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Բարի գալուստ

Learning the Armenian Language

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This section deals primarily with the Eastern Armenian dialect, the primary dialect of the country of Armenia. During Armenia's time as part of the Soviet Union, the U.S.S.R. took steps to highly standardize the language. As a result, the grammar may seem rather systematic and tedious at times. However, because of the standarization, exceptions are very rare, and once a grammatical rule is memorized, it is almost universally applicable. Exceptions are so rare, in fact, that the majority of them will be discussed in subsequent sections.

Infinitives[edit | edit source]

Every Armenian verb consists of a root and one of five possible infinitive suffixes:-ել,-ալ,-անալ, -անել, or -ենալ. The root consists of everything in the word up until the suffix, and, with very few exceptions, will never change, no matter the tense.

Armenian, like many languages in its language-family, requires strict subject-verb agreement, which is usually indicated by the suffix of the conjugated verb, eliminating the need for personal pronouns.

Present Tense[edit | edit source]

There is only one present tense in Armenian, and though it's structured like English's present continuous tense, it can act as the present continuous (I am walking) or the simple present (I walk).

The Present tense is one of the few tenses in Armenian which has a single suffix, -ում, distributed equally, independent of the subject of the verb. The subject-verb agreement is then manifested through placement of a conjugated "to be" after the verb.

Լինել (to be)

եu եմ-I am (yes em)

դու եu-you(sing.) are (doo es)

նա է-he/she/it is (nah eh)

մենք ենք-we are (menk enk)

դուք եք-you(pl./form.) are (dook ek)

նրանք են-they are (nərank en)

Example: In կարդալ (to read), the suffix -ալ is replaced by the present tense marker -ում, followed by one of the six listed present forms of "to be".

Եu կարդում եմ-I reading am (yes kartoom em)

Դու կարդում եu-you (sing.) reading are (doo kartoom es)

Նա կարդում է-he/she/it reading is (nah kartoom eh)

Մենք կարդում ենք-we reading are (menk kartoom enk)

Դուք կարդում եք-you (pl./form.) reading are (dook kartoom ek)

Նրանք կարդում են-they reading are (nərank kartoom en)

If the verb ending is polysyllabic (-անալ, -անել, -ենալ), then only the final syllable, starting with the second vowel, is replaced by -ում.

Hence, մահանալ (to die) becomes մաhանում, and so on.


To negate the verb, simply add a չ to the beginning of the present "to be" and switch its position to be before the verb.

Example: Նրանք չեն ուտում-They aren't eating (nərank chen ootoom)


Exceptions occur in monosyllabic verbs, such as գալ (to come) and տալ (to give) where the root is only marked by a single consonant. In cases such as these, the verb remains as it is, and the suffix -իu is added onto the end.

Example: Մենք գալիu ենք-we coming are (menk galees enk)

Another exception lies in the verb գիտենալ (to know). This verb is conjugated in the present by simply tacking on the present form of "to be" onto the end of the root գիտ.

Example: Եu գիտեմ-I know (yes geetem)

Future Tense[edit | edit source]

There are two versions of the future tense in Armenian. The first and most common is marked by the prefix կ- added onto the root, as well as the final consonant in the infinitive suffix being replaced by the subject's corresponding end-marker.

Եu -մ

Դու -u

Նա -n/a

Մենք -նք

Դուք -ք

Նրանք -ն

Example: Հիանալ (to admire) becomes:

Ես կհիանամ I will admire (yes kәheeyanam)

Դու կհիանաս you (sing.) will admire (doo kәheeyanas)

Նա կհիանա he/she/it will admire (nah kәheeyanah)

Մենք կհիանանք we will admire (menk kәheeyanank)

Դուք կհիանաք you (pl. form.) will admire (dook kәheeyanak)

Նրանք կհիանան they will admire (nrank kәheeyanan)

If the verb is an -ել or -անել verb, and the subject is thid-person singular (նա), as usual, the լ is dropped, but the ե that precedes it is changed to ի. So in the case of, for example, խոսել (to speak), the third-person singular version of it in the future tense would be կխոսի (kәkhosee) rather than կխոսե.

