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Verbs

Updated: 6-28-2011 7:44 AM

Verbs refer to states of being (condition, quality, etc.) or to actions.

michaa  =  it is big

nindaabajitoon  =  I use it

Verbs, like nouns, are inflected, taking on affixes (prefixes and suffixes) that convey grammatical information. For example, the affixes on a verb can indicate number, tense (the time of the action), and the relationship of the verb to other parts of a phrase or sentence.

The verb is the main feature of most sentences in Ojibwe; nothing more is needed to make a sentence. Noun phrases and adverbs and other particles may occur with the verb, but are not essential. 

The Form of a Verb

The fundamental unit of a verb is the verb stem, which carries the verb’s basic meaning – the state or action described by the verb (be, see, run, for example). Various inflectional affixes, which relate the verb to other other words in the sentence or add meanings not contained in the stem (time or negation, for example), appear around this basic stem. Some of these inflectional affixes are prefixes; most are suffixes. The overall pattern of an inflected verb is indicated in the following word diagram:

Inflectional prefixes + VERB STEM + inflectional suffixes (verb ending)

In the example that follows, the verb stem see is surrounded by affixes that convey pertinent information; they tell the reader or listener that the speaker did the seeing, that the action has already taken place, and that more than one person was seen by the speaker. In grammatical terms, the affixes identify the subject, the tense, and the object of the verb.

Ingii-waabamaag.  =  I saw them.

In this particular case, it is possible to identify individual suffixes; -g at the end of the verb, for example, indicates that the object is animate plural, and the second-to-last suffix –aa, indicates the direction of the action – this is, that it is the speaker who saw them, and not the other way around. In many instances, however the various suffixes overlap and blend together so that it is difficult to identify individual suffixes. For this reason, the suffixes attached to a verb stem are often referred to collectively as the verb ending.

The inflectional prefixes include personal prefixes, tense prefixes, and subordinating prefixes. These take on different forms and patterns depending on the other inflections used.

Subject and Object

The subject of a verb (sometimes called the actor) is the main person or thing involved in the action or state described by the verb, typically the one that performs the action or the one whose state or condition is described by the verb. In the example above, the subject is the speaker, the first person. The object of a verb is an additional person or thing involved in the action or state described by the verb, typically one that is affected by the action of the verb. In the example above, the object of the verb is them, the third-person plural. Some verbs can have two objects.

The inflectional affixes attached to the verb identify the subject or object, or both, by giving information about their categories, such as gender, number, person and obviation. The subject or the object can also be named in a noun phrase. The identifying inflectional affixes, however, will appear on the verb, whether a noun phrase is used or not. In the example below, the inflected verb appears with one or two optional noun phrases, in addition to the required verbal affixes.

Geniin ingii-waabamaag ingiw gwiiwizensag.  =  I, too, saw those boys.

Verb Classes

There are two basic types of verbs: transitive verbs, which typically have objects, and intransitive verbs, which typically do not. The verb stems of transitive and intransitive verbs differ, as do the paradigms or sets of inflectional affixes that occur with them.

Verbs are further classified by gender: intransitive verbs are identified by the gender of their subjects, while transitive verbs are identified by the gender of their objects. Thus four basic classes of verbs emerge:

  • animate intransitive verbs (vai),
  • inanimate intransitive verbs (vii),
  • transitive inanimate verbs (vti), and
  • transitive animate verbs (vta).

This classification is reflected in both the verb stems and the paradigms of inflectional affixes used with them. The stems and inflectional paradigms of some verbs belong to different classifications; for example, some verbs that have transitive inanimate stems are or can be inflected as animate intransitive verbs.

 Verbal Order

There are three basic verb orders: the imperative order, used in giving commands; the independent order, used in most statements and yes/no questions; and the conjunct order, used mainly in content questions and in subordinate clauses of various types. Each order has its distinct paradigm of inflectional affixes. These affixes vary according to the type of the verb (VAI, VII, etc.) and the way the verb is used in the sentence.

The main uses of each order and the paradigms of inflectional affixes that can be used with different classes of stems within each order are examined in the following sections.

