Zhyler Verbs

Zhyler verbs are not complex. In fact, the whole language really isn't that complex, once you get right down to it. Sure, there are the noun classes, and the vowel harmony, and the noun cases, but really, after that, the language becomes very simple. This is because, for the most part, there are two types of words in Zhyler: Adjectives, and everything else. True, there are verbs and adverbs, but they don't act all that differently from the nouns themselves. Once you attach a case to a noun, and tenses, etc., to a verb, they become these large chunks that can be juggled as one wishes. Well, except for the verb, which must always come last. Nevertheless, I maintain that the language is not that complex.

To begin the discussion, we will look simply at the tenses. But before that, we must answer the question:

What Is a Verb?

An interesting question, actually. A verb, in Zhyler, is a stem. All stems are verbs. Even adjectives. In reality, there are no adjectives, but what good does that do us? None. So we'll continue pretending that there are adjectives, for the time being, while maintaing the assumption that all basic stems are verbs. For example, let's take a root we know: pal. Now, with different noun class suffixes, you can get words like "barracuda", "snake", "beetle", "cloth", etc., but all by itself, pal is a verb, and that verb means "to wear". Some of the noun class derivations give you hints of this, as palka (class I), which means "one who wears something", or palan (class XIV), which means "wearing", or "the wearing of something". Each noun you'll see has a stem with a basic meaning that's verbal, though with some the stem has come to mean something very different, or isn't even used at all.

So, let's take this verb for a test run, shall we? Take the following simple sentence:

Sexa palšar pal.

This means "The man wears/is wearing the suit." To break it down, the first word is "man" (I) in the nominative case (for more on cases, go here); the second word is "suit" (XII), in the accusative case, and the last word is "wear", in the present tense. That's as basic a sentence as you can get (well, not quite as basic, but basic enough): You have your subject, the man, coming first; your object, the suit, coming second (and in the accusative, objective case, not some funny case, which you can sometimes get with direct objects in Zhyler, as well as other languages); and your verb, in its barest form. Now, we'll add a little color to it.


Tense, which comes from the Latin word for "tense", places an event in time. In Zhyler, this is not complicated: There are simply past, present, and future. Or, it should be that not complicated. There are actually three more suffixes, which, because of their placement in the verbal complex, could be considered morphological tenses, if you will, and those are: The passive voice, the progressive aspect, and the irrealis aspect. In the grammar, the first two are generally grouped with the tense suffixes (since they occur directly before the tense markers, and directly after the direct object, if there is one), and the last is grouped with the aspect suffixes (it's the very last aspect marker that can appear in a verbal complex). For the purposes of this rundown, I'll combine all six into one table. As with all suffixes in Zhyler, these are subject to vowel harmony (if you need to look at the vowel harmony chart, go here).

Tense Suffix Stem 1: müsa Stem 2: ev Stem 3: zin
Present Tense ø müsa ev zin
Past Tense -lAr müsalar evler zinler
Future Tense -zA müsaza evze zinze
Progressive -mYs müsamös evmös zimmüs
Passive -s/-nXs müsas evnes zinnis
Irrealis -wW müsawÿ evwi zinwi

Incidentally, these stems mean "to walk", "to go" and "to come", respectively, so some of these forms are meaningless (and by "some", I, of course, mean the passive forms). The main reason I chose these was to illustrate the different vowel forms possible, and also to show the alternation in the passive. The two forms are phonologically unrelated (or are they?!); the only difference is that you get the first form in vowel-final stems, and the second in consonant-final stems.

The latter three of these forms are not strictly tense markers—they can be used derivationally. Take our friendly root pal, for example. It can take the first three tenses, and the last two aspects, but if you add the progressive, you get palmös, which is a totally different verb—it means "to try out", "to test". (Not to be an "incidentally" hog, but incidentally, notice the difference between palmos, "barracuda", and palmös, "to try out". That fronting's very important!) As you'll see when we move onto the other aspects, this isn't at all uncommon.