To negate, conjugate the verb as if it were in the third-person singular future, but without the կ, and put the a negated present tense "to be" before the verb.

Example: Դու չես գնա you will not go (doo ches gənah)

Another way to express the future tense would be to simply add an -ու to the end of the infinitive verb and follow it with a present tense "to be".

Example: Մենք հանդիպելու ենք (menk handeepeloo yenk) where the verb is hանդիպել (to meet).

This would be the equivalent to saying "we will be meeting", whereas մենք կհանդիպենք (menk kәhandeepenk) would more accurately be translated as simply "we will meet".

To negate, simply follow the same procedure as negating present tense verbs.

Դու չես գնալու you will not be going (doo ches gənaloo)

Past Tense[edit | edit source]

Armenian has a number of past tenses, all of which will be discussed in detail.

Preterite (simple past)

Just like English, this tense has the most variation and exceptions (though, generally these variations occur in groups rather than random exceptions, and the number of irregulars is not even close to the amount that exist in English). The bulk of Armenian verbs are conjugated similarly in the preterite tense, as the bulk of Armenian verbs are polysyllabic and end in either -ել or -ալ (as we saw in the present tense, irregulars tend to be entirely monosyllabic, or end with a polysyllabic infinitive stem).

In the case of -ել and -ալ verbs, remove the լ and replace it with the corresponding ending:

Եu -ցի

Դու -ցիր

Նա -ց

Մենք -ցինք

Դուք -ցիք

Նրանք -ցին

Example: Ասել (to say)

Եu ասեցի I said (yes ahsetsee)

Դու ասեցիր you (sing.) said (doo ahsetseer)

Նա ասեց he/she/it said (nah ahsets)

Մենք ասեցինք we said (menk ahsetseenk)

Դուք ասեցիք you (pl./form.) said (dook ahsetseek)

Նրանք ասեցին they said (nərank ahsetseen)

Մնալ (to stay/remain)

Եu մնացի I stayed (yes mənahtsee)

Դու մնացիր you (sing.) stayed (doo mənahtseer)

Նա մնաց he/she/it stayed (nah mənahts)

Մենք մնացինք we stayed (menk mənahtseenk)

Դուք մնացիք you (pl./form.) stayed (dook mənahtseek)

Նրանք մնացին they stayed (nərank mənahtseen)

Verbs which end with -անալ, -անել, or -ենալ are conjugated by replacing the նալ in the suffix with the corresponding stem:

Եu -ցա

Դու -ցար

Նա -ցավ

Մենք -ցանք

Դուք -ցաք

Նրանք -ցան

Example: Ստանալ (to receive)

Եu ստացա I received (yes stahtsah)

Դու ստացար you (sing.) received (doo stahtsar)

Նա ստացավ he/she/it received (nah stahtsav)

Մենք ստացանք we received (menk stahtsank)

Դուք ստացաք you (pl./form.) received (dook stahtsak)

Նրանք ստացան they received (nərank stahtsahn)

Many verbs which end in -նել (but not -անել) are conjugated similarly to -անալ verbs, but without the աց.

Example: Հասնել (to arrive)

Եu hասա

Դու hասար

Նա hասավ

Մենք hասանք

Դուք hասաք

Նրանք hասան

There is also a family of verbs in Armenian which end in -ցնել. These verbs in all other tenses are treated the same as normal -ել verbs (the ցն simply being treated as part of the root). These verbs indicate a caused action. For example, where սովորել (sovorel) means "to learn", սովորեցնել (sovoretsnel) means "to cause to learn" or in other words "to teach".

In the preterite tense, the ն in the stem becomes ր and from there it is treated like a normal -ել verb. So the first-person preterite of սովորեցնել becomes սովորեցրեցի.