ImperativeOrder

Verbs in the imperative order express commands or requests, although not all verbs used in this way are in the imperative order. The inflectional endings of imperative-order verbs contain suffixes registering the subject, which is animate and second person (singular, plural or inclusive plural), and in some transitive forms, the object. Since the subject must be animate and the second person, inanimate intransitive verbs have no imperative forms. Personal prefixes are not used and tense prefixes are very rare.

There are three main modes of imperative verbs, each used for a particular purpose:

* the immediate imperative (also called the present or regular imperative), which expresses commands and requests to be executed immediately;

* the delayed imperative (also called the future or deferred imperative), which expresses commands and requests to be executed at some point in the future; and

* the prohibitive imperative (also called the negative imperative) which expresses negative commands.

Each form has a distinct set of inflectional endings.

The imperative verb may be the only verb in the sentences, or it may appear with a subordinate clause and a conjunct verb. The overall structure of the imperative verb is:

VERB STEM + imperative ending

 Independent Order

Whether or not a verb is in the independent order is determined by the way it is used. Usually when a verb is the main verb in a statement or yes/no question, it is in the independent order. The affixes of the independent order register the subject and, in many cases, an object. The affixes may include a personal prefix and one or several suffixes indicating the subject or object, or subject-object combinations. Time and related ideas can be indicated by tense prefixes. The overall structure of independent verbs is:

personal prefix + tense prefixes + VERB STEM + independent ending

Not all of these components are present in every independent verb; a personal prefix is require

for only certain subjects or subject-object combinations; tense prefixes may not be required; and some forms either have no suffix or the suffix is deleted by pronunciation rules from certain stems.

Independent-order verbs occur in one of four modes: the neutral mode, the preterit mode, the dubitative mode, and the preterit-dubitative mode. All of these, except the neutral mode, have their own characteristic mode suffixes. Verbs without a mode suffix are considered to be in the neutral (or indicative) mode.

The endings of independent verbs are often very complicated and contain several different suffixes that blend together so that it becomes difficult to identify individual suffixes. Independent verb endings may include one or more of the following: a subject/object suffix or suffixes, a direction marker, and a mode suffix or suffixes. Other suffixes may also be present, representing other grammatical ideas; for example, verbs can have negative suffixes.  Independent order is also called A-form.

Independent verbs in a statement

The main verb in a statement is usually in the independent order. The independent verbs is bolded in the examples below.

Nindaakoz  =  I am sick.

Ajina oodenaang babaamibizowag  =  They are riding around town for a while.

Independent verbs in yes/no questions

The main verb in a yes/no question can be in the independent order. A yes/no question particle is usually the second word in the sentence. The independent verb is bolded in the examples below.

Gimaajamin ina?  =  Are we going?

Geyaabii na omaa ayaa Susie?  =  Is Susie still here

Conjunct Order

Inflection of the Conjunct Verb for Subject and Object

Conjunct-order verbs have the same range of subject-object combinations as independent verbs, but no personal prefixes are used; all grammatical information concerning subjects and objects is conveyed by suffixes.

As with the independent order, paradigms of inflectional endings for various verb types are not given here; the many variations among local forms of Ojibwe make these of limited usefulness

The Conjunct Order

As with independent-order verbs, it is the way a verb is used that determines whether or not it is in the conjunct order. When a verb is used in a subordinate clause or when, in a main clause, it is joined to certain other words – for example, question words such as when, who, where – it falls into the conjunct or joined-together order.  Conjunct order is sometimes called B-form.

Although tense prefixes occur as in the independent order, personal prefixes are not used in the conjunct order. The suffixes in the verb ending indicate the subject of an intransitive verb and both the subject and object of a transitive verb. The endings may also include suffixes for the same modes that are used in the independent order. In some varieties of Ojibwe, they may also include negative suffixes.

In some varieties of Ojibwe, conjunct verbs may appear in participle form; in this form, the suffixes for subject and object may differ from those normally used in the conjunct order.

The basic pattern of the conjunct verb is:

initial change + tense prefix(es) + VERB STEM + conjunct ending or subordinating prefix(es)

Changed Conjunct

Certain constructions, including participles in Ojibwe, use the changed conjunct, in which the vowel of the first syllable of the verb (this may be in the verb stem or it may be a prefix or preverb) is changed according to a regular pattern. The constructions that require the changed conjunct and the extent to which the mechanism, also referred to as the process of initial change, is applied vary from dialect to dialect.  Changed conjunct is sometimes called C-form.

