The common verb form is formed by 3 parts: the tense prefix, the verb stem and the pronoun suffix e.g. Do-húr-et 'We are finding'
As we said, pronoun suffixes are used for every person except the 1st singular. Here is for example the conjugation in simple present tense of the verb ken ‘to be’
- Ken 'I am'
- Kenem 'Thou art'
- Kenen 'He is'
- Kenet 'We are'
- Kentí 'You-plural are'
- Kenít 'They are'
There are four basic tense prefixes:
- le = perfect
- ko = past
- do = present progressive
- bo = future
Present tense has no prefix.
Their combinations can provide other tenses. The rule of the prefixes series says that they must follow the priority bo-ko-do-l(e)
Attested tenses are the following:
- Húr 'I find'
- Present cont.
- Do-húr 'I am finding'
- Present perfect
- Le-húr 'I have found'
- Ko-húr 'I found'
- Past cont.
- Ko-do-húr 'I was finding
- Past perfect
- Ko-l-húr 'I had found'
- Bo-húr 'I will find'
- Future cont.
- Bo-do-húr 'I will be finding'
- Future perfect
- Bo-ko-húr I will have found'
- Future perfect cont.
- Bo-do-l-húr I will have been finding'
Other prefix combinations are possible, and some of them hint at tenses missing from the above... for example *do-l-húr 'I have been finding' etc.
We have conflicting information on how passive is formed. The Kenen Gor text shows that passive participles can be formed with ken and the ending -ij. This formation could be applied for present tense. Therefore 'I am known' can be translated as ken tagamij
Most other passive voice examples are in past tense; even then we have three different ways of passive formation
- In one example, passive is expressed by simple past (Kotokituen lit. 'it determined', understood as 'it was determined'; kohúren lit. 'it found', understood as 'it was found')
- Passive is also formed with past continuous (kodobarelen 'it was making/was made' and kodolasaen 'it was sealing/was sealed')
- However there are some instances where the verb ken 'be' is also added to form the passive, as in English; ken is followed by the past tense of the verb in the 3rd person: kokenen kosayen lit. 'it was it designed' understood as 'it was designed'; kokenen kohúren 'was found'.
All the above attested examples have a problem: not only are passive but also refer to the past as well; therefore we can't determine if the tense expressed the voice, the time, or both.
The following possibilities can be considered:
- As in English, passive voice is formed always with the past tense.
- No distinction between active and passive; For example dotagen means both 'I give' and 'I am given'. The above examples are found in past tense simply because they refer to a past time and this hasn't to do with the passive formation
The suffix -a denotes Imperative.
- húr-em-a! 'find!' (command to one person)
- húr-tí-a! '[all of you] find!' (command to a group excluding you)
- húr-et-a! 'let’s find!' (command to a group including you)
Negative phrases are formed with the word for ril which means 'no'. It contains all the English used of 'doesn't', 'isn't' etc.
- Gen kenen renavaox Riven, rúb ril bokenen navaot 'Gen is the master of Riven, but will not be our master'
- Étrus ril lesel Myst. Étrus lesel Edanna 'Atrus did not write Myst; Atrus wrote Edanna'
Note that verbs can become adjectives, nouns and persons with -al, -tav and -tan respectively
- marn-al 'creating' (e.g. the creating spirit)
- húr-tav 'finding' (e.g. the finding of the book)
- lon-tan 'discoverer'