Part Seven: Boundaries

7.2 Using a preverb

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 and the personal prefixes and are joined to the first preverb in the Independent mode. Here are some examples:
Independent third person Independent first person Conjunct third person
neutral ᓂᐹᑦ
future ᒋᑲ ᓂᐹᐤ ᓂᑲ ᓂᐹᓐ ᓂᐹᑦ
past ᓂᐹᐤ ᓂᒌ ᓂᐹᓐ ᓂᐹᑦ
want ᐧᐄ ᓂᐹᐤ ᓂᐧᐄ ᓂᐹᓐ ᐧᐋ ᓂᐹᑦ
should ᒋᐸᐦ ᓂᐹᐤ ᓂᐸᐦ ᓂᐹᓐ
go to ᓂᑑ ᓂᐹᐤ ᓂᓂᑑ ᓂᐹᐤ ᓈᑑ ᓂᐹᑦ
Preverbs can undergo initial change , like ᐙ waa  and ᓈᑑ naatuu ᐁ e or ᑳ kaa 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
ᒋᑲ ᐧᐄ ᓂᐹᐤ
ᒌ ᐧᐄ ᓂᐹᐤ ᑳ ᒌ ᓂᐹᑦ
ᒋᐸᐦ ᒌ ᓂᐹᐤ ᐁ ᒌ ᓂᐹᑦ
ᒋᑲ ᒌ ᓂᐹᐤ ᐁ ᐧᐄ 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.
ᓂᐧᐄ ᓂᐹᓐ ᓂᑲ ᐧᐄ ᓂᐹᓐ
ᓂᑲ ᓂᐹᓐ
ᒋᐧᐄ ᓂᐹᓐ ᒋᑲ ᐧᐄ ᓂᐹᓐ
ᓂᐸᐦ ᓂᐹᓐ ᓂᐸᐦ ᐧᐄ ᓂᐹᓐ
ᒋᐸᐦ ᓂᐹᓐ ᒋᐸᐦ ᒌ ᓂᐹᓐ
ᓂᒌ ᓂᐹᓐ ᓂᒌ ᐧᐄ ᓂᐹᓐ
In the examples below, see how the lexical preverb ᓂᑑ is written separately from the past preverb  in the independent order, and from the preverb  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.
ᒌ ᓂᑑ ᐧᑳᐱᒉᐤ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ ᐁ ᐹᐦᐹᒋᐱᔅᑲᔨᒡ᙮
chii nituu kwaapicheu aniteh e paahpaachipiskayich.
‘s/he went to fetch the water where it is rocky.’
ᓂᒌ ᓂᑑ ᐧᑳᐱᒉᓐ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ ᐁ ᐹᐦᐹᒋᐱᔅᑳᒡ᙮
nichii nituu kwaapichen aniteh e paahpaachipiskaach.
‘I went to fetch the water where it is rocky.’
ᐁ ᓂᑑ ᑲᓇᐧᐁᔨᒫᐅᓱᑦ ᐃᔅᐸᔨᐦᐄᑰ ᐧᐁᓴ ᐅᐦᑖᐧᐄᐦ᙮
e nituu kanaweyimaausut ispayihiikuu wesa uhtaawiih.
‘…when she goes to baby-sit, (so) her father drives her.’
ᓀᑑ ᓂᑕᐧᐋᐸᒫᑦ ᐊᓂᔫᐦ ᒋᔐᐄᔨᔫ / ᒋᔐᐄᓅᐦ᙮
netuu nitawaapamaat aniyuuh chisheiiyiyuu / chisheiinuuh
‘…then s/he goes to see that old man/men.’

Some preverbs can also be used as verb initials 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 can be written seperately 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 ‘preform’. Preforms are written attached to the noun. Example: ᒥᔪᐱᒫᑎᓰᐎᓐ miyupimaatisiiwin. For more examples, see Word Formation: Preform + Noun.