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Sentences

Observations

Observations are the simplest sentence type. They may consist of only one word, which draws the listener's attention.

mau! – A cat!
barxa! – Rain! / (It) rains!

Predicative complements

Plain complements

A predicative complement completes the meaning of a sentence by giving information about a noun by either renaming it or describing it. Often there is no linking verb (i.e. copula) between the subject and its predicative complement.

da Ali. – He is Ali.
Ali guru. – Ali is a teacher.
Ali rike. – Ali is rich.
Ali a dom. – Ali is at home.

Complementing with linking verb

The linking verb e 'to be' can be used optionally in simple predicative sentences like the ones above.

da e Ali. – He is Ali.
Ali e guru. – Ali is a teacher.
Ali e rike. – Ali is rich.
Ali e a dom. – Ali is at home.

The linking verb is used when it is necessary in order to convey the desired meaning. For example, modal verbs, like vol 'to want', always need it as the main verb because the sentences would have a different meaning without it.

da vol e guru. – He (or she) wants to be a teacher.
Compare with:
da vol guru. – He (or she) wants a teacher.

da vol e rike. – He (or she) wants to be rich.
Compare with:
da vol rike. – He (or she) wants riches.

The linking verb is used also when structural complexity of subject and/or predicate makes the boundary between the two sentence elements doubtful.

mi su kar mede baca. – My job helps children.
mi su kar e mede baca. – My job is to help children.

It is also possible to use a pause, that is indicated by a dash in writing, instead of the linking verb.

mi su kar – mede baca. – My job: to help children.

Negating the complement

All predicative complements can be negated by no 'not' and the linking verb e is optional in the same cases as before

da no Ali. ~ da no e Ali. – He is not Ali.
da no guru. ~ da no e guru. – He is not a teacher.
da no vol e guru. – He doesn't want to be a teacher.
da no rike. ~ da no e rike. – He is not rich.
da no vol e rike. – He doesn't want to be rich.
da no a dom. ~ da no e a dom. – He is not at home.
da su kar no e mede baca. – His job is not to help children.

Adjective and verb subjects

In addition to noun subjects and pronoun subjects, the previous rules apply also to adjective subjects and verb subjects.

jun – mei. ~ jun e mei. – Young is beautiful.
jun – no lau. ~ jun no e lau. – Young is not old.
gani – bon. ~ gani e bon. – Singing is good.
gani – no dus. ~ gani no e dus. – Singing is not bad.
xulafa baca – mede baca. ~ xulafa baca e mede baca. – To teach children is to help children.

Action sentences

Sentences that describe an action can involve three sentence elements:

  1. The subject is someone or something that does the action.
  2. The verb is the action.
  3. The object is the target of the action.

The normal word order in Pandunia is subject–verb–object (SVO). For example, in the following sentence, the subject is mi 'I', the verb is vide 'see' and the object is tu 'you'.

mi vide tu. – I see you.

If the words is put to the opposite order, the entire sentence will have the opposite meaning.

tu vide mi. – You see me.

In action sentences, the subject and object can be pronouns (like mi 'I' and tu 'you' above) and nouns alike. Below is some example sentences with noun subjects and noun objects.

meme vide cau. – Sheep see grass.
meme yam cau. – Sheep eat grass.
uma yam cau. – Horses eat grass.
uma vide meme. – Horses see sheep.
meme vide uma. – Sheep see horses.

Agent and patient

Agent is the one who does the action. Patient is the one to whom the action is done.

In Pandunia, the structure of sentence defines the order and place of agent and patient. They are not defined by verbs, unlike in some other languages that you might know. So, in Pandunia, the subject can be either the agent or the patient, but the object can be only the patient.

When a sentence consists of a subject and a verb (SV), the role of the subject can be ambiguous. It can be the agent or the patient of the action. Then its role is defined by the surrounding world. What is the most likely role that fits to the situation?

Often the words in the sentence help to define the role of the subject, and the sentence can be interpreted in only one meaningful way that is in line with the reality. In the following examples, the subject is in all likelihood a patient i.e. a recipient or an undergoer of the action.

banana yam. – Banana is eaten.
fuku gan. – Clothes dry.
ite pada. – Stone falls.

