Inflectional Verbal Morphology

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Verbs in Sereer are inflected for person and number agreement, negation, tense and aspect, and a number of other categories. Inflectional morphemes are strictly ordered as follows:


Subject clitic




Past imperfect

Conditional "if"






xan, fat, bar

(i)n, (u)m, i
o, nu
a, te, de


-', -k



-ee(r), -ir, -(i)i

-e, -el, -eel




#Verb Paradigm


Subject Marking

Sereer verbs agree in person and number with their subject. The language exhibits three subject agreement patterns, the use of which depends on morphological factors discussed below. In addition to these suffixes and clitics, number agreement is indicated by initial consonant mutation, with unmutated verb forms agreeing with singular subjects, and nasal grade verb forms agreeing with plural subjects.

Basic marking

Basic subject marking:
Gloss Sereer Gloss Sereer
1SG -(u)m 1PL i=
2SG -(o) 2PL nu=
3SG a= 3PL a=

The vowels of the 1st and 2nd singular subject suffixes are assimilated to a preceding vowel (specifically the 'default vowel' -a and the passive -e), yielding a long vowel.

Strong marking

The set of "strong" subject markers is used in contexts such as subordinate clauses, relative clauses, and switch-referent situations.

"Strong" subject marking:
Gloss Sereer Gloss Sereer
1SG in/=n, (u)m 1PL i=
2SG o= 2PL nu=
3SG te= 3PL de=

The third person strong clitics te= and de= can optionally co-occur with the basic third person clitic a=, though this configuration surfaces relatively infrequently.

  1. bugaam te (a) ñaam
    bug-aa-m te= a= ñaam want-DV-1s 3s 3s eat
    'I want him to eat.'

The two first person singular strong clitics are semantically equivalent, and used in free variation. The free allomorph m of um is notable for being the only syllabic nasal in the language.

  1. a buga (u)m ret
    a bug-a (u)m ret 3 want-DV 1s go
    'He wants me to go.'
  1. (u)m yer?
    (u)m yer 1s drink
    'Can I drink?'

The allomorph =n of in is not syllabic, and is enclitic on an immediately preceding vowel-final word.

  1. a bugan ret
    a bug-a=n ret 3 want-DV=1s go
    'He wants me to go.'
  1. in ret a bugu
    in ret a bug-u 1s go 3 want-FOC
    'He wants me to go.'

Mixed marking

A third pattern of subject agreement is used with the conditional -ang, as well as constructions with the auxiliaries xan, fat, and bar. This third pattern is termed "mixed" as it makes use of agreement clitics taken from both of the other two agreement patterns. Note the absence of any overt marker for the first person singular.

Mixed subject marking:
Gloss Sereer Gloss Sereer
1SG Ø 1PL i=
2SG o= 2PL nu=
3SG a= 3PL a=


Negation is expressed by verbal suffixes of the form -ee(r), -i(r), -ii. These allomorphs are not strictly phonologically conditioned. The negative suffix appears closer to the root than subject or object marking suffixes. The negative marker co-occurring with the singular subject agreement morphemes are given below. The third person agreement proclitic a= does not appear with negative verbs, unless the verb is also inflected for extraction or conditionality (see below). In all cases, the plural forms of negative-marked verbs differ from the third person singular only in the agreement proclitic (for 1st and 2nd pl.), and initial consonant mutation.

Negative marking:
Gloss Sereer
1SG -ii-m
2SG -ir-o
3SG -ee(r)


Verb forms are either finite or non-finite. A verb form is finite if it contains one of four morphemes: the "default vowel" -a, the extraction marker -u, the passive suffix -e, or the negative suffix -eer (or any of their allomorphs). The "default vowel" (glossed DV) appears in a variety of finite verb forms, and caries no consistent semantic information other than finiteness. It has an allomorph -aa when immediately preceding a vowel-intial suffix (specifically -um "1s subject", -o "2s subject -in "3s object", and ong "2s object"), due to the assimilation of these vowels to the preceding -a.

Non-finite forms

There are two types of non-finite verb forms; infinitives and progressive participles. The infinitive is the bare verb stem. The progressive participle is formed by affixing the suffix -aa (glossed PROG) to the stem, though when co-occuring with an object marker, the allomorph -a appears. Though object, passive, tense, and aspect suffixes can appear on the both types of non-finite verbs, subject agreement suffixes cannot, nor can they inflect for negation. Subject agreement proclitics (both basic and strong) can occur on non-finite forms, for example in subordinate clauses. Non-finite forms always exhibit initial consonant mutation to agree with their subject, if one exists. Non-finite verb forms can serve as the subject or object of clauses. They are often preceded by the non-finite particle o (glossed INF), though not obligatorily.

