Verb Conjugation
Video Lecture

Short and Long Conjugation
Video Lecture

Language Lesson - Verb Conjugation


Pronouns vs. Inflection       Vocabulary       Quiz

Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns in sentences. We use them all the time to avoid redundancy.

English Pronouns

The following statement doesn't have pronouns for Mary. Notice how repetitious it sounds:

"Mary likes to eat fry bread. Mary is fond of other foods as well. Mary's favorite snack is peanut butter and banana sandwiches."

Now we will use pronouns (words that replace nouns to avoid redundancy). Notice how at first we use Mary's name, and then we switch to pronouns:

"Mary likes to eat fry bread. She is fond of other foods as well. Her favorite snack is peanut butter and banana sandwiches."

English uses pronouns for persons being talked about. I, you, he, she, it, we and they are all pronouns.

I see the bear.
You are eating.
We were sleeping.


Potawatomi Personal Pronouns

Potawatomi have similar pronouns, but these are used when a speaker wants to place special emphasis on a person:

nin
gin
win
ninan
ginan
ginwa
winwa
I
you
he, she, or it
we, but not you
we all
you all
they

Nin, nwi-maji.
As for me, I am leaving.

I she an we, gin je?
Everything is okay, and you?


Inflection

The usual way to express who is doing what in Potawatomi is to inflect the verb by adding prefixes and suffixes. Prefixes come before the word (pre means "before", think preview, precursor, predated). Suffixes come at the end of a word. Instead of using whole words to show who the subject is, Potawatomi modifies the word with a letter or letters in front of the word (prefix), and a letter or letters at the end of the word (suffix).

O Mko nwabma.
I see the bear.

Mko gwabma.
You see a bear.

Gwisen.
You are eating.

Gwisnemen.
We are eating.

Ngi-mba.
I was sleeping.

Ngi-mbamen.
We (but not you) were sleeping.


A Look At The Vocabulary

Let’s take a look at a few of the words from our Vocabulary Builder. (After you have completed study on this page, click here to listen to the audio for this lesson's vocabulary builder.)

Bmose is a verb that means "he or she is walking". Below is a conjugated list of "bmose". Read each form and see how it changes depending on who is doing the walking.

Nbemse  I am walking 
Gbemse  you are walking 
bemose  he or she is walking 
Nbemsemen  we (but not you) are walking - exclusive 
Gbemsemen  we all are walking - inclusive 
Gbemsem  you all are walking 
bemosek  they are walking 

Notice how the "n" on the front means "I" and the "g" on the front means "you".

Also notice how the word changed from bmose to bemse when the "n" and "g" were added. This change is due to the addition of a consonant to the beginning of a word that already has two consonants in the beginning. Nbmose doesn’t work, so the word changes to nbemse. If you use the long form conjugation, this change does not occur.

Nde-bemose  I am walking 
Gde-bemose  you are walking 
Bemose  he or she is walking 
Nde-bemosemen  we (but not you) are walking - exclusive 
Gde-bemosemen  we all are walking - inclusive 
Gde-bemosem  you all are walking 
Wde-bemosek  they are walking 

Bmepto is a verb that means "he or she is running". Below is the conjugation.

Nbempeto  I am running 
Gbempeto  you are running 
Bmepto  he or she is running 
Nbempetomen  we (but not you) are running - exclusive 
Gbempetomen  we all are running - inclusive 
Gbempetom  you all are running 
Bmeptok  they are running 

Notice how the last four forms have a prefix (the part at the front) and a suffix (the added ending). This makes the words refer to more than one person - we (but not you), we all, you all, and they.

Also notice that just like Bmose, the word Bmepto changes to bempeto if you add a consonant to the beginning of the word. This is because you cannot have the three consonants together at the beginning of the word. This causes it to change. Nbmepto doesn’t work, but nbempeto does. Once again if you use the long form conjugation the word will stay as Bmepto.

Nde-bmepto  I am running 
Gde-bmepto  you are running 
bmepto  he or she is running 
Nde-bmeptomen  we (but not you) are running - exclusive 
Gde-bmeptomen  we all are running - inclusive 
Gde-bmeptom  you all are running 
Wde-bmeptok  they are running 

Pamadze is a verb meaning "he or she is traveling". Below is the conjugation of Pamadze in short and long form.

Simple Conjugation of Pabmadze

Npamades  I am traveling 
Gpamades  you are traveling 
Pamadze  he or she is traveling 
Npamadzemen  we (but not you) are traveling - exclusive 
Gpamadzemen  we all are traveling - inclusive 
Gpamadzem  you all are traveling 
Pamadzek  they are traveling 

Long Form Conjugation of Pabmadze

Nde-pamades  I am traveling 
Gde-pamades  you are traveling 
Pamadze  he or she is traveling 
Nde-pamadzemen  we (but not you) are traveling - exclusive 
Gde-pamadzemen  we all are traveling - inclusive 
Gde-pamadzem  you all are traveling 
Wde-Pamadzek  they are traveling 

Gmajimen means "lets leave". This word is made from the word "maji" which is a verb that means "he or she leaves". Below is the short form conjugated list of "maji".

nmaji  I am leaving 
gmaji  you are leaving 
maji  he or she is leaving 
nmajimen  we (but not you) are leaving - exclusive 
gmajimen  we all are leaving (let's leave)- inclusive 
gmajim  you all are leaving 
majik  they are leaving 

You can see that "gmajimen" above means "we all are leaving". This is the same as saying "let’s leave".


Short and Long Form Conjugation - a brief explanation

Short and Long form conjugation are two different ways to conjugate a verb in the present tense.

The long form has an extra "de" in the prefix. This "de" is saying, "ok, this is the present tense". The "n", the "g", and the "w" are combined with the "de" to make up the full prefix.

Long  Short 
nde-maji - i leave  nmaji - i leave 
gde-maji - you leave  gmaji - you leave 
wde-maji - he/she leaves  (w)maji - he/she leaves 
nde-majimen - we (-u) leave  nmajimen - we (-u) leave 
gde-majimen - we all leave  gmajimen - we all leave 
gde-majim - you all leave  gmajim - you all leave 
wde-majik - they leave  (w)majik - they leave 

The short form just drops that "de" and simply adds an "n", "g", or "w" to the beginning of the verbs to tell us who is doing the action. Try not to over think this. It is just two different ways to do the same thing. Some verbs in Potawatomi will only conjugate with long form conjugation, but most of the time you can do either/or as your preference dictates.