Uses of the Conjunct Verb

Conjunct verbs are found most often in content questions, after predicators, and in subordinate clauses, including adverbial clauses, verb complement clauses, and relative clauses.

It should be pointed out that the conjunct order is used for a variety of purposes in the different Native languages, so that the uses presented here should be seen not as an exhaustive survey but rather as a guide to the most common uses of the conjunct order.

Content questions. Content questions, or questions beginning with a question word such as who, where, or what, normally require the conjunct order form of the verb. The examples in this section illustrate the main types of content questions.

Questions with interrogative pronoun. In this type of question, a noun phrase, represented by the interrogative pronoun, is the focus of a question.

Awenesh gaa-waabamik?  =  Who saw you?

Awenenan gaa-mawadisaad aakoziiwigamigong?  =  Whom did he visit in the hospital?

Questions with interrogative adverb. In this type of question, an interrogative adverb is linked to the conjunct verb to ask a question concerning the location, time, or nature of an act or event. The verb often contains a relative root or prefix.

Aaniindi ezhaayan?  =  Where are you going?

Aaniin enakamigak agwajiing? =   What’s going on outside? (literally How is the action going outside?)

Questions with interrogative word asking for a reason. In this type of question, an interrogative word is linked to the verb prefix or root from to ask a question concerning the reason for an act or event.

Aaniish gaa-onji-ganoonind.  =  Why were they speaking to him?

Wegonen wenji-inishiyin.  =  Why are you saying that to me?

Dubitative statements. In Ojibwe, dubitative statements beginning with a dubitative word – statements that express doubt or uncertainty about the identity or location of a person or thing, the location or time of an event, etc. – require the conjunct-order form of the verb. The conjunct verb in this type of statement is usually in the dubitative mode.

Dubitative statements with dubitative pronoun. In this type of statement, the conjunct verb is linked to a dubitative pronoun to express doubt or uncertainty about the identity of a person or thing.

Awegwen gaa-gidamwaagwen nimbakwezhiganiman.  =  I wonder who ate up my bannock.

Dubitative statements with dubitative adverb. In this type of statement, the conjunct verb is linked to a dubitative adverb to express doubt or uncertainty about location, time, or manner.

Amanj enendamogwen noongom nimaamaa.  =  I wonder what my mother thinks (literally how my mother is thinking).

Clauses with predicator. Verbs used in clauses introduced by a predicator are usually in the conjunct order.

Clauses with focus word. In Ojibwe, the verb in a clause introduced by a focus word is in the conjunct order unless a negative particle is present.

Mii awiya gaa-ikidod. = That’s what somebody said.

Amii e-gichi-anokiid enaak John.  = This is the first time that John is working hard.

Clauses with other predicators. Certain other particles may serve as predicators and introduce a clause with a conjunct-order verb.

Apane gaa-ni-maajaad.  =  And finally he went.

Booch igo gaa-izhi-odaapinang. =  And still he went and picked it up.

Complement clauses. Some verbs, notably verbs of speaking, thinking, and feeling, can be complemented by a clause containing a conjunct verb.

Inzegiz wii-niiskaadak.  =  I’m afraid there will be a storm.

Ningikenimaag e-aakoziwaad.  =  I know they are sick.

Adverbial subordinate clauses. Some subordinate clauses take on an adverbial function to specify time, location, or manner.

Adverbial clauses of time. Adverbial clauses of time perform the function of an adverb of time, restricting the focus of verbal action in the main clause to a specific period or point in time. Adverbial clauses are often introduced by a grammatical particle or by one or more tense or subordinating prefixes. The adverbial clause of time is bold.

Gego zaaga’angen jibwaa-dagoshinaan. = Don’t go outside until I arrive.

Adverbial clauses of place. Adverbial clauses of place, also called locative clauses, perform the function of an adverb of place or a locative noun. The verb may be introduced by a tense or subordinating prefix and usually has a relative root or prefix.

Gaa-izhi-daad nindizhaa.  =  I’m going to his place (literally I’m going where he lives).

Conditional clauses. Conditional clauses state a condition that restricts the action of the verb in the main clause. Conditional clauses often occur with the conjunction giishpin. In the examples below, the conditional clauses are bold.

Giishpin enendaman, mii go oodi ge-zhaaying.  =  If you agree, we’ll go.

