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9. Sentence structures

Building blocks for sentences

Sentences consist of clauses, which in turn consist of constituents, which are phrases, which consist of words and have a certain internal word order.

The clause constituents are listed below.

  • The subject is the topic of the sentence. It is typically a noun phrase.
  • The predicate says something about the subject. In the narrow sense it covers only the verb and its modifiers, which indicate the event or action that is occuring.
  • The object is the participant that is affected by the event.
  • The predicative is a complement of the predicate that describes the subject.
  • Adverbial indicates means or circumstances that are involved in the event.
Subject Predicate Object Adverbial
A young man is driving a car on the street.
We should take our old stuff to the flea market.
Subject Predicate Predicative Adverbial
You and me are happy together.
My friend got upset for the war.

The clause constituents are phrases. The main phrase types are listed below.

  • The noun phrase (NP) consists of a determiner (det.), adjectives and a noun. The noun is the head of the noun phrase, which means that it is the main word and the other words only add to its meaning. The head can serve alone as the noun phrase whereas the other words can't.
  • The adjective phrase (AP) consists of an adjective (adj.) with any adverbs (adv.) that modify it.
  • The verb phrase (VP) consists of a tense, aspect or mood marker (TAM), one or more adverbs and a verb (or a verb series). The verb is the main word of the verb phrase.
  • The preposition phrase consists of a preposition (prep.) as head and usually a noun phrase as its complement.

Pandunia sentences are made up of the building blocks listed above. The figure below shows the decomposition of a Pandunia sentence in three levels: (1) clause constituents, (2) phrases and (3) words.

Figure 1. Decomposition of a sentence structure in Pandunia.

     ╔═════════╗   ╔═══════════╗    ╔═══════════╗   ╔═══════════════╗
     ╚════╤════╝   ╚═════╤═════╝    ╚═════╤═════╝   ╚═══════╤═══════╝
          │              │                │                 │
    ┌─────┴─────┐  ┌─────┴─────┐    ┌─────┴──────┐          │
(2) │noun phrase│  │verb phrase│    │prep. phrase│          │
    └─────┬─────┘  └─────┬─────┘    └────────┬───┘          │
          │              │                   │              │
    ┌───┬─┴─┬────┐ ┌───┬─┴─┬────┐   ┌────┬───┼───┬────┐ ┌───┴────┐
(3) │det│adj│noun│ │TAM│adv│verb│   │prep│det│adj│noun│ │particle│
    └───┴───┴────┘ └───┴───┴────┘   └────┴───┴───┴────┘ └────────┘
     da  yun  man   did rapid marche a   da  dai dau      he.
     that young man did fast   walk   on  the big road     huh
     'That young man walked fast on the big road, huh?'

Marking boundaries between constituents

Clause constituents 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 single verb. In such cases the boundaries between the clause constituents can become doubtful.

let baku meme van shuru yam gud seng chau. – Little white sheep want to start to eat good fresh grass.

Boundaries between sentence elements can be marked with little words. Determiners, like un 'a, one', ye 'this or these', vo 'that or those over there', da 'that or those', and yo 'some', help to indicate where noun phrases begin.

da let baku meme ye van shuru yam da gud seng chau. – The little white sheep want to start to eat that good fresh grass.

Clause types

Predicative clause

The basic predicative clause patterns are:
Someone is something.
Someone is of some kind of.
In short, the subject is what the predicative says.

The predicative clause is simple in Pandunia. What is new for English speakers, is that the copula verb ’to be’ can be left out. It’s not necessary in Pandunia. There are two types of predicative clause: verbal and nominal.

Figure 2. Decomposition of the copula clause.

