Qári verbal morphology

An introduction to the verbal morphology of the Qári verb – revised 05 Dec 2020.

The Qári verb is inflected for realis and irrealis moods, and atelic and telic aspects. The citation form of the verb is the atelic realis form, which is the least marked and forms the inflectible stem. Up to three verbal adjectives or participles are distinguished. Voice and tense are not marked on the verb, but by means of preverbal particles, which are discussed at the end of this post.


The realis mood is unmarked.

The formation of the irrealis mood is governed by the final segment of the verb stem, as shown in the table below:

realisirrealisirrealis + telic

Again, these alternations occur relatively straightforwardly, although a few irregularities obtain which are noted in the dictionary and primarily affect those verbs whose stem ends in a consonant. A phonological quirk of the irrealis inflections is that they are always stressed, the disyllabic forms being stressed on the second vowel.


The atelic aspect is unmarked, being indicated by the bare verb stem.

The marker of the telic aspect exhibits animacy concord with the patient of a transitive verb and the subject of an intransitive verb. The animate marker is –ye and the inanimate marker is –.

In general, these attach to the verb stem without complication, although there are a few unpredictably irregular formations which are noted in the dictionary. Otherwise, there are a few predictable changes to be aware of:

  • verbs ending in e change this to i when the telic marker is added.
  • verbs ending in a consonant insert i before the telic marker.
  • verbs ending in an underlying n, such as geru ‘to steal’ have an animate marker –nye, and an inanimate marker –.
  • for changes triggered by the irrealis mood, see the section above.


Aside from the finite forms above, Qári verbs can also form up to three verbal adjectives or participles. These are the agentive, patientive and prospective participles.

The agentive participle is formed with the suffix –hi when following a vowel, and –si after a consonant. This includes verbs with an underlying final nasal, which deletes (e.g. felar gerusi ‘a thieving scribe’, not *geruhi or *gerunsi). It indicates that the noun it qualifies is the agent of the verb.

The patientive participle is formed with the suffix –ti, and indicates that the qualified noun is the patient of the verb. 

It follows that intransitive verbs will form either an agentive or a patientive participle, but not both. Unergative verbs such as uqajá ‘to walk’ form an agentive participle uqajáhi ‘walking’, while unaccusative verbs such as diyi ‘to fall’ only form a patientive participle diyiti ‘falling’.

The prospective participle (which functions somewhat like the Latin gerundive) is formed with the suffix –mi.

All of the participles change their final –i to –a– when a definite marker is added, unlike normal adjectives.

Preverbal particles

There are three classes of preverbal particles, which occur in the following order before the verb:

  • voice particles
  • polarity particles
  • tense particles

Voice particles

Qári distinguishes the active, passive and applicative voices.

The active voice in main clauses is not marked. However, in subordinate and dependent clauses, the active voice is marked with the particle i, which has the allomorph y’ before a vowel.

The passive voice is marked by the particle , which has the allomorph h’ before a vowel.

The applicative voice is marked by the particle á, which has the allomorph m’ before a vowel.

Polarity particles

There are two polarity particles:

The affirmative particle txa is facultative and when present serves a veridical function emphasising the truthfulness of the proposition.

The negative particle is ut, generally pronounced /u/ before a consonant in casual speech.

Both polarity particles are used independently as words for “yes” and “no”, respectively.

Tense particles

Qári does not mark absolute tense, but rather relative tense. There are two particles for this:

The anterior particle indicates that the event takes place before the temporal reference point.

The remote anterior particle yéyé has a similar connotation to the plain anterior particle, but indicates that the event took place a significant time before the temporal reference point.

Note that when preceded by the negative particle, we see the tense and negative particles coalesce into utxé and utxéyé.

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