Waabamagiban, nindaa-gii-giiwe-diba’amawaa.  =  If I had seen him, I would have paid him back.

Clauses of purpose. Clauses of purpose or result describe the goal or outcome of the action specified in the main clause. Clauses of purpose usually contain a future or subordinating preverb. In the following examples, the clauses of purpose are bold.

Weweni wiisnin ji-mino-bimaadiziyan. = Eat properly so you will be healthy.

Niwii-gagwejimaa awiyaji-ozhibii’iged.  =  I want to ask someone to take notes.

 Inflection of the Conjunct Verb for Tense

One or more tense prefixes may be used to indicate time other than the present, other ideas relating to the completion of the action, or such ideas as intention, possibility, or obligation. If the tense prefix is the first element of a verb, it may undergo initial change. The most common forms of the tense prefixes used with conjunct verbs are given below.

 

 

Unchanged Ojibwe

With Initial Change

completed action (past tense)

gii-/gii’-

gaa-/gaa’-

future/modal

ji-

ge-

desiderative

wii-/wii’-

waa-/waa’-

 

In some Western dialects, the change is made as in Central Ojibwe; in others, the long vowels do not undergo the change.

Mode

Each verbal order has various modes. Imperative order has three modes: immediate, delayed and prohibitive. Independent and conjunct orders have four modes: neutral, preterit, dubitative and preterit-dubitative.

Imperative Inflection for Mode

There are three main modes of imperative verbs, each used for a particular purpose:

  • the immediate imperative (also called the present or regular imperative), which expresses commands and requests to be executed immediately;
  • the delayed imperative (also called the future or deferred imperative), which expresses commands and requests to be executed at some point in the future; and
  • the prohibitive imperative (also called the negative imperative) which expresses negative commands.

Each form has a distinct set of inflectional endings.

 Independent Inflection for Mode

Independent-order verbs occur in one of four modes: the neutral mode, the preterit mode, the dubitative mode, and the preterit-dubitative mode. All of these, except the neutral mode, have their own characteristic mode suffixes. The preterit, dubitative, and preterit-dubitative modes are indicated by suffixes that appear in the verb ending along with the suffixes relating to the subject and object. When no mode suffix appears in the ending, a verb is said to be in the neutral mode.

1) The preterit mode

The preterit mode is used to emphasize completed action – that is, action performed in the past and not continuing into the present – and intended but unrealized action. The verb ending includes a preterit suffix: -ba(n) in Ojibwe.

Miziwe ningii-babaa-ayaanaaban.  =  I had been all over the place.

 2) The dubitative mode

The dubitative mode is used to emphasize doubt or uncertainty about the action or state expressed by the verb. The verb ending includes a dubitative suffix: -dog(en) for Ojibwe.

Ogii-meshkwadoonaanaadog awiya o’owe mazina’iganens.  Somebody must have cashed this check.

3) The preterit-dubitative mode

The preterit-dubitative mode is used to emphasize uncertainty about past action or events – for example, doubt concerning the reliability of reported events or inferences made from uncertain evidence. It is also used to refer to events known from traditional accounts. The verb ending includes preterit-dubitative suffixes, which incorporate a preterit suffix.

Gii-ozhaashishinogoban.  =  He must have slipped.

Conjunct Inflection for Mode

The preterit, dubitative, and preterit-dubitative modes are indicated by suffixes in the ending of the verb. The other suffixes, such as those indicating the grammatical categories of the subject and/or object, negation, etc., may take different forms in the endings. When no mode suffix appears in the ending, a verb is said to be in the neutral mode.

1)The preterit mode

The preterit mode is used to emphasize completed action (action performed in the past and not continuing into the present) and intended but unrealized action. The verb ending includes the preterit suffix -ba(a)(n).

Giishpin waabaminaambaa, gidaa-gii-wiindamoon.  =  If I had seen you, I would have told you.

Mii iwidi gaa-izhaayaambaan apii noondamaan e-gii-dagoshinan.  =  That’s where I went as soon as I heard that you had arrived.

2)The dubitative mode

The dubitative mode is used to emphasize doubt or uncertainty about an action or event. The verb ending includes the dubitative suffixes -w and -en/-enh

Awegwen gaa-gidamwaagwen nimbakwezhiganiman.
I wonder who ate up my bannock.