 ╔═════════╗   ╔═══════════╗      ╔═════════════╗
 ║ SUBJECT ║   ║  (COPULA) ║      ║ PREDICATIVE ║
 ╚════╤════╝   ╚═════╤═════╝      ╚══════╤══════╝
      │              │              ┌────┴───────┐
┌─────┴─────┐  ┌─────┴─────┐  ┌─────┴─────┐ ┌────┴──────┐
│noun phrase│  │verb phrase│  │noun phrase│ │adj. phrase│
└─────┬─────┘  └─────┬─────┘  └─────┬─────┘ └─────┬─────┘
      │              │              │             │
┌───┬─┴─┬────┐ ┌───┬─┴─┬────┐ ┌───┬─┴─┬────┐  ┌───┼───┐
│det│adj│noun│ │TAM│adv│verb│ │det│adj│noun│  │adv│adj│
└───┴───┴────┘ └───┴───┴────┘ └───┴───┴────┘  └───┴───┘

Nominal predicative clause

A predicative completes the meaning of a sentence by giving information about a noun by either renaming it or describing it. Often there is no copula verb (i.e. linking verb) 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 haus. – Ali is at home.

Verbal predicative clause

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

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

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

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

da van es rike. – He (or she) wants to be rich.
Compare with:
da van 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 se kar helpe bacha. – My job helps children.
mi se kar es helpe bacha. – 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 se kar – helpe bacha. – My job: to help children.

Negating the complement

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

da no Ali. ~ da no es Ali. – He is not Ali.
da no guru. ~ da no es guru. – He is not a teacher.
da no van es guru. – He doesn't want to be a teacher.
da no rike. ~ da no es rike. – He is not rich.
da no van es rike. – He doesn't want to be rich.
da no a haus. ~ da no es a haus. – He is not at home.
da se kar no es helpe bacha. – 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.

yun – mei. ~ yun es mei. – Young is beautiful.
yun – no sen. ~ yun no es sen. – Young is not old.
gani – gud. ~ gani es gud. – Singing is good.
gani – no dus. ~ gani no es dus. – Singing is not bad.
skolefa bacha – helpe bacha. ~ skolefa bacha es helpe bacha. – To teach children is to help children.

Intransitive clause

The purpose of the intransitive clause is to express an event, where someone does something, or where something happens. The intransitive clause contains only one participant, the subject. It is the doer or the experiencer of the event. Intransitive clause does not contain an object.

Figure 3. Decomposition of the intransitive clause.

 ╔═════════╗   ╔═══════════╗
 ╚════╤════╝   ╚═════╤═════╝
      │              │
┌─────┴─────┐  ┌─────┴─────┐
│noun phrase│  │verb phrase│
└─────┬─────┘  └─────┬─────┘
      │              │
┌───┬─┴─┬────┐ ┌───┬─┴─┬────┐
│det│adj│noun│ │TAM│adv│verb│
└───┴───┴────┘ └───┴───┴────┘

Here are some examples of intransitive clauses. Children run. This sentence tells what the children do, they run. The door opens. This sentence tells what the door does, it opens. The old man dies. This sentence tells what the old man experiences, he dies.

The actions described by intransitive clauses can be voluntary or involuntary. They are done by the subject, or they just happen to the subject.

In intransitive clauses, if anyone at all is affected by the event, it is the subject. So the action is directed at the subject. The subject undergoes a change. The change can be a change of state or a change of place.

In the sentence the children run, the subject changes place. In the sentence the old man dies, the subject changes state from living to dead.

Here are some intransitive clauses in Pandunia. The subjects are written in cursive.

bacha kurse. – Children run.
yun fem danse. – The young woman dances.
sen man morte. – The old man died.

Note that Pandunia verbs don’t include tense. So they can express the past and present alike. Therefore for example morte can mean both ’died’ and ’dies’.

So called intransitive verbs can take a cognate object, whose meaning is very close to the meaning of the verb. For example the sentence bacha kurse, 'the children run', can take an object like long kurse, 'a long run'.

bacha* kurse long kurse.** – 'The chilren run a long run.'

The meaning of the sentence doesn’t really change. It is still about an activity and a change of place, but structurally it is now a transitive clause.

yun fem danse mei danse. – The young woman dances a beautiful dance.
sen man morte gud morte. – The old man died a good death.

The intransitive clause is structurally similar to the nominal predicative clause, which has zero copula. Compare the first two examples below!

(1) sen man morte. – The old man died. (intransitive clause)
(2) sen man – morte. – The old man (is) dead. (nominal predicative clause)
(3) sen man es morte. – The old man is dead. (verbal predicative clause)

The same sentence can mean both 'the old man died' and 'the old man is dead'. However, they mean almost the same thing, so their almost similar appearance is not an issue. One can use the copula verb to clarify the situation, as in the third sentence, when necessary.

