Potawatomi verbs

The four main Potawatomi verbs are animate intransitive, inanimate transitive, inanimate transitive, animate transitive, and independent and conjunct forms….

VAI verbs (animate intransitive)

These are used to make statements or ask simple questions. Someone is doing something, but it doesn’t directly affect anyone else or mention the item. Examples include “I am cleaning,” “Nde binjege”, “I went home”, “Ngi giwe”, and “They left”, “Gi majik”.

VII verbs (inanimate intransitive)

These are often adjectives in English like “It is red,” “They are red,” “It is large,” or “They are large.” Often, weather will also fall into this category. For example, “It’s cold,” or “It’s hot.”   (mskwawen i), (Mskwawek ni), (mesham i), (meshamgedonen ni), (ksenyamget or Gzhatemget).

VTI verbs (inanimate transitive)

Use these verbs when a person acts with or on an item. Once you mention the item, you use this type of verb. For example, “I see it, the chair,” or “I pick it up, that table.”  (ndewabdan I jibtebwen, nmamgenan I dopwen).

VTA verbs (animate transitive)

This is when someone interacts with someone animate. For instance, “I told them,” “They told us,” or “We saw her or him.”  (Ngi widmoashek, wgi wabmawak).

VAI verbs (independent form)

Use this form when making basic statements and asking simple yes or no questions like, “Are you hungry?” or “Did they leave?”  (gbekte ne, gi majiwat ne).

Gi– past, wi– future

Nmaji: I leave

Ngi maji: I left

Nwi maji: I will leave

Gmaji: You leave

Maji: He or she leaves

Obviative: Majin: leave

Nmajimen: We – you leave   (Exclu)

Gmajimen: We all leave   (Inclu)

Gmajim: You all leave

Majik: They leave

Conjunct form  (dependent form)

This is used when asking more complicated questions such as who, what, when and where as well as when there are two verbs in a sentence. The second verb is often put into the conjunct form.

Egi or ga– past, ewi or wa– future

Ga and Wa are subordinate tense markers that are used in questions and to supply information.

Majiyan: I leave
Majiyen: You leave
Majit or majiwak: He or she leaves
Majiyak: We – you leave
Majiygo: We all leave
Majiyek: You all leave
Majiwat: They leave

Other AI verbs
Binchege — he/she cleans
Giwe — he/she goes home
Kikto — talk he/she does

Ngom nwi-majimen. — We are leaving today.  (ninan)
Today n-men means “we” but not when speaking directly to the person; for example: Maji — leave

Ngom gwi majimen —-We are all leaving today. (ginan)
Nago ne ggi-maji?: Did you leave yesterday?
Ni je pi wa majiyek?: When are you all leaving? (conjunct)
Ni pi je ga binchgeyen?: Where did you clean?  (conjunct)
Giwek: They are going home.
Gi giwek: They went home.
Wi giwek: They are going to go home.
Giwek ne?: Are they going home?
Wabek ne wi giwek?: Are they going to go home tomorrow?
Konege, wabek wi giwek.: Yes, they are going home tomorrow.
Ni je wi ga majit (wak) o kwe?: Why did that woman leave? (he or she)
We ni je giwet (wak)?: Who’s going home? (he or she)

Other tense markers:









Dependent or subordinate:






Da gi          should have happened

Da she       must really have to happen

Author: neaseno

I was born on Powers Bluff in Wood County, Wisconsin, into a traditional community of Neshnabek. I was raised speaking only native languages, and learned to speak English upon entering school at the age of 6. As of this writing, I am one of 5 remaining Heritage Fluent Speakers of Potawatomi.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s