object pronoun such as yeneø¿i , yeríttvagh, yeøtsi , yedq. The forms that cannot be said without a noun object can then be obtained by dropping the pronoun ye.

Yeneø¿i becomes neø¿i

yeríttvagh becomes díttvagh

Note that in this last example / r / becomes / d /. There are no words in Denes¶øiné beginning with / r /.

In two syllable words such as yeøtsi , yedq , when ye is dropped it is replaced by a prefix he.

yedq becomes hedq

yeøtsi becomes heøtsi

There is a small class of words in Denes¶øiné called verbal nouns. One of these,betßü , acts as a transitive verb except that it never takes a pronoun object prefix ye

1. bitßü 'He has it'
2. øuwe betsü 'He has a fish'

It is to be noted that there is no way of distinguishing 2 and 3 except by the context. The verbs with objects that we have studied so far have all had objects in 3rd person singular, ye, 'him, her, it'; i.e. ,

hayoneøten 'He is teaching him'
yeríttvagh 'He hears him'
yeneø¿ü 'He is looking at him'

Objects may also occur in 1st person singular by replacing, ye with se 'me'.

hasoneøten 'He is teaching me'
seríttvagh 'He hears me'

Objects may also occur in 2nd person singular by replacing ye with ne 'you'.

Hanoneøten 'He is teaching you'
neríttvagh 'He hears you'

Objects may occur in lst or 2nd person plural by replacing ye with nuhe 'us/you'.

hanuhoneøten ‘He is teaching you'
hanohoneøten 'He is teaching us'
neríttvagh 'He hears you'
noheríttvagh ‘He hears us
neneø¿ü 'He is looking at you'
noheneø¿ü ‘He is looking at us’

The two meanings of nuhe 'us' and 'you' can only be determined by context. Objects may occur in the indefinite third person. This is formed by replacing ye with e- 'something'.

eríttvagh 'He hears something'
ettvél 'He is chopping something'

Objects may occur in the reflexive, indicating the action is done to oneself. This is formed by replacing ye with ede 'self'.

Yeneø¿ü 'He is looking at it'
Yeneø¿ü 'He is looking at himself'
yu¿eth 'He is kicking it'
Eduþeth 'He is kicking himself'

Special Note about Stems and Classifiers

The last syllable of a Denes¶øiné verb is called the stem. This contains the main meaning of the verb. Next to it there frequently appears a classifier, 1, 1, or d. All Denes¶øiné verbs divide into four categories, depending on whether there is a classifier 1, 1, d or no classifier at all.

nádher ‘He is staying' No classifier, stem dher
yeøtßü 'He is making it' ø classifier, stem tsiI
delgai 'It is white' 1 classifier, stem gar
nánadher 'He is staying again' d classifier, stem dher

Classifier d is frequently fused to the stem so as to make it difficult to see it. The "effect" of the classifier d in changing the first consonant of the stem and effecting grammatical changes, is more easily seen than the classifier itself. This is why the classifier d is sometimes called "d effect''.

In the illustrations edenel¿ü and eduþeth, when ede is added to a verb having classifier ø, ø becomes 1. When ede is added to a verb having no classifier, classifier d is added. In the above illustration the stem ¿eth becomes þeth.

Other rises of the classifier will be explained as they occur.

Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre