Locatives, verbs and such


In Potawatomi, you can take a noun and turn it into a “locative.”  The meaning of the “locative” form can range from “at the ____”, “in the ____”, “on the ___”,”near the ___”, “by the _____”, etc.  There are other words that give specific locations.

Noun                                                 Locative

Dopwen (table)                               Dopwenek

Wawabmowen (mirror)               Wawabmonek

Mbagen (bed)                                 Mbagnek

Wigwam (house)                            Wigwamek

Dabyan (car)                                    Dabyanek

Waséjgen (window)                      Waséjgenek

Taswen (closet or cabinet)          Taswenek

Shkemot (bag)                                Shkemotek

Gokbenagen (basket)                    Gokbenagnek

Shkwadém (door)                          Shkwadémek

Mbes (lake)                                      Mbesek

Zibi (river)                                        Zibik

Mtegwaki (forest)                          Mtegwakik

Shkwengen (reservation)            Shkwengenek

Odan (town)                                    Odanek

Tkep (spring)                                   Tkepik

Gtegan (garden)                             Gteganek


Some words to express “no” in Potawatomi are:

            No                                           Cho

            No way                                  Cho wi

            Impossible                            Chomamda

            Not yet                                  Chomshe

            Never                                     Cho wika

            Nothing                                 Cho gégo

            No one                                  Cho weye

            Nowhere (anywhere)       Cho ngoji

When using this word with verbs, use a “si” with the verb if the verb itself is negative (to express don’t or not).


            Cho ngi wisnesi                               No, I didn’t eat

            Chomshe ngi wisnesi                    No, I didn’t eat yet

            Chomamda nwi byasi ngom       I can’t come today (it’s impossible)

            Cho gégo ngi zhechkési                I didn’t do anything

            Cho weye gi nibwesi ibe               No one stood there

            Cho ngoji ngi zhyasi                      I didn’t go anywhere

For verbs that have a suffix (we, y’all, and they), the “si” goes before the suffix.

            Cho ngi wisnesimen                       No, we (-) didn’t eat

            Chomshe ngi majisimen               We (-) haven’t left yet

            Chomamda gwi nim’edisimen    We (+) can’t dance (it’s impossible)

            Chomamda gwi bmadgésim        You all can’t swim (it’s impossible)

            Cho wika migadisik                        They never fight

Types of Verbs

Animate Action Verbs – Independent Indicative

Simply put, this is the one subject, one verb sentence.  I go, I walk, I run.  This basic pattern is one that you will need to recognize as we go forward.

Independent Indicative Verbs – The Short Form

            Nin (I)                         N + verb

            Gin (you)                  G + verb

            Win (he/she)           verb

            Ninan (we – )            N + verb + men

            Ginan (we + )           G + verb + men

            Ginwa (you pl.)       G + verb + m

            Winwa (they)          verb + k

Verbs that end in “é” are the most common and the easiest to work with:

            Ngiwé                        I go home

            Ggiwé                        You go home

            Giwé                          He/she goes home

            Ngiwémen                We (-) go home

            Ggiwémen                We (+) go home

            Ggiwém                    You (pl.) go home

            Giwék                        They go home

“I” verbs are formed in this example:

            Nmikchéwi               I work

            Gmikchéwi               You work

            Mikchéwi                  He/she works

            Nmikchéwimen      We (-) work

            Gmikchéwimen      We (+) work

            Gmikchéwim           You (pl.) work

            Mikchéwik               They work

“O” verbs are formed as in this example:

            Nked                          I say

            Gked                          You say

            Kedo                          He/she says

            Nkedmen                  We (-) say

            Gkedmen                  We (+) say

            Gkedom                    You say (pl)

            Kedwik                      They say

Here are some irregular verbs:

