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Verb Forms

This lesson discusses special forms specific to verbs.  This includes translating verbs from other languages, using different verb forms, and passive voice.

Translating Intransitive Verbs

Primal verbs do not have case distinctions.  There is only one base form for each verb.  The prefix and suffix of a verb are used to determine tense and mood.  Most of the functions of linking and helping verbs in English such as "am", "have", "be", and "do" are covered by the verb prefix and verb suffix in Primal.  English linking verbs either translate to a verb-less sentence in Primal, or to the generic verb ,ly (lee, "do").

All of Primal's verbs are transitive, which means they can take a meaningful direct object.  Words like "sleep" are nouns in Primal.  Verbs in a Primal dictionary will be accompanied by a description of the direct object, if it is not obvious from translation.  Some examples of how Primal nouns like "sleep" are used:

  • I sleep (or, I am asleep): Wy su xwf. (wee s'shoohf, "me containing sleep.")
  • I am sleeping (or, I have been sleeping): Wy quxly su xwf. (we thush-lee s'shoohf, "me present-continuously do containing sleep.")
  • I laugh: Wy su Hu. (wee s'khhuh, "me containing laugh.")
  • I make a laugh (wordy): Wy Trj su Hu. (wee tsurch s'khhuh, "me make-sound containing laugh.")
  • Laugh (short, but same meaning): Hu. (khhuh, "laugh.")

Notice that the second example above uses the generic verb ,ly (lee, "do") to add case to the sentence.  Also notice that the first two examples are exaggerations.  You can say that you "were sleeping" or "had been sleeping" but you can't be sleeping while you make the statement.  A non-exaggerated example would use past tense, or (in the second example) use the verb suffix RU (rul, "attempting").

Selecting The Preposition

Many verbs can have multiple meanings, depending on what objects they take.  Some of Primal's verbs have two forms in English: one for actions on oneself, and one for actions on another.  These two forms may be differentiated either by the direct object or by the target:

  • I move around (assumes self is direct object): Wy pwx. (wee poohsh, "me move-go.")
  • I move the object: Wy pwx su RuDu. (wee poohsh s'r'dzuh, "me move-go containing this thing.")
  • I eat (assumes self is target): Wy We. (wee weh, "me feed")
  • I feed you: Wy We pw Yw. (wee weh pooh yooh, "me feed to-target you")

If a direct object is not given, context determines what the direct object is.  The unspoken object is often "oneself" for verbs whose direct object determines actions on oneself versus actions on another.  Common examples include pwx (poohsh, "move-go") and Xwx (zhoosh, "sustain").  Other verbs may have different connotations depending on which preposition is used:

  • I see you: Wy xr su Yw. (wee shur s'yooh, "me see containing you.")
  • I look at you: Wy xr pw Yw. (wee shur pooh yooh, "me see to-target you.")
  • I see from your point of view: Wy xr pwj Yw. (wee shur poohch yooh, "me see from-source you.")
  • I look through you: Wy xr Yijlw Yw. (wee shur yihch-looh yooh, "me see by-way-of within you.")
  • Looking at you, I see your smile: Wy xr pw Yw su Yy. Yw su Hw xu mrN. (wee shur pooh yooh s'yee. yooh s'khhooh sh'murng, "me see to-target you containing that. you containing muzzle phrase+containing happiness.")

If a verb in another language would take multiple kinds of direct objects, only one of these will be correct for a similar verb in Primal.  Other objects may be more appropriate for pw (pooh, "to-target") phrases or pwj (poohch, "from-source") phrases.  For example, the verb for "shoot" in Primal takes "projectile" as its direct object:

  • I shoot the bullet: Wy kak su Ruxrq. (wee kak s'r'shurth, "me shoot containing this bullet.")
  • I shoot the person: Wy kak pw Rufr. (wee kak pooh r'fur, "me shoot to-target this person.")
  • I shoot the gun: Wy kak pwj RuRak. (wee kak poohch r'rak, "me shoot from-source this gun.")
  • I shoot the person with the gun and the bullet: Wy kak pwj RuRak su Ruxrq pw Rufr. (we kak poohch r'rak s'r'shurth pooh r'fur, "me shoot from-source this gun containing this bullet to-target this person.")

The noun prefix nu (nuh, "indefinite") is an implied prefix when a verb or verb suffix follows a preposition.  This is described in the Noun Forms lesson.

Verbs Taking Noun Forms

When verbs become nouns, the default meaning is "the act of doing".  Sometimes the intended meaning will be "the product or result of the action" instead.  This is particularly true when the verb that becomes a noun is going to modify another noun.  This is accomplished by the noun suffix zy (zee, "resulting"), as described in the Noun Forms lesson.