  1. a mbar-a (o) maafir
    a mbar-a o maaf-ir 3 INF fall-RECIP
    'They had to wrestle'
  1. bugaam o jawaa maalo
    bug-aa-m o jaw-aa maalo want-DV-1s INF cook-PROG rice
    'I want to be cooking rice OR I like cooking rice'

Non-finite forms with strong agreement

Non-finite verb forms can appear with the strong agreement clitics...

Non-finite forms with mixed agreement

Non-finite forms are used with the mixed agreement pattern to indicate...


Imperative forms exist for second person adressees only. The singular imperative is formed with the suffix -i, and the plural imperative with the suffixes -y-o. Note that object markers intervene between the suffixes -y and -o.

Imperative marking:
Gloss Sereer
2SG -i
2PL -y-o

The forms discussed so far are given below for the verb fal "kick."

Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 falaam i mbala 1 faliim i mbalee(r)
2 falaa nu mbala 2 faliro nu mbalee(r)
3 a fala a mbala 3 falee(r) mbalee(r)
Infinitive fal mbal
Prog. Part. falaa mbalaa
Imperative fali mbalyo

Object Marking

Incorporated object pronouns ("object markers") exist as suffixes for singular objects. These suffixes directly precede the subject suffix, if one present.

The first person singular object marker is -aam after a consonant and -xam after a vowel.

kick me
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 1
2 falaxamo nu mbalaxam 2 faliraamo nu mbaliraam
3 a falaxam a mbalaxam 3 faliraam mbaliraam
Infinitive falaam mbalaam
Prog. Part. falaxam mbalaxam
Imperative falaam mbalyaamo

The second person singular object marker is -(o)ng. The form that appears with a 1st singular subject and 2nd singular object (-aaxong) is idiosyncratic.

kick you
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 falaaxong i mbalaang 1 falirong i mbalirang
2 2
3 a falaang a mbalaang 3 falirang mbalirang
Infinitive falong mbalong
Prog. Part. falang mbalang

The third person singular object marker is -(i)n. Note the allomorphs of the imperative suffixes that occur when alongside this object marker.

kick him
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 falaanum i mbalaan 1 falinum i mbaliran
2 falaano nu mbalaan 2 falino nu mbaliran
3 a falaan a mbalaan 3 faliran mbaliran
Infinitive falin mbalin
Prog. Part. falan mbalan
Imperative faleen (mbalyeeno)

Free Object Pronouns

Free pronouns exist in addition to the incorporated object pronouns (object markers) discussed above.

Free object pronouns:
Gloss Sereer Gloss Sereer
1SG mi' 1PL 'in(o)
2SG wo' 2PL nuun
3SG ten 3PL den(o)

These free pronouns can be used in either object or subject position. When used as a subject, they do not take the place of the subject agreement clitic or suffix, as these are truly agreement markers. When used as an object, these free pronouns do take the place of the object markers, as the object markers are truly incorporated pronouns. Use of a free pronoun is the only way to express a plural pronominal object. For singular objects, if there is only one object, the object suffix must be used. When there are multiple singular objects, one must be represented as an object suffix and the rest must be free pronouns.


Reflexivity is indicated by use of the noun xoox (sg.) a qoox (pl.) "head/self," along with the appropriate possessor (possessive adjective for a singular participant, free pronoun in genitive position for a plural participant). It is in general preceded by the animate object marking preposition a.

Reflexive pronouns:
Gloss Sereer Gloss Sereer
1SG xoox es 1PL a qoox 'in
2SG xoox of 2PL a qoox nuun
3SG xoox um 3PL a qoox den

Position of object pronouns

In complex clauses, such as those involving the verb bug "want" or ɓaat "do again," the object pronoun, whether incorporated (object marker), or free, can appear on (after) either the higher or lower verb. The former configuration (on/after the higher verb) is generally preferred, despite the fact that the object is truly that of the lower verb.

