Virtual Verduria

The use of the verb The use of the noun The noun phrase Pronouns Prepositions Sentences Transformations

The use of the verb [Index]

The temporal system Auxiliary adverbs The conditional No passive Derived forms Reflexive verbs Transitivity Minor points
[Verb morphology]

The temporal system

The Verdurian tense system is quite logical. There are four conceptual times of action-- the remote past, the past, the present, and the future-- and for events occuring in each time of action the corresponding tense is used.

Crežneram legua taë, er proše pišneram činem taë.
We had eaten our soup, and then we had smashed our plates.

So dalu levatre soa elrea.
The king kissed the queen.

E prokio tenom sazem.
That is why we have princes and princesses.

Lädmai Deštain er ronmai soi šoom.
I will go to Deštai and check out the cabbages.

The chief pitfall for the English speaker is that he is likely to disregard this simple rule and use tenses that don't apply to the situation, as we do in English. For instance, in Verdurian the present tense is used to indicate an ongoing condition, where English uses a past form, the present perfect:

Ai im Verdurian ci-pan dënin.
I have been (lit. I am) in Verduria for the last five days.

Likewise, Verdurian is more punctilious than English about using the future tense for future actions:

Řo desidero so zer adike dy onžanmai.
Don't order the pizza until I return (lit. until I will return).

A narrative in English is likely to use the past tense throughout, even for things which are still true at the time of writing. Perhaps the extreme in this regard is a certain volume on physics in which physical facts are related in the past tense, as if they refer to ancient times: "Gravity was a powerful force which bent the very fabric of space."

In Verdurian this would be bad style; no one tense should predominate, and certainly present facts should be written in the present. Particular events, such as a flashback, may be recounted entirely in the past anterior; and other passages may be written in the present, for an effect of immediacy.

Multiple verbs

If a sentence contains multiple verbs (whether conjoined or subordinated), all the verbs will be in the same tense if they refer to the same time.

Miže [past] dy läzne Telarsanien [past].
He said he was going to Telarsanië.

Soa frälina řo rize [present] ac sul piro zië befele [present].
The maiden never smiles unless her father commands it.

This is true even in the future tense, where English is likely to slip back into the present:

Crežnam kiam adžanmei.
(Lit.) We will eat when you will arrive.

Mizte dy lädme [future] Telarsanien.
He will say that he's going to Telarsanië.

Tróumei so řuk apros pasreteu [future] soa silva.
You will find the castle after you pass the woods.

The past anterior can be used, like our past perfect, to refer to earlier events in a past context:

Kiam adžannei, crežneram.
When you arrived, we had already eaten.

Sen cuesnai kiel so sätevisano ftennere so cebrel.
I wondered how the architect had designed the building.

If the main clause is in the past tense, later but still past events are referred to using the future (not the conditional, as in English).

So alaďeom miže dy imbežrete soa grognáa.
The musician said that he would fix the mill.

Auxiliary adverbs

Distinctions expressed using inflections in more highly inflected languages are expressed analytically in Verdurian, with perhaps even greater precision than is possible in English.

Verdurian has no auxiliaries; instead, semantic distinctions are made using the following adverbs (and prefix):

dénuo continuously, habitually (imperfect)
siča now (progressive)
ya indeed (perfect, emphatic)
yatá already (perfect)
núnece about to, just
za- begin to (inchoative)

The simple verb can be considered unmarked for any of these categories. For instance, lelai can mean 'I see', 'I am seeing,' 'I do see', 'I begin to see.' A more precise meaning can be specified with the adverbs.

Dénuo (habitual)

Dénuo emphasizes the continual, habitual, or repetitive nature of an action. Its use is similar to that of the French or Spanish imperfect, but it can be used in any tense. Compare:

Crežnai ne Coronam.
I ate (once) at the Corona; I have eaten at the Corona.

Crežnai dénuo ne Coronam.
I was eating at the Corona; I always ate at the Corona.

Žai dénuo šriftanáen sam ivroin esë.
I keep coming to the University without my books.

Words like fsëgdá 'always', nirto 'often', ceďnarî 'on Ceďnares' also imply continual action; in these cases dénuo is not needed.

Apros Abend fäsre soa Corona, fsëgdá crežnai ne Curulen.
After Abend left the Corona, I always ate at the Star.

Certain verbs also imply continual action without the need for dénuo:

Ihano fsorre Rahela.
Ihano was having an affair with Raheli.

Siča (progressive)

Siča, like the English or Spanish progressive, the French imperfect (In Verdurian terms, the French imperfect is ambiguous between dénuo and siča), or the Russian imperfective verbs, emphasizes the durative or uncompleted nature of an action.

Siča läznai Deštain, kiam rësnai uestum cum hep ciren.
I was going to Deštai when I met a man with seven wives.

Zaesmai sam sënzan esmai ďuna hora; kaimei siča?
I'll be free at two o'clock; what will you be doing then?

Řo voiteceo, siča crežai elčena!
Don't come in, I'm in the middle of eating lunch!

Siča šantmei, kiam fäsretu?
Will you be singing when I leave?

Núnece (about to, just)

Núnece puts the action very close to nun, now. With the past tense it means just, with the present right now, and with the future about to.

Brisru núnece čína mire esë... fäsu Deštain.
I just broke a plate of my mother's... I'm leaving for Deštai.

Núnece ivrao dernä cëmura.
I'm reading the last page right now.

Lädmam núnece tróuan lesteam-- vulei cumlädan?
We're about to go out looking for a restaurant-- want to come with?

For emphasis núnece is sometimes used with the present tense but with a future meaning:

Lädam núnece!
We're going right this minute! Here we go!

Ya, yatá (perfective)

Both of these adverbs emphasize that the action is completed. In almost all cases this would be the default assumption anyway; the adverbs add precision and emphasis.

Ya ivricao <So tombam Abolineronië>.
I've read/ I did read The Fall of the Abolinerons.

Kiam ya lavisram, crežnam.
When we were done dancing, we ate.

Ya elirtao dobram elir.
I will have lived a good life.

Ya is more emphatic than yatá:

Yatá immezinnai atún esë.
I already cleaned my room.

Ya immezinnai atún esë!
I did clean my room!

When two past actions are compared, either the past anterior or the past with ya/yatá can be used. The latter construction is more colloquial.

Kiam adžannei, crežneram.
Kiam adžannei, yatá crežnam.

When you arrived, we had already eaten.

By extension, the construction can be used to refer to even earlier events than those stated using the past anterior.

Kiam crežneram, yatá pitreum soa šerä.
When we had eaten, we had already drunk the beer.

In the present tense ya simply emphasizes that something is true or is happening:

Alric ya e dalu Verdúrë.
Alric is indeed the king of Verduria.

When the verb itself implies a continuous process, and is not in the present tense, ya or yatá implies the end of the process. In this case the adverb is equivalent to řo...nun.

So dën ya fue šoruan.
So dën řo fue nun šoruan.

The day was no longer dark.

In its perfective sense, ya will always precede the verb; elsewhere it retains the meaning 'indeed':

So dën fue ya šoruan.
The day was indeed dark.

Za- (inceptive)

The prefix za- is used to refer to the beginning of an action, or to its early stages:

Mira začorne, ac piro zaridre.
Mother burst into tears, but father burst out laughing.

Zavisanu ne Šriftanáen i Verdúria.
I've just started studying at the University of Verduria.

Used with verbs of state, it focusses on the moment the state changes:

Ihano zašrifce, dy cira zië fue řocepelë.
Ihano learned (now knew) that his wife was unfaithful.

Verdurian grammarians like to say that za- is the equivalent of the Caďinor dynamic tenses. Some of the usages inspired thereby are fairly transparent: šadan 'ride' --> zašadan 'mount', tenec 'have' --> zatenec 'obtain'. More baffling constructions-- lädan 'go' --> zalädan 'go quickly', crešir 'grow' --> zacrešir 'come to maturity'-- are based on the idiosyncratic meaning of the dynamic forms of the verb in Caďinor. Fortunately such pedantry is rare.

The conditional

The chief use of the conditional is to express a state of affairs which depends on some other event or condition, often expressed using an if clause.

Several degrees of certainty can be expressed by the precise choice of tense. If the condition is completely certain, the indicative is used throughout, as is English.

Esli lädmo Ctesifonán, lelmo soa Šeíra soië ataboë.
If you go (lit., will go) to Ctésifon, you will see the palace of the Emperors.

If the condition is more doubtful, the conditional is used in the main clause. The if clause uses the normal indicative, where English uses the perfect or the subjunctive.

Esli Mihel ilan marine, ila ešele lereže.
If Michael had married her, she would be happy.(Lit., If Micheal married her...)

Ac esli e Aďei, řo epcelo iler ceštan.
But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it.(Lit., But if it is of God...)

If the condition is and was never possible, the if clause is also put in the conditional . There will thus be no time indication in the sentence; but as we are talking about impossible events this does not much matter.

Esli lotka tencele siirom, ešele pavona.
If a boat had wheels, it would be a wagon.

Esli urs ešelai, ešelai urs sfahec.
If I were a bear, I'd be a talking bear.

