Haitian has no conjugation per se, instead it uses tense markers. Regardless of who is speaking or being addressed, the verb itself never changes. While there is no specific structural requirements to the formation of a verb, in its present tense most verbs appear as phonetic spellings of frence verbs in their infinitive form. Because the verb itself does not change, and the tense markers themselves are also invariant, many students feel relieve that "there is no conjugation" to study.
Like english, simple present tense suffices for both habitual/continuous and singular occurances of an action. Whenever unambiguous, the present tense also acts as the simple past. ("m pale" is both "I speak", and also "I spoke"). -- The perfect tense is used differentially, to avoid ambiguity when the present tense is equally likely.
- sa se zanmi mwen - this is my friend
- Li dòmi le swa - he sleeps (in the) evenings
Tense markers come before the verb.
|tap (or "t ap")||past progressive||a combination of te and ap, "was doing"|
|ap||present progressive||With ap and a, the pronouns nearly always take the short form (m ap, l ap, n ap, y ap, etc.|
|a||future||some limitations on use|
|pral||near or definite future||translates to "going to"|
|ta||conditional future||a combination of te and a, "will do"|
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"
Simple past or present perfect
- note - the present tense also acts as a simple past tense
- 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"
- m t ap manje - "I was eating"
- w t ap manje - "you were eating"
- l t ap manje - "he/she was eating"
- nou t ap manje - "we were eating"
- y t ap manje - "they were eating"
- 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, The present progressive can mean "will eat", if the emphasis is on the future-part of the tense. (This is really not much different from english.)
- M'ap manje apres mwen priye - "i will eat after i pray" (lit. "I am eating after I pray")
- Mwen p'ap di sa - "I will not say that" (lit. "I am not saying 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"
- N a wè pita - "See you later" (lit. "We will see (each other) later")
- 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 wè yon chyen - "I was walking and I saw a dog"
Negating the verb
The word pa comes before a verb (and all tense markers) to negate it:
- Woz pa vle ale - "Rose doesn't want to go"
- Woz pa t vle ale - "Rose didn't want to go"