  1. bugaam o warong 
    bug-aa-m o war-ong want-DV-1s INF kill-2s.obj
    'I want to kill you.'
  1. bugaaxong o war
    bug-aaxong o war want-DV.1s.sub+2s.obj INF kill
    'I want to kill you.'
  1. ɓaataa (o) foon a 'in
    ɓaat-a-o o foon a 'in add-DV-2s INF kiss OBJ 1p
    'You kiss us again.'
  1. ɓaataa (a) 'in o foon
    ɓaat-a-o (a) 'in o foon add-DV-2s obj 1pl INF kiss
    'You kiss us again.'

This pattern of "object shift" is also attested with the verbs faañ 'refuse', weec 'forget', and waag 'know how to, be able to'. Examples are shown below:

  1. a waaga o ñaamin 
    a waag-a o ñaam-in 3 INF eat-3s.obj
    'He knows how to eat it.'
  1. a waagaan o ñaam
    a waag-aa-n o ñaam 3 INF eat
    'He knows how to eat it.'
  1. a weeca (o) foonong 
    a weec-a o foon-ong 3 forget-DV INF kiss-2s.obj
    'He forgot to kiss you.'
  1. a weecaang o foon
    a weec-aa-ng o foon 3 forget-DV-2s.obj INF kiss
    'He forgot to kiss you.'
  1. a faaña o waraam 
    a faañ-a o war-aam 3 refuse-DV INF kill-1s.obj
    'He refused to kill me'
  1. a faañaxam o waraam 
    a faañ-a-xam o war 3 refuse-DV-1s.obj INF kill
    'He refused to kill me'

When two of these verbs are present followed by another verb, it is possible for the object pronoun to shift to any of them:

  1. a buga  (o) waag o ñaamin 
    a bug-a o waag o ñaam-in 3 want-DV INF INF eat-3s.obj
    'He wants to know how to eat it.'
  1. a buga  (o) waagin o ñaam
    a bug-a o waag-in o ñaam 3 want-DV INF INF eat
    'He wants to know how to eat it.'
  1. a bugaan  o waag o ñaam
    a bug-aa-n o waag o ñaam 3 want-DV-3s.obj INF INF eat
    'He wants to know how to eat it.'

Focus extraction marking

In cases of focus extraction, different forms of the verb appear. These are marked by the suffix -u, which has a zero allomorph when preceding a vowel-initial suffix. This suffix -u takes the place of the default vowel -a. In addition to subject marking, these extraction forms of the verb can include negative marking and object marking. In cases of subject extraction, the verb shows no agreement affixes (though it does exhibit the proper mutation for number agreement). The rows marked with "S" in the paradigms below indicate these subject-extraction forms. When some other element is extracted, the verb does exhibit subject agreement. Note that non-finite forms cannot take extraction morphology.

kick (w/ extraction)
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 falum i mbalu 1 faleerum i mbaleeru
2 falo nu mbalu 2 faleero nu mbaleeru
3 a falu a mbalu 3 a faleeru a mbaleeru
S falu mbalu S faleeru mbaleeru
kick me (w/ extraction)
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 1
2 falaxamo nu mbalaxam 2 faleeraxamo nu mbaleeraxam
3 a falaxam a mbalaxam 3 a faleeraxam a mbaleeraxam
S falaxam mbalaxam S faleeraxam mbaleeraxam
kick you (w/ extraction)
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 falong i mbalong 1 faleerong i mbaleerong
2 2
3 a falong a mbalong 3 a faleerong a mbaleerong
S falong mbalong S faleerong mbalelerong
kick him (w/ extraction)
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 falanum i mbalun 1 faleeranum i mbaleerun
2 falano nu mbalun 2 faleerano nu mbaleerun
3 a falun a mbalun 3 a faleerun a mbaleerun
S falun mbalun S faleerun mbaleerun


The passive forms of the verb are formed with the suffix -(e)e. The passive infinitive if marked by the suffix -el, and the passive progressive participle by -eel. Object markers cannot appear on passive forms of the verb. Any object that is present must be expressed as a free pronoun or NP. Negative forms of passive verbs take the suffix -aand, which co-occurs with the passive suffix only in first and second singular forms. When the suffix -aand appears word finally, it generally appears as the allomorph -aan, though -aand is marginally acceptable word-finally.

Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 faleem i mbale 1 falaandeem i mbalaan(d)
2 falee nu mbale 2 falaandee nu mbalaan(d)
3 a fale a mbale 3 falaan(d) mbalaan(d)
Infinitive falel mbalel
Prog. Part. faleel mbaleel

There are no imperative passive forms. To express an imperative passive meaning, the auxiliary fat must be used.