The tense of the if clause thus expresses the speaker's judgment as to its likelihood. As a matter of style, then, speakers often place it at the end of the sentence, where a sudden revelation of disbelief can have full rhetorical effect.

So dalu puřo len ďilorcele, esli ivricele epistam lë.
The king will surely forgive you-- if he reads your letter.
[Implication: he won't.]

If an imperative depends on a condition, likely or not, the if clause should be conditional:

Esli lelcelo Okron, badairo. --Äaa!
If you see Okron, scream. --Aaagh!

The if clause may not actually be present. In this case the conditional must be used in the main clause, and does not necessarily make a judgment about the likelihood of the condition.

Ešele tal dobre dalu!
I would be such a good king [if I were one]!

Še šircaoran lë, maricelai soan žinan.
[If I were] in your situation, I would marry the girl.

Řo badacelu ifkiel et važe.
I wouldn't scream however much it hurt.

Other uses of the conditional

Wishes are often expressed with ut, which can be translated "if only," and which always takes the conditional:

Ut Ënomai ešele azure!
If only the sun were blue!

Verbs of wishing or wanting also take the conditional, if the wish is considered unlikely; similarly, a belief can be reported in the conditional if one wishes to underline its bizarreness.

Zurai dy ešele sazë. I wish I was a prince.

Řede dy soî uazoi ešelu anokulî zië!
He thinks that the birds are his ancestors!

However, an ordinary wish is expressed in the indicative:

Vulu dy fäse. I wish he'd leave.

The conditional can be used to soften a predicate, as in English. However, it is more idiomatic to use the future, instead.

Soa reďréë řo cummizte (cummižele), tot ašu.
The minister would not agree, I think.

The conditional can also be used to establish the indefiniteness of the antecedent in a relative clause:

Išai uestu ke sfahcele eteodäola.
I'm looking for a man who speaks Eteodäole.

The use of the conditional makes it clear that no such man has been found yet. The use of the indicative (sfahe) would suggest either that the speaker has a particular man in mind, or that finding such a man is a fairly trouble-free procedure.

Abuses of the conditional

English often uses the conditional as a genteelism: "I would like some coffee." The equivalent genteelism in Verdurian uses a cleft, not the conditional: E dy vulu caue.

Where 'if' means 'whether,' it is translated by esce, and the conditional is not used:

Řo šrifao esce Žendrom pasetre ërece soi syelauni.
I don't know if Genremos really visited the moons.

The conditional is also not used in a logical if...then (esli...duya) sentence, which does not express any doubt. Note that duya, unlike 'then,' is required in Verdurian.

Esli ei Pelymei, duya řo ei Vyatei.
If you're from Pelym, you're not from Vyat.

Finally, do not use the conditional to refer to a later event when the main clause is in the past tense. Verdurian uses the future tense in this case.

Ametne tranoš zië-- aprostece iler silorme.
He took his knife-- he would need it later.

No passive

There is no passive voice in Verdurian. To focus on the object of an action, the direct or indirect object may simply be stated first:

Rahelin done soa žorta Ihano.
Raheli was given the flower by Ihano.

Soa žorta done Ihano Rahelin.
The flower was given by Ihano to Raheli.

This is not always possible, as the nominative and accusative are identical for most nouns. Therefore an object pronoun is inserted before a third person verb when the direct object begins the sentence.

Abend levatre Susana.
Abend kissed Susana.

Susana ilat [acc.] levatre Abend.
Susana was kissed by Abend. (Lit., Susana her kissed Abend.)

Both subject and object must be present when this construction is used. Compare the meanings of the cases when one is missing:

Susana ilat levatre .
Susana kissed her [some other woman].

Ilat levatre Abend.
Abend kissed her [or, she was kissed by Abend].

The construction is of course allowed where the accusative is explicitly marked:

Rahela ilat levatre Ihano. Ihanam ilet levatre Raheli.
Raheli was kissed by Ihano. Ihano was kissed by Raheli.

The inserted pronoun is optional for first and second person subjects:

Susana [ilat] levatru. Susana was kissed by me.

Where the subject is unknown or unstated, you use the impersonal subject tu, or (even more colloquially) use a reflexive form of the verb. The reflexive can be as freely used in Verdurian as it is in Spanish.

Tu tam gedre is mažtanan.
We were thrown out (lit. someone threw us out) of the city.

Zam žusü ivroi zdesy.
Books are sold (lit. are selling themselves) here.

Derived forms


When a verb is followed by another verb, the second verb occurs in the infinitive. It is not preceded by a preposition, as in English.

Vulu lelen. I want to see.
Epai nuotan. I can swim.
Silorai šrifec. I demand to know.
Žanmu tam pasetir. They're coming to visit us.

The infinitive is generally used in Verdurian where we would use a gerund or an abstract noun. Used as a substantive, the infinitive is not declined, but takes masculine adjectives and singular verbs:

Lelen e ředec. Seeing is believing.
Šrifec e dobre. Knowledge is good.

When the English infinitive can be preceded by "in order to", the preposition pro should be used in Verdurian:

Uvru yem esë pro lelen.
I opened my eyes [in order] to see.

An entire verb phrase can be expressed infinitivally (epan lelen soi elcari, 'to be able to see the dwarves'). However, if it is necessary to refer to the subject, a finite expression or a true nominalization must be used:

Pro dy soa ftena abbosme deveu deprenan soem ďunem šapem.
For the plan to succeed (lit., for that the plan succeeds), you must remove both hats.

So abbosát ftene taë silore so depreneam soië ďunië šapië.
The success of our plan requires the removal of both hats.

Where we would introduce a sentence with participial phrase, Verdurian uses še plus the infinitive:

Še lelen so ilneam, so brigom pavece ridre.
Seeing [lit. Upon to see] the bishop, the hoodlam smiled slightly.

Such an expression should refer only to the subject of the sentence; dangling še clauses are as risible as dangling participles.


The past and present participles are used and declined like any other adjectives.

Mira rasfolžeca řo fäse meď imočul.
A loving mother does not abandon a strayed son.

Participles can take neither objects nor subjects. English passive or progressive expressions cannot be expressed in Verdurian using participles.

Baraďum taë ilet keknu soî murtanî.
Our brother was killed by orcs. (Lit., our brother him killed the orcs.)

Dëkuum siča soi murtanim pro kekan baraďum taë.
We are thanking the orcs for killing our brother. (Lit., we now thank the orcs for to kill our brother.)

An expression such as Ai dëkuec would be interpreted as descriptive-- 'I am thankful'-- rather than progressive-- 'I am giving thanks.' For the progressive meaning, use the present tense plus siča: Dëkuu siča.

As noted above, the infinitive rather than the participle is used to refer to an abstract action: Lelen e ředec, "Seeing is believing."

One who does

The equivalent of the -er form of English verbs is the present participle: kekec, 'killer.' Participles in -ec are declined as masculine nouns, and those in -ë as feminine nouns, whatever the sex of the referent.

Ilu e telna brigë er ila e lerte curayec.
He is a fine fighter and she is a clever thinker.

A form in -ec is the usual term for many occupations, as opposed to -om; see the Dictionary for which is which.


The gerund is also a regular adjective, and acts as a future passive participle. Thus leläm means '(that which is) to be seen.'

Kio fue ontäm. Q.E.D.
Šrifcom dy fue kekäm. We knew that he was to be killed.
Maltruäm e Carďago. Carthago delenda est.

The gerund of an intransitive verb is used with an active meaning.

Kaisar, ta núnece šuščämî eř ontu lon.
Caesar, we who are about to die salute thee.

Mižu dy esäm ešele, ac řo fue.
They said that what would be would be, but it wasn't.

As with the other participles, the gerund cannot take a subject, although it can take an indirect object, using the dative.

Sen miže so cues cuesäm osänán esë.
He told me the question to be asked of my master.

Reflexive verbs

A verb in which the object is identical to the subject is called reflexive. In Verdurian a reflexive verb is preceded by a pronoun referring back to the subject. In the first and second persons the normal object forms are used; in the third person we must use the special reflexive pronoun zet.
sing. I et lavai I wash myself
sing. II eř lavei You wash yourself
sing. III zet lave He washes himself
pl. I tam lavam We wash ourselves
pl. II mü lavoYou wash yourselves
pl. III zam lavu They wash themselves

The reflexive pronoun is also used with the infinitive: Zet lavan e mudray, "To wash oneself is wise."

Zet is third person singular only. In the other persons, the appropriate first and second person pronouns must be used (Vulu et lavan, "I want to wash [myself]."); in the third person plural the correct form is zam.

The use of the reflexive pronouns is always required with Verdurian reflexive verbs, though they are optional in English: compare "I washed this morning" with Verdurian Et lavnai ci-utron. Likewise, the imperative is Eř lavanei! where the pronoun cannot be omitted.

A reflexive verb almost always has a non-reflexive form as well. Thus lavan means 'to wash (someone or something else)', and zet lavan means 'to wash oneself.'

