The Praseo verb is highly inflected for tense, aspect, evidentiality, and focus, but it does not have any agreement for person, number, or any other categories. The core inflectional paradigm of the verb is supplemented by a set of particles which indicate mood and politeness.
Throughout this discussion we will use the verb śeśya "to crush, to grind" as paradigmatic.
- 1 Morphology and semantics of the verb stem
- 2 Tense and evidentiality
- 3 Focus marking
- 4 Object suffixes
- 5 Modal particles
- 6 Participles
Morphology and semantics of the verb stem
Most Praseo verbs share a stem with a corresponding noun, and by convention the verb is described as being derived from the noun (though in many cases the direction of derivation is arguably in the other direction, or is arbitrary). All noun stems end with a vowel which indicates the noun class (see Praseo nouns), and this vowel is dropped to provide the root stem from which verbs are derived.
Active verbs, stative verbs, and telicity
Praseo verbs are divided into active verbs and stative verbs. This is a lexical distinction which is not reflected anywhere in the form of the verb stem or its inflection, but it may control which forms of the verb occur and the cases that it governs. Note that the distinction between active and stative verbs is a lexical difference; the semantics of the verb in question may suggest which group it should belong to, but there are verbs which are arbitrarily assigned to one or the other.
Stative verbs are those verbs which indicate a state which the subject is in. Many of these verbs correspond to things which would be adjectives in English. This includes verbs such as yaoya "to be blue" and śeomya "to sleep, to be asleep". Notably, verbs which indicate emotions are always considered stative verbs, and these verbs may be transitive. However, the object of a transitive stative verb occurs in the dative rather than the accusative.
Dusu oalú saozya. Bird wolf-DAT fears.
The bird is afraid of the wolf.
Additionally, stative verbs do not occur in some aspects and use a different ending for causatives.
Active verbs are those verbs which indicate an action which the subject undertakes. Active verbs may be transitive or intransitive, and they don't necessarily imply motion or action, but may include any action which is conceived of as an event rather than a state. Typical active verbs are śeśya "to grind" and tsipya "to vomit".
Active verbs are further subdivided into telic and atelic verbs. The telic verbs are those which are conceived as having a duration with a beginning, middle, and end, while atelic verbs are considered unitary and have no internal structure. A typical telic verb is śenya "to stay, remain," while a common atelic verb is ašya "to fall". Atelic verbs are distinguished by the fact that they don't occur in the perfective tense, but only in the preterite.
There are five different endings which may be attached to the root stem, which which express four different aspects of the verb.
The simple aspect of the verb is formed by adding -ya to the root stem. This ending triggers palatalization of stem-final velars and affrication of stem-final dentals (see Praseo phonology#Palatalization and Praseo phonology#Affrication).
|Noun form||Root stem||Simple verb form|
The simple aspect refers to a single instance of an action, without reference to its telicity, distribution, or frequency. It is the most general and most commonly used aspect.
The causative active aspect is formed by adding -ãya to the root stem. This aspectual ending is only used with active verbs.
|Root stem||Causative verb form|
The causative indicates that the subject caused the object to do the action indicated by the stem. This is a valency-increasing aspect: verbs which are intransitive in the simple or habitual aspects are transitive in the causative aspect, and transitives become ditransitives:
Nioa hapẽo śeśya. I corn-ACC grind.
I grind corn.
Nioa yirẽoa ma hapẽo śeśãya. I boy-ACC corn-ACC grind-CAUSE.
I make the boy grind corn.
Note that in the second example above there are two accusative arguments, the second of which is preceded by ma. This is discussed in more detail in Praseo syntax. Additionally, the causative active form of a verb is always considered atelic (instantaneous, event-oriented) even if the simple form of the verb is considered telic.
The causative stative aspect is formed by adding -aša to the verb stem. This aspectual ending is only used with stative verbs, but it is otherwise identical in meaning to the causative active aspect.
|Root stem||Causative verb form|
The causative aspect of the stative verb is treated as an active atelic verb.
The habitual aspect of the verb is formed by adding -oa to the root stem of an active verb. Only active verbs have a habitual aspect, and the habitual form of the verb is necessarily telic. This ending triggers affrication of stem-final dentals.
|Root stem||Habitual verb form|
The habitual aspect refers to an action which is repeated, widely distributed, or regular. In the perfective tense it has a meaning similar to the English phrase "used to".
The habitual causative aspect is formed by adding -ača to the root stem of the verb.
|Root stem||Habitual causative verb form|
The meaning of the habitual causative is a straightforward conjunction of the habitual and causative aspects, and it indicates that someone causes someone else to undertake a habitual or regular action. It is treated as a telic verb, and like the causative active it increases the valency of the verb.