  1. fat o nafel
    fat o= naf-el OBLIG 2s hit-PASS.INF
    'Get hit! ("You must be hit")'

Passive forms can appear in cases of focus extraction, but exhibit no distinct marking compared to the non-extraction forms.


  1. nafteem no mbind ne
    naf-t-ee-m no mbind n-e hit-APPL-PASS-1s in house DET-DEF
    'I was hit in the house.'


  1. no mbind ne nafteem
    no mbind n-e naf-t-ee-m in house DET-DEF hit-APPL-PASS-1s
    'In the house I was hit.'

Even the absence of the third person proclitic a= is shared by both non-extraction and (non-subject) extraction forms of negative passive verbs, whereas in all active paradigms, the negative extraction form has a= in contrast to the negative non-extraction form.

Active negative focus construction, ungrammatical without a=

  1. no mbind ne a falteeru 'in
    no mbind n-e a= fal-t-eer-u 'in in house DET-DEF 3 kick-APPL-NEG-FOC us
    'In the house he didn't kick us'

Passive negative focus construction, ungrammatical with a=

  1. no mbind ne falaand
    no mbind n-e fal-aand in house DET-DEF kick-PASS.NEG(.FOC)
    'In the house he wasn't kicked'

Relative marking

Relative Clauses include relativized forms of the verb, marked with the suffix -(ii)(n)a. This suffix combines with subject and object markers very idiosyncratically. These relative forms appear in two principle contexts: relative clauses, and following y- words (e.g. ye, ya, yaaga) "when/while." In a subject-headed relative clause (e.g. 'the man that kicked'), no subject agreement is present. These forms are given in the tables below in the rows marked "S".

that (__) kick(s)
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 faluuma i mbalna 1 faleeruuma i mbaleerna
2 faloona nu mbalna 2 faleeroona nu mbaleerna
3 te falna de mbalna 3 te faleerna de mbaleerna
S falna mbalna S faleerna mbaleerna

Relative verb forms including object markers are given below:

that/when (__) kick(s) me
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 1
2 falaxoona nu mbalaxama 2 (faleeraxoona) (nu mbaleeraxama)
3 te falaxama de mbalaxama 3 (te faleeraxama) (de mbaleeraxama)
S falaxama mbalaxama S faleeraxama mbaleeraxama

that/when (__) kick(s) you
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 in faloonga i mbaloonga 1 (in faleeroonga) (i mbaleeroonga)
2 2
3 te faloonga de mbaloonga 3 (te faleeroonga) (de mbaleeroonga)
S faloonga mbaloonga S faleeroonga mbaleeroonga

that/when (__) kick(s) him
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 falanuuma i mbaluuna 1 (faleeranuuma) (i mbaleeruuna)
2 falanoona nu mbaluuna 2 (faleeranoona) (nu mbaleeruuna)
3 te faluuna de mbaluuna 3 (te faleeruuna) (de mbaleeruuna)
S faluuna mbaluuna S faleeruuna mbaleeruuna

Passive verb forms can also be relativized.

that/when (__) am/are/is kicked
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 faleema i mbaleena 1 falaandeema i mbalaandeena
2 falee'oona nu mbaleena 2 falaandeena nu mbalaandeena
3 te faleena de mbaleena 3 te falaandeena de mbalaandeena
S faleena mbaleena S falaandeena mbalaandeena

The allomorph -iina of the relative suffix appears when co-occuring with the tense/aspect suffixes -' (past), -k (future), and -eeg (past imperfect) (see below).

Conditional marking

The suffix -ang is used to express conditionality (o falanga "if you kick"). Conditional verbs take the "mixed" subject agreement pattern. These verb forms cannot appear in isolation, and require the presence of some other clause to indicate what happens if the condition is met.

if (__) kick(s)
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 falanga i mbalanga 1 falangee i mbalangee
2 o falanga nu mbalanga 2 o falangee nu mbalangee
3 a falanga a mbalanga 3 a falangee a mbalangee