Verdurian, like French or Spanish, often expresses using a reflexive verb what we would express using a passive, or some other non-reflexive form:

Verdúria-mažtana zet tróue sur soan boemon selëi Eärdurei.
Verduria-city is located (lit., finds itself) on the banks of the river Eärdur.

<Golios> zet celmete ufëa.
'Golios' means (lit., translates itself) 'face'.

Sazë, eř duisireu cum melašten com dalun, řo com dobun.
Prince, behave (yourself) among nobles like a king, not like an old friend.

In the plural, the reflexive is often used to express the English "each other". (But see Each other.)

Ä ar, mira, tam lübom!
Oh, yes, mother, we love each other!

A very few reflexive verbs take the dative rather than the accusative: Ihano zen sfahe, "John talks to himself."

Reflexive verbs are identified in the dictionary.


English verbs can indifferently be transitive or intransitive: "I boiled the water," "The water boiled."

Verdurian verbs are generally either transitive or intransitive. If a verb is intransitive, the verb šesan can be used to express a transitive meaning:

So mey cipne. The water boiled.

Šesnai cipan soán meín.
I boiled the water (lit., I made the water to boil).

If a verb is transitive, an intransitive meaning can be expressed using the reflexive:

Žusretu zaftra ši-dafrom taë.
I'm selling all our furniture tomorrow.

Dafroi zam žusu zdesy.
Furniture is sold (lit. sells itself) here.

Certain verbs are, as in English, either transitive or intransitive.

So imumbrom brisre so aknám.
The burglar broke the window.

So aknó brisre.
The window broke.

Finally, some intransitive verbs have a derived transitive form in im-. Again, the dictionary should be consulted for the proper use of the verb.

So pifačic innüle ševeem tuë, er proše ševeî tuë nülu.
The hairdresser curls your hair, and then your hair curls.

Minor points

Impersonal verbs

An impersonal verb is one with no real subject. In English we use 'it' as the subject: "It's raining." In Verdurian we simply use the third person singular, with no subject.

Benfeye, ac zaftra pluyrete.
It's nice out, but tomorrow it will rain.

Faye zet abilen dör domán.
It is necessary to wear clothes in public.

No subjunctive

There is no subjunctive in Verdurian; where English still uses the subjunctive the indicative must be used in Verdurian:

Řo fue eššane dy fuai tort.
It was not possible that I be wrong.

Fayrete dy so firitom esme deníe.
It will be necessary that the dancer be a homosexual.

Generally, as in these examples, the verb in the subordinate clause will have the same tense as that of the main clause.

Causative constructions

The construction "X makes Y do Z" is expressed using the verb šesan. Y is placed in the dative, generally at the end of the sentence if it's a noun:

Raheli šesne šantan šant Ihanon.
Rachel made John sing a song.

Mima, ilun šesanei dešen et baďir!
Mommy, make him stop hitting me!

Šesan is also used to make an intransitive verb transitive:

So tšur šesme cipan soán meín.
The fire will make the water burn.

A similar construction is used with mifan 'to let, allow':

Raheli mifne šantan šant Ihanon.
Rachel allowed John to sing a song.

Easy errors

English speakers tend to make fairly predicable errors in Verdurian: they forget that verbs have to be conjugated; they use the wrong tense; they attempt to import the English passive or progressive into Verdurian; they put their adverbs in the wrong place; they translate idioms literally.

Translation is not coding. You cannot look up each word in the dictionary and replace it with the first Verdurian word you see: "It looks lived in" is not "Ilu rihe elirul-im" (which would be complete nonsense to a Verdurian) but Parete žese.

The dictionary is the best guide against such errors. Where more than one word is given, choose carefully from among the alternatives; where examples are given, glance through them. It is wise to look up the Verdurian word in the Verdurian-English dictionary to see if it truly means what you think it does.

As a general principle, however, remember that it is the most common verbs that are most likely to involve idiomatic differences, and that anything that doesn't make sense literally can't be translated that way.

A whole class of difficulties lurks in the English verb plus particle combination: give out, come with, go away, look out, run out, turn over. These are rendered in Verdurian with single verbs, without particles: bošnan, cumlädan, enalir, lelen, zamancan, iripan. And many verbs requiring a prepositional phrase in English are single verbs in Verdurian, taking the accusative: išan 'look for', prenan 'pick up', deuveren 'take off.'

The use of the noun [Index]

The nominative The genitive The accusative The dative
[Noun morphology]

The nominative

Nominative forms are used for the subject of a sentence, and for vocatives (addressing someone by name).

Soa gurë ašre soi loži anëlii.
The lion considered the words of the angel.

Mižere, <Gurë, ašireu ci-loži.>
It had said, "Lion, consider these words."

It is also used after the verbs esan 'to be', nomen 'name', adesan or ocan 'become', paretir 'seem', silirec 'tend to be', šaynir 'appear', and vauter 'be worth',

Ci-urs e dobre urs.
This bear is a good bear.

Et nomnai vremya Ihano, ac siča et nomai Šual-imutorec.
At that time I called myself John, but now I am called Tamer-of-Horses.

Paretre lebe uestu.
He seemed a new man.

Esce graženka Contana mun vaute tvedec ořulî?
Is Madame the Countess worth 30 gold pieces to you?

It is also used for the object of the prepositions eta 'about' and i 'of': Šriftanáe i Verdúria, University of Verduria; eta Aď, about God.

The genitive

Simple possession

The genitive is used to express simple possession. It is almost always placed after the noun.

So elcar deprenne uverä anëlii.
The dwarf removed the angel's clothes.

Dolorai, ac ci-katy e soei dalui.
I'm sorry, but this chamberpot is the king's.

An entire expression may appear in the genitive:

Suzannai soi loži telnëi er medrëi elcarei.
I remembered the words of a fine and noble dwarf.

The genitive is not used with parts of one's own body:

So belgom zet lavne soi cruri er nagem.
The soldier washed his [lit., the] legs and feet.

So flegom lavne soi cruri er nagem imfátei.
The nurse washed the child's legs and feet.

The genitive is not used with persons of higher rank than oneself. Thus one says snugá esë 'my servant', but osän sen (dative) 'my master', lit. 'master to me'; Aď tan (dative) 'our God.'

With beings of equal rank either the genitive or the dative is used: cira esë, cira sen, 'my wife'. The genitive is more intimate or informal.

With organizations, regions, or abstractions, however lofty, the genitive is used: neron esë 'my guild', pironáe taë 'our fatherland.'

Partitive uses

The genitive is also used to express composition-- what something is made of: celzer sürei, 'cheese sandwich.'

It is also used as a partitive, where we would use 'some' or 'any.'

Řo vulu lemei. Vulu šerëi.
I don't want any milk. I'd like some beer.

Řo vulu čivinyátei lë. I want none of your sympathy.

With explicit quantifiers or determiners, the nominative or accusative would generally be used. However, the genitive may still be used to put emphasis on the quantity rather than the identity of the subject.

Mušî ženî läznu ad zëin im naviren.
Many people went down to the sea in ships.

Mušî ženei läznu ad zëin im naviren.
Many of the people went down to the sea in ships.


The genitive is used to show the group of which something is a part:

Fue uestu testasomië.
He was a man of the Weavers.

An šantecië šantne durnece... tu ilat kekane.
One of the singers sang badly-- let her be killed.

In nominalized phrases

When a sentence is nominalized, the subject may be expressed using the genitive: Mihel lü Veača, Michael loves Beatrice; lübor Mihelei Veačin, Michael's love of Beatrice.

Place names

Verdurian normally uses the genitive instead of a distinct adjective of place:

Ai verdúrë. Fue caizure.
I am Verdurian. He was Caizuran.

Ci-pomodorî ruruldanei fsëgdá močü.
These Ruruldanian tomatoes always rot.

Kio e muďe čačë dy šual viminë? Šual šuščat.
What's slower than a Viminian horse? A dead horse.

To form the name of an inhabitant of the place, the genitive is transformed into a noun, and then declined normally. Note that this process will always form a feminine noun, which thus takes feminine adjectives and pronouns.

Soa pelymei rësne soa caizura im domán soe vyateë.
The Pelymian met the Caizuran in the house of the Vyatese.

In some cases, however, there are distinct adjectives of nationality-- verdúry, caďin, ahuerne, řuene-- which can also be used as substantives, to refer to persons of that nationality.

The use of -ilo, which derives from Cuzeian and can be compared to -idos in Greek, is also spreading as the population becomes more educated. Such forms as vyatilo (from the town of Vyat) would strike a Verdurian as pretentious, but scholars already write nanilo, šurilo, ažimbeilo; and such forms as soî tomailoi 'the followers of Tomao' are popular.


A related usage of the genitive is as a patronymic: Ihano Ihanei, John son of John.

Ablative usage

The use of the dative for movement toward, with verbs of motion, is paralleled by a use of the genitive for movement away from:

Žanne Deštaë. He came from Deštai.
Tombru mette. I fell off the table.

This usage, imitating the ablative construction of Caďinor, is considered rather formal. More colloquially one uses de (or is, ) plus the dative: Žanne de Deštain, tombru de mettan.

