Navajo/Word and Sentence Structure

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The possessive pronouns of Navajo are always prefixed to the noun. Thus, we have shimá (my mother), nimá (your mother), bimá (his mother), but never má. The stem -má has no independent form and never occurs without a prefix.

The structure of the Navajo verb has similar characteristics, but is more complex. The subject of the sentence is always incorporated in the verb with a pronominal form, and other verbal elements. Ideas of time and mode are likewise incorporated in the verb, and auxiliary verbs such as will, did, have, might, etc. do not occur in Navajo. The ideas conveyed by these independent words in English are expressed by different forms of the verb itself in Navajo.

Another point in which Navajo sentence structure differs from English is that English prepositions are postpositions in Navajo.

with my elder sister shádí bił (my elder sister, with her)
for my mother shimá bá (my mother for)

whereas normal word order in English is subject, verb, and object, Navajo has subject, object, and verb.