Armenian verbs

Armenian verbs

The verbal morphology of Armenian is fairly simple in theory, but is complicated by the existence of two main dialects, Eastern and Western. The following sketch will be a comparative look at both dialects.

=Non-Finite Forms=


The infinitive of Armenian verbs is formed with the stem, the theme vowel, and the affix -լ ("-l").

The endings reflect the number of conjugations possible. Western Armenian is conservative, retaining three conjugations in a, e, and i, while Eastern Armenian has collapsed I and II:

=Finite Forms=

Introduction: General Overview

Armenian features within its verbal system a system that encodes person and number, as well as tense, mood, and aspect (see following section for more.)

Armenian inherited from Indo-European two sets of synthetic affixes corresponding rouughly to a "present" or general series, and a past series:

How these affixes are used varies between the two modern dialects of Armenian.


Both dialects have five moods: indicative, conditional, optative/subjunctive, necessitative, imperative; of these only the imperative has no tense distinction. The number of tenses varies by dialect. Aspect is divided roughly the same in both dialects, but the distribution is slightly different.

Indicative Mood

Both Eastern and Western feature one present, one future, and two past tenses (imperfect, preterite). Their formation varies by dialect.


Formation of the present tense differs between Eastern and Western. In form, the present indicative of Eastern Armenian has no corresponding Western formation. However, the "Western" present indicative is formed identically to the "Eastern" present conditional.

Eastern Armenian uses the -ում ("-um") participle with the present tense of Eastern Armenian verb լինել ("linel" "to be"). Western Armenian uses a synthetic general form of the verb preceded by the particle կը "gë" /gә/. The synthetic form conjugates according to the verb's theme vowel (i.e., "e", "i", or "a").

Note that in all Eastern forms that feature the combination ու + ե (e.g., կարդալու եմ, etc.), epenthetic yod appears: "kardalu em" /kaɹ da 'lu jem/ or /kaɾ da 'lu jem/.


In various grammars, this is called the preterite, the perfect, or sometimes the aorist. Both Eastern and Western Armenian use a synthetic preterite, which is formed by deleting the infinitive marker and theme vowel, then:
· Class I and II verbs (in both dialects) add -եg (-"ec῾");
· Class III verbs add -աg (-"ac῾").

The preterite affixes are similar to the imperfect endings of the verb "to be" (Eastern լինել "linel", Western ըլլալ "ëllal")

In Class III verbs ("a"-thematic verbs), the preterite stem and the past stem are identical.

1Historically, verbs of the third conjucation ended in final յ, which in traditional orthography is silent in word final position. Due to spelling reforms conducted in the earliest 20th century, final յ is missing from the Eastern conjugation


The past optative is the simple "imperfect" conjugated form, as compared to other Indo-European languages:

Because of how Western Armenian forms the conditional, it has no corresponding past conditional in the same way Eastern Armenian does.

Imperative Mood

Both dialects have what is known as the necessitative mood (also found in Turkish). Both dialects have a past and a non-past necessitative. Eastern Armenian forms its necessitative by adding particle "piti" before the optative forms. Western Armenian forms its necessitative with the "lu" future participle plus the forms of "әllal" (to be)

Note that the EA particle "piti" is orthographically identical to the Western particle "bidi", meaning that the Eastern necessitative forms are identical in form to the Western future indicative and conditional. Also note that the Western necessitative forms correspond to Eastern Eastern future indicative (and future anterior (see below)):

The Eastern dialect has a future anterior (future in the past) indicative tense, which is formed like the future indicative tense (using the "lu"-participle), substituting the present forms of the verb լինել "linel" with the imperfect.

This tense is used with events which were most likely to happen, which were to happen, according to the speaker's firm conviction, but they either haven't happened, or it's not known.

A table of the anterior forms thus:

Putting it all together

A comparison of forms

There are two tables, showing the full conjugation of each dialect's verb paradigms, Eastern and Western.

Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs for both dialects will be dealt with at a later date.

=External links=

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