The accusative

The accusative is used for direct objects:

Lübor vencre so anëlim. Love conquered the angel.
Řo creženo soi činziki. Don't eat the gooseberries.

The accusative is often used where we would use a preposition. This (like all unexpected case usages) is indicated in the dictionary.

Ředao Aď. I believe in God.
Lemano ce-ranem. Get rid of those frogs.
Malmiže so Dalum. He spoke ill of the King.

The accusative is also used after locative prepositions, when describing a motion rather than specifying a location; see Prepositions.

The dative

Indirect objects

The primary function of the dative is to indicate the indirect object. The indirect object in English is usually, but not always, preceded by 'to' or 'for'; if you are not sure whether an object without a preposition is direct (requiring the accusative) or indirect (requiring the dative), see if 'to' can be inserted before it without changing the meaning.

The indirect object normally follows the direct object in Verdurian.

So elcar done katim soin tomailoin.
The dwarf gave a chamberpot to the followers of Tomao.

Lübor miže ar soan frälinan.
Love said yes to the young woman.

So imlelel fue abbosát viminen.
The concert was a success for the Viminian.

Certain verbs, though quite straightforward in Verdurian, cause confusion to the English speaker: marian 'marry', ďiloran 'forgive', mifan 'allow.' Note the case usage in the following sentences.

So cliďu marine Akula Prišan.
The priest married Aquila to Priscilla.

Akula marine Prišan.
Aquila married Priscilla.

Raheli ďilorne Ihanon mesožä lië.
Rachel forgave John for his lie.

Raheli ďilorne Ihanon.
Rachel forgave John.

Beom mife kesuä lië čilán ruromán.
The baron allows each peasant his own land.

After prepositions

The dative is used after most prepositions. For exceptions, see Prepositions.

Katim mifnai nožuven sur mettan co feriorán hip aknón co ďerán.
I left the chamberpot on the table by the chair under the window by the door.

Verbs of motion

With verbs of motion, such as lädan 'go', žanen 'come', tombir 'fall', the destination may be expressed using the dative alone, or (more colloquially) by ad plus the dative.

Žanam (ad) Deštain, ac řo vežaam.
We're coming to Deštai, but we're not running.

Esli piro mižele řo, lädano miran.
If father says no, go to mother.

The dative of relation

The dative is used to express one's relation to persons of higher rank than oneself: osän sen 'my master', tan 'our God'. With inferiors one uses the genitive: ištavro lië 'his attendant.' With persons of equal rank one may use either the genitive or the dative; the latter has a more formal or respectful quality: ei druk sen, "You are a friend to me."

When such expressions occur in subject position, there may be some ambiguity:

Osän sen done ivram cuonán zië.
My master gave a book to his dog.

The first part of the sentence (osän sen done) could mean "my master gave..." or "the master gave me...." In speech the groupings of the words would indicate the correct meaning (osän-sen done or osän sen-done); but in writing one may have recourse to expressions like sen osän. Context usually suffices to disambiguate without such expedients, however.

In nominalized phrases

When a sentence is nominalized, the object may be expressed using the dative: Mihel lü Veača, Micheal loves Beatrice; lübor Mihelei Veačin, Michael's love of Beatrice.

Expressions of time

Expressions in the dative alone, without a preposition, indicate placement in time:

utron in the morning
iverin in the wintertime
nočín ceďuei Dalui on the night of the King's Feast
ďinen horen at three o'clock

When the expression represents duration, the preposition pro should be used:

pro utron for the morning
pro iverin the winter long
pro nočín ceďuei Dalui for the night of the King's Feast
pro ďinen horen for three hours

If an event recurs at intervals, an expression using ši- 'every' is used:

ši-iverin every winter
ši-ďinen horen every three hours

Finally, use ci- for a period of time which extends to the present: ci-ďinen horen 'these last three hours'.

The noun phrase [Index]

Position of modifiers Adjective agreement Adjectives as substantives Comparatives and superlatives Nouns modifying nouns Articles Quantifiers

Position of modifiers

The canonical order of constituents is

so + quantifier + adverb + adjective + noun + adjectives + genitive + prep. phrases

lübor love
so hutorom the farmer
dobre alaďeom a good musician
soî mušî telnî luomî the many fine apples
sfutece kekec malát a quickly killing illness
nrüskece taye dalu taë our foolishly brave king
arb dobre er verde a good green tree
soî čeltî eromî ne dverán the evil southerners at the door

Generally single adjectives precede the noun, while multiple and compound adjectives follow it. However, both rules are frequently broken. A postposed adjective has an archaic or artificial air to it: yesta pročiamë, 'the throne eternal.' Multiple adjectives before the noun sound heavy and clumsy unless they are closely related: beluana suletë redelcë 'a beautiful young woman' is more acceptable than daluesa fsura redelcë 'a jovial, hungry woman.'

A single-word genitive is also sometimes found before the noun: druk esë, esë druk, my friend.

Adjective agreement

Naturally, all the adjectives which modify a noun must agree with it in case, number, and gender.

Soî polnî šohî [s. nom.] donü soem telnem luomem [pl. acc.] mesein vlauin [pl. dat.] druke žine [s. gen.].
The naked dukes gave the fine apples to the friendly girl's playful uncles.

Predicate adjectives, and also the objects of verbs like šaynir 'seem' and olotan 'feel', agree with the subject:

Soî gurî fueu väremî ac řo fueu azurî.
The lions were dangerous, but they were not blue.

Cira esë parete izziëcsë. My wife seems jealous.

Adjectives used as the complement of the direct object agree with the object.

Drukî lië ilet faššu izziëcsem.
His friends made him jealous.

Ci-fuaín mondanei nëcto lertem.
This time hire someone smart.

<Et faitei rožya>, miže ila.
"You make me crazy," she said.

Adjectives as substantives

Adjectives may be used as substantives: the meek shall inherit the earth. When so used, they must be declined as nouns, as follows:
Adj. declension Nom. declension Example
I m. -cons. elil (one who is) vigorous
II f. -e orgölse (one who is) proud
III m. -y bogaty (one who is) rich
IV f. -ë elutë (one who is) just

That is, there are not two substantives elil and elila, but one, always masculine. Compare

Ihano fue bomë [f.] haute.
John was an old tall man [substantive].

Ihano fue bome [m.] er haute.
John was old and tall [ordinary adjectives].

Comparatives and superlatives

The comparative particles muďe 'more', muán 'less', and otál 'as much' are used to form both comparatives and superlatives.

rožy insane
muďe rožy more insane
so muďe rožy most insane
otál rožy as insane
muán rožy less insane
so muán rožy the least insane

Comparative expressions use dy to introduce the item used as the basis of comparison, placed in the nominative for noun phrases, or in the accusative for pronouns. The adjective itself agrees with the subject.

Ci-pavona brunë e muďe ružë dy tot.
This brown wagon is redder than that one.

Řo, miželao dy ce-pavona azurë e muán ružë dy eto.
No, I'd say that that blue wagon is less red than this one.

Graženomî! Niš řo e otál ruže dy ce-šual grize!
Gentlemen! Nothing is as red as that grey horse!

Sul Aď e otál mudray dy tü, dalu esë, er ya cečel řo sen e sënul.
Only God is wiser than you, my king, and even there I'm not certain.

Superlative expressions may use is 'out of' plus the dative, or (more colloquially) merely the genitive, to name the class of compared items.

Alaďea e soa muán škuašy is soen lelitsalen.
Alaďea e soa muán škuašy soië lelitsalië.

Music is the least silly of the arts.

Moseo e so muďe parnise (is tan, taë).
Moses is the most mountainous of all of us.

Comparatives and superlatives work similarly for adverbs: so muďe čačece, 'most slowly', otál čačece 'as slowly', muán čačece 'less slowly.'

Nouns may be compared by using the genitive:

Tenao muďe ivroë dy le.
I have more books than you do.

Nouns modifying nouns

English freely allows nouns to modify other nouns: 'income tax,' 'lunch counter,' 'music box,' 'childhood education consultant.' Nouns generally cannot be used this way in Verdurian. However, there are alternatives:

All three processes are productive, but many such expressions have become conventionalized. These can be found in the dictionary.

A name or title can however follow another noun:

Evar šoh Pelymei Evar, duke of Pelym
druk esë Ihano my friend John
šerë Corona Corona beer
prosia Hovard Hovard street
so ivro <Pomäe Nícolei> the book 'The story of Nícolo'


Indefinite articles

There are no indefinite articles in Verdurian. English normally gets by without them in the plural; Verdurian does not need them at all (dalu, 'a king'; dalî, 'kings').

Eř deuverenei. Řo itëšireu-- ai šriftom.
Take off your clothes. Don't worry-- I'm a doctor.

The partitive can be used where English would use 'some' or 'any,' indicating that only a part of the object referred to is under discussion. It is commonly used only in the singular.

Řo vulu lemei. Vulu šerëi.
I don't want any milk. I'd like some beer.

The demonstrative prefix ti- also limits the scope of the referent, but can be used in both singular and plural.

So šaden šri ti-telnem redelcem im Pelymán.
The knight knows some fine ladies in Pelym.