(The alternative interpretations, where the subject would be agent, banana eats something, clothes make something dry, and stone drops something, would not make sense.)

There are also SV sentences where the subject is likely the agent, as in the following examples.

mau marce. – The cat walks.
sol lume. – The sun shines.
damen lai. – They come.

However, it is possible to clarify the roles of subject and object with the help of the auxiliary verbs fa 'do, make' and be 'undergo'. fa indicates that the subject is the agent or doer of the action, and be indicates that the subject is the patient or receiver of the action.

banana be yam. – Banana is eaten.
fuku be gan. – Clothes are dried.
ite be pada. – Stone is dropped.
mau fa marce. – The cat walks. ~ The cat does walk.
sol fa lume. – The sun shines. ~ The sun makes the shining.

It is also possible to add other objects with the help of fa 'make'.

mau yam pexe. – The cat eats fish.
mi fa mau yam pexe. – I make the cat eat fish. ~ I feed the cat with fish.

fuku gan. – Clothes dry.
sol fa fuku gan. – The sun makes clothes dry.

Marking the sentence elements

Sentence elements can consist of more than one word. Subject and object can be noun phrases that consist of many words, and there can be a series of verbs (i.e. a serial verb) instead of a singular verb. In such cases the boundaries between the sentence elements can become doubtful.

xiu baku meme vol xuru yam bon seng cau. – Little white sheep want to start to eat good fresh grass.

Boundaries between sentence elements can be marked with little words, like ya 'do', un 'a, one', ye 'this or these', vo 'that or those over there', la 'that or those', and yo 'some'.

la xiu baku meme ya vol xuru yam la bon seng cau. – The little white sheep want to start to eat that good fresh grass.

Verb series structure

There can be two, three or even more verbs in a series, and all of them are about the same subject.

  1. mi ga to dom. – I go home.
  2. mi bil ga to dom. – I can go home.
  3. mi vol bil ga to dom. – I want to be able to go home. (Word for word: I want can go home!)

The last verb in the series is the main verb. The verbs before it are modal verbs.

tu vol yam yo fito. – You want to eat vegetables. (desire)
tu sel yam yo fito. – You had better eat vegetables. (advice)
tu halal yam yo fito. – You may eat vegetables. (permission)
tu bil yam yo fito. – You can eat vegetables. (ability)
tu mus yam yo fito. – You must eat vegetables. (obligation)

Pivot structure

Basic pivot structure (SVOVO)

In the pivot structure the word order is:
subject – verb 1 – object 1 – verb 2 – object 2.

Object 1 has two roles. It is at the same time the object for the verb 1 and the subject for the verb 2.

mi vol tu yam yo fito. – I want you to eat vegetables.

In the example above, mi vol has tu as its object. At the same time, tu functions as the subject of the following predicate, yam yo fito. So tu is the pivot of the entire sentence.

The second verb in a pivot structure is the main verb. The first verb is a modal verb, which indicates a modality such as desire, permission or obligation.

mi vol tu yam fito. – I want you to eat vegetables. (desire)
mi sel tu yam fito. – I advise you to eat vegetables. (advice)
mi halal tu yam fito. – I allow you to eat vegetables. (permission)
mi bil tu yam fito. – I enable you to eat vegetables. (ability)
mi mus tu yam fito. – I compel you to eat vegetables. (obligation)
mi rai tu yam fito. – I think you eat vegetables. (opinion)

Pronoun dropping

In certain types of expressions the pronouns get dropped for brevity. This is done especially in commands and requests.

Short pivot structure (VOVO)

mi amir tu kai la mun. – I command you to open the door.
amir tu kai la mun. – Open the door!

Short pivot structure (VVO)

mi cing tu lai to dom. – I ask you to come home.
cing lai to dom! – Please come home! (Word for word: Request come home!)

Changing the focus

The topic is what is being talked about, and the comment is what is being said about the topic. Typically the topic is something that is known before and the comment is a piece of new information about the topic. In Pandunia the topic comes first so it is a topic-fronting language.

The focus of the sentence can be changed by changing the order of the topic and comment.