Conditional forms can appear with object marking:

if (__) kick(s) me
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 1
2 o falangaam nu mbalangaam 2 o falangiraam nu mbalangiraam
3 a falangaam a mbalangaam 3 a falangiraam a mbalangiraam

if (__) kick(s) you
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 falangang i mbalangang 1 falangirang i mbalangirang
2 2
3 a falangang a mbalangang 3 a falangirang a mbalangirang

if (__) kick(s) him
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 falangan i mbalangan 1 falangiran i mbalangiran
2 o falangan nu mbalangan 2 o falangiran nu mbalangiran
3 a falangan a mbalangan 3 a falangiran a mbalangiran

And in the passive:

if (__) am/are/is kicked
Positive sg. pl. Negative sg. pl.
1 falangee i mbalangee 1 falangaan(d) i mbalangaan(d)
2 o falangee nu mbalangee 2 o falangaan(d) nu mbalangaan(d)
3 a falangee a mbalangee 3 a falangaan(d) a mbalangaan(d)

Note that without negation, the conditional passive paradigm is homophonous with the conditional active negative paradigm.

Tense and aspect

All examples given thus far have been in a "default" tense and aspect, marked by the suffix -a. The suffix -a is often interpreted as a present tense, perfective aspect, but when occurring with other tense and aspect auxiliaries and/or suffixes, these readings may be overwritten.

There are three tense/aspect suffixes which attach directly after the stem. All of the finite forms listed above can take these tense/aspect suffixes, as can the infinitive. The progressive participle cannot take these suffixes.

Tense/aspect suffixes:
Gloss Sereer
Past -'
Future -k
Past imperfect -eeg
Past conditional -k-eeg

The future suffix -k is transparently related to the itive extension -ik. However, the two suffixes are distinct. It is possible for them to co-occur. -' cannot co-occur with either -k or -eeg.

The past conditional suffix -k-eeg ("would have __") is composed of the future and past imperfect suffixes, but as its meaning is very much non-compositional given the meaning of these two suffixes, it would be possible to analyze -keeg as a single suffix.

  1. ret'angee maaga, xonkeegaam
    ret-'-ang-ee m-aaga xon-keeg-aa-m go-PST-if-NEG there die-PST.COND-DV-1s
    'If I hadn't gone there, I would have died.'

The precise semantics of these tense/aspect affixes is discussed in Tense and Aspect. The first person singular forms of fal "kick" are given below with each of these tense/aspect suffixes:

Basic subject marking:
Gloss Sereer
I kicked fal'aam
I will kick falkaam
I was kicking faleegaam
I would have kicked falkeegaam

When appearing on an infinitive verb form, the final tense/aspect suffix exhibits an allomorph with an extra vowel: -'u, -ik, -eegu. The u present in these allomorphs is not to be confused with the extraction marker -u.

Infinitive forms with tense/aspect marking:
Gloss Sereer
to have kicked fal'u
to go kick falik
to have been kicking faleegu
to have gone to kick fal'ik

Complex Constructions

In addition to the "tenses" described above, there are a number of complex TAM (tense, aspect, mood) constructions formed by the use of various auxiliaries, generally consisting of an auxiliary followed by a non-finite verb form.

The copula -xe

The copula -xe is inflected irregularly for subject agreement, and can take no other inflection. Unlike the agreement proclitics for main verbs, the agreement markers on -xe are synchronically best analyzed as prefixes, as they form a single stress-domain with their base, from which proclitics are excluded. Compare in= fí' "I (str.) do" with ín-we "we are". In this second example, there is regular penultimate stress on the prefix, but in the first, penultimate stress is impossible, as the proclitic is excluded from the domain of stress assignment. For the second singular, the forms wexe and woxe are in free variation, though wexe seems to occur much more frequently.

The copula -xe:
Gloss Sereer Gloss Sereer
1SG me-xe 1PL in-we
2SG we-xe / wo-xe 2PL nun-we
3SG a-xe 3PL a-we

These forms are historically derived from the combination of a free pronoun and a relative operator (thus historically, *in we mbal-aa "we who (are) kicking"). A vestige of this origin is the fact that the copula has a rarely encountered alternate form xa/wa (e.g. in the phrase awa maa "they are fine"). There do not exist any other forms of the copula based on other forms of the relative pronoun (-aaga, -eek, etc.).

This copular verb can appear in a construction whereby a lexical verb form directly follows it. Most commonly, it is followed by a progressive participle, as shown in (27).

  1. mexe ñaamaa maalo
    me= xe ñaam -aa 1s= COP eat -PROG
    'I am eating. (101)'

However, it is also possible for finite verbs to occur in this position as seen in (28), as well as with bare roots in clause-linking constructions, shown in (29). These constructions cannot contain negation, because xe is a positive polarity auxiliary.

