Haitian Creole/Verb Tenses

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There is no conjugation in Haitian Creole. In the present non-progressive tense, one just uses the basic verb form for stative verbs:

Haitian Creole English
Mwen pale kreyòl I speak Haitian Creole

Note that when the basic form of an action verb is used without any verb markers, it is generally understood as referring to the past:

Haitian Creole English
mwen manje I eat
ou manje you eat
li manje he/she eat
nou manje we eat
yo manje they eat

(Note that manje means both "food" and "to eat" -- m ap manje bon manje means "I am eating good food".).

For other tenses, special "tense marker" words are placed before the verb. The basic ones are:

Tense marker Tense Annotations
te (short form: t) simple past
tap (or t ap) past progressive a combination of te and ap.
ap present progressive, near or definite future. With ap and a, the pronouns nearly always take the short (see below).
a future some limitations on use
pral near or definite future translates to "going to"
ta conditional future a combination of te and a.
  • The short forms are: m for mwen, w for ou, l for li, n for nou, y for yo and k for ki. All of these were covered in Lesson one except for k.

Examples[edit]

Simple past or past perfect:

mwen te manje - "I ate" or "I had eaten"
ou te manje - "you ate" or "you had eaten"
li te manje - "he/she ate" or "he/she had eaten"
nou te manje - "we ate" or "we had eaten"
yo te manje - "they ate" or "they had eaten"

Past progressive:

mwen t ap manje - "I was eating"
ou t ap manje - "you were eating"
li t ap manje - "he/she was eating"
nou t ap manje - "we were eating"
yo t ap manje - "they were eating"

Present progressive:

m ap manje - "I am eating"
w ap manje - "you are eating"
l ap manje - "he/she is eating"
n ap manje - "we are eating"
y ap manje - "they are eating"

Note: For the present progressive ("I am eating now") it is customary, though not necessary, to add "right now":

M ap manje kounye a - "I am eating right now"

Also, Those examples can mean "will eat" depending on the context of the sentence.

M'ap manje apres mwen priye - "i will eat after i pray" / Mwen p'ap di sa - "I will not say that"

Near or definite future:

mwen pral manje - "I am going to eat"
ou pral manje - "you are going to eat"
li pral manje - "he/she is going to eat"
nou pral manje - "we are going to eat"
yo pral manje - "they are going to eat"

Future:

N a wè pita - "See you later" (lit. "We will see (each other) later)

Other examples:

Mwen te wè zanmi ou yè - "I saw your friend yesterday"
Nou te pale lontan - "We spoke for a long time"
Lè li te gen uit an... - "When he was eight years old..."
M a travay - "I will work"
M pral travay - "I'm going to work"
N a li l demen - "We'll read it tomorrow"
Nou pral li l demen - "We are going to read it tomorrow"
Mwen t ap mache e m te wè yon chyen - "I was walking and I saw a dog"

Additional time-related markers:

fèk - recent past ("just")
sòt - similar to fèk

They are often used together:

Mwen fèk sòt antre kay la - "I just entered the house"

A verb mood marker is ta, corresponding to English "would" and equivalent to the French conditional tense:

Yo ta renmen jwe - "They would like to play"
Mwen ta vini si mwen te gen yon machin - "I would come if I had a car"
Li ta bliye w si ou pa t la - "He/she would forget you if you weren't here"

Further Reading[edit]