Saturday, May 23, 2009

Leksion Chamoru: Betbon "man" siha ("Man" verbs)

Chamorro verbs are distinguished by whether or not they must take on an object. I call these verbs either "um" verbs or "man" verbs. Here we will look at the "man" verbs.

"Man" verbs are the verbs that have direct object associated with them. Here are some examples of "man" verbs:
  • Taitai = to read (something)
  • Hongge = to believe (something)
  • Espiha = to search for (something)
  • Sugon = to drive
  • Fa'tinas = to make (something)
These verbs always have an understood direct object, even though they sometimes appear without an explicitly stated object. Meaning, one can "read," but it understood that the person is "reading something."

This is where the grammar gets a little tricky. Chamorro constructs sentences differently depending on whether the direct object is definite or indefinite.
Note: In general, the root verb (alone or "conjugated") connotes a completed or past action, and the progressive actions is obtained by duplicating the penultimate (2nd to last) syllable.
  1. Definite Construction:
    This construction is identical to the construction of an English sentence. You take a hu-type pronoun, follow it by the verb, then follow the verb by the object (with appropriate article if applicable). Here are some examples:
    • Hu taitai i lepblu. = I read the book.
    • Ha hongge yo'. = She believed me.
    • Ma espipiha i tenda. = They're looking for the store.
    • Un susugon i kareta. = You are driving the car.
    • In fa'tinas i na'-måmi. = We (exclusive) made our (exclusive) food.

  2. Indefinite (Generalized) Construction:
    It is almost a misnomer to call this form "indefinite." While it is used when the direct object carries an indefinite article, it is also used when the object is generalized. I.e., it is used when is in a general form ("some" books vs. "the" or "a" book), or when there is no object necessarily associated.
    To do this in the singular case we take the root verb and add the indefinite object marker prefix man- to the front, then follow it with an appropriate yo'-type pronoun, then the direct object (without an article).
    For the plural case, we take the singular form (with the man- attached) and add the pluarl subject marking prefix man- to it, then follow the verb by the appropriate yo'-type pronoun, then the object (without article).
    Here are some examples to help bring it together:
    • Mananaitai yo' lepblu. = I am reading a book.
    • Manmanhongge hit gi as Yu'us. = We (inclusive) believe in God.
    • Manespiha gue' tenda. = He looked for a store.
    • Mañugon gue'. = He drove (assumedly a car).
    • Manmama'titinas siha na'Chamoru. = They are making Chamorro food.
I hope I didn't confuse the subject too much, let me know if I could make improvements to this. :-)


  1. i had always wanted to learn chamorro, of course my parents never taught me, so basically im trying to learn on my own. it was conufusing to me how the chamorro words where not in exact sequence as in english. thanks you for explaining the sentence structure of the chamorro language, its shedding some light for me! its a little bit confusing but i will presist until i have a command of my native langauge! i just wish i can learn it faster!
    thank you again!

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  3. Thank you Aaron for this blog. It is very helpful to me with my ongoing study of the language! You explain it so well! Thank you for all your efforts and the time you put into each entry so that we may have this valuable source in learning Chamorro! Please, keep it going! Si yu'ou ma'ase ni ayuda-mu!