Just as in the present tense, monosyllabic verbs tend to function under different rules. Գալ (to come) and տալ (to give) are the only two widely used monosyllabic verbs. There conjugations in the preterite are as follows:

Գալ (to come)

Եu եկա I came (yes yekah)

Դու եկար you (sing.) came (doo yekar)

Նա եկավ he/she/it came (nah yekav)

Մենք եկանք we came (menk yekank)

Դուք եկաք you (pl./form.) came (dook yekak)

Նրանք եկան they came (nərank yekan)

Տալ (to give)

Եu տվեցի I gave (yes təvetsee)

Դու տվեցիր you (sing.) gave (doo təvetseer)

Նա տվեց he/she/it gave (nah təvets)

Մենք տվեցինք we gave (menk təvetseenk)

Դուք տվեցիք you (pl./form.) gave (dook təvetseek)

Նրանք տվեցին they gave (nərank təvetseen)

Ուտել is also conjugated irregularly.

Եu կերա

Դու կերար

Նա կերավ

Մենք կերանք

Դուք կերաք

Նրանք կերան

The verb լինել (to be) can also be used to mean "to happen". When used in that context, it is conjugated as a normal verb, but an irregular one. The root turns into եղ- and it is conjugated the same as the preterite of գալ . Generally, the only practical sense in which the word would ever be used in this context is in the third-person singular: եղավ (yeghav), which literally means "it happened", as in "consider it done." Armenian speakers often say it in the same context as the English expression "okay" or "whatever".

Imperfect Past[edit | edit source]

To express the imperfect past tense, one would need to know the past conjugations of "to be".

եu էի-I was (yes eyee)

դու էիր-you(sing.) were (doo eyeer)

նա էր-he/she/it was (nah ehr)

մենք էինք-we were (menk eyeenk)

դուք էիք-you(pl./form.) were (dook eyeek)

նրանք էին-they were (nərank eyeen)

This is the tense through which one expresses continuous action in the past, such as "I was walking" or "we were talking". The rule is the same as in English. The verb is conjugated the same way as it is in the present tense (replacing the stem with -ում) and followed then followed by the past conjugation of "to be".

So whereas ես խմում եմ (yes khəmoom em) means I drinking am, ես խմում էի (yes khəmoom eyee) means I drinking was.

Negation follows exactly the same rule as in the present tense.

Ես բամբասում էի (yes bambasoom eyee) I was gossipping becomes ես չէի բամբասում (yes cheyee bambasoom) I wasn't gossipping.

Perfect Tense[edit | edit source]

The perfect tense is a way to express the past which is almost as widely used as the preterite. It sees a much more frequent distribution than its English equivalent.

If the verb is a standard -ել verb (no ն or ցն preceding it), then it does not change from its infinitive form and either a present or a past form of "to be" is placed after it.

Մենք ընտրել ենք (menk untrel enk) we have chosen


Մենք ընտրել էինք (menk untrel eyeenk) we had chosen

To negate, add չ to the beginning of the "to be" conjugation and place the word before the verb.

Նրանք չէին սկսել (nərank cheyeen skəsel) they hadn't started

If a ն precedes the -ել stem, such as in hասնել (to arrive), the ն is simply removed from the verb, becoming

Դու hասել ես (doo hahsel es) you (sing.) have arrived

The stem in all -ալ, -անալ, and -անել verbs becomes -ացել.

Example: Կշտանալ (to become full from eating) becomes կշտացել

Just as in the preterite tense, the ն in any -ցնել verb simply changes to a ր.

Example: Հեշտացնել (to simplify/make something easier) becomes հեշտացրել.

The stem in any -ենալ verb becomes -եցել.


The most commonly used irregulars are գալ (to come), տալ (to give), լինել (to be), and ուտել (to eat).

գալ becomes եկել

տալ becomes տվել

լինել becomes եղել

ուտել becomes կերել

Conditional[edit | edit source]

This tense can be used to express "would", and it can be used to denote future or past conditions, such as "I would go" or "I would have gone".