The definite article

The definite article is so 'the': so Dalu 'the King', soa frälina 'the girl', soa suri ke mužone 'the mouse that roared', soî curulî 'the stars.'

So is not necessary (as it would be in French or Spanish) for abstract nouns (lübor, 'love') or to name a class (šatu caua, 'I like coffee').

As in English, its pragmatic message is "You know which one I mean." Due to its uniqueness or saliency, or because it has been mentioned before, the referent should be obvious to the listener.

However, it is not as ubiquitous as in English. It is avoided in locative or genitive expressions: im atunán 'in the room'; cire óuandei 'the neighbor's wife's.' If a particular expression is frequently repeated in a passage, so need not be repeated each time.

So cuon er so ailuro eu drukî. [So] cuon ride še šlušir [soem] misotém [soei] ailurei. [So] ailuro e arašó rizuec.
The dog and the cat are friends. The dog laughs at the cat's jokes. The cat is quite amusing.


The common quantifiers are
suy none
nib any
pey few
ti- some
des several
muše many
benge most
čil each
ši- every
tëse all

Ti- and ši- are invariable, and attach as prefixes to the first word of the noun phrase, which need not be the noun: ti-telnî sätî, 'some fine halls.' (Ti- cannot be used for 'some' in the sense of 'a portion of'; use the partitive instead.)

The remaining quantifiers are regular adjectives: peî uestî 'few men', čilen redelcen 'to each of the women.' Like any adjectives they can also be used as substantives:

Tu apelue mušem, ac tu divee peom.
Many are called, but few are chosen.

None of the quantifiers should be used with so 'the.'

Pronouns [Index]

Personal pronouns The impersonal pronoun Correlatives Adjectival anaphora Verbal anaphora

Personal pronouns

There are eight personal pronouns, plus a reflexive pronoun.
person singular plural
I se I ta we
II le you mu you
III iluhe ca they
il it
refl.ze za

The English speaker, used to a single pronoun 'you', must get used to using le for singular 'thou, you' and mu for plural 'ye, you, y'all.' And for worse to come, see The impersonal pronoun.

Possessive pronouns

There are no pronominal adjectives ('my', 'mine') in Verdurian. The genitive can be used instead: cira esë 'my wife', e esë 'it's mine.'

The dative rather than the genitive is used to refer to persons of higher rank: dalu sen 'my king.' For details see The Genitive.

Subject pronouns

Subject pronouns can normally be omitted, except for emphasis.

Žannai, lelnai, vencru. I came, I saw, I conquered.
Le iler lelne. You saw it, or, You saw it yourself.

In the third person, using ilu and ila can add clarity.

Multiple subjects may include explicit pronouns. Note that multiple subjects require the plural forms of the verb.

Mihel er se prosnam ad desin.
Michael and I walked to the bridge.

Pronouns used as predicates must be accusative, even where a noun in the same place in the sentence would be nominative: e et, 'It's me.'

Object pronouns

Object pronouns are placed before the verb, accusatives before datives.

Sen mižu dy ilan läznei,
er et ilun pavetno:
Sen done dobrelóg
ac miže dy řo nuotai.

They told me you had been to her,
and mentioned me to him.
She gave me a good character
but said I could not swim.

Object pronouns must not follow the verb-- unless the verb is esan, in which case they must: e et, 'it's me.' (See above.)

He, she, and it

When referring to a person or an object-- to almost everything, in fact-- only ilu and ila may be used, not il. Normally the pronoun must match the gender of the noun the pronoun stands for.

Soa ďeletá e imbušäma. Ila e lyö imbušäma.
The sauce is tasty. It [lit. she] is very tasty.

However, if the referent is a specific person (or one of the animals for which separate sex terms are provided), the pronoun matches the person's sex. (Pronouns thus behave differently from adjectives and determiners within the noun phrase.)

Soa sazë e guessë, er ilu e imbušäm.
The prince [f.] is powerful [f.], and he [not she] is tasty [m.].

If there is no specific referent, the pronoun matches the grammatical gender of the antecedent, if any.

Esli lelcele viminä co ďitelán, ilat kekenei.
If you see a Viminian on the road, kill him [lit. her].

If there is no antecedent, use ilu. It has occurred to no one in the Plain to disparage this usage as sexist; besides, as the previous two examples suggest, sex/gender mismatches are quite common and unremarkable in Verdurian.

Il is reserved for ideas and clauses; it is also the proper pronoun to use when the antecedent is a proposition or an infinitive.

Ihano miže dy Abend ya fäsre, ac řo iler ředao.
John said that Abend had left, but I don't believe it.

Šrifec e dobre-- ilon onteno lon.
Knowledge is good; show it respect.

The reflexive pronoun

The reflexive pronoun ze is used for an object (direct or indirect) which refers to the subject. Compare:

Šrayom zet kekne. The wizard killed himself.
Šrayom ilet kekne. The wizard killed him [i.e. someone else].

The genitives zië and zaë also refer to the subject. The use of reflexive possessive forms is mandatory in Verdurian, optional in English.

Pitre vin zië. He drank his [own] wine.
Pitre vin lië. He drank his [someone else's] wine.

In a subordinate clause, the reflexives refer of course only to the subordinate subject:

Ředao dy Ihano zet duisre dobrece.
I believe that John behaved himself well.

The one exception is a genitive used with a subject of the subordinate clause; here the reflexive refers to the subject of the main clause. Strict grammarians would prefer lië here, but admit that the reflexive would have no other use in the subordinate subject, so there is no ambiguity.

Ihano zašrifce, dy cira zië fue řocepelë.
Ihano learned that his wife was unfaithful.

Even stranger usages are found-- e.g. Ihano nun šrife. Cira zië e řocepelë-- but these are not considered good style.

Ze is used only in the third person. In the first and second persons the ordinary object pronouns are used: Et šrifao, 'I know myself'; len sfahei, 'You're talking to yourself.' The emphatic 'myself' is translated by including the subject pronoun: Se fuai cečel, 'I was there myself.'

The nominative forms may seem unnecessary, but they do occur, for instance after eta: sfahne eta ze, 'he talked about himself'.

See also Reflexive verbs.

Each other

The expression pere ftore, literally 'the first to the second', corresponds to the English 'each other.' The two words are declined by gender, case, and number according to the relevant grammatical relation.

Fsya disu pere ftorem im ci-mažtanan.
Everybody hates each other in this town.

Mira er meca pasetrü perë ftorä.
Mother and daughter visited each other.

Mižu pere ftoren, <Nëron, nëron, nëron.>
They were saying to one another, "Holy, holy, holy."

The impersonal pronoun

Verdurians, like the French and Germans, are inordinately fond of their impersonal pronoun. Tu can be translated 'one,' 'everyone', 'people', or even 'you.' The pronoun takes singular, third-person forms.

Tu šri Mihel. Everybody knows Michael.

Tu řo epe cunësan Ďeknamä. You can't trust a Dhekhnami.

Tu řo creže legua cum manoin tuë, esyule.
We don't eat soup with our hands, dear.

Tu is widely used in Verdurian in place of the passive; see No Passive.

The formal you

Verdurian, like many European languages, distinguishes between a formal and an informal 'you.' The informal you is le; the formal you is simply the impersonal pronoun tu. (In the plural, mu is used in all contexts.)

Esce tu vule myasei gudunei?
Would you like some antelope meat?

The use of formal tu varies both by context and by social class. The more formal the situation, and the more education one has, the more tu is used. A haberdasher uses it more than a fishmonger; a courtier uses it at work, a professor does not; it is used in the Esčambra but not on shipboard; nobles but not innkeepers expect to hear it from their servants. A mark of the arriviste, however, is his overuse of tu. Likewise only le is used for the gods or for God.

An even more formal circumlocution, used with lords and holders of high office, is estát tuë, 'your greatness.' However, lofty personages such as kings and editors are not encouraged to refer to themselves as anything but se 'I'.

Recall that the accusative is for the formal pronoun, tu for the indefinite.

One might expect some confusion with impersonal uses of tu, and one would find it. Through long practice Verdurians can readily disambiguate such puzzlers as Tu šrifce dy tu kekne snugá tuë? "Did you know that someone killed your servant?" In speech, it helps that the formal tu is usually stressed, and the impersonal tu reduced. (In the above sentence tu kekne is pronounced t'kekne). In writing it is best to avoid such sentences.

Subject tu can only be omitted if it's expressed elsewhere in the sentence:

Tu aše dy [tu] onžanme soán domán ktë[tu] fue otál ošte?
Do you think you'll return to the house where you were so drunk?

In writing, le is used to address the general reader; this continues the practice of Caďinor, which had no formal 'you'. If you're writing to or for a specific person, however, you use the pronoun you'd use in speaking to that person.


In Verdurian grammars the indefinite and interrogative pronouns and the demonstratives are grouped together as the kansilî 'pointers', which we may call the correlatives. The various forms may be arranged in a table as follows:
person ke
this one
that one
no one
thing kio
this one
that one
time kiam
place ktë
way kiel
amount kedimo
how much
however much
reason prokio

Of these, the quantifiers have been discussed above.