Tense and evidentiality
The Praseo categories of tense and evidentiality are always conflated into a single portmanteau morpheme. Praseo distinguishes three tenses: present, preterite, and perfective. It also distinguishes three kinds of evidentiality: affirmative, negative, and reported. These endings do not vary based on the aspect of the verb. The endings for these categories are indicated in the following table:
Meaning and usage of the tenses
The semantic distinctions between the tenses are do not align neatly with English categories. The present tense is the simplest to understand: it is used to indicate all sorts of non-past actions, including future actions and actions which began in the past and are not complete in the present. In the simple aspect, it most closely correlates to the English present progressive.
Nioa hapẽo śeśya. I corn-ACC crush-PRES.
I am crushing the corn.
The preterite tense is used for completed past actions when considered a unitary whole. This is used for actions in the distant past whose duration or internal structure is irrelevant, as well as for all atelic past-tense verbs. It corresponds roughly to the English simple past ("I went") or past perfect ("I had gone").
Nioa hapẽo nači śeśyalu. I corn-ACC yesterday crush-PRET.
I crushed the corn yesterday.
The perfective tense is used for actions which are completed at the present time, but which have a relevant duration in the past. This corresponds roughly to the English present perfect ("I have gone") or past progressive ("I was going"). When used in isolation, it usually indicates an action which has just completed. However, when used in contrast with a verb in the preterite tense, the perfective tense may indicate simultaneity in a manner similar to the English past progressive ("I was walking (perfective) and a branch fell (preterite)").
Atelic verbs do not occur in the perfective tense; all non-present atelic verbs use the preterite tense.
Nioa hapẽo śeśyaśu. I corn-ACC crush-PERF.
I have crushed the corn. or I have finished crushing the corn.
The affirmative and negative categories are used for information which the speaker personally attests to. This includes all events to which the speaker is a direct witness, but also information which the speaker considers to be beyond doubt. For example, past events which have entered into common knowledge are discussed in the past affirmative, regardless of whether the speaker was a witness to those events.
The reported category indicates that the speaker is giving information which is hearsay, unclear, or uncertain. The use of the reported form indicates that the speaker is not able to personally attest to the information the information, and that there may be doubt as to whether the statement is actually true.
There are complicated social dynamics involved in choosing to relate hearsay in the reported or the affirmative/negative forms. When first relating a piece of second-hand news to a new listener, Praseo speakers will always use the reported form and avoid the affirmative. The presence of a second corroborating source will sometimes suffice to give the speakers confidence to use the affirmative form, but if a third speaker can be found who corroborates the information, then all speakers will switch to the affirmative rather than the reported form. Failing to switch to the affirmative form when the other speakers switch is seen as casting doubt on their truthfulness and may provoke offense. Conversely, switching to the affirmative form too quickly may indicate to others that you are a hasty and untrustworthy person.
Non-native speakers of Praseo are generally encouraged to use the reported form of the verb to discuss events which they don't have direct knowledge of, and to follow the lead of the native Praseo speakers when they switch to the affirmative/negative forms.
Praseo word order is very free, and focus is indicated by moving the focused element to the beginning of the utterance. Nouns do not receive any special marking when they're focused this way, but verbs have an alternation in the vowel of the verbal ending. Generally speaking, the -a of the aspectual ending is replaced with -u, and this vowel is preserved when other endings are added.
For an active verb:
Note that the habitual ending -oa here is slightly irregular, as it simplifies to just -u when focused.
For a stative verb:
The vowel -u is also used when additional tense or evidentiality suffixes are added to a focused verb. The following chart illustrates, and may be contrasted with the chart above showing the unfocused tense and evidentiality markers.
Pronominal direct objects are expressed by a set of suffixes which attach to the end of the verb. These suffixes are always the last element of the verbal complex (excepting the modal particles discussed below, which are considered separate words).
Illustrating with the root śeśya:
|crushes you (m.sg.)||śeśyaśa|
|crushes you (m.pl.)||śeśyaśi|
|crushes you (f.sg.)||śeśyaśe|
|crushes you (f.pl.)||śeśyaśa|
|crushes them (m.pl.)||śeśyali|
|crushes them (f.pl.)||śeśyala|
|crushes them (inan.)||śeśyatsi|
See also Praseo pronouns#Accusative.
Various categories of mood are indicated by utterance-final enclitics known as modal particles. The modal particles are not considered part of the main verb complex, because they don't necessarily adhere directly to the verb. In the event that the verb is moved to the beginning of the sentence for focus purposes, the modal particle remains utterance-final and cliticizes on the preceding word. The modal particles are:
ka - interrogative. Simple yes-no questions are indicated by adding ka to the end of the utterance. Questions which include overt question words don't require ka, but ka may optionally be added for clarity, especially if the question is complex.
Niśa hapẽo śeśyaśu ka? You corn-ACC crush-PERF INT?
