Georgian verb paradigm

Georgian verb paradigm

:"This article is about the conjugation of verbs in the Georgian language (focused on examples). The reader is advised to see Georgian grammar, especially if not familiar with the language, before attempting to read this article."

Georgian verb conjugation remains a tough subject even for the people who have been studying the language for a while. Even after studying over hundreds of verbs, one may still encounter a new verb whose conjugation deviates from what the person has learnt. This is not to say that the verbs are irregular, rather, to state that verbs in Georgian do not tend to conform to a "universal" conjugation system like in most other languages. Even native speakers may disagree on some verbs' conjugations. In verb conjugation, there are some important factors to keep track of:
# Georgian has four classes of verbs: transitive, intransitive, medial and indirect verbs. Each class has its own set of rules of conjugation for all screeves. What makes it even more difficult is that there are numerous verbs in Georgian that do not seem to conform to the conjugation of one class (see irregular verbs below).
# Preverb. Although preverbs may have directional meanings, most of the time it is totally arbitrary which verb takes which preverb. In addition, there are many verbs in Georgian, which have a common verb stem. Since preverbs are absent in the present screeves, these verbs are identical in the present series, and differ in the rest of the series, because different preverbs are prefixed to the verb stem. A learner of the language has no choice but to learn the preverb of each verb.
# Versions. The versioners in Georgian establish the language's polypersonalism. Although each version vowel has a specific meaning, most of the time, like preverbs, they have arbitrary meanings. Therefore when learning a new verb, the version vowel the verb employs should also be learnt.
# Thematic suffix. Thematic suffixes are the stems that follow the root of the verb. They are used in the present and future screeves and are mostly (though not always) absent in the aorist and perfective screeves. Like preverbs and versions, thematic suffixes are not only arbitrary, but they also determine the conjugation in the aorist and perfective screeves for transitive (class 1) verbs. There are nine thematic suffixes in Georgian, and almost all the verbs have a specific thematic suffix. Again, when learning a new verb, the thematic suffix has to be learnt together with the other elements.
# In addition, one also has to take into account which suffixal nominal marker is to be used for each verb. This is, however, not arbitrary. The use of appropriate suffixal nominal marker depends on the thematic suffix (as stated above). For each thematic suffix, there are set of rules whether the conjugation is strong or weak for the aorist series and the perfective series of screeves. These set of rules for each thematic suffix have to be mastered.
# Georgian has "many" irregular verbs. It is not possible to give an exact number, because there are different levels of irregularities. Some verbs have different verb roots in different screeves and, thus, are considered irregular. Some other verbs use the same verb root throughout all the screeves, but their conjugations deviate from the normal paradigm of the verb class that they belong to. In addition, some indirect verbs (class 4) are also considered irregular, because they only behave like indirect verbs in the present screeves, and behave like transitive verbs (class 1) in the rest of the screeves.

Class 1 (transitive verbs)

* In the present and future sub-series, the subject is in the nominative case and both the direct and indirect objects are in the dative case. The subject is indicated by the "v"- set marker, while the object is indicated by the "m"- set marker.
* In the aorist series, the subject is in the ergative case while the direct object is in the nominative case. Indirect object is in the dative case. The subject is indicated by the "v"- set marker, while the object is indicated by the "m"- set marker.
* In the perfective series, the subject is in the dative case while the direct object is in the nominative case. Indirect object is usually indicated with the post-position -"tvis" (for). The subject is indicated by the "m"- set marker, while the object is indicated by the "v"- set marker.

* In the present sub-series, the preverbs are absent, but the thematic suffixes do exist.
* In the future sub-series, the preverbs emerge, and the thematic suffixes remain.
* In the aorist series, the preverbs emerge, and the thematic suffixes are absent (mostly).
* In the perfective series, the preverbs emerge, and, if the thematic suffix is "-eb", its presence depends on whether or not there is a vowel in the root of the verb. If there is a vowel, the thematic suffix remains, otherwise it is lost.