Interrogative and relative pronouns

The interrogative pronouns ke 'who', kio 'what' and ktë 'where' are inflected; the other interrogative pronouns are invariable.

The interrogative adjective is 'which', also invariable. cannot be used as a substantive; you must supply a noun to translate the English 'which one.'

Kî teša faššeo?
Which mess did you make?

Kî redelcä vuleu, Aďia iy Lelesa?
Which one do you want, Aďia or Lelesa?

Kedimo can be used alone (kedimo šolise? "How much does it cost?") or before a noun (kedimo uestî 'how many men').

The interrogative pronouns do double duty as relative pronouns:

Ke dénuo crežne legua esë?
Who's been eating my soup?

Tróunai soa žina ke dénuo crežne legua esë.
I found the girl who was eating my soup.

A relative clause may serve as an entire constituent. This is more common in Verdurian than in modern English. (For more on this, see Transformations.)

Ke ride dernece řo cumprenne soa mizotá.
Who laughs last didn't get the joke.


Ci- and ce- 'this' and 'that' must be attached to the first element of the noun phrase (not necessarily the noun).

Ce-rana crežne ci-uestum.
That frog ate this man.

Ci-telnî redelcî lübu ce-ďuni šadeni.
These fine women love those three knights.

Eto and tot are the demonstrative pronouns which can stand for a whole noun phrase (either a person or a thing). They take singular verbs and masculine adjectives.

Suzananei-- eto e cira esë, er tot e lë.
Remember: this (one) is my wife, and that (one) is yours.

Prenanei soa šapa etë er ilat danei totán.
Take this one's hat and give it to that one.

Do not use eto to point out or introduce something; eluá is used for this purpose:

Eluá cira esë. This is my wife.

Indefinite pronouns

The indefinite pronouns are the remaining entries in the 'person' and 'thing' rows in the table of correlatives.

Unlike the personal pronouns, they are placed after the verb when used as objects:

Soa režžina lelne što, ac nikto řo epe iler ukler.
The maid saw something, but nobody can prove it.

The indefinite pronouns must be declined, and the distinction between persons and things respected.

Esce so pauto fsye e zdesy, iy tu deprenne nëcton?
Is everyone's coat here, or did somebody get robbed?

Pronouns of place and time

The correlatives relating to place must be declined like any other pronoun. In practice this generally means that the nominative expresses a location, the dative a destination, and the genitive a point of origin.

Ktë e so aďnáe? Where is the temple?
Ktëi žes? Where did you come from?
Ktën lädei? Where are you going?
Lädai zdesii cečelán. I am going from here to there.

The triplet ktë, ktëi, ktën thus corresponds to 'where, whence, whither,' for those who know how to use these three words.

Nikudá 'nowhere' and fsuda 'everywhere' are treated as invariable adverbs. They once had case forms (and the grammarians at the University of Verduria insist that they still do), but popular usage confused them with Caďinor adverbs in -a (e.g. sitra 'at once', still used today as siča).

The correlatives relating to time are invariable. Ticairon indicates that the event in question happened at least once, at some unspecified time; to indicate that it happened several times, use descairon.

Adjectival anaphora

The anaphor tal 'such' is used to refer to a previously mentioned quality:

Cira esë vulre bolyášem verdem katim, ac řo epnai tróuen talem.
My wife wanted big green chamberpots, but I couldn't find any such.

Verbal anaphora

There is one strict verbal anaphor in Verdurian, the irregular verb kies, which may be translated 'to do what?' or 'to do things.' It is used to refer to an unknown or indefinite action.

Kaimei zaftra? What are you doing tomorrow?

Ila kiet fsëgda kiel baraďu zië kiet.
She always does what her brother does.

Kiel vuleu dy kiai?
What do you want me to do? (Lit., how do you want me to do things?)

When a specific action is being discussed, the verb fassec is used instead. Fassec can be considered a demonstrative verbal anaphor: 'to do that.'

Ken vulei šesan relir soa mesta? Ihano fasste tro čáčece.
Who do you want to sow that field? John will do it too slowly.

Ä, sen mifanei fassec.
Oh, let me do that.

In parallel constructions where we use 'do' to refer to an earlier verb, Verdurian prefers to elide the verb; it may add ozë 'thus' to emphasize the parallelism.

Ihano šrifce so advečel er [ozë] otál Samuilo.
John knew the answer and so also did Samuel.

Where we use 'do' or an auxiliary to respond to a question, Verdurian simply repeats the verb. (Fassec is correct here too.)

Esce Ihano keke šučem? --Ar, keke.
Does John kill pigs? --Yes, he does.

Other, non-anaphoric uses of 'to do' are translated in various ways. See the dictionary for a fuller list; but consider these examples.

Kiel läde? How're you doing?

Mira esë tro bliďre.
My mother does too much [is too busy].

Núnece urokešnai Caďinam esë.
I just did [lit. finished] my Caďinor homework.

Řo mevano im čeltán.
Do not do evil. [Lit., do not act in evil.]

Prepositions [Index]

Case usage Prepositional prefixes Abuse of prepositions

The following chart is provided for reference only. The dictionary should always be consulted for precise definitions and examples; nothing varies between languages like the proper choice of preposition.

acota apart from dör outside of prî facing
ad to, toward hip under, below sa through
apprî in front of hipco down (stairs) sur on
apros following im in, among šircau around, circling
away from ir above tra over, across
cel between irco up (the street) tras beyond
co near, alongside is out of u next to
de from, off of preceding
derë behind ne at, by
apros after coprós since before
azike until cune around pro during
ab using except po at the rate of
acota away from com like, as pro in return for
acřó except for cum with sam without
ak against de from, off še upon, being
and for eta about
arad despite i of

Case usage

In general prepositions are followed by the dative, with two exceptions.

First, locative prepositions are followed by the dative when they indicate location only, and by the accusative when they imply or describe motion. The distinction is similar to that between 'in' and 'into'.

im soan scurin in the country
im soa scura into the country

Cam lelnam hipco soan ďitelán.
We saw them down the road.

Soa pavona läzne hipco so ďitel.
The wagon went down the road.

However, the prepositions ad and is always indicate motion, and so are used with the dative only.

Second, the prepositions eta 'about', i 'of', and še in the sense of 'being' are all followed by the nominative. This seems to be an innovation of Verdurian; the naming function of these prepositions seeming to call for the nominative.

Pratnam siča eta so reďunát cel čilin taë.
We were talking about the space between us all.

Ihano i Ihano Pelymey e ne Šriftanáen i Verduria.
John, named for John Pelymey, attends the University of Verduria.

Prepositional prefixes

Verdurian is exceptional in having a set of prefixes which can be applied to prepositions, refining or extending their meaning.

re- means 'far': rehip 'far below', recu 'distantly related to.'

sy- means 'touching': syco 'alongside'; sypak 'almost exactly.'

zdy- means 'component': derë 'behind' --> zdyderë 'on the back of.'

im- means 'inside': imderë 'inside the back of.'

f- means 'throughout': fšircau 'all around', fsa 'throughout.'

cu- means 'roughly': cune 'nearby, around', cuir 'somewhere over'

Abuse of prepositions

Prepositions needed in English are often not required or even allowed in Verdurian.

Sentences [Index]

Constituent order Negatives Questions Subclauses

Constituent order

Having retained a full case system, Verdurian has a fairly free word order: many sentences could be rearranged randomly, violating only plausibility, not grammaticality:

Soî aelutrî redelcî pasetnü soa säta lätecië belgomië.
Lätecië belgomië pasetnü soa säta soî aelutrî redelcî.
Belgomië soa redelcî säta soa aelutrî pasetnü soî lätecië.

The virtuous women visited the hall of the athletic warriors.

In practice a sentence like the last is rather like Molière's "Mourir vos beaux yeux, belle marquise, d'amour me font"-- merely comic. The components of a noun phrase are generally not separated, except in poetry or rhetoric.

The unmarked or most typical sentence order is SVO (subject-verb-object), and the typical organization of the sentence is


pronominal objects (direct then indirect)
direct object
prepositional phrases (indicating manner, location, etc.)

(For the internal organization of noun phrases, see The noun phrase, p. 61.)

Some examples:

So lyö brune urs ale. Ursî brunî er beluanî alü.
The very brown bear gets by. Brown and beautiful bears do.

Urs prosne im prusin er desidre šerä.
A bear walked into a bar and ordered a beer.

Urs sen done šerä zië er iler ilun ondonu.
The bear gave his beer to me and I gave it back to him.

Šual prenne asuena soei lapisei nrüskei co ursán.
A horse took the foolish rabbit's seat next to the bear.

Šual racontre piďä lengä er skukaeca soán čironán.
The horse told a long and tiresome anecdote to the elephant.

Iler racontre durnece, ac so čiron řo ilet slušre acotál
He told it badly, but the elephant wasn't listening anyway.

The unmarked order may be abandoned for several reasons, such as those described in the following sections.

Topic and comment

In pragmatic terms, the topic (identifying what the sentence is talking about) is stated first, then the comment (what's new). For instance, 'your brother' is the topic in both of these sentences, and is thus placed first, although it is the grammatical subject in the first and the object in the second.

