Uzbek/Before You Begin

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Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Samarkand

Don't let it scare you that all this grammatical stuff is supposed to be read before you begin. Really they are all really simple—and shouldn't be something you need to worry about. Also, remember: This will always be a handy reference. Just enjoy it!

To editors: It might be a good idea to incorporate this section into the main lessons.

Nominal and Verbal Words[edit]

There are two main types of words in Uzbek: nominals and verbals. Nominals are those words which are equivalent to English nouns and adjectives, or which have a noun-like character; for example, qora, "black" and koʻz 'eye'.

In Uzbek, nominals include classes of words that in English are called nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and some adverbs. An Uzbek "noun" may be equivalent to an English adjective or noun:

qora koʻzlarim (My black eyes...)
Koʻzlarim qora (My eyes are black)

Verbals are those words which are equivalent to English verbs and some adverbs; for example, qelmoq 'to come' (infinitive) and boʻlib 'as, being' (gerund).

In addition, there are a small number of particles, conjunctions, and similar words which do not take suffixes; for example uchun 'for' and va 'and'.

The last syllable of an Uzbek word receives the stress. however, certain endings and particles at the end of words are not stressed.


The lexical meanings and grammatical functions of Uzbek words are indicated primarily by adding elements called suffixes to the ends of the words. This process of suffixation (also called agglutation) is regular and clear in the sense that it does not require changing the phonetic shapes of words and suffixes; fo example,

koʻzlarim (koʻz [eye] + lar [-s] + im [my] = my eyes)

Word Formation Suffixes[edit]

Nominals and verbals with new lexical meanings are created in Uzbek through suffixation. Adding a suffix to a nominal root or word results in a nominal or a verbal with a new lexical meaning:

bosh (head - anatomy)
boshliq (chief, foreman)
boshlamoq (to begin -infinitive)

Adding a new suffix to a verbal root or word also produces a nominal or a verbal with a new lexical meaning:

boshlanmoq (to be begun -infinitive)
boshlangʻich (beginning, elementary)

Grammatical Suffixes[edit]

The indication of grammatical functions like number, case, mood or tense is accomplished by adding suffixes to words. These grammatical suffixes change the relationship of one word to other words in a sentence; however, they do not change the basic lexical meaning of the word.


uy (home)
uylanmoq (to get married)


uyda (at home)
uyga keldi (he came home)
uylandi (he got married)

Plural Suffix[edit]

The Uzbek suffix plural -lar is added to nominals to indicate that there is more than one subject or object, but also to verbals to indicate that there is more than one subject. After numeral, the plural suffix is not added to a nominal:

qiz (daughter)
qizlar (daughters)
uch qiz (three daughters)
keldi (he/she/it came)
keldilar (they came)

Case Suffixes[edit]

Case suffixes express relationships between nominals and verbals and are equivalent to English 'to', 'in', 'from', and other ideas:

oʻgʻil (son)
xalq (people)
kitob (book)

oʻgʻilga (to the son)
xalqdan (from the people)
kitobda (in the book)

Possession Suffixes[edit]

Uzbek has several means of expressing possession. One means requires adding possessive suffixes to a nominal:

kitobim (my book)
kitobing (your book - singular)

kitobimiz (our book)
kitobingiz (your book - plural)

A second means requires the possessive relationship construction. In Uzbek, the possessor of an object is placed first, often with the suffix -ning, while the person or the object possessed is placed second, always with the suffix -i/si (plural -lari). The Uzbek equivalent of an English phrase like 'my daughter's book' is the following: qizimning kitobi
daughter+my+of book+her
(my daughters book)

Infinitive Suffix[edit]

The Uzbek equivalent of the English infinitive of verbs ('to enter,' 'to see,' etc.) is created by adding the suffix -moq to the verbal root. Without this or other suffixes, the verbal root expresses the familiar or at times impolite imperative mood:

kirmoq (to enter -infinitive)
kir! (enter! -singular, familiar, impolite)

Mood Suffixes[edit]

To express moods like the imperative or the conditional, Uzbek adds suffixes to verbal roots:

kiring! (come in -singular, familiar, polite)
kirsa (if he enters)

Tense Suffixes[edit]

In Uzbek, tenses like past, present, and future are formed by adding suffixes to a verbal root, including the past tense suffix -di:

kelmoq (to come -infinitive)
keldi (he came)

Uzbek combines the meanings of English present and future tenses into one idea that is expressed by the suffix -a/-y. This present-future tense indicates that an action occurs as a habit in the present and may occur at some point in the future:

oʻqimoq (to read -infinitive)
oʻqiydi (he reads (as a habit), he will read (tomorrow))

You just said "di" was the past tense and then you show an example with "di" in the future. Please explain more clearly.


Uzbek lacks words equivalent to the English articles 'a/an, the'. Instead, a nominal serving as an object of a verb stands without a suffix to express an indefinite quality, while a nominal severing as an object adds the suffix -ni to indicate a definite quality.

kitob oʻqiydi (he reads books—indefinite number)
kitobni oʻqiydi (he will read the book—definite)

Personal Pronouns[edit]

In Uzbek, both singular and plural forms exist for personal pronouns. Besides the first person pronoun men (I) and biz (we), Uzbek has the pronoun sen for singular 'you' (older English 'thou') and the pronoun siz for singular polite and plural 'you'.

Uzbek does not posses separate personal pronouns for 'he', 'she', and 'it.' All of these persons are expressed with the pronoun u. Gender must be determined from other words in the sentence or context.


Where English places words like 'behind' or 'toward' in position before nouns (prepositions), Uzbek uses nominals with the same meanings in position after other nominals (postpositions):

uy orqasida (behind the house)
uy tomonida (toward the house)

Relative Sentences[edit]

The formation of relative sentences presents a major difficulty for learners of Uzbek. In English, the word 'who' in the construction 'the son who entered the house' is expressed by adding the suffix -gan to a verbal root and by reversing the order of elements:

Uyga kirgan oʻgʻil
'house+into enter+who son'
(The son who entered the house)

Complex Sentences[edit]

Spoken Uzbek makes little use of the conjunction va (and) to link two sentences together. The 'and' in the English sentence 'he came home and read the book' is indicated by adding the suffix -ib to the first verbal stem:

U uyga kelib, kitobni oʻqidi
(He came home and read the book)

Word Order[edit]

The word order in Uzbek sentences normally has the following construction:

Subject + object + predicate
U kitobni oʻqidi
He + book + the + read + he = (He read the book.)

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