Maria e guru. – Maria is a teacher.
guru e Maria. – The teacher is Maria.

In Pandunia, the topic can be fronted by using various sentence structures, such as passivization and change of word order. Consider the following sentence:

mi vide tu. – I see you.

The topic of the sentence is the subject mi 'I'. The object, tu, can be topicalized by moving it to the front. There are several ways how to do it. The simplest one involves a simple change of word order and a pause.

tu – mi vide. – (It's) you I saw.

One can also use the passive construction to a similar effect.

tu be mi vide. – You were seen by me.

Another way to front the object is to use the relative clause construction.

tu e ki mi vide. – You are the one whom I saw.

This sentence can be made more impactful by fronting the linking verb e. and then even more by dropping the relative pronoun.

e tu ki mi vide. – It's you whom I saw.
e tu mi vide. – It's you I saw.

Finally, the same e... constructions can be used for emphasizing the topicness of the normal subject too.

e mi ki vide tu. ~ e mi vide tu. – It's me who saw you.
e mi ki lai. ~ e mi lai. – It's me who came.

Questions

Yes-no questions

Yes-no questions are questions that expect 'yes' or 'no' as answer. The easiest way to form a yes-no question in Pandunia is to simply attach the particle he ('eh', 'huh') to the end of a statement.

tu yam un piza. – You eat a pizza. (statement)
tu yam un piza, he? – Do you eat a pizza? (question)

It is also possible to use no ('no', 'not') or ya ('yes') instead of he to suggest the expected answer.

tu yam un piza, no? – You eat a pizza, don't you?
tu yam un piza, ya? – You eat a pizza, right?

The third way to ask a yes-no question is to contradict the verb with the A-not-A structure.

tu yam no yam un piza? – Do you or don't you eat a pizza?
tu bil no bil yam un piza? – Can you or can't you eat a pizza?

Finally, you can emphasize the question by using sual.

mi sual, tu yam un piza? – I ask do you eat a pizza?
sual tu yam un piza? – Do you eat a pizza?

Yes-no questions are answered with ya ('yes') and no ('no').

tu vide mi, he? – Do you see me?
ya. (mi ya vide tu.) – Yes. (I do see you.)
no. (mi no vide tu.) – No. (I don't see you.)

Negative questions are answered so that ya and no apply to the verb, not the whole question.

tu no vide mi, he? – Don't you see me?
ya. (mi vide tu.) – Yes. (I see you.)
no. (mi no vide tu.) – No. (I don't see you.)

Alternative questions

Questions that offer alternatives end with the particle he or start with the word sual to indicate that an answer is expected. The question is answered by repeating the chosen alternative.

tu yam un o du banana. – You eat one or two bananas. (statement)
tu yam un o du banana, he? – Do you eat one or two bananas? (question)
un. – One.

Open questions

Open questions, or wh- questions, ask for more information. In Pandunia they use the word ke.

piza e ke? – What is pizza?

The question word may be moved to the front of the sentence for emphasis. However, unlike in English, the word order may also be left alone.

ke tu zai yam? – What are you eating?
tu zai yam ke? – You are eating what?
da lai a ke sata? – When does he arrive?
tumen vizite a ke jen su dom? – Whose house did you all visit?

Relative clauses

A relative clause is a subordinate clause that modifies a noun phrase, most commonly a noun. For example, the phrase "the person who lives there" includes the noun person, which is modified by the relative clause who lives there.

There are different ways to build a relative clause in Pandunia. The relative pronoun in Pandunia is ki and it corresponds to English that, who and which.

In Pandunia, relative clauses are always set off by commas.

la buku, ki la jen fa kitaba, pada. – The book, which the person writes, falls.

It is also possible to leave ki out. This structure is called reduced relative clause.

la buku, la jen fa kitaba, pada. – The book the person writes falls.

The relative pronoun is necessary when the relativized noun is the subject of the relative clause.

la jen, ki fa kitaba la buku, pada. – The person that writes the book falls.

Also the object noun of a preposition can be the target of the relative clause. It's possible to use relative pronouns or the reduced relative clause structure.

la kalam, a ki la jen fa kitaba la buku, pada. – The pen, with which the person writes the book, falls.
la kalam, la jen fa kitaba la buku a, pada. – The pen the person writes the book with falls.

