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Verbs are special "motion" or "change" concept words that introduce a predicate in a sentence.  All Primal verbs are transitive.  This means they "do something to something else".  For example, the English verb "create" is transitive, because you can "create something", but the English verb "sleep" is not transitive, because you can't "sleep something".  Words like "sleep" are actually nouns in Primal.

The "generic" verb, ,ly (lee, "do"), means "do" or "be".  The verb ,ly (lee, "do") is used when a verb-less sentence requires tense, or to make simple verbs from the verb suffixes, like "need" and "try".  For a list of the twenty most common verbs in Primal, see the (vocabulary) Essential Words builder.

Verb Prefixes

The verb prefix determines the tense and aspect of the verb.  A verb may have only one verb prefix.  Primal has three general verb prefixes:

Verb Prefix Pronounced Meaning Description
qu (thuh) present For actions beginning now, or ongoing actions.
pu (puh) past For actions that concluded in the past.
fu (fuh) future For actions not yet begun.

Each prefix comes in six forms, as represented by a trailing consonant on the general prefix's syllable:

Trailing Letter Pronounced Meaning Description
- (none) (  ) (normal) Standard, unmodified tense, as above.
- ,N (-ng) -again Describes an action repeated once.
- ,T (-ts) -repeatedly Describes an action repeated many times.
- ,x (-sh) -continuously Describes a continuous, lengthy action.
- ,z (-z) -beginning Describes the beginning of the action.
- ,k (-k) -ceasing Describes the ending of the action.

Thus, there are 18 verb prefixes in total: qu (thuh), quN (thuhng), quT (thuhts), qux (thuhsh), quz (thuhz), quk (thuhk), pu (puh), puN (puhng), puT (puhts), pux (puhsh), puz (puhz), puk (puhk), fu (fuh), fuN (fuhng), fuT (fuhts), fux (fuhsh), fuz (fuhz), and fuk (fuhk).

Note that three of the verb prefixes, qu (thuh, "present"), pu (puh, "past"), and fu (fuh, "future"), each end in ,u (uh) and may slur with the verb.

A verb prefix may be followed by a unary suffix, before the verb appears.  This exaggerates the tense of the verb, as described in the lesson on Unary Suffixes.

Verb Tense

Verb prefix determines the tense (and aspect) of a verb.  The following chart illustrates how the prefixes set tense, comparable to English.  There are 19 possible tenses, including the one set by having no prefix:

Trailing Letter (no prefix) qu pu fu
- (none) "does" "does now" "did, had done" "will do, will have done"
- ,N n/a "does again" "did again" "will do again"
- ,T n/a "does over and over" "did over and over" "will do over and over"
- ,x n/a "is / has been doing" "had been doing" "will be doing"
- ,z n/a "starts doing" "started doing" "will start doing"
- ,k n/a "stops doing" "stopped doing" "will stop doing"

When a verb has no verb prefix, it is considered to be normal present tense.  For this reason, most Primal stories are written in present tense.  The verb prefix qu (thuh, "present") is superfluous, so its inclusion places special emphasis on the present tense (as in, "does now").

Primal's present tenses are similar to English present tense, indicating actions relevant to the moment that the speech is uttered or recorded.  The tense created by the verb prefix qux (thuhsh, "present-continuously") is similar to English present perfect tense, as in the expressions "has been doing" or "is currently doing".  This tense indicates a lengthy action that began in the past and still continues.  The verb prefix quT (thuhts, "present-repeatedly") is used for customary, recurrent actions such as, "we meet every Thursday",  whether or not a meeting is happening right now.

The historical present and literary present are uses of present tense to reflect upon a recorded work created in the past which continues to be examined in the present.  This specific use of present tense for past events is allowed in Primal.  Some examples of this in English include: "In his writings, Freud states that the majority of the human mind is below our awareness," and, "Alfred Hitchcock frightens us by turning an everyday shower into a scene of terror."  These statements can use the present tense because Freud's statements and Hitchcock's terror live on in the present, in the form of their recorded works which are still viewable.

Primal's past tenses are similar to English past tense, indicating that the action being referred to both began and concluded in the past.  The tense created by the verb prefix pux (puhsh, "past-continuously") is similar to English past perfect tense, as in the expression "had been doing", indicating a lengthy action that was completed before the present time.

Primal's future tense covers all actions that have not yet begun.  English often allows the use of present tense to indicate future actions in context, such as, "Services begin tomorrow."  This is an error in Primal; always use future tense to indicate future actions, as in English, "Services will begin tomorrow."

Verb Suffixes

Verb suffixes define the mood, or hypothetical nature, of a verb.  Verb suffixes may only appear after verbs.  There are eight verb suffixes:

Verb Suffix Pronounced Meaning Description
xc (shuo) should Should do.  Would be logical to do.
nr (nur) might Might do.  Probable that it could do.
my (mee) able Able to do.  Can do.  Possible to do.
Dy (dzee) desiring Wants to do.  Is motivated to do.
DU (dzul) needing Needs to do, to meet a condition.  Must do.
,lU (lul) allowed Allowed or permitted to do.
RC (rauw) prepared Prepared, or ready and waiting to do.
RU (rul) attempting Trying or attempting to do.

With the possible exception of RU (rul, "attempting"), any use of a verb suffix makes the verb hypothetical: the action the verb indicates isn't actually happening.  Instead, the possibility of the action is being described.

Beware!  Many hypothetical verbs in English assume future tense.  In Primal, this is not the case.  Notice this mistranslation:

  • I should working now tomorrow (bad grammar!): Wy JZnxc Wi kOm. (wee jiin-shuo wih kallm, "me work-for should verb-with tomorrow.")

This is an error, because the verb should be fuJZnxc (f'jiin-shuo, "future work-for should"), since the hypothetical action is taking place in the future:

  • I should work tomorrow (correct grammar): Wy fuJZnxc Wi kOm. (wee f'jiin-shuo wih kallm, "me future work-for should verb-with tomorrow.")

This is a common pitfall with both xc (shuo, "should") and nr (nur, "might").  Always use future tense for future actions.

The general verbs that correspond to verb suffixes, such as the verb meaning "desire", are composed by using the generic verb ,ly (lee, "do") with a verb suffix.  The verb meaning "desire" is then: ,lyDy (lee-dzee, "do desire").

A verb may take multiple verb suffixes.  Each verb suffix modifies the suffix that precedes it:

  • want to be able: ,lymyDy (lee-mee-dzee, "do able desiring")
  • able to want: ,lyDymy (lee-dzee-mee, "do desiring able")

In rare cases, the same suffix may be repeated more than once.

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