            Nzhya                        I go

            Gzhya                        You go

            Zhyé                           He/she goes

            Nzhyamen                We (-) go

            Gzhyamen                We (+) go

            Gzhyam                    You (pl.) go

            Zhyék                         They go

            Nbya                          I come

            Gbya                          You come

            Byé                             He/she comes

            Nbyamen                  We (-) come

            Gbyamen                  We (+) come

            Gbyam                      You (pl) come

            Byék                           They come

            Ndodma                    I smoke

            Gdodma                    You smoke

            Wdemé                     He/she smokes

            Ndodmamen           We (-) smoke

            Gdodmamen           We (+) smoke

            Gdodmam                You (pl.) smoke

            Wdemék                   They smoke

Nwisen                      I eat

            Gwisen                      You eat

            Wisne                        He/she eats

            Nwisnemen              We (-) eat

            Gwisnemen              We (+) eat

            Gwisnem                  You (pl.) eat

            Wisnik                       They eat

            Njibtep                      I sit

            Gjibtep                      You sit

            Jibtebe                       He/she sits

            Njibtebmen              We (-) sit

            Gjibtebmen              We (+) sit

            Gjibtebem                You (pl) sit

            Jibtebwak                 They sit

            Nnibwe                     I stand

            Gnibwe                     You stand

            Nibwe                        He/she stands

            Nnibwemen             We (-) stand

            Gnibwemen             We (+) stand

            Gnibwem                  You (pl.) stand

            Nibwek                      They stand

            Nbos                          I ride

            Gbos                          You ride

            Bose                           He/she rides

            Nbosmen                  We (-) ride

            Gbosmen                  We (+) ride

            Gbosem                    You (pl.) ride

            Boswik                       They ride

Additional suffixes…

-wak, -wek, and –wik often appear at the end of Win and Winwa verb forms. 

Animate Descriptive Verbs

These are often a surprise to learners, because most of these verbs would be considered adjectives in English.  They are verbs of being in a state of something.  Here are some examples of Verbs that describe the state of being of an Animate Subject:

  1. Bkedé                                                To be Hungry
  2. Gashknabagwé                               To be Thirsty
  3. Mbiwé                                               To be Wet
  4. Kébigwé                                            To be Blind
  5. Dépseni                                             To be Full (of food)
  6. Bigéje                                                 To be Cold
  7. Wizhge                                              To be Strong (physical)
  8. Mgegeno                                          To be Large
  9. Gachiye                                             To be Small
  10. Békadze                                            To be Calm/Patient
  11. Zegze                                                 To be Afraid
  12. Yabyétze                                           To be Lazy
  13. Bmadze                                             To be Alive
  14. Zhewébze                                         To happen to someone
  15. Gkadze                                              To be Rich
  16. Gdemagze                                        To be Poor
  17. Ninoze                                               To be Weak
  18. Mishkweze                                       To be Strong (emotional/spiritual)
  19. Minwewze                                       To be Ambitious/Hardworking
  20. Mamkaze                                         To be Surprised
  21. Kyébatze                                           To be Naughty/Foolish
  22. Ntagze                                               To be Sad
  23. Shkadze                                            To be Angry
  24. Nodagwze                                        To be Noisy
  25. Akwadze                                           To be Anxious

Verbs 1 – 9 are formed more like Animate Action Verbs, while verbs 10-25, ending with –ze, have their own unique conjugation pattern. 

            Nbekté                                  I am hungry

            Gbekté                                  You are hungry

            Bkedé                                    He/she is hungry

            Nbektémen                          We (-) are hungry

            Gbektémen                          We (+) are hungry

            Gbektém                               You all are hungry

            Bkedék                                  They are hungry

            Ngashknabagwé                 I am thirsty

            Ggashknabagwé                 You are thirsty

            Gashknabagwé                   He/she is thirsty

            Ngashknabagwémen        We (-) are thirsty

            Ggashknabagwémen        We (+) are thirsty

            Ggashknabagwém             You all are thirsty

            Gashknabagwék                 They are thirsty

            Nbigéj                                    I am cold

            Gbigéj                                    You are cold

            Bigéje                                     He/she is cold

            Nbigéjmen                           We (-) are cold

            Gbigéjmen                           We (+) are cold

            Gbigéjem                              You all are cold

            Bigéjek                                  They are cold

            Ngachi                                   I am small

            Ggachi                                   You are small

            Gachiye                                 He/she is small

            Ngachimen                           We (-) are small

            Ggachimen                           We (+) are small

            Ggachim                               You all are small

            Gachiyek                               They are small

-ze Verb Conjugation

When the first sound in a double consonant is muted, that means that they are blended together so the second sound is prominent.  If a word ending with a vowel comes before that word, you hear both sounds clearly.

