Dene

Grammar Guide

Part B: The Verb

1. First Person Subject Pronouns
So far all of the verbs we have studied have been seen only in third person; that is, they have had 'he, she, it' as their subject.

nádher 'He is staying'
shétü 'He is eating
nedáth 'He is heavy'
eghálana 'He is working'

When we want to say 'I am staying', 'I am eating', etc., we do not introduce a new word, as in English, but a prefix "s" is placed within the verb, just before the classifier and stem.

nádher 'He is staying'
násdher ‘I am staying'
or
shétü 'He is eating
shéstü ‘I am eating
or
nedáth 'He is heavy'
nesdáth ‘I am heavy'

When the subject pronoun prefix "s" is added to verbs with the direct object pronoun, the object pronoun is dropped.

yeneø¿ü ‘He is looking at it'
nes¿ü ‘I am looking at it'
or
yeríttvagh 'He hears it'
désttvagh ' I hear it'
yedq 'He is drinking it'
hesdq 'I am drinking it'
or
yeøtsi 'He is making it'
hestsi ‘I am making it'

Note: The direct object pronoun 'it' is understood to be present even though there is nothing to mark it in the verb.

When the prefix "s" is introduced into a word, certain phonetic changes take place in the word. If there is a classifier I or 1 in the verb just previous to the stem, the I or 1 is dropped.

yeøtsi 'He is making it'
hesti ‘I a m making it'
or
yálgus 'He is jumping'
yásgus 'I am jumping'

If the syllable that occurs just ahead of the classifier and stem ends in / i /, it will change to / e /.

yeríttvagh 'He hears it'
désttvagh 'I hear it'
or
nánedher 'He is thinking'
nánesdher ‘I am thinking'

If the stem begins with / dh / or / 1 /, these sounds change to / th / or / ø /.

nüdhen 'He is thinking'
nesdhen 'I am thinking'
or
neyeríle 'He is picking them up'
nerísøe 'I am picking them up'


If the stem begins with gh or / g / in a verb of travel, gh or / g / disappears.

hegha 'He is going'
hesa ‘I am going'
or
ghegal 'He is walking'
ghesal 'I am walking'

When verbs with first person subject pronoun 'I' are used with noun objects, the noun is placed ahead of the verb. There is no change in the verb itself. This is the same for all first and second person verb forms.

hesdq 'I am drinking it'
tu hesdq 'I am drinking the water'
or
désttvagh 'I hear it'
¿asié désttvagh 'I hear something'

Another method of adding first person subject 'I' to a verb is to add prefix "i" just after the classifier and before stem. This is usually used with verbs that have a perfective meaning, a type we have not yet studied. There are a few verbs with imperfective meanings that use the prefix "i".

theda 'He is sitting'
thida 'I am sitting'
thetü 'He is sleeping'
thitü ‘I am sleeping'
or
theyúü 'He is. standing'
thiyü 'I am standing'

Note that when the subject pronoun "i" is preceded by the vowel / e /, / e / is dropped. That is, the fused with "i" becomes thi.

 
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