Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leksion Chamoru: Gai'iyo (Possessives)

In Chamorro, we form possessives differently than we would in English. In English there are several pronouns that denote ownership, however, in Chamorro, we attach a suffix to a word.

There are only a handful of suffixes:

-hu/-ku* (my)
-mu (your singular)
-ña (his/hers/its) (sometimes pronounced/written -na)

-ta (our, including the listener)
-måmi (our, excluding the listener)
-miyu (your plural)
-ñiha (their) (sometimes pronounced/written -niha)

Here are some examples of how to use the suffixes:
  • kåretå-hu (my car)
  • lepblo-ku (my book)
  • fino'-mu (your (singular) words/language)
  • gimen-ña (his/her drink)
  • eskuelå-ta (our school, as well as the listener's)
  • familian-måmi (our family, but not the listener's)
  • guma'-miyu (your (plural) house)
  • atungo'-ñiha (their acquaintance)
One thing to remember when attaching possessive suffixes, is that the plurals (except the 1st person, inclusive) have a little catch to them: if the root ends in a vowel, you add an "n" to the end of the word, then add the suffix. If there is a consonant at the end of the root word, you simply add the suffix, like you would in the singular case.

Hopefully, some examples will clarify the concept:
  • familia + -miyu ==> familiån-miyu (your (plural) family)
  • kåreta + -ñiha ==> kåretån-ñiha (their car)
  • guma' + -måmi ==> guma'-måmi (our house, not the listener's)
  • såga + -ñiha ==> sågån-ñiha (the place where "they" stay)
  • nåna + -måmi ==> nånan-måmi (our mother, not the listener's)
  • eskuela + -miyu ==> eskuelån-miyu (your (plural) school)
While Chamorro does have possessive pronouns (e.g.: iyo-ku (mine), iyon-miyu (yours, plural)), this is the way those pronouns are actually formed.

*the difference between -hu and -ku is just that you use -ku when there is a consonant cluster in the word, but you can probably get away with just using -hu and no one would say anything ;-)


  1. Si yu'us ma'ase for creating this blog.
    Gef maolek sa fanague hao i fino Chamoru para mantaotao manaitai este.
    It's so nice to see other Chamorros doing something to preserve the language.
    Na'magof yu'.

  2. Taya' guaha ga'chong. Magof yo' chumo'gue este sa' gai'interes hao gi fino'Chamoru.

  3. I will be bringing my son to Guam next year:) I have been away from home for over 25 years. So I am just learning the language again. Are there any online pronunciation sites up yet? I will have to find a Chamorro in my area and get some usage time in:) Great blog!

    Si yu'us ma'ase!