Here is a full conjugation of a verb with all persons in all screeves:

Verb root

"shen"; infinite form "asheneba" (to build)

Present subseries

The thematic suffix "-eb" is present, but without the preverb:

Perfective series

The preverb is present; the thematic suffix is present (due to vowel in root). N.B. subject is marked with the "m-" set, and the verb form here assumes a 3rd person singular direct object:

Aorist series

The preverb is present; the thematic suffix is lost:

Future subseries

A type of preverb "i-" emerges, in combination with the thematic suffix "-eb" which replaces "-ob" (or any thematic suffix):

Class 4 (indirect or 'inversion' verbs)

*This class of verb is known as indirect or 'inverted' as it marks the logical subject with the indirect object marker set ("m-" set) and the direct object with the subject marker set ("v-" set). Nouns are declined in agreement: the logical subject is in the dative, and object in the nominative (or sometimes genitive, as in "gogo-s" (dat.) "dzaghl-is" (gen.) "e-shin-i-a" - the girl is afraid of the dog).
*Verbs in this class denote feelings, sensations and endurant states of being (see also stative verbs), including verbs such as "q'av" - to have (X, animate), "kv" - to have (X, inanimate) "q'var" - to love and "nd" - to want.
*Class 4 verbs also include 'desideratives' (verbs of desiring), created using the circumfix "e- --- -eb" (compare "tsek'v-av-s" 'he dances' and "e-tsek'v-eb-a" 'he feels like dancing').

The verb paradigm follows. For simplicity, the verb form always assumes a 3rd person singular object:

Verb root

"q'var" - to love

Present subseries

The verb takes the 'subjective' versioniser "i-" in the 1st and 2nd persons, 'objective' "u-" in the 3rd person. Note the ending of the 2nd and 3rd person plural (subject) marker "-t" takes precedence over the 3rd person singular (object) marker "-s":

Perfective series

This series is not especially consistent: the perfect screeve uses versionisers before the root, whereas the pluperfect and perfect subjunctive screeves take no versioniser. The series forms using the suffix "-eb", with "-od" as a further suffix in the pluperfect and perfect subjunctive screeves.

N.B. It is important to bear in mind that each verb form given in the tables has a further five forms corresponding to the 1st and 2nd person singular direct objects, and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person plural direct objects, giving a theoretical total of 396 bi-personal forms! In practice however these forms are not always distinct (for example the plurality of the 3rd person is not always present in the form). For further discussion, see 'Direct and indirect objects'.

Direct and indirect objects

* The verb -"ts'er"-, "to write," (transitive verb)

** Simplest, we have: "v-ts'er", ("I am writing") and "ts'er-s", ("he/she is writing).

** Adding the -"u"- versioner, we have "v-u-ts'er", ("I am writing to him/her"). Another way to think of this is as follows. In the sentence "I am writing to him/her," him/her is the indirect object. Since, for the verb "write," indirect objects are indicated with the "m"- set, one has to use the prefix "u"- to indicate the third person indirect object.

** In order to say "I am writing to you (singular)", we have to remember that "you" is the indirect object in this sentence. As stated in the verbal system, verbs which employ the "v"- set marker to indicate the subject, use the "m"- set marker to indicate the direct or the indirect object. Looking at the table of the "m"- set marker, we see that the prefixal nominal marker for the second person singular is "g"-. Therefore, "I am writing to you (singular) in Georgian is "g-ts'er". If we want to say, "I am writing to you (plural)", then we have "g-ts'er-t".

** Note, however, that some ambiguities arise, as the verb encapsulates the indirect object. While "g-ts'er-t" means "I am writing to you (plural)," it could also mean "he/she is writing to you (plural). This is because the plural indirect object "you (plural)" requires both the prefixal nominal marker "g"- and the plural marker -"t". The rule in Georgian is that, if a consonant plural marker (-"t") is to be attached to the verb complex, another suffixal consonant nominal marker has to be dropped. For example, one cannot say "g-ts'er-s-t" ("he/she is writing to you (plural)") in Georgian. Therefore, the verb, in cases like this, fails to indicate whether the performer of the action is the first person or the third person. One, then, has to consider the role of the verb in the entire sentence to understand the exact meaning of the verb.