3)The preterit-dubitative mode

The preterit-dubitative mode is used to emphasize uncertainty about past action or events, especially in reporting inferences made from uncertain evidence or things known from traditional accounts. The ending includes both preterit and dubitative suffixes.

Amii iinzan imaa gaa-dazhi-manoominikegobanen.  =  That’s where he must have once made rice.

 Animate Intransitive Verbs

Animate intransitive verbs (abbreviated VAI) typically have animate subjects, but no objects. The stem and the inflectional paradigm are of the animate intransitive type.

ningizo  =  it melts (it refers here to an animate noun – ice, for instance)

nibo  =  s/he dies

VAI+O  Some animate intransitive verbs may occur in sentences with objects. These animate intransitive verbs with objects, abbreviated VAI+O, have stems of the animate intransitive class. In Ojibwe, they may use a special paradigm of inflections resembling that of transitive inanimate verbs, in which the verb endings identify the object as well as the subject.

niminikwen   =  I drink it

VAI2  In Ojibwe, some transitive inanimate verbs do not take objects and are inflected in the animate intransitive paradigm. These stems (labeled VAI2) retain the transitive inanimate class marker. Other transitive inanimate stems can be inflected in either the transitive inanimate paradigm or the animate intransitive paradigm, depending on whether or not they take an object.

zaaga’am  =  s/he goes outside

nindinendam  =  I think so

ozosodam  =  s/he coughs

Imperative Inflection for Animate Intransitive Verbs

Verbs in the imperative order express commands or requests. The subject for imperative-order verbs is always second person.

Immediate Mode VAI Inflection

An animate intransitive imperative verb has an animate subject, but no object. The person and number of the second-person animate subject are indicated in the imperative ending.

Wewiib onishkaag!  =  Hurry up and get ready!

Daga giigidon!  =  Call immediately!

Izhaadaa agwajiing!  =  Let’s go outside!

Delayed (or Future) Imperative Mode

The delayed form of the imperative is used to express commands or requests that are to be carried out at some future time. (In some contexts, the requests expressed by the delayed imperative are polite in tone.) The endings for the imperative contain a delayed-mode suffix: -k.

Baamaa bi-izhaakan.  =  Come back (later).

Wiiji’aakeg gimaamaa.  = Help your mother.

Prohibitive Imperative Mode

In Ojibwe, the prohibitive (or negative) imperative expresses negative commands or requests. A negative adverb, which appears at the beginning of the sentence, is normally used with a prohibitive verb. The endings of a prohibitive verb contain the prohibitive suffix: -k (-g after n).

Gego biigooshkaaken onaagan!  =  Don’t break that dish!

Gego zaaga’angen!  =  Don’t go outside!

Independent Inflections for Animate Intransitive Verbs

Inflection for Subject and Object

A personal prefix indicating the person of the subject or object is required in some forms; other grammatical information about the subject or object, or both, is indicated in the ending. The most common patterns are illustrated below.

VAI Independent Inflection

The animate subject of an animate intransitive verb can be first, second or third person and either singular or plural. A third-person subject may be obviative. The subject may also be indefinite.

The number and obviation of a third-person subject are indicated in the ending. In the neutral mode, a third-person singular ending is often deleted owing to pronunciation rules.

A first- or second-person subject is indicated by a personal prefix, often in combination with a suffix showing number. The first-person prefix is used if the subject is first person; the second-person prefix is used if the subject is second person or inclusive, a form that includes the second person.

 A distinctive feature of Ojibwe is the loss of a short vowel from the end of the stem when the subject is a first- or second-person singular. Note the loss of the final –i in the first person in the example below.

niimi  =  s/he dances

niniim  =  I dance

An indefinite subject – usually some unspecified group – is indicated by the indefinite suffix in the verb ending. The resulting form emphasizes the taking place of the action rather than the role of the participants in the action.

Wii-niimi’idim.  =  There’s going to be a dance.

VAI+O Inflection

Animate intransitive verbs with objects (VAI+O) may follow the the pattern of affixes for VTI3 stems, which have no class marker.

VAI2 Inflection

Ojibwe VAI2 verbs follow the same patterns as those outlined above when used intransitively, but the endings begin with the class marker –am (this can also appear as –an, -aa).

