Ilokano verb

Ilokano verb

Although other word classes in Ilokano are not as morphologically diverse in forms, verbs are about as morphologically complex as the classic Indo-European languages of Latin, Ancient Greek or Sanskrit.

Ilokano verbs inflect for the completion of the action, or aspect, not in reference to the time that the action took place (tense). Ilokano verbs can also be cast in any one of five foci. In turn, the five foci can occur in different grammatical moods.


An important aspect of Ilokano verbal morphology is reduplication. Reduplication in verbal paradigms consists of repeating the first /C1VC2.../ sequence of phonemes of the root as required by the form resulting in a bimoraic or heavy syllable.

Basic form: gatang "buy" Repudlicated form: gatgatang

Basic form: aramat "use" Reduplicated form: ar-aramatWhen the root begins with a vowel, underlyingly, the onset is the glottal stop which must be retained in reduplication. This is reflected in the orthography by using a hyphen, "-".]

The glottal stop as the second consonant of the sequence (C2) is lost. Two strategies can be applied to maintain the weight of the reduplicated syllable. Either the vowel (V) is lengthened (compensatory lengthening) or the first consonant (C1) is doubled (geminated).

Basic form: sao [sa.IPA|ʔo] "say" Reduplicated form: sasao [|ʔo] - "OR" - sassao [|ʔo]

Basic form: dait [da.IPA|ʔit] "sew" Reduplicated form: dadait [da:.da.IPA|ʔit] - "OR" - daddait [dad.da:.IPA|ʔit]


Ilokano verbs inflect for aspect. The completion of the verb is encoded in the verb paradigm, not the time in which the action occurred (tense).

Inflected Aspects

Verbs inflect for the following aspects:
* Neutral - The neutral form is not marked for aspect (perfective or imperfective) or initiation (initiated or non-initiated). It serves as the form for both the infinitive and the imperative.
* Perfective - The verb is marked for initiation and is completed.
* Continuous Progressive - The action is ongoing but has not completed.
* Continuous Complete - The action was ongoing and was completed.

In the typical verbal paradigm, Neutral and Perfective forms are not reduplicated, whereas the Continuous Progressive and the Continuous Complete are reduplicated. The Continuous Progressive and the Continuous Complete are marked for initiation.

Agent Focus

Verbs cast in this focus throw emphasis on the noun phrase with the agent or experiencer role in the sentence. Although, Ilokano is a null-subject language, impersonal verbs are cast in this focus, for example Agar-arbis "It is drizzling".On the other hand, non null-subject languages will require a subject with verbs of natural phenomenon, for example, It "is raining" (English), Es regnet (German) and Il "pleut" (French). The pronoun does not refer to anything, but it is required by the grammar that a subject exists in the subject frame.]

Noun phrases in the agent role are introduced by the core forms of the articles, ti for common nouns and ni for personal nouns. The enclitic absolutive (-ak series) of personal pronouns replace these noun phrases.

Patient role noun phrases (direct objects) of verbs are introduced by the oblique forms. In addition, Patients of verbs cast in the agent focus are indefinite.In sentences where the agent role and the patient role noun phrase is the same, casting a verb in the agent or the patient focus changes the definiteness of the patient role noun phrase. When the verb is cast in the agent focus, the patient is indefinite, Gimmatangak ti aso "I bought" a "dog (no specific dog is referenced)". If cast in the patient focus, the patient role noun phrase become definite, Ginatangko ti aso "I bought" the "dog (referring to a particular dog)".]

There are four affixes in this focus category: ag-, -um-, mang- and ma-. Roots will prefer to take only one or some of the prefixes. In some cases the meaning changes from one affix to another, for example, ngisit, "black". If ag- is affixed, agngisit, the meaning is that of there is a likelihood of becoming black or to darken, for example Nagngisitka, "You darkened".Incidentally, this is the intensive form of the adjective with the addition of -en. This is to say, that the state has been attained with some amazement of the speaker.] However, with -um-, ngumisit, the meaning becomes more of a possibility or conjecture, Ngumisngisitkansa iti tengnat' aldaw, "You might get darker at midday".