            Nbmades                                          I am alive

            Gbmades                                          You are alive

            Bmadze                                             He/she is alive

            Nbmadsemen                                  We (-) are alive

            Gbmadsemen                                  We (+) are alive

            Gbmadsim                                        You all are alive

            Gbmadzik                                         They are alive

            Nshkades                                          I am angry

            Gshkades                                          You are angry

            Shkadze                                            He/she is angry

            Nshkadsemen                                 We (-) are angry

            Gshkadsemen                                 We (+) are angry

            Gshkadsim                                       You all are angry

            Shkadzik                                           They are angry

            Ntages                                               I am sad

            Gtages                                               You are sad

            Tagze                                                 He/she is sad

            Ntagsemen                                       We (-) are sad

            Gtagsemen                                       We (+) are sad

            Gtagsim                                             You all are sad

            Gtagzik                                              They are sad

            Ngedmages                                      I am poor

            Gedmages                                        You are poor

            Gdemagze                                        He/she is poor

            Ngedmagsemen                             We (-) are poor

            Ggedmagsemen                             We (+) are poor

            Ggedmagsim                                   You all are poor

            Gdemagzik                                       They are poor

Other orders…


            Cho ntagzesi                                    I’m not sad

            Cho nshkadzesi                               I’m not angry

            Cho she yabyétzesi o                     He/she is really not lazy

            Cho ngekadzesimen                      We (-) are not rich

            Cho gi kyébatzesik gnijansek      Your children were not naughty


            Bémadzet                                         The living one

            Bémadsejek                                     The living ones (people)

            Békadzet                                           The calm one

            Békadsejek                                       The calm ones

            Békdét                                               The hungry one

            Békdéjek                                           The hungry ones

            Kyébatzet                                         The naughty ones

            Kyébatsejek                                     The naughty ones


            Gi migadiwik gi bémadsejek égi nshkadsewat

                        Those people were fighting that were angry

            Gi nshkadzik gi bémadsejek égi migadiwat

                        Those people were angry who were fighting

            Odanek nwi zhyamen éwi kyébatsiygo

                        We (-) will go to town to be naughty

            Bmadgé o gigabé égmegishek éwi wizhget

                        That boy swims everyday to be strong (physically)

Text Box: N + verb 
G + verb
N + verb + men
G + verb + men
G + verb + m
Verb + k
Conjugation of verbs ending in -wé and yé

Giwé – to go home

Wébiwé – to run away

Mnekwé – to drink

Giskonyé – to get undressed

Biskonyé – to get dressed

Ngiwé            N + giwé                    I go home

Ggiwé            G + giwé                    You go home

Giwé              Giwé                          He/she goes home

Ngiwémen    N + giwé + men       We– go home

Ggiwémen    G + giwé + men       We+ go home

Ggiwém        G + giwé + m            Y’all go home

Giwék            giwé + k                     They go home

Nwébiwé                              N + wébiwé              I run away

Gwébiwé                              G + wébiwé              You run away

Wébiwé                                Wébiwé                    He/she runs away

Nwébiwémen                      N + webiwé + men             We- run away

Gwébiwémen                      G + wébiwé  + men            We+ run away

Gwébiwém                          G + wébiwé + m                  Y’all run away        

Wébiwék                              wébiwé + k                           They run away

Ngiskonyé                N + giskonyé                        I get dressed

Ggiskonyé                 G + giskonyé                        You get dressed

Giskonyé                   giskonyé                               He/she gets dressed

Ngiskonyémen        N + giskonyé + men           We- get dressed

Ggiskonyémen        G + giskonyé + men           We+ get dressed

Ggiskonyém             G + giskonyé + m                Y’all get dressed

Giskonyék                 giskonyé + k                         They get dressed

What do these mean?





Ggiwém ne?


Gbiskonyé ne?


Wébiwék gi nemoshek

Gmnekwé ne?



Nmnekwé                                         I am drinking/I drink

Biskonyék                                         They are getting dressed/they get dressed

Nwébiwémen                                  We- are running away/we- run away

Ggiskonyémen                                We+ are getting undressed/we+ get dressed

Ggiwém ne?                                    Are y’all going home?/do y’all go home?

Mnekwék                                         They are drinking/they drink

Gbiskonyé ne?                                Are you getting dressed?/do you get dressed?

Nmnekwémen                                We- are drinking/we- drink

Wébiwék gi nemoshek                 Those dogs are running away

Those dogs run away

Gmnekwé ne?                                 Are you drinking?/do you drink?

Ggiwémen                                        We+ are going home/we+ go home

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.

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