Nizaga’am.  =  I’m going outside.

Nininendaamin.  =  We think so.

Conjunct Inflections for Animate Intransitive Verbs

Inflection of the Conjunct Verb for Subject and Object

Conjunct-order verbs have the same range of subject-object combinations as independent verbs, but no personal prefixes are used; all grammatical information concerning subjects and objects is conveyed by suffixes.

As with the independent order, paradigms of inflectional endings are not given here; the many variations among local forms of Ojibwe make these of limited usefulness.

Animate intransitive conjunct inflection

The animate subject of an animate intransitive verb can be first, second, or third person and singular or plural. If the subject is third person, it may be obviative. The subject of an animate intransitive verb may also be indefinite. The subject is indicated in the ending.

Ingii-kenimaa aakozid.  =  I know she is sick.

Aaniindi gaa-bi-onjiiwaad gimishoomisag.  =  Where did your grandfathers come here from?

The object of an animate intransitive verb (VAI+O) is not expressed in the verb ending. Thus animate intransitive verbs with objects have the same endings as the more common animate intransitive verbs that only have subjects.

VAI2 verbs follow the same pattern and are indistinguishable in form from transitive inanimate verbs with an -am class marker.

Aaniish apii gaa-zaag’ang.  =  When did he go out?

Aaniin enendaman noongom gaa-giizhigak What are you thinking today?

 

Inanimate Intransitive Verbs

Inanimate intransitive verbs (abbreviated VII) have subjects, but no objects.

ningide  =  it melts (it refers here to an inanimate noun – butter, for instance)

Some inanimate intransitive verbs, especially those describing weather and geographical features, are impersonal and typically do not occur with nouns as subjects.

zoogipon  =  it is snowing.

Independent Inflection for Inanimate Intransitive Verbs

VII Independent Inflection

The subject of an inanimate intransitive verb is inanimate and third person. The number and obviation of the subject is shown in the ending. In the neutral mode, a singular non-obviative ending is often deleted.

Aapaji michaani owiigwaam.  =  His house is very big.

Biigoshkaawan nindooshkiinzhigokaanan.  =  My glasses are broken.

Inanimate intransitive verbs, especially those describing natural conditions, may be used impersonally, without a subject. Such verbs are inflected as singular.

Zagimekaa.  =  There are a lot of mosquitos.

Gii-kichi-gimiwan dibikong.  =  It rained hard last night.

Conjunct Inflection for Inanimate Intransitive Verbs

Inflection of the Conjunct Verb for Subject and Object

Conjunct-order verbs have the same range of subject-object combinations as independent verbs, but no personal prefixes are used; all grammatical information concerning subjects and objects is conveyed by suffixes.

As with the independent order, paradigms of inflectional endings for various verb types are not given here; the many variations among local forms of Ojibwe make these of limited usefulness.

Inanimate intransitive conjunct inflection

The third-person inanimate subject of an inanimate intransitive verb is shown in the ending.

Aaniindi eteg makakoon?  =  Where are the boxes?

Ambegish gimiwang. =  I wish it would rain.

Transitive Inanimate Verbs

Transitive inanimate verbs (abbreviated VTI) have inanimate objects. Their subjects are usually animate.

There are two main classes or types of transitive animate verbs -- VTI and VTI2, each with its own class marker suffix. Most transitive inanimate stems belong to one of these two classes; in Ojibwe, a few belong to additional minor classes.

VTI

The first class of transitive inanimate verb is usually abbreviated VTI. The class of the verb is indicated in the ending: -an, -am, -aa.

niwaabandaan  =  I see it

VTI2

The second class of transitive inanimate verbs is abbreviated VTI2. The class is indicated in the ending: -oo.

nimbiidoon  =  I bring it

VTI3

The third class of transitive inanimate verbs is abbreviated VTI3. These verbs do not use a class marker.

VTI4

There are only two known VTI4 verbs.

Imperative Inflection for Transitive Inanimate Verbs

Verbs in the imperative order express commands or requests. The subject for imperative-order verbs is always second person.

Immediate Mode VTI Inflection

A transitive inanimate verb has an animate subject and an inanimate object. The person and number of the second-person animate subject are indicated by an imperative ending. The inanimate object may be singular or plural, but the number is not indicated in the ending except in the inclusive plural subject forms. The person and number of the second-person animate subject are indicated by an inflectional ending, which may include the appropriate class marker.