  1. wil es axe ɓalga xaye
    wil es a= xe ɓalig -a xaye hair 3POSS 3= COP -DV today
    'My hair is black today. (269)'
  1. axe moof
    a= xe moof 3= COP be.seated
    'He is seated. (310a)'

Furthermore, this finite main verbs can be in the past progressive suffix, as shown in (30). No other tense/aspect affixes, the past tense -' or the future tense -ik can appear on a verb in this construction. It is likely that the acceptability of xe with the past progressive is because of its aspectual content, in spite of its tense marking.

  1. axe jaweega
    a= xe jaw -eeg -a 3= COP cook -P.IMP -DV
    'He was cooking. (140)'

Most constructions that contain xe are translated as semantically equivalent to their unmarked counterparts. However, complex constructions have shown that ………

The auxiliaries xan, fat, and bar

The auxiliaries xan (future), fat (obligation), and bar (prohibition) occur with any non-finite verb form. These constructions make use of "mixed" subject agreement marking pattern.


The auxiliary xan is used to indicate future tense. The semantic distinctions between xan and the tense/aspect suffix -k are discussed in Tense and Aspect.

  1. xan o moof
    xan o= moof FUT 2s sit
    'You will sit.'
  1. xan nu ngimaa
    xan nu= ngim-aa FUT 2p
    'You all will be singing.'

There exists an optional variant xam when agreeing with a first person singular subject, though this is dispreferred to xan.

  1. xam/xan ga'in
    xam/xan ga'-in FUT see-3s.obj
    'I'll see him.'


The auxiliary fat is used to express obligation.

  1. fat o ret
    fat o= ret OBLIG 2s go
    'You have to go.'
  1. fat i njaw-aa
    fat i= njaw OBLIG 1p
    'We have to be cooking.'


The auxiliary bar is used to express prohibition. It can occur with any subject, but is most commonly found with second person subjects.

  1. bar o nafan
    bar o= naf-a-n PROHIB 2s hit-PROG-3s.obj
    'Don't be hitting him!'
  1. bar i ndet
    bar i= ndet PROHIB 1p
    'Let's not go.'

With a second singular subject, an optional abbreviated form exists in which the final r of the auxiliary and the clitic o is omitted.

  1. ba lool
    ba lool OBLIG.2s cry
    'Don't cry!'

The auxiliary kaa

The auxiliary kaa (glossed VFM, see kaa) is used in combination with any non-finite verb form along with the strong agreement pattern. A sample paradigm with a bare infinitive is given below:

Kaa focus construction:
Gloss Sereer Gloss Sereer
I did kick kaam fal We did kick kaa i mbal
You (sg.) did kick kaa (o) fal You (pl.) did kick kaa nu mbal
He did kick kaa te fal They did kick kaa de mbal

This construction expresses verum focus. For more information regarding the semantics of this construction, see Extraction or Focus.

  1. kaa te garaa
    kaa te gar-aa VFM 3s come-PROG
    'He is coming.'

The first person singular form, kaam is slightly idiosyncratic, but can be though of as a contraction of kaa m, the expected form.

  1. kaam doxin'u a Samba oxeɗ
    kaa=m doxin-'u a Samba o-xed VFM=1s lend-PST OBJ Samba ring
    'I did give Samba a ring.'

The auxiliary naa

The auxiliary naa (glossed FIN) is used in conjunction with a progressive participle in environments of extraction. Essentially, its sole purpose is to contribute finiteness, so that the non-finite progressive participle may appear in these situations.

It is used in any position in which a relative form of a verb can appear.

  1. okoor oxe naa nafang
    o-koor ox-e naa naf-a-ng man DET-DEF FIN hit-PROG-2s.obj
    'The man who is hitting you'
  1. ke naa jangneel a refa...
    k-e naa jangn-eel a ref-a THING-DEF FIN teach-PASS.PROG 3 be-DV
    'What is being taught is...'

Use of this construction is the only way to express a progressive meaning in a relative clause. Thus, the above two examples can be thought of as progressive versions of the following two examples:

  1. okoor oxe nafoonga
    o-koor ox-e naf-oong-a man DET-DEF hit-2s.obj-REL
    'The man who hit you'
  1. ke jangneena a refa...
    k-e jangn-ee-na a ref-a THING-DEF teach-PASS-REL 3 be-DV
    'What is taught is...'