Have you crushed the corn?
ta - imperative. Adding ta to the end of an utterance with a second-person subject acts as an ordinary imperative equivalent to the English imperative. With first or third-person subjects, the meaning is hortative, e.g. "I must do this" or "I should do this."
Niśa hapẽo śeśya ta! You corn-ACC crush IMP!
Crush the corn!
ri - conditional. Utterance-final ri is used to indicate hypothetical or counterfactual statements.
Nioa hapẽo śeśya ri. I corn-ACC crush COND.
I would crush the corn.
zu - optative. The particle zu indicates the optative, for statements which the speaker desires or wishes for.
Niśa hapẽo śeśya zu. You corn-ACC crush OPT.
I would like you to crush the corn.
ma - potential. The particle ma indicates actions which are possible, potential, or allowed.
Nioa hapẽo śeśya ma. I corn-ACC crush POT.
I could crush the corn.
se - prospective. The particle se indicates actions which are expected, anticipated, or predicted. In many cases it corresponds to the English future.
Nioa hapẽo śeśya se. I corn-ACC crush PRO.
I will crush the corn.
The modal particles are frequently combined to create subtler nuances of meaning. The order of the particles in this situation is not strictly specified, but there is a strong tendency for ka and ta to come first if they occur.
The most common such combination is ka, the interrogative, plus any of the others.
Niśa hapẽo śeśyaśu ka ri? You corn-ACC crush-PERF INT COND.
Would you have crushed the corn?
Nioa hapẽo śeśya ka ta? I corn-ACC crush INT IMP.
Do I have to crush the corn?
Combinations of three or more are also possible.
Niśa hapẽo śeśyaśu ma ri zu. You corn-ACC crush-PERF POT COND OPT.
If only you had been able to crush the corn.
Praseo does not have a separate lexical category for adjectives. Instead, most of the functions which we associate with adjectives are filled by participles of the verb. There are three core participles: the active participle, the passive participle, and the stative participle, which also combine with the aspectual suffixes.
Active and passive participles
Active (as opposed to stative) verbs all have an active participle, while transitive verbs also have a passive participle. These participles exist for all of the aspects of the active verb.
|Aspect||Finite form||Active participle||Passive participle|
|Simple||śeśya||śeśẽ ("crushing, who crushes")||śeśesu ("crushed, which is crushed")|
|Causative active||śeśãya||śeśẽi ("who causes to crush")||śeśẽisu ("who is caused to crush")|
|Habitual||śeśoa||śeśoẽ ("who always crushes")||śeśoesu ("which is always crushed")|
|Habitual causative||śeśača||śeśačẽ ("who always causes to crush")||śeśačesu ("who is always caused to crush")|
The participles are not marked for tense or mood. Rather, they take on the tense and mood of the main verb in the sentence. Objects of participles are marked for case in the usual way, and usually come between the noun head (the subject of the participle) and the participle itself.
Yira hapẽo śeśẽ śeomya ta. Boy corn-ACC crush-PART sleep IMP.
That boy who is crushing corn has to sleep.
Pronouns may be modified by participles, though the result often requires circumlocutions to render sensibly in English.
Nioa hapẽo śeśačesu śeomya zu. I corn-ACC crush-HAB.CAUS.PASS sleep OPT.
I would like to sleep because I always have to crush the corn.
Note here that the habitual causative passive participle śeśačesu contains in it the implication that there is someone who causes the speaker to crush the corn. In the English translation we attempt to capture this with the phrase "I always have to crush".
Object suffixes are not attached to participles; if a pronoun would be the direct object of a participle, a full noun is used instead.
Stative verbs have a stative participle, as well as a causative participle which uses a variation of the active and passive forms shown above.
|Aspect||Finite form||Stative participle|
|Simple||yaoya||yaoeo ("blue, which is blue")|
|Simple||śeomya||śeomeo ("asleep, sleeping")|
The stative participles come the closest to being pure adjectives in Praseo, especially since many of the stative verbs in Praseo correspond to ordinary adjectives in English. In many cases they can be translated as plain English adjectives.
Hapu yaoeo čipú daya. Corn blue jar-LOC is-in.
The blue corn is in the jar.
The causative aspect of a stative verb behaves as an active verb, with an active and a passive participle. These forms are built from the stem of the causative stative aspect.
|Aspect||Finite form||Active participle||Passive participle|
|Causative stative||yaoša||yaošẽ ("which colors [something] blue")||yaošesu ("which is colored blue")|
|Causative stative||śeomaša||śeomašẽ ("which puts [someone] to sleep")||śeomašesu ("which is put to sleep")|
Yira śeomašesu hapẽo śeśya ta. Boy sleep-CAUS.PASS corn-ACC crush IMP.
That boy who was put to sleep has to crush corn.