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Non-verbal phenomena

Adjectival and Adverb "negation"

For antonymic derived modifiers and agentive nouns, see Predication Strategies.

In the case of the antonymic derivational suffix -eer, the shape is suspiciously similar to that of the verbal negative morph -i(r). More research is needed to conclude whether or not these are actually the same morph, which is entirely feasible given the verbal character of most "modifiers" in Sereer.


For the semantically related prohibitive mood, see Imperatives and Procedurals.

The prohibitive is expressed by way of a preverbal, uninflected particle ba(r), which superficially resembles the negative prefix in its coda -r. It is unclear if the historical origins of the prohibitive particle are actually amenable to this proposed connection, however.

Verbal negation

Verbal negation is expressed by an affix that generally takes the shape -i(r). Its allomorphy is complex and will be examined in further detail immediately, while syntactic restrictions on its usage are gathered in the following section.

Morphological exponence

See examples of negative paradigms for some subject-object agreement paradigms with negation.

The negative morph exhibits complex allomorphy and at times coalesces with neighboring vowels. It also irregularly presents a final segment -r that appears in certain contexts; in final position with the negative morphs of the shape -ee, use of -eer is seen as a characteristic of older generations' speech, and there is essentially free variation between usage of -ee and -eer in these contexts:

Present, negative:
Gloss Sereer Gloss Sereer
1SG -iim 1PL i [mut]-ee(r)
2SG -iro' 2PL nu [mut]-ee(r)
3SG -ee(r) 3PL [mut]-ee(r)

The variation between the -i and -ir negative allomorphs is not predictable from segmental context. More research is needed on this point.

The negative is also notable for co-occurring with an alternate version of the future tense, expressed by a suffix -ik rather than by the preverb xan. See Negative paradigms for examples.


A notable restriction on negation is that it cannot occur in the embedded clause of a matrix verb that is a raising verb. For instance:

bugiim o nafan.
'I don't want you to hit him.'
*bugaam o nafin.
'I want you not to hit him.'

Our consultant uniformly rejects sentences of the second type and suggests the first as having the same interpretation.

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