Zagakisidoon gidaya’iiman.  =  Tidy up your things.

Delayed (or Future) Imperative Mode

The delayed form of the imperative is used to express commands or requests that are to be carried out at some future time. (In some contexts, the requests expressed by the delayed imperative are polite in tone.) The endings for the imperative contain a delayed-mode suffix: -k.

Baamaa bi-izhaakan.  =  Come back (later).

Wiiji’aakeg gimaamaa.  =  Help your mother.

Prohibitive Imperative Mode

In Ojibwe, the prohibitive (or negative) imperative expresses negative commands or requests. A negative adverb, which appears at the beginning of the sentence, is normally used with a prohibitive verb. The endings of a prohibitive verb contain the prohibitive suffix: -k (-g after n).

Gego biigooshkaaken onaagan!  =  Don’t break that dish!

Gego zaaga’angen!  =  Don’t go outside!

Independent Inflection for Transitive Inanimate Verbs

Inflection for Subject and Object

A personal prefix indicating the person of the subject or object is required in some forms; other grammatical information about the subject or object, or both, is indicated in the ending. The most common subject and subject-object patterns are illustrated below.

VTI Independent Inflection

The subject of a transitive inanimate verb is typically animate; the object is inanimate and third person. In Ojibwe, the person of the subject (first, second or third) is indicated by a personal prefix; other grammatical information about the subject and the number of the object are indicated by suffixes in the ending. The suffixes blend with the class marker between the end of the stem and the suffixes.

All transitive inanimate stems belong to specific classes, each of which has its own class marker suffix. In Ojibwe, the class marker of class 1 stems (labeled simply VTI) takes the form of –am, –an, or –aa in the ending. The class marker of the second most common class (labeled VTI2) is –oo. In Ojibwe, a small number of verbs (the VTI3 group) use no class marker. The last class (labeled VTI4) is extremely rare.

Susie ogii-biidoon nimazina’igan.  =  Susie brought my book.

It should be noted that the third-person prefix (w-) may be deleted in many varieties of Ojibwe owing to pronunciation rules.

Ingii-adaawen wiingashk.  =  I bought some sweetgrass.

Ojiimaan oda-adaawaagen.  = He’s going to sell his boat.

Conjunct Inflection for Transitive Inanimate Verbs

Inflection of the Conjunct Verb for Subject and Object

Conjunct-order verbs have the same range of subject-object combinations as independent verbs, but no personal prefixes are used; all grammatical information concerning subjects and objects is conveyed by suffixes.

As with the independent order, paradigms of inflectional endings for various verb types are not given here; the many variations among local forms of Ojibwe make these of limited usefulness.

Transitive inanimate conjunct inflection

The animate subject of a transitive inanimate verb is indicated in the ending; the number of the object is usually not indicated. The appropriate class marker appears at the beginning of the ending. The suffixes for the subject are the same as those for the animate intransitive verb.

Aaniish apii waa-wezhtooyan ishkwaandem?  =  When are you going to fix the door?

Giishpin andawendaman gegoon, bizaan igo wiindamawishinaan.  =  If you want anything, just tell us.

Transitive Animate Verbs

Transitive animate verbs (abbreviated VTA) have animate objects. The subjects are usually animate.

niwaabamaa  =  I saw him/her/it (something grammatically animate)

Several different subsets of paradigms of inflectional affixes can be used with transitive animate verbs. Each has a direction marker (sometimes called a theme sign) suffixes in the ending to identify the relationship between the entities involved – that is, to indicate which is the subject and which is the object. There are also paradigms of affixes for inanimate subjects and for indefinite subjects. The latter are used to express meaning similar to those conveyed by the use of the passive voice in English.

Verb Negation

Inflection of the Independent Verb for Negation

In Ojibwe, negation is expressed by the use of a negative adverb at the beginning of the sentence and a negative suffix in the verb ending. The suffix is usually –sii(n) or –si(n).

Gaawiin nimino-ayaasii.  =  I’m not feeling well.

Gaawiin debwe ninanokiisiimin.  =  We’re not really working.

The negative suffix is used even when the negative particle occurs with another particle or pronoun.