Transitive clause

The transitive clause is the most versatile clause type in Pandunia, and it has many different realizations.

Transitive clauses are clauses where the verb takes a direct object. The purpose of the transitive clause is to express an event where someone does something to someone or something.

The three constituents of the transitive clause are subject, verb and object. In theory, they can be ordered in many different ways. In Pandunia, their normal order is subject–verb–object (SVO). This order is one of the most common word orders among world's languages. It is the most common word order by number of speakers and the second-most common order by number of languages.

Figure 4. Decomposition of the transitive clause.

 ╔═════════╗   ╔═══════════╗   ╔════════╗
 ╚════╤════╝   ╚═════╤═════╝   ╚════╤═══╝
      │              │              │
┌─────┴─────┐  ┌─────┴─────┐  ┌─────┴─────┐
│noun phrase│  │verb phrase│  │noun phrase│
└─────┬─────┘  └─────┬─────┘  └─────┬─────┘
      │              │              │
┌───┬─┴─┬────┐ ┌───┬─┴─┬────┐ ┌───┬─┴─┬────┐
│det│adj│noun│ │TAM│adv│verb│ │det│adj│noun│
└───┴───┴────┘ └───┴───┴────┘ └───┴───┴────┘
 da  yun man    did     vize   un  sen guru.
'The young man  did     see    an  old guru.'

Transitive clauses are called transitive because they express an event where some energy transits from the subject to the object. Subject–verb–object is a natural word order, because it follows the natural order of the event. The subject is the source of the energy and it sends the energy through the verb, which transits it to the object. The object receives the energy and is affected by it.

Ambitransitive verbs

In general, there are three types of verbs.

  1. Transitive verbs need a direct object, which is the target of the action.
  2. Intransitive verbs don't take an object. Then the action is directed to the subject.
  3. Ambitransitive verbs can be both transitive and intransitive.

Pandunia verbs are typically ambitransitive i.e. they may or may not take an object. When there is an object, the clause is transtive, and when there isn't an object, the clause is intransitive.

In transitive clauses, the subject is the agent and the object is the patient. There is a lot of variation in the the roles of agent and patient, but their most basic types can be described as prototypical roles.

The prototypical agent

  1. is alive
  2. can move
  3. participates in the event by its own will
  4. causes a change in another participant
  5. exists independently of the event.

The prototypical patient

  1. might be a non-living thing
  2. is standing still relative to another participant
  3. is drawn into the event by another participant
  4. undergoes a change because of the event
  5. might not exist without the event.

In the event, energy flows from the agent to the patient in the form that the verb describes. Consider the following sentence, where the child is the agent that departs energy in the form of a push to the ball, the patient.

da bacha bate da bol. – The child hits the ball.

There can also be an instrument that mediates the flow of energy from the agent to the patient. The sequence agent > instrument > patient reflects the flow of energy in an action chain.

da bacha uze da bang bate da bol. – The child uses the bat to hit the ball.

The order of the participants is in line with the order of the action chain in reality. The agent, as the origin of the energy flow, is in the beginning, the instrument is in the middle, and the patient, as the recipient of the energy flow, is in the end.

In syntactical terms the order of the words is subject–verb–object (or SVO in short). This is the normal and neutral word order in Pandunia.

For example, in the following sentence, the subject is mi 'I', the verb is vize 'see', and the object is tu 'you'.

mi vize tu. – I see you.

If the words are arranged in the opposite order, the entire sentence will have the opposite meaning.

tu vize mi. – You see me.

The subject and object roles are related to syntax, which deals with word order and other grammatical phenomena. The agent, instrument and patient roles are related to semantics, which is about the meaning of words. The semantic and syntactic roles can be mapped together in many ways. Usually the most energetic semantic participant takes the role of the subject.

  1. If there is an agent, it becomes the subject.
    • da bacha uze da bang bate da bol.The child uses the bat to hit the ball.
  2. Otherwise, if there is an instrument, it becomes the subject.
    • da bang bate da bol.The bat hits the ball.
  3. Otherwise the patient becomes the subject and the clause type becomes intransitive.
    • da bol bate.The ball is hit.