The relative pronoun can be put in its right place in the pivot structure or it can be left out by using the reduced relative clause structure.

la jen, mi vide ki fa kitaba la buku, pada. – The person, whom I see write the book, falls.
la jen, mi vide fa kitaba la buku, pada. – The person that I see write the book falls.

Also a resumptive relative pronoun can be used if needed.

la jen, mi fa kitaba la buku na ki su kalam, padu. – The person whose pen I write the book with falls.

Content clauses

A content clause is a subordinate clause that provides content that is commented or referred to by its main clause. In Pandunia they are typically introduced with the conjunction ki.

mi sabe ki tu e dosti. – I know that you are a friend.
damen fikir ki mimen le cuti. – They think that we have left.

A content clause can be placed before or after the clause that talks about it. The demonstrative vo points to the following content clause and la points to the previous one.

vo e bari, ki mi le no vide damen.It is important that I haven't seen them.
ki pan jen be sana ka par, la e klar.That all people are created as equals; it is clear.

The content clause marker ki can be combined to the prepositions in order to construct conjunctions of cause and purpose.

to ki – so that, in order that, with the result that
de ki – because, for the reason that

mi dugu ye buku to ki mi trapas la teste. – I read this book so that I will pass the test.
mi le trapas la teste de ki mi dugu la buku. – I have passed the test because I read the book.

Conditional clauses

The word si means 'to suppose', and in conditional sentences, it works in the same way as English 'if'.

mi no yam da, si mi e tu. – I wouldn't eat it if I were you.

The rest of the sentence can optionally be preceded by the word asar, which means 'then'.

si tu tocu tava, asar tu pati hanu.If you touch the pan, then you will hurt your hand.


Combining phrases with conjunctions

i – and (connects two similar words or phrases)
o – or (connects two alternative words or phrases)
ama – but (introduces a word or phrase that contrasts with or contradicts the preceding word or phrase)

mi suka mau i vaf. – I like cats and dogs.
mi suka mau o vaf. – I like cats or dogs.
mi suka mau ama no vaf. – I like cats but not dogs.


Particles

Affirmation and Negation

Affirmative

Expressions are affirmative by default.

mi e xefe. – I am the boss.
da e neu meza. – It is a new table.

Affirmation can be emphasized with the adverb ya ('yes indeed').

mi ya e xefe. – I indeed am the boss.
da ya e neu meza. – It indeed is a new table.

Negative

Such sentences can be simply negated with no.

da no e xefe. – He is not the boss.
da no e neu meza. – It's not a new table.

The word no is used for denying anything. It affects always the next word. Different scopes of negation may result depending on the location of the negative word.

mi vide tu. – I see you.
mi no vide tu. – I don't see you.
mi vide no tu ama damen. – I see, not you, but them.

mi cing tu saf la kamar. – I ask you to clean the room.
mi no cing tu saf la kamar. – I do NOT ask you to clean the room.
mi cing tu no saf la kamar. – I ask you NOT to clean the room.

Particles ya and no are used also for answering questions.

sual tu vide mi? – Do you see me?
ya. (mi ya vide tu.) – Yes. (I do see you.)
no. (mi no vide tu.) – No. (I don't see you.)

Negative questions are answered so that ya and no apply to the verb alone and not the sentence as a whole.

sual tu no vide mi? – Don't you see me?
ya. (mi ya vide tu.) – Yes. (I do see you.)
no. (mi no vide tu.) – No. (I don't see you.)

Modifier particles

Particles di and de are used to link a noun, an adjective or a verb phrase to a noun to modify it. di connects the modifying word or phrase to the main noun word. de works in the opposite direction, it connects the main noun to the modifying word or phrase.

Modification with noun phrases

One way to use these particles is to connect an adjective or other words with a noun. It gives us more information about the noun, and the particle makes it clear in which end the main noun is.