Gaawiin awiiya bakadesii.  =  Nobody is hungry.

Gaawiin mashi ningikinoo’amaagesii. =  I haven’t taught yet.

Inflection of the Conjunct Verb for Negation

In Ojibwe, conjunct verbs may be negative. The ending of a negative conjunct verb includes the negative suffixes -w (which is often deleted) and -si(i); a negative adverb is not required.

Gii-giizisekwesig, gaawiin wiisinisii. = When he doesn’t cook, he doesn’t eat.

Initial Change

Process of Initial Change

In some varieties of Ojibwe, the verb undergoes a process of initial change in certain grammatical constructions. This process, when it applies, causes the first vowel in the verb to change. The change affects the first syllable of the first prefix, if there is one in the verb, or the first syllable of the stem, if there is no prefix in the verb. The regular pattern of initial change for one variety of each language is given below.

 

Unchanged

Changed

a

e

i

e

o

we

e

aye

ii

aa

oo

waa

 

Reduplication

A reduplicated verb is one in which the first element of a verb stem has been extended by reduplication – a process that adds the idea of repetition, distribution in space or time, or plurality to the original verb stem. A reduplicated verb is formed by adding a prefix, which in many cases duplicates some of the sounds in the first syllable of the stem, to the front of the stem. In some varieties of Ojibwe, a verb stem can have more than one pattern of reduplication, and each pattern may have a different meaning. Translation may vary depending on how a reduplicated verb is used in a sentence. The reduplication is underlined with a double rule in the examples below.

niimi  =  he/she dances

naaniimi  =  he/she dances and dances

ozhaashishin  =  he/she slips and falls

wawizhaashishin  =  he/she slips and falls over and over

Some descriptive verbs may be reduplicated when plural.

Reflexive Verbs

In a reflexive verb, an animate intransitive final is added to an underlying transitive stem to indicate that the action of the verb is directed by the subject at himself or herself. In Ojibwe, the reflexive final suffix in secondary stems is most often -dizo.

Odoodwaan  =  he/she does something to him/her

doodaadizo  =  he/she does something to himself/herself

ogichi-inenimaan  = he/she thinks highly of him/her

gichi-inenindizo  =  he/she thinks highly of himself/herself

 Reciprocal Verbs

In a reciprocal verb, an animate intransitive final suffix is added to an underlying transitive stem to indicate that the action of the verb is reciprocal or mutual. In Ojibwe, the final suffix of a reciprocal verb is most often -di-.

ninaadamawaa  =  I help him/her

ninaadamaadimin  =  we help each other

ozaagi’aan  =  he/she loves him/her

zaagi’idiwag  =  they love each other

The reciprocity of the action is not always obvious in English, as is evident in the translation of the reciprocal verb in this example:

zagaswe’idiwag  =  they have a council meeting or formal ceremony (literally they have a mutual smoke)

 Augmentive Verbs

In some languages, an optional final, often called the inanimate augment, can be added to an inanimate intransitive stem. The same final can be added to an animate intransitive stem to form an inanimate intransitive stem when the animate intransitive verb has no inanimate counterpart. The augment final in Ojibwe is -magad.

The first example illustrates the optional use of this final on an inanimate intransitive stem; the other examples show how it can be added to animate intransitive stems to form inanimate stems.

gizhaate or gizhaatemagad  =   it is hot weather

dagoshin - he/she arrives =  dagoshinoomagad - it arrives

Participles

Relative clauses modify nouns (they describe or say something about the noun that identifies it) or they function themselves as noun phrases. In many varieties of Ojibwe, the verb in a relative clause is introduced by a subordinating prefix – gaa- in Ojibwe.

In some varieties of Ojibwe, the verb in a relative clause is a participle. In the first set of examples below, the relative clauses modify nouns; in the second set, they serve as noun phrases.

In both sets of examples, the relative clauses are bold.

Biidoon i'iw mechaag mazina’igan. =  Bring that big book!

Awe sa bineshiinh gabenaagosh gaa-noondaagozid gii-maajiise.  =  The bird that’s been chirping all evening flew away.

Niwii-shamaag nayaadmaagejig.  =  I’ll feed the helpers (literally those who have helped).

Anishinaabemowingaa-anokaadamaang miziwe nindoonjiimin.  =  Those of us who work on the Native language come from all over.