When a sentence consists of a subject and a verb (SV), the role of the subject can be ambiguous. It can be either the agent or the patient. In such cases the interpretation of its role is based on probability. What is the most likely role that fits together with the situation that the sentence describes?

Often the other 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. the recipient or the 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 marche. – The cat walks.
sol lume. – The sun shines.
di kom. – 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 marche. – 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 peshe. – The cat eats fish.
mi fa mau yam peshe. – 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.

Pivot construction

Basic pivot construction

The basic pivot construction is a syntactic realization of an action chain that reflects the flow of energy from one participant to another. A basic sequence is that of agent > instrument > patient.

da uze un chaku kate da ban. – He uses a knife to cut the bread.
da jete da bol bate da dika. – He throws the ball to hit the target.
mi shofe da karo kom da site. – I drive the car to enter the city.

Another common sequence is that of causer > agent > patient. In such sequences the first verb typically indicates a modality such as desire, permission or obligation, and the second verb indicates what the causer wants the agent to do.

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

Syntactically the pivot construction is made up of subject–verb₁–pivot–verb₂–object. The pivot is at the same time the object for verb₁ and the subject for the verb₂.

mi van tu yam som vege. – I want you to eat vegetables.

In the example above, mi van has tu as its object. At the same time, the very same tu functions as the subject of the following predicate, yam som vege. So tu is the pivot that links the clauses together.

A complete action chain is that of causer > agent > instrument > patient > recipient. The previous sequences, agent > instrument > patient and causer > agent > patient, were in fact only subsequences of this chain. One may pick any or all participants of the action chain into a sentence as long as they stay in the same order. In the following example sentence all optional participants and their verbs are enclosed in brackets.

(mi van) (tu uze) (da chaku) kate da ban (don ma). – I want you to use the knife to cut the bread and give to mother.

In pivot constructions where the first action indicates a modality, such as desire, permission or obligation, the first participant can be left out when it indicates the first person ('I'). The the remaining syntactic construction is verb₁–pivot–verb₂–object.

mi sual tu kom haus. – I ask (whether) you come come?
sual tu kom haus. – Do you come come?
mi asha tu yam mas fite. – I wish you would eat more vegetables.
asha tu yam mas fite. – Wish you would eat more vegetables.

In commands and requests also the second participant can be left out when it indicates the second person ('you'). The the remaining syntactic structure is verb₁–verb₂–object.

mi plis tu kom haus. – I ask you to come home.
plis kom haus! – Please come home!
mi amir tu kluze da mun. – I command you to shut the door.
amir kluze da mun. – Shut the door!

Serial verb construction

People tend to express actions that they want to or should do differently than actions that they want other people to do. They don't say, for example, I want that I write but they say I want to write. Looks like it is worthwhile to mention the participants only when they add new information to the sentence. The second participant can be left out from the pivot construction when it is the same as the subject.

mi van mi kitab letre.I want me to write a letter.
mi van kitab letre. – I want to write a letter.

This structure is called the verb series or the serial verb construction. It is very common in Pandunia. There can be two, three or even more verbs in a series. All verbs are about the same subject.

  1. mi go to haus. – I go home.
  2. mi kan go to haus. – I can go home.
  3. mi van kan go to haus. – 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 van yam som vege. – You want to eat vegetables. (desire)
tu sele yam som vege. – You had better eat vegetables. (advice)
tu halal yam som vege. – You may eat vegetables. (permission)
tu kan yam som vege. – You can eat vegetables. (ability)
tu mus yam som vege. – You must eat vegetables. (obligation)

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 es guru. – Maria is a teacher.
guru es 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 vize 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 vize. – (It's) you I saw.

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

tu be mi vize. – You were seen by me.

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

tu es ki mi vize. – You are the one whom I saw.

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

es tu ki mi vize. – It's you whom I saw.
es tu mi vize. – It's you I saw.

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

es mi ki vize tu. ~ es mi vize tu. – It's me who saw you.
es mi ki kom. ~ es mi kom. – It's me who came.