Baraďu lë e elnora im tyurman?
Is your brother still in prison?

Baraďum lë tu ilet kďuže.
Someone stabbed your brother.

Alternative ordering

SOV order is used to emphasize the relationship between subject and object, or to emphasize the verb itself: boua bouan lü, 'the cow loves the bull.'

OVS order is used when the subject, not the object, conveys the new information in the sentence: bouan ilet lü boua, 'the cow loves the bull.' This order is often used where we would use the passive. The preposed object should be followed by an object pronoun to make the syntax clear.

OVS order is common in subordinate clauses: rëcenei so bouan ket lü soa boua, "Meet the bull the cow loves."

Verbal complements

Prepositional phrases which are complements of the verb are normally placed at the end of the sentence; for emphasis, they can be placed after the verb or even at the beginning of the sentence.

So šaden copuyne sur divan so ubir.
The knight forced the vampire onto the couch.

Adverbs and datives of time or location are normally placed immediately after the verb. English speakers will sound like kanheî (outlanders) if they insist on placing these elements at the end of the sentence, as in English.

Besyun esë uvre sfutece so aknám.
My boyfriend opened the window quickly.

It is also common to see (short) adverbs just before the verb; this placement may be influenced by the placement of single adjectives before a noun.

For emphasis these expressions move to the front of the sentence:

Debután esne so Log.
In the beginning was the Word.


The simplest form of negation is the insertion of řo 'no' before the verb (but before any pronominal objects).

Emanél řo tróune bem detranul im ďitelán.
Emmanuel did not find a severed head in the road.

Řo can placed before any element of the sentence one wishes to negate. In this case an additional řo is sometimes left in front of the verb.

Emanél [řo] tróune bem řo detranul im ďitelán.
Emmanuel found a head in the road which was not severed.

Other negative expressions are formed with the following words, each of which also requires řo before the verb. (The 'double negative' is thus normal and correct in Verdurian.)

nikto no one, nobody: pronoun

Nikto řo tróune bem detranul im ďitelán.
No one found a severed head in the road.

Čamzelî sežlórië řo eu dobrî nikton.
Insect bites benefit nobody.

niš nothing: pronoun

Dembrea er elir řo eu niš.
Existence and life are nothing.

suy no, not any, none: regular adjective

Suy uestu řo e nezi. Suyî uestî řo eu neziora.
No man is an island. No men are an archipelago. neither...nor...: particle

Ni so hutorom ni soa griužina řo rësne ni cont ni ilneam.
Neither the farmer nor the maid met either a count or an archbishop.

When ni governs an entire sentence, řo is omitted:

Kiam ni neyže tombe šelirece de arbin, ni selë Eärdur kluše äserece ab sahirecin utamin ryotei, e otinimášece esta.
When neither the snow doth delicately fall from the trees, nor doth the river Eärdur splash merrily with floating ice, it is probably summer.

nikagdá never: adverb

Ašru dy řo lelcelai nikagdá mot cum ožren.
I thought that I would never see a sheep with wings.

nikudá nowhere: adverb

Řo lelai nikudá so dalum er išnai im soen ďunen parënáen.
I see the king nowhere and I have looked in both casinos.

řóece not at all (emphatic 'not'): adverb

Řo vulu řóece etertotan.
I do not at all wish to argue.

nun no longer: adverb

Řo snucai nun sannam ke zeřaše cum alyon.
No longer will I serve a lord who seasons with garlic.

ger hardly: adverb

Motî cum ožren řo eu ger peržano i alyo.
Winged sheep are hardly a source of garlic.

sul only: adverb

Onžanenei-- so alyo řo e sul samďeve idiko.
Come back: the garlic is only a harmless peculiarity.

Expressions with ger and sul would not be negative in English; but they would be in French: L'ail n'est qu'une singularité inoffensive.

Sul (or ger) can be moved freely to show what is being excluded from the negation. The unmarked position is after the verb; in this case the 'only' meaning applies to the whole sentence. If it is to apply particularly to the object, the object may be moved elsewhere.

So dalu řo ontne sul so ivram elrein.
The king only showed the book to the queen. [unmarked]
Sul so dalu řo ontne so ivram elrein.
Only the king showed the book to the queen.
So dalu řo ontne elrein sul so ivram.
The king showed only the book to the queen.
So dalu řo ontne so ivram sul elrein.
The king showed the book only to the queen.

Alone, for example in answer to a question or used as a substantive, each of these words, with the exception of nun 'now', retains its negative meaning:

Ktën läznei? Nikudá. Kaivei? Niš.
Where did you go? Nowhere. What did you do? Nothing.

Where one actually wishes to negate a negation, it is necessary to use a subordinate clause:

Řo esne nikto ke řo tróune bem.
There was no one who didn't find a head.

(Nikto řo tróune bem is grammatical, but means "Nobody found a head.")


There are three ways to form yes-no questions:

Esce can also be inserted directly before a particular element to make it the focus of the question, something English can do only by stressing or by fronting the element.

So dalu ditave esce lenocsem?
Does the king prefer blondes?
Is it blondes that the king prefers?

Questions can also be introduced by interrogative pronouns and adverbs:

Ke boďne Ihanam? Who kicked John?

Ket boďne Ihano? Whom did John kick?

Ktë zet prene so kenek Řanorán?
Where do I take the camel to Řânor?

Až kion tombeu? What did you fall off of?

Kî malsfaom vule legua? Which barbarian wants soup?

Prokio vulreu zer com mirtilen?
Why did you order a pizza with blueberries?

When the noun phrase being questioned is buried deep within the sentence, one can leave the interrogative there, or leave a pronoun there and front the interrogative.

Mižei dy piro lë kiom encele ifkio šolise?
Kiom mižei dy piro lë ilet encele ifkio šolise?

What did you say your father would buy however much it cost?


There are a number of ways sentences achieve complexity and variety. Some of these ways, involving verbal expressions, have already been discussed under The use of the verb. Others are discussed in this section.


The basic conjunctions are er 'and', iy 'or', and ac 'but.' Conjunctions can join adjectives, nouns, verbs, phrases, and entire sentences.

'Both.. and...' is If such an expression is a subject, the verb is plural.

Řo epei snucan er Aď er Kuna.
You cannot serve both God and Mammon.

'Either...or...' is iy...iy.... If the expression is the subject, the verb is singular if both conjoined subjects are singular, plural if one or both is plural.

Iy hutorom Erey kekme so drac ab carďen, iy so Dalu domete šohán ďuni telnem šuali.
Either farmer Erey will kill the dragon with a sword, or the King will give the Duke two fine horses.

'Neither...nor...' is The rule for agreement is the same as for iy...iy.... The verb must be negated, unless the conjoined elements are entire sentences.

Aď řo lü ni Cavrac ni lesteom kaë řo du meim cum ryotán.
God loves neither Satan nor restaurants which do not serve ice water.

Verdurian is more apt than English to delete duplicated elements in the conjoined elements:

Ihano ditave mirtilem er Tihon nedizem.
John prefers blueberries and Tychon [prefers] bananas.

dy (that)

Certain verbs take as their object an entire sentence, introduced by dy 'that'. 'That' is optional in English, but dy is required in Verdurian, except in a direct quotation.

Anëla miže dy fuai salë múrtany.
Angela said [that] I was a dirty orc.

Anëla miže, <Ei salë múrtany.>
Angela said, "You are a dirty orc."

Relative pronouns

The relative pronouns are identical to the interrogative pronouns. As in English, the pronoun, whatever its function within the clause, is usually moved to the front of the clause, next to the head noun.

So rožy ket Ihano pasetre núnece šušde.
The madman whom John was visiting just died.

For variations on this structure, see Transformations.

The relative pronoun cannot be eliminated from this sentence, as it can be in English. Compare:

So uestu ke ašru dy fue Ďeknamei e ërece Svetle.
The man (who) I thought was Dhekhnami is really Svetlan.

A relative clause may serve as an entire constituent. This is more common in Verdurian than in English.

Ke ride dernece řo cumprenne soa mizotá.
Who laughs last didn't get the joke.

Transformations [Index]

Traditional grammars would stop at this point, having said all that was thought worth saying about the language. In recent years it has been realized that languages have complex (and sometimes quite idiosyncratic) rules for creating transformations or regular variations of sentences. It is worthwhile describing some of the better understood transformations in Verdurian syntax.

Clause movement

Compare the English and Verdurian

E otinimaše dy Ihano e ërece čiron.
It is probable that John is really an elephant.

It might suffice simply to state that no 'it' is necessary, or even correct, in Verdurian; it matches the pattern in sentences like pluye 'it's raining.' However, a deeper explanation is that both sentences derive transformationally from a structure like

Dy Ihano e ërece čiron e otinimaše.
That John is really an elephant is probable.

Now the difference between English and Verdurian can be stated more elegantly: in both languages it is possible to front predicates such as 'probable,' 'possible,' 'desirable,' etc.; but in English there is an additional required step, that of inserting an 'it' before the subjectless verb, which is not required in Verdurian.