The modifier particles are useful for creating complex adjectives that consists of two or more words.

rode rang di labi – rose-colored lips
sama rang di yen – sky-colored eyes

Or in the opposite order:

labi de rode rang – lips of the rose-color
yen de sama rang – eyes of the sky-color

The particles help in creating measure words too.

un sake di patate – one sack of potatoes
du sake di patate – two sacks of potatoes
max sake di patate – more sacks of potatoes

Note that di and de connect phrases together. So a modifier phrase with and without de can mean a different thing.

max mei hua – more beautiful flowers
max de mei hua – more of beautiful flowers

Modification with verb phrases

Verbs are turned into modifiers by placing de or di immediately next to the verb. Verb phrases can also be made into modifiers in this way, but any objects must be moved to before the verb.

xute de grafe pente – the art of picture-painting (the art of painting pictures)
ale su mede su suke – the joy of others-helping (the joy of helping others)

Possession

The possessive particle su works like the apostrophe-s ('s) in English. It indicates that the previous word has possession of the next one.

Maria su mama – Maria's mother
Maria su mama su dom – Maria's mother's house

The same particle is used with with personal pronouns too.

mi su dom – my house
tu su dom – your house
da su dom – his or her house
mimen su dom – our house
tumen su dom – your house
damen su dom – their house

Tense and Aspect Particles

In Pandunia, tense can be expressed with time words and time phrases if needed. The general time words are pas (past), zai (present) and xa (future, upcoming). They function like adverbs, so typically their place is before the verb.

mi pas ha mau. – I had cats.
ama mi no zai ha mau. – But I now don't have cats.
bil, mi xa ha mau. – Maybe I will have cats.

It's also possible to say it in a longer way like na pas zaman (in the past) etc.

mi ha mau na pas zaman. – I had cats in the past.
ama mi no ha mau na zai zaman. – But I don't have cats at present.
bil, mi ha mau na xa zaman. – Maybe I will have cats in the future.

Note! Verbs are not conjugated. So the verb ha stayed the same in all tenses in the examples above.

Naturally time words are used only when they are necessary. Usually it is enough to mention the time just once at the beginning of the text and not in every single sentence, if the tense doesn't change.

Sentence-ending particles

Sentence-ending particles are modal particles or interaction particles that occur at the end of a sentence. They indicate the speaker's mood or attitude to the meaning of the sentence. They can also indicate what kind of reaction to the sentence the speaker expects from the listener. For example, the speaker can use the particle ne to indicate that they expect the listener express their point of view.

ba indicates a suggestion or a command.

yam ba! – Eat!

fi indicates disdainment, disrespect or contempt. It translates as bah, fie.

tu fete da, fi. – You did it, bah.
fi! piza! mi no vole. – Bah! Pizza! I don't want (it).

he asks a direct yes or no question. It translates as eh? or huh?.

tu luba kafe, he? – You love coffee, huh?

me indicates indifference, boredom or lack of excitement.

me. da no neu. – Meh. It's not new.

ne asks for the listener's point of view on the matter, usually their agreement. It is different from he in that it's not directly asking a question but it only seeks confirmation. It roughly translates as right?, isn't it?, isn't that so?, etc. One uses it at the end of sentence if one is not completely sure about something but thinks it's probably true.

tu suka kafe, ne? cepe un kupe ba! – You like coffee, right? Grab a cup!
da neu, ne? – It is new, isn't it?

na is used to introduce a statement. It can fill a pause, particularly at the beginning of a response to a question. It can also introduce a statement that may be contrary to expectations.

tu kitaba da, he? – na, no le. – Did you write it? – Well, not yet.
da bon, ne? – na, ya. – It's good, isn't it? – Well, yes.

o indicates that the speaker is uncertain of the matter. It roughly translates as or...?.

da okei a tu, o... – It is okay for you, or...

va indicates that the speaker is excited, amazed or surprised. It can be used on its own or at the start or end of a sentence to express how amazing or surprising something is.

va! Wow!
va, da dai! – Wow, it's big!
da dai, va! – It's so big!

ya reinforces the meaning of the sentence or indicates agreement. The speaker is absolutely sure of what they are saying. It can be translated as indeed or truly.

mi le vide tu ya. – I truly saw you.
da ver, ya. – It is true indeed.
da neu, ne? – da neu, ya. – It is new, right? – It's new indeed.