Spelling Manual (Northern) – Boundaries

Using preverbs

A preverb is a short word, used before a verb. When there are several preverbs they occur in a fixed order: first the ones that indicate grammatical ideas such as subordination, then, the ones for tense (future, past), then, the ones for mood (want, can, should) and then the lexical ones indicating aspect or quality. These preverbs are written separately from the verb. Here are some examples:

with an Independent verb with a Conjunct verb
present or neutral ᓂᐹᑦ
present or neutral ᐋᐦ ᓂᐹᑦ
future ᒋᑭ ᓂᐹᐤ ᓂᐹᑦ
future ᑭᑎ ᓂᐹᐤ
past ᒌᐦ ᓂᐹᐤ ᑳᐦ ᓂᐹᑦ
should have ᒋᐱᐦᓂᐹᐤ
should ᑭᑎ ᓂᐹᐦ
want to ᐐᐦ ᓂᐹᐤ ᐐᐦ ᓂᐹᑦ / ᐙᐦ ᓂᐹᑦ
go to ᓂᑑ ᓂᐹᐤ ᐋᐦ ᓂᑑ ᓂᐹᑦ / ᓈᑑ ᓂᐹᑦ

Preverbs can undergo initial change , like ᐙᐦ waah and ᓈᑑ naatuu above. This happens only when they end up in the first position, when there is no preverb ᐋᐦ aa(h) or ᑳᐦ kaa(h) occupying the first position.

If there is more than one preverb, they are written separately from each other.

with an Independent verb with a Conjunct verb
ᒋᑭ ᐐᐦ ᓂᐹᐤ ᑳ ᒌ ᓂᐹᑦ
ᒌᐦ ᐐᐦ ᓂᐹᐤ ᐋᐦ ᒌᐦ ᓂᐹᑦ
ᒋᐱᐦ ᒌᐦ ᓂᐹᐤ ᐋᐦ ᐐᐦ ᓂᐹᑦ
ᒋᑭ ᒌᐦ ᓂᐹᐤ ᒑ ᒌᐦ ᓂᐹᑦ

If a preverb occurs after a personal prefix or , the or is joined to the first preverb. These personal prefixes are used only with Independent verbs. Any preverb following the first one is separated.

ᓂᐐᐦ ᓂᐹᓐ ᓂᑭ ᐐᐦ ᓂᐹᓐ
ᓂᑭ ᓂᐹᓐ ᒋᑭ ᐐᐦ ᓂᐹᓐ
ᒋᑭ ᓂᐹᓐ ᒋᐱᐦ ᐐᐦ ᓂᐹᓐ
ᓂᐱᐦ ᓂᐹᓐ ᓂᐱᐦ ᐐᐦ ᓂᐹᓐ
ᓂᒌᐦ ᐐᐦ ᓂᐹᓐ

In the examples below, see how the lexical preverb ᓂᑑ is written separately from the past preverb ᒌᐦ in the independent order, and from the preverb ᐋᐦ in the conjunct order. In the last example, initial change (or changed conjunct) has turned ᓂᑑ to ᓈᑑ. See also how the personal prefix , attaches to the first preverb in the second sentence.

ᒌᐦ ᓂᑑ ᐧᑳᐱᒑᐤ ᐊᓂᑖᐦ ᐋᐦ ᐹᐦᐹᒋᔅᐱᔅᑳᔨᒡ᙮
chiih nituu kwaapichaau anitaah aah paahpaachispiskaayich.
‘s/he went to fetch the water where it is rocky.’
ᓂᒌᐦ ᓂᑑ ᐧᑳᐱᒑᐤ ᐊᓂᑖᐦ ᐋᐦ ᐹᐦᐹᒋᔅᐱᔅᑳᒡ᙮
nichiih nituu kwaapichaan anitaah aah paahpaachispiskaach.
‘I went to fetch the water where it is rocky.’
ᐋᐦ ᓂᑑ ᑭᓂᐧᐋᔨᒫᐅᓱᑦ ᐄᔅᐱᔨᐦᐄᑰ ᐧᐋᔅ ᐅᐦᑖᐧᐄᐦ᙮
aah nituu kiniwaayimaausut iispiyihiikuu waas uhtaawiih.
‘…when she goes to baby-sit, (so) her father drives her.’
ᓈᑑ ᓂᑎᐧᐋᐱᒫᑦ ᐊᓂᔮᐦ ᒋᔖᔨᔨᐤᐦ᙮
naatuu nitiwaapimaat aniyaah chishaayiyiuh.
‘…then s/he goes to see that old man/men.’

Some preverbs can also be used as a verb initial and are then written together with the verb. For example: in ᓂᑑᐦᐆ nituuhuu, the ᓂᑑ nituu- part is called an initial. The rule to use is: Whenever a preverb is before a verb that exists on its own, the preverb will be written as separated from the verb, unless it is a fairly common verb. To learn more about preverbs and see more examples, see the preverbs grammar page and look up preverbs in the parts of speech in the dictionary.

Note: Some preverbs can also be used before a noun, in this case they are called ‘preforms’. Preforms are written attached to the noun. Example: ᒥᔪᐱᒫᑎᓰᐎᓐ miyupimaatisiiwin. For more examples, see Word Formation: Preform + Noun.

See also: Spelling Manual – Southern Dialect – Using a preverbs