The conditional tense is expressed similarly to the future tense. The կ prefix is still tacked on to the beginning of the root, and the final լ is replaced the corresponding end marker.

For -ել and -անել verbs:

Եu -ի

Դու -իր

Նա -ր

Մենք -ինք

Դուք -իք

Նրանք -ին

Example: Ուղարկել (to send)

Եu կուղարկեի (yes k'ooghark'eyee) I would send/would have sent

Դու կուղարկեիր (doo k'ooghark'eyeer) you (sing.) would send/would have sent

Նա կուղարկեր (nah k'ooghark'er) he/she/it would send/would have sent

Մենք կուղարկեինք (menk k'ooghark'eyeenk) we would send/would have sent

Դուք կուղարկեիք (dook k'ooghark'eyeek) you (pl./form.) would send/would have sent

Նրանք կուղարկեին (nərank k'ooghark'eyeen) they would send/would have sent

For -ալ, -անալ, and -ենալ verbs, use the same endings, but precede them with յ, as Armenian phonetics does not allow for a shift from ա to ե without a semi-vowel between them (the exception being the third-person singular, as its conjugation does not contain ի).

Example: Ուշանալ (to be late)

Եu կուշանայի

Դու կուշանայիր

Նա կուշանար

Մենք կուշանայինք

Դուք կուշանայիք

Նրանք կուշանային

Passive[edit | edit source]

To express a passive action (I was understood rather than I understood), a վ is inserted into the verb, in most cases just before the suffix. Provided below are examples from all verb families.

Հիշել (to remember)

Հիշվել (to be remembered)

Present: Դու հիշվում ես doo heeshvoom es You are remembered (lit. you are being remembered)

Preterite: Նա հիշվեց nah heeshvets he/she/it was remembered

Future: Մենք կհիշվենք menk kəheeshvenk We will be remembered

Perfect: Նրանք hիշվել են nərank heeshvel en They have been remembered

Կարդալ (to read)

Կարդացվել (to be read)

Present: Գիրքը կարդացվում է geerkə k'artatsvoom eh The book is read (lit. the book is being read)

Preterite: Գիրքը կարդացվեց geerkə k'artatsvets The book was read

Future: Գիրքը կկարդացվի geerkə kək'artatsvee The book will be read

Perfect: Գիրքը կարդացվել է geerkə k'artatsvel eh The book has been read

Դժվարացնել (to make difficult)

Դժվարացվել (to be made difficult)

Present: Սրանք դժվարացվում են sərank dəzhvaratsvoom en These are being made difficult

Preterite: Սրանք դժվարացվեցին sərank dəzhvaratsvetseen These were made difficult

Future: Սրանք կդժվարացվեն sərank kədəzhvaratsven These will be made difficult

Perfect: Սրանք դժվարացվել են sərank dəzhvaratsvel en These have been made difficult

Խոստանալ (to promise)

Խոստացվել (to be promised)

Present: Դա խոստացվում է dah khostatsvoom eh That is being promised

Preterite: Դա խոստացվեց dah khostatsvets That was promised

Future: Դա կխոստացվի dah kəkhostatsvee That will be promised

Perfect: Դա խոստացվել է dah khostatsvel eh That has been promised

Խոստովանել (to confess/admit)

Խոստովացվել (to be confessed/admitted)

Present: Նրա մեղքերը խոստովացվում են nərah meghkerə khostovatsvoom en His sins are being confessed

Preterite: Նրա մեղքերը խոստովացվեցին nərah meghkerə khostovatsvetseen His sins were confessed

Future: Նրա մեղքերը կխոստովացվեն nərah meghkerə kəkhostovatsven His sins will be confessed

Perfect: Նրա մեղքերը խոստովացվել են nərah meghkerə khostovatsvel en His sins have been confessed

Կամենալ (to will/desire that something happen)

Կամեցվել (to be willed/desired)

Cases[edit | edit source]

Armenian has seven grammatical cases: nominative, dative, accusative, locative, ablative, genitive, and instrumental.