The verbal prefix ag- is very productive and can verbalize a large number of roots. If a new word were to enter the language, most likely this is the prefix used to verbalize it, for example, the fictitious baz: agbaz "to "baz".

If the root takes either ag- or -um-, the additional meaning of ag- are some of the following:
* Repetitivity of the action
* Long duration of the action
* With some roots, the attainment of the root, for example, dakkel, "big", agdakkel "to be big", doktor "doctor", agdoktor "to be a doctor".
* The actor is in full control (internally motivated)
* The certainty of the action because it is habitually occurring or frequently occurring.
* Denotes the action taken on with the root, palsiit "blowgun", agpalsiit "to shoot with the blowgun, use the blowgun". (Compare with -um- below.)


There are few verbs with active meaning that use this prefix. Some of these are maturog (<turog), "to sleep", mapan (<pan), "to go", mangan (<kan "irregular formation"), "to eat", magna (<pagna "irregular formation"), "to walk". With the exception of "mangan", the meaning of these roots cannot take a direct object in this focus.

In the Continuous Progressive form, the prefix participates in reduplication taking the first consonant as its final, unlike the other verbal prefixes.

Lastly, ma- is similar in form to the ma- potentive. They differ in terms of the series of pronouns they are able to take: ma- (agent) take -ak pronouns; ma- (potentives) take -ko.

Directional Focus: -An

The focused noun phrases of directional verbs are places or place names. When a person is the object, a notion of direction (either "to" or "from") is implied, for example, suratan "to write to someone", takawan "to rob from someone". In addition, the focus noun phrase is treated as an area that is affected by the verb. Verbs of cleaning, dalusan, "to clean", labaan, "to launder", sagadan, "to sweep", are cast in this focus as the noun phrases are considered as an area affected.

Instrumental Focus: Pag-

The basic sense of the instrumental focus is to use "something" for accomplishing the root's meaning. That "something" is then cast in the absolutive case. For example, dalus, "clean space", pagdalus, "to use" something "to clean with". This prefix, pag-, behaves more like a verbal noun than a verb and sometimes translates as the implement of the root instead.

Transitive: Ma-

The prefix ma- is used with the patient focused affixes. Unlike the actor focused counterpart, , Ma- does not replace the prefix, but is prefixed to the unaltered form. The only exception is the , where the suffix -en is dropped.

Examples: Saanko nakasao ni maestra idi kalman. "I was not able to talk to teacher yesterday."
Nasuratam ida? "Were you able to write to them?"
Maigatanganak ti libro? "Can you buy me a book?"
Napagdalusko ti daan a kamisetam. "I happened to use your old shirt for cleaning." (It was an accident. I promise!)

The inflectional forms for ma- potentives follow the same pattern detailed above in the Aspect section. In other words, the first syllable of the root reduplicates, not a part of the word before ma- is prefixed, for example, maibagbaga, "is/are able to say (something)", not "*maib-ibaga".

In the initiated forms, the Continuous Progressive form is prefixed with na-, for example, ibagbaga "says (something)", maibagbaga "is/are able to say (something)" and maibagbaga "was/were being able to say (something)", not "*maimbagbaga" or "*naimbagbaga".

Causative: Pa-

Causatives are the verb forms where the agent causes or forces the patient to perform a given action or to become a given state. As a result, all causative verbs forms are transitive, requiring both agent and patient.

The common pattern of formation is: [FOCUS] + "pa" + [ROOT] .



*cite book
title=Let's Speak Ilokano
publisher=University of Hawai'i Press
id=ISBN 0-8248-0822-3

* cite book
first=Carl R. Galvez
title=Ilocano Dictionary and Grammar: Ilocano-English, English-Ilocano (Pali Language Texts: Philippines)
publisher=University of Hawai'i Press
id=ISBN 0-8248-2088-6

* cite book
first=Carl R. Galvez
title=Ilocano: Ilocano-English/English-Ilocano Dictionary and Phrasebook
publisher=Hippocrene Books
id=ISBN 0-7818-0642-9

ee also

*Ilokano language
*Ilokano grammar
*Languages of the Philippines
*Grammatical mood
*Grammatical aspect
*Grammatical tense

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