When you need to express the current state of an object after an action has passed, as with an "open door", follow the noun with a verb phrase that uses the noun suffix zy (zee, "resulting") to modify the verb that becomes a noun.  The noun suffix sr (sur, "operator") is useful for describing that the object is used for the purpose of performing the verb.  Here are some examples:

  • an opening door: Qujcf su jo (dth'chuof s'cho, "a door containing open")
  • a door that opens (able): Qujcf su josr (dth'chuof s'cho-sur, "a door containing open operator")
  • an open door: Qujcf su jozy (dth'chuof s'cho-zee, "a door containing open resulting")
  • a cloth that is polishing: QuREv su mak (dth'relv s'mak, "a cloth containing polish-verb")
  • a polishing-cloth: QuREv su maksr (dth'relv s'mak-sur, "a cloth containing polish-verb operator")
  • a polished cloth: QuREv su makzy (dth'relv s'mak-zee, "a cloth containing polish-verb resulting")

Note that none of the verbs above need take a noun prefix to become a noun--the word nu (nuh, "indefinite") is implied, as described in the Noun Forms lesson.  This is why they can take noun suffixes (and why they cannot take verb prefixes or suffixes).

Primal has no direct method for turning a noun into a verb.  When it is important to say "cause this to happen", the most appropriate method is to use the verbs ,lux (lush, "give") or Xw (zhooh, "create"):

  • I give you pleasure: Wy ,lux su mr pw Yw. (wee lush s'mur pooh yooh, "me give containing pleasure to-target you")
  • I create pleasure within you: Wy Xw su mr pw Yw. (wee zhooh s'mur pooh yooh, "me create containing pleasure to-target you")

The word ,lux (lush, "give") implies a transaction, while Xw (zhooh, "create") implies direct control.  The latter example, above, suggests that the speaker has control over the listener's emotions.

In English and similar languages, there are special forms of the verb that act as nouns.  Gerunds are verb forms ending in "-ing" that either act as nouns or form clauses that act as nouns, as in the phrases "while going to the store", "flying is scary", and "I enjoy baking cookies".  Infinitives appear as the word "to" followed by a verb, as in the phrases "I want to go" and "It is difficult to win".  These forms are very common in English.  It is important that Primal speakers not try to translate these phrases directly.  The "to" in these phrases is not the same as the preposition pw (pooh, "to-target"), and the grammar does not directly translate from English to Primal.

Proper translation of gerunds and infinitives must be done on a case-by-case basis.  Most translations are done by turning the verb into a noun, by using Yy (yee, "that") to treat a sentence as a phrase, or by appending verb suffixes (for infinitives that follow words like "want", "need", "able", and so on).  Examples of these translations can be found throughout the Survival Phrases lessons.

Passive Voice

The active voice is a grammatical form where the subject performs the verb on a direct object.  This is the default voice for a verb.  In the absence of a direct object, active voice is always assumed.

The passive voice is a grammatical form where the direct object performs the verb on the subject.  Passive voice is formed by using suj (suhch, "member-of") to introduce the object of the verb.  This acts just like the direct object introduced by su (suh, "containing"), except that the effect of the verb is reversed: the object acts on the subject.  Examples:

  • I see you. (active voice): Wy xr su Yw. (wee shur s'yooh, "me see containing you.")
  • I am seen by you. (passive voice): Wy xr suj Yw. (wee shur suhch yooh, "me see member-of you.")

If there are multiple verbs, each case of passive voice applies only to verbs modified by suj (suhch, "member-of").  For each verb, the default voice is active voice.  Because passive voice requires  suj (suhch, "member-of"), it also requires an object:

  • I see (something). (active voice):  Wy xr. (wee shur, "me see.")
  • I am seen (by it). (passive voice): Wy xr suj Ww. (wee shur suhch wooh, "me see member-of it.")

Although the effect of the verb is reversed, the meaning of verb suffixes is never reversed by passive voice!  Verb suffixes always refer to the subject's intent:

  • I want to see you. (active voice): Wy xrDy su Yw. (wee shur-dzee s'yooh, "me see desiring containing you.")
  • I want to be seen by you. (passive voice): Wy xrDy suj Yw. (wee shur-dzee suhch yooh, "me see desiring member-of you.")

Although it is not common, it is possible to use normal voice and passive voice together after the same verb.  Just apply all other objects of the verb to both cases:

  • I want to see you through the fence, and to be seen by the horse through the fence: Wy xrDy su Yw suj Rufeq Yijlw RuhCj. (wee shur-dzee s'yooh suhch r'fehth yihch-looh r'hauwch, "me see desiring containing you member-of this horse by-way-of within this fence.")

In the above example, the subject "me" desires that both "I see you" and "I am seen by the horse" happen "through the fence".

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