This class of predicates is in fact larger in Verdurian, which can say

Dy Ihano e ërece čiron parete.
*That John is really an elephant seems.

as well as the more "normal"

Parete dy Ihano e ërece čiron.
It seems that John is really an elephant.

The sentences above can be analyzed as having a subject which is itself a sentence: "[John is really an elephant] seems." Sentences can also have infinitives as subjects, and these can be inverted in the same way:

Pleran Ihanam e fasíl.
--> E fasíl pleran Ihanam.

To please John is easy.
--> It's easy to please John.

In English, another transformation is possible, yielding "John is easy to please." This construction is not possible in Verdurian, because the accusative Ihanam cannot be transformed into a nominative! Where a subordinate clause contains the same subject as the main clause, however, both English and Verdurian allow a transformation to promote the subordinate clause into an infinitive in the main clause:

Ihano čascure [Ihano plere] --> Ihano čascure pleran.
John hopes [John pleases] --> John hopes to please.

Subordination using ke

In English or Verdurian one can say

So uestu ket Ihano baďre vetra ditave šerä vinán.
The man whom John hit yesterday prefers beer to wine.

These are presumed to derive by transformation from a sentence more like

*So uestui [Ihano ileti baďre vetra] ditave šerä vinán.
*The mani [John hit himi yesterday] prefers beer to wine.

In both languages the subsidiary sentence is turned into a clause by removing the pronoun that is coreferent with the head noun, and inserting after the head a form of ke 'who' agreeing with the deleted element. (Some linguists have argued that the subclause contains a copy of the head noun; for arguments that this is not so, see McCawley, The Syntactic Phenomena of English, sec. 11.) What is notable in Verdurian is that the first step, the deletion of the pronoun, is optional:

So uestu ket Ihano ilet baďre vetra ditave šerä vinán.
*The man whom John hit him yesterday prefers beer to wine.

Such a facility is quite useful when the coreferential noun phrase is buried deep within the subordinate clause. The subordination is simple in Verdurian, but can only be handled in English, if at all, by awkward fronting processes.

*E so uestui [so piro besye esë e druk lëi er Ihanei].
--> E so uestu kë so piro besye esë e druk lë er Ihanei.

*This is the mani [my girlfriend's father is a friend of Ihano and himi].
--> *This is the man of whom my girlfriend's father is a friend of Ihano and.

Ke is used only for persons; other types of head nouns are subordinated by kio 'what'.

*Rälnai so ailurami [Alésia ileti amenne žesán].
--> Rälnai so ailuram kiom Alésia amenne žesán.

I cooked the cat which Alésia brought home.

English allows the relative pronoun to be deleted: 'The man John hit yesterday', 'the cat Alésia brought home.' This is quite illegal in Verdurian.

Ktë 'where' can be used in place of almost any locative expression.

*Tu maltrure so domi [crešru im iluni].
Tu maltrure so dom ktë crešru.

They destroyed the house where I grew up.

Verdurian allows headless relative clauses; this can be seen as a transformation which deletes the head:

Nëcto [ke zet desize] řo e kežul.
--> Ke zet desize řo e kežul.

(Someone) who drinks can't be a zealot.

Epei lelen so ctel [ke že]?
--> Epei lelen ke že?

Can you see (the person) who's coming?

Esce skadretum ečomum [ket Gaiei skadre]?
--> Esce skadretum ket skadre Gaiei?

Shall we punish (a student) whom Fate has punished?

It's frowned upon to use such a construction as a dative or genitive (*Ilet domai ke presrete, "I'll give it to whoever asks"), since there's nothing to indicate the intended case. Instead, a pronoun should be used: Ilet domai totán ke presrete.

Subordination using dy

Ke agrees in case and number (and kio in case) with the noun phrase it refers to. However, the relative pronoun may wander far from its coreferent, and it is not easy (to judge from the amount of time Verdurian teachers spend on it) to maintain the proper agreement. For this reason, perhaps, an alternative has developed: replacing the relative pronoun with dy 'that' (and retaining a personal pronoun in the proper place in the subordinate clause).

E so uestu dy so piro besye esë e druk lë er Ihanei.
(Lit.) This is the man that my girlfriend's father is a friend of him and John.

Rälnai so ailuram dy Alésia ilet amenne žesán.
(Lit.) I cooked the cat that Alésia brought it home.

Now, dy is normally used to introduce a clause serving as a subject or object (that is, a clause without a head noun): Ašu dy Aď e isu buona, "I think that God is pretty cool." For this reason, some transformationalists argue that the deep structure of all subordinate clauses contains an introductory dy, and thus that what we're seeing here is a retention of dy rather than its replacement by the relative pronoun.

Interrogative pronouns cannot be replaced with dy in this way.

The construction is permitted only for restrictive clauses. When a restrictive meaning is desired, then, Soî smerisî dy ca divrü dobrece abbosmu ("The students who learn well will succeed") will be preferred to Soî smerisî kaë divrü dobrece abbosmu, which is ambiguous between restrictive and nonrestrictive readings.

Esan inversion

Any sentence of the form X + be + Y can be inverted in Verdurian to Y + be + X. This cannot always be done in English.

Ihano e estë brune urs. John is a great brown bear.
Estë brune urs e Ihano. A great brown bear is John.

Ihano e et. John is me.
Et e Ihano. *Me is John.

Existential esan

The existence of any element in the sentence can be asserted by fronting the element, and inserting e...dy. English has a similar transformation with 'There is...' plus a relative pronoun.

So uestu pasete so urs čilán dënán.
--> E uestu dy pasete so urs čilán dënán.
--> E urs dy so uestu pasete čilán dënán.

The man visits the bear every day.
--> There is a man who visits the bear every day.
--> There is a bear whom the man visits every day.

This construction replaces certain uses of our present participle:

E sefo dy žese zdesy.
There's a boy who lives here; there's a boy living here.

E dy can be added to the sentence as a whole. It then becomes an assertion of the truth of the sentence: "This sentence is true."

Prokio so syel e azure? --E dy řo e verde.
Why is the sky blue? --It is because it is not green.

Genteel speech exploits this construction for its weakening effect: E dy vulu caue, "I would like some coffee."

In the past tense e...dy becomes esne...dy.

When the sentence itself contains esan as its main verb, you do not use the e...dy construction, but merely front the verb:

Ďinî čurî er cälië esnu im fakon.
--> Esnu ďinî čurî er cälië im fakon.

Three pears and some asparagus were in the box.
--> There were three pears and some asparagus in the box.

Esan fronting

Another type of fronting with esan simply emphasizes the fronted element. Again, English has a similar transformation, with 'It was...' plus a relative pronoun.

Ihano lelne vetra Rahela.
E Ihano ke lelne vetra Rahela.
E Rahela ket lelne vetra Ihano.
E vetra kiam Ihano lelne Rahela

John saw Rachel yesterday.
It was John who saw Rachel yesterday.
It was Rachel whom John saw yesterday.
It was yesterday that John saw Rachel.

As the last example shows, a relative pronoun must always be used in Verdurian, even where English uses the conjunction 'that'; e...dy, as we have seen, is an assertion of existence.

Such sentences can be further mutated by fronting the relative clause:

Ke lelne vetra Rahela e Ihano.
(The one) who saw Rachel yesterday was John.

Kiam Ihano lelne Rahela e vetra.
When John saw Rachel was yesterday.

In speech the fronted form of esan is always present tense; but in writing the tense should match that of the main clause. In the past tense one uses the irregular fue; esne is reserved for existential uses.

Fue so visanom ket tu prenne.
It was the scholar who they caught in the act.


As in English, whole bulky noun phrases can be moved to the front or to the rear of the sentence, leaving pronouns behind to mark their grammatical function. And as in English, the resulting sentences have a rather informal sound.

Frédrot Sevney vule pleran soi aďi.
--> Vule pleran soi aďi, Frédrot Sevney.
--> Soi aďi, Frédrot Sevney vule cam pleran.

Frédrot Sevney wants to please the gods.
--> He wants to please the gods, Frédrot Sevney. --> The gods, Frédrot Sevney wants to please them.

Identical constituent deletion

When a clause repeats part of the main clause, the redundant elements may be deleted:

Ihano lelne što, ac řo šrifao kiom [lelne].
John saw something, but I don't know what [he saw].

Ihano ditave mirtilem er Tuhon [ditave] nedizem.
John prefers blueberries and Tychon [prefers] bananas.

Negative raising

A řo from a subordinate clause serving as a propositional object may be moved to the main clause:

Ašu dy Ihano řo žanme iž nerondenán.
--> Řo ašu dy Ihano žanme iž nerondenán.

I think that John won't come till Néronden.
I don't think John will come till Néronden.

Pronoun climbing

A finite verb may govern an infinitive with object pronouns. In colloquial speech (though not in formal writing), the object pronouns show a tendency to migrate before the main verb.

Vulu ilun sfahen --> Ilun vulu sfahen.
I want to talk to him.

(Compare Spanish Quiero hablarle --> Lo quiero hablar.)

Virtual Verduria