The Other Aspects

The other aspects become increasingly less important as we go on. Kind of. Anyway, I'll list them in order of appearance, if they all were to appear on one verb stem. The first are the five moods: The abilitive, the ducative, the obligative, the volitive and the necessitive. Of these, the last four are closely related. To define them, the abilitive is used like "can" in English. So a stem plus the abilitive means "to be able to stem". The other four draw distinctions between motivation. The first two have to do with external compulsory action. The ducative is used when one is being forced to perform whatever the stem indicates. So, a stem plus the ducative would be, "I'm being forced/I'm being told to stem". The second, the obligative, indicates that the command has been internalized, but is not vital for survival. So, when one says, "I have to turn in my homework on time", it's not meant to indicate that if one doesn't, one will die. Rather, one has been told one has to, in order to achieve certain goal, and, since the goals are desirable, one feels compelled to comply. That's the obligative. The latter two have to do with internatl motivation. The volitive is simple: A stem plus the volitive is, "to want to stem". It's not necessary, but desired. The necessitive indicates that the act is necessary for life. If one doesn't perform what the stem indicates, one will face dire, biological consequences. That said, the verb "to eat", us, is probably a good one to showcase the four-part distinction. So, here's a table using the stem us (it'll have the abilitive, also):

Mood Suffix Romanized Form Orthographic Form Definition
Abilitive -kIn uskun uskun He can eat.
Ducative -gQj uskuč uskuj He's told to eat (but doesn't necessarily want to).
Obligative -dQk ustuk ustuk He feels the need to eat (but doesn't physically have to).
Volitive -pO uspo uspo He wants to eat.
Necessitive -ðI usþu usfu He has to eat (or he'll die).

And the Rest

For the rest of the suffixes, I'm just going to make a big table. The order they appear in is the order that they should be in if attached to a stem. There are only two exceptions: (1) The order of the causative and inchoative suffixes can be reversed, and even doubled, save that you can't have two inchoatives in a row; (2) you can have either a reflexive or a distributive—not both. Also, a note on terminology: Inchoative, here, is the term used to describe the idea of "becoming", so "to be green" plus an inchoative means "to become green". An applicative is defined lexically, and its meaning can't easily be predicted. A reversive is like the un- in "unwind". An intensive is defined lexically—it pretty much serves to intensify the action. A distributive picks out the following difference: "I spoke to them" (non-distributive); "I spoke to each of them individually" (distributive). A permissive renders the meaning in phrases like, "I'm allowed to eat". Here's the table:

Aspect Suffix Sample Stems Orthographic Form
Reversive -gFn uskin, müsağen uskin-mxsa©en
Repetitive -dA usta, müsada usta-mxsada
Inchoative -bAs uspas, müsabas uspas-mxsabas
Causative -Js/-yJs usus, müsayas usus-mxsayas
Applicative -ðXk usþuk, müsaðek usfuk-mxsafek
Intensive -yJr usyur, müsayar usyur-mxsayar
Permissive -t/-tAl ustal, müsat ustal-mxsat
Reflexive -gB uskÿ, müsağÿ uskh-mxsa©h
Distributive* -zFr uzzir, müsazer uzzir-mxsazer

You may have noticed an asterisk next to the word Distributive up there. No, it's not a type-o. What it indicates is that that particular suffix is also a noun case. In fact, many of the noun cases can be used interchangeably as either a noun case or an aspect marker. I shall list them below, and some others, in the section that shall now come to be known as...

The Very Last Part Having to Do with Aspect Suffixes

Yes indeed. Every suffix you see below that has an asterisk is also a noun case. Those that don't are not. To define the new terms, the durative is pretty much a converb. The equative is just like in the expression "as brown as dirt", only it's used to compare verbs (e.g., "He does it as well as you can"). Same story with the comparative and the superlative. The inceptive and cessive have to do with the start and stop of an action, and can be used derivationally. Here are the last forms:

Aspect Suffix Sample Stems Orthographic Form
Habitual -tAk ustak, müsatak ustak-mxsatak
Durative* -kFl uskil, müsaxel uskil-mxsaâel
Equative* -lXž usluž, müsalež uslu.-mxsale.
Comparative* -tIs ustus, müsatÿs ustus-mxsaths
Superlative* -lAn uslan, müsalan uslan-mxsalan
Inceptive -žJn užžun, müsažan u..un-mxsa.an
Cessive -zIk uzzuk, müsazÿk uzzuk-mxsazhk

Person Suffixes

Now that that's over with, we can to the interesting part: Person suffixes. Technically in Zhyler, there are only two perons: First and second. The third person doesn't really exist. There is no third person pronoun, per se, though each noun class has a pronominal form that can be used, if necessary. That said, each verb is marked for subject and object. Since the third person has no morphology, it's always unmarked. If either a first or second person is the subject or object, though, it is marked. Here's how it works:

Person and Case Suffix Stem 1 Example Stem 2 Example
First Person Subject -m/-Um usum, "I eat" nöndem, "I talk"
First Person Object -mA usma, "It eats me" nöndeme, "He talks to me"
Second Person Subject -l/-Al usal, "you eat" nöndel, "You talk"
Second Person Object -lR uslü, "It eats you" nöndele, "She talks to you"

These person suffixes also act as possessive suffixes when they're added to nouns.

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