It appears also in cases of focus extraction:

  1. wo' fo mi' naa ñaamaa
    \wo' fo mi' naa ñaam-aa
    you and I FIN eat-PROG
    'It's you and I who are eating.'

Including questions:

  1. 'an naa ñaamaa
    'an naa ñaam-aa who FIN eat-PROG
    'Who is eating?'

Verb Paradigm

Full paradigms for the verb fal "kick" are given below in the perfect tense. The extraction forms given are for non-subject extraction— the subject extraction forms are simply the third person forms without the proclitic a=. The relativized third person forms are those used in object relativization ("the man that he kicked")— the subject relativization forms ("the man that kicked") simply lack the proclitic te= / de=.

"Kick", perfect tense, no object
1st singular
2nd singular
3rd singular
1st plural
2nd plural
3rd plural



a fala

i mbala

nu mbala

a mbala




a falu

i mbalu

nu mbalu

a mbalu



o falanga

a falanga

i mbalanga

nu mbalanga

a mbalanga




te falna

i mbalna

nu mbalna

de mbalna

default neg.




i mbalee(r)

nu mbalee(r)


extracted neg.



a faleeru

i mbaleeru

nu mbaleeru

a mbaleeru

conditional neg.


o falangee

a falangee

i mbalangee

nu mbalangee

a mbalangee

relative neg.



te faleerna

i mbaleerna

nu mbaleerna

de mbaleerna

prog. part.

"Kick me", perfect tense
1st singular
2nd singular
3rd singular
1st plural
2nd plural
3rd plural


a falaxam

nu mbalaxam

a mbalaxam



a falaxam

nu mbalaxam

a mbalaxam


o falangaam

a falangaam

nu mbalangaam

a mbalangaam



te falaxama

nu mbalaxama

de mbalaxama

default neg.



nu mbaliraam

a mbaliraam

extracted neg.


a faleeraxam

nu mbaleeraxam

a mbaleeraxam

conditional neg.

o falangiraam

a falangiraam

nu mbalangiraam

a mbalangiraam

relative neg.


te faleeraxama

nu mbaleeraxama

de mbaleeraxama

prog. part.

"Kick you", perfect tense
1st singular
2nd singular
3rd singular
1st plural
2nd plural
3rd plural


a falaang

i mbalaang

a mbalaang



a falong

i mbalong

a mbalong



a falangang

i mbalangang

a mbalangang


in faloonga

te faloonga

i mbaloonga

de mbaloonga

default neg.



i mbalirang


extracted neg.


a faleerong

i mbaleerong

a mbaleerong

conditional neg.


a falangirang

i mbalangirang

a mbalangirang

relative neg.

in faleeroonga

te faleeroonga

i mbaleeroonga

de mbaleeroonga

prog. part.

"Kick him", perfect tense
1st singular
2nd singular
3rd singular
1st plural
2nd plural
3rd plural



a falaan

i mbalaan

nu mbalaan

a mbalaan




a falun

i mbalun

nu mbalun

a mbalun



o falangan

a falangan

i mbalangan

nu mbalangan

a mbalangan




te faluuna

i mbaluuna

nu mbaluuna

de mbaluuna

default neg.




i mbaliran

nu mbaliran


extracted neg.



a faleerun

i mbaleerun

nu mbaleerun

a mbaleerun

conditional neg.


o falangiran

a falangiran

i mbalangiran

nu mbalangiran

a mbalangiran

relative neg.



te faleeruuna

(i mbaleeruuna)

(nu mbaleeruuna)

de mbaleeruuna

prog. part.

"Be kicked", perfect tense
1st singular
2nd singular
3rd singular
1st plural
2nd plural
3rd plural



a fale

i mbale

nu mbale

a mbale




a fale

i mbale

nu mbale

a mbale



o falangee

a falangee

i mbalangee

nu mbalangee

a mbalangee




te faleena

i mbaleena

nu mbaleena

de mbaleena

default neg.




i mbalaan(d)

nu mbalaan(d)


extracted neg.




i mbalaan(d)

nu mbalaan(d)


conditional neg.


o falangaan(d)

a falangaan(d)

i mbalangaan(d)

nu mbalangaan(d)

a mbalangaan(d)

relative neg.



te falaandeena

i mbalaandeena

nu mbalaandeena

de mbalaandeena

prog. part.
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