* The verb -"nd"-, "to want," belongs to indirect verb class (class 4).

** Simplest, we have "m-i-nd-a", "I want," and "u-nd-a", "he/she wants."

** When we want to construct, "he wants me," "me" is the direct object. Since the verb "want" requires the "m"- set marker for the subject, it requires the "v"- set for the object (this is exactly the opposite in verb "write"). To do this, we need to put both the letter "v"- at the beginning of the verb and we need to add the auxiliary verb -"var" to the end (as auxiliary verbs are needed in the present and perfective screeves of indirect verbs when the direct object is the first or the second person). Therefore, we have "v-u-nd-i-var". The letter -"u"- right after the letter "v"- establishes the meaning that it is the third person who wants. To say, "you want me," we, then, have "v-i-nd-i-var". Here, the -"i"- means that it is the second person who wants.

** Note that "he/she wants me" and "they want me" are both the same in Georgian: "v-u-nd-i-var". If one says, "v-u-nd-i-var-t", this rather means "he/she wants us." This is because the plurality of the subject is not reflected in the verbs that use the "m"- set marker when the direct object is the either the first or the second person.

** The Georgian language has perhaps one of the most complicated plural subject-verb and object-verb agreement systems. Even native speakers do not seem to have a consensus on the reflection of plurality to the verb. One general rule is that in the verbs that employ the "v"- set nominal marker, the priority of the indicating the plurality of the subject is higher than that of the object. In the verbs that use the "m"- set nominal marker, this is reversed (just like everything else is reversed). That is why in the example of "v-u-nd-i-var-t" the plural marker -"t" at the end refers to the plurality of the object rather than the plurality of the subject.


Preverbs in Georgian can either add directionality to a verb, or can change the meaning of the verb entirely. It is also important to the use the appropriate versioner in each case.

Since preverbs are absent in the present series, it is important to consider the role of the verb in the context of the entire sentence as the verb by itself could convey any meaning in the present screeves.

* the verb root -"gh"-:
**Preverb "a"-: "a-gh-eb-a", to raise, lift up (preverb "a"- generally implies an upward motion). (Used with versioner -"i")
**Preverb "amo"-: "amo-gh-eb-a", to take out. (Used with versioner -"i")
**Preverb "ga"-: "ga-gh-eb-a", to open. (Used with versioner -"a")
**Preverb "gadmo"-: "gadmo-gh-eb-a", to take down. (Used with versioner -"i")
**Preverb "gamo"-: "gamo-gh-eb-a", to give forth. (Used with versioner -"i")
**Preverb "mi"-: "mi-gh-eb-a", to receive. (Used with versioner -"i")
**Preverb "shemo"-: "shemo-gh-eb-a", to introduce. (Used with versioner -"i")
**Preverb "ts'amo"-: "ts'amo-gh-eb-a", to carry. (Used with versioner -"u")

* the verb root -"q'r"-:
**Preverb "a"-: "a-q'r-a", put forth, throw upward. (Used with versioner -"i")
**Preverb "ga"-: "ga-q'r-a", stick, put something through. (Used with versioner -"u")
**Preverb "gada"-: "gada-q'r-a", throw down (preverb "gada"- generally implies a downward motion). (Used with no versioner, but when used in the meaning "throw down "to someone", the -"u" versioner is used)
**Preverb "gadmo"-: "gadmo-q'r-a", cast something down. (Used with versioner -"a")
**Preverb "da"-: "da-q'r-a", scatter, drop, let fall. (Used with no versioner)
**Preferb "mo"-: "mo-q'r-a", ask many questions to someone. (Used with versioner -"a")
**Preverb "she"-: "she-q'r-a", gather together. (Used with no versioner)
**Preverb "cha"-: "cha-q'r-a", pour something (onto someone's head). (Used with versioner -"a")

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