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 ye ('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, ye? – 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 kan no kan yam un hol piza? – Can you or can't you eat a whole 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 ye ('yes') and no ('no').

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

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

tu no vize mi, he? – Don't you see me?
ye. (mi vize tu.) – Yes. (I see you.)
no. (mi no vize 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 kua ('what').

piza es kua? – 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 unchanged.

kua tu yam? – What are you eating?
tu yam kua? – You are eating what?
da kom a kua tem? – When does he arrive?
yu vizite a kua jen se haus? – Whose house did you all vizet?

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.

da buk, ki da jen kitab, pada. – The book, which the person writes, falls.

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

da buk, da jen kitab, pada. – The book the person writes falls.

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

da jen, ki kitab da buk, 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.

da kalam, a ki da jen kitab da buk, pada. – The pen, with which the person writes the book, falls.
da kalam, da jen kitab da buk 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.

da jen, mi vize ki kitab da buk, pada. – The person, whom I see write the book, falls.
da jen, mi vize kitab da buk, pada. – The person that I see write the book falls.

Also a resumptive relative pronoun can be used if needed.

da jen, mi kitab da buk a ki se kalam, pada. – 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 ke.

mi nou ke tu es frende. – I know that you are a friend.
di fikre ke vi haf chute. – 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 da points to the previous one.

vo es bari, ke mi no haf vize di.It is important that I haven't seen them.
ke pan jen be sana ka par, da es klar.That all people are created as equals; it is clear.

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

to ke – so that, in order that, with the result that
of ke – because, for the reason that

mi dugu ye buk to ki mi trapas da teste. – I read this book so that I will pass the test.
mi haf trapas da teste de ki mi dugu da buk. – 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 es 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 tochu tava, asar tu pati hanu.If you touch the pan, then you will hurt your hand.

Combining phrases with conjunctions

e – 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 e 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.


Affirmation and Negation


Expressions are affirmative by default.

mi es shefe. – I am the boss.
da es nova meza. – It is a new table.

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

mi ye es shefe. – I indeed am the boss.
da ye es nova meza. – It indeed is a new table.


Such sentences can be simply negated with no.

da no es shefe. – He is not the boss.
da no es nove 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 vize tu. – I see you.
mi no vize tu. – I don't see you.
mi vize no tu ama di. – I see, not you, but them.

mi plis tu safi da kamar. – I ask you to clean the room.
mi no plis tu safi da kamar. – I do NOT ask you to clean the room.
mi plis tu no safi da kamar. – I ask you NOT to clean the room.

Particles ye and no are used also for answering questions.

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

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

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

Modifier particles

Particles li and of are used to link a noun, an adjective or a verb phrase to a noun to modify it. li connects the modifying word or phrase to the main noun word. of 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 li labi – rose-colored lips
sama rang li yen – sky-colored eyes

Or in the opposite order:

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

The particles help in creating measure words too.

un sake li patate – one sack of potatoes
du sake li patate – two sacks of potatoes
mor sake li patate – more sacks of potatoes

Note that li and of connect phrases together. So a modifier phrase with and without them can mean a different thing.

mor mei hua – more beautiful flowers
mor of mei hua – more of beautiful flowers

Modification with verb phrases

Verbs are turned into modifiers by placing de or li 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.

shute of grafe pente – the art of picture-painting (the art of painting pictures)
ale se helpe se suka – the joy of others-helping (the joy of helping others)


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

Maria se mama – Maria's mother
Maria se mama se haus – Maria's mother's house

The same particle is used with with personal pronouns too.

mi se haus – my house
tu se haus – your house
da se haus – his or her house
vi se haus – our house
yu se haus – your house
di se haus – their house

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 van. – Bah! Pizza! I don't want (it).

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

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

me indicates indifference, boredom or lack of excitement.

me. da no nove. – 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? sepe un kupa ba! – You like coffee, right? Grab a cup!
da nove, 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 kitab da, he? – na, no haf. – Did you write it? – Well, not yet.
da gud, ne? – na, ye. – 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!

ye 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 haf vize tu ye. – I truly saw you.
da ver, ye. – It is true indeed.
da nove, ne? – da nove, ye. – It is new, right? – It's new indeed.


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

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