- Main and Subordinate Clauses
- Affirmative Sentences
- Negative Sentences
- Helping Verbs and Main Verbs
- Interrogative Clauses with Question Words
- Questions with "go"
- Relative Clauses
- 'Have' Sentences and Existential Sentences
- Imperative Sentences
- Passive Clauses
- Numeral Phrases
- Sentence Constituents
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In North Saami all complete sentences must have at least a verb, and it must be inflected. Normal declarative sentences should contain a subject, that is, they should show who is performing the action described by the verb. The verb is conjugated to agree in person and number with the subject. here are some examples:
- Borgá. (It's snowing.)
- Moai bohte. (We're coming.)
Main and Subordinate Clauses
Main clauses are independent clauses that are not constituents of other clauses. Two main clauses can be joined with conjunctions such as ja 'and' and muhto 'but'.
- Mun oainnán viesu. (I see a house.)
- Soai lohkaba girjji ja guldaleaba Saami radio.
- (They [the two of them] are reading a book and listening to Saami radio.)
- Mun jugan gáfe, muhto in juga deaja.
- (I drink coffe, but I don't drink tea.)
Subordinate clauses cannot stand alone as independent clauses. They function as constituents of main clauses and are introduced by subordinating conjunctions, such as, ahte 'that' and go 'when' or relative pronouns. In North Saami, word order is the same regardless of whether we are dealing with main or subordinate clauses. Read more about coordinating and subordinating conjunctions and relative clauses.
- Mun oainnán 'ahte viessu buollá'.
- (I see 'that the house is burning'.)
- Soai dadjaba 'ahte busse ii boađe'.
- (They [du.] say 'that the bus isn't coming'.
- 'Go mánná oađđá', de eadni vuoiŋŋasta.
- ('When the child sleeps,' the mother rests.)
- Don oaččut borrat, 'go mii ollet ruoktot'.
- (You [sg.] can eat 'when we get home'.
Agreement indicates the correlation of inflection between two clause constituents. In North Saami there is agreement between the subject and the predicate verb, this means the verb is conjugated to correlate for person and number of the subject. If the subject is third person singular, then the verb must also be marked third person singular. There is full agreement between the verb and the subject.
- Mun 'lávllun'. (I 'am singing'/'sing'.)
- Don 'lávllut'. (You [sg.] 'are singing'/'sing'.)
- Moai 'lávlo'. (We [du.] 'are singing'/'sing'.)
- Soai 'lávluba'. (They [du.] 'are singing'/'sing'.)
- Sii 'lávlot'. (They [pl.] 'are singing'/'sing'.)
There should also be agreement between subject-complement adjectives and the nouns they describe. If the noun is in the plural, the adjective in the predicate (subject complement) is also in the plural. Note that dual-form pronouns are also treated as plural in this context:
- Viessu lea 'fiskat'. (The house is 'yellow'.)
- Viesut leat 'fiskadat'. (The houses are 'yellow'.)
- Elle lea 'čeahppi'. (Elle is 'skilled'.)
- Soai leaba 'čeahpit'. (They [du.] are 'skilled'.)
- Mun lean 'jođáneamos'. (I am 'the fastest'.)
- Doai leahppi 'jođánepmosat'. (You [du.] are 'the fastest'.)
In have sentences and existential sentences there is also agreement in number (singular and plural). Read more about it here.
Within a phrase there can also be rules regarding agreement. When a numeral or pronoun is in the same phrase as a noun, the noun is inflected according to regular rules for declension. The numeral and pronoun will then be declined according to agreement rules. Here are some examples: Mun liikon 'dien girjái'. (I like 'that book'.) Soai boahtiba 'golmmain mánáin'. (They [du.] will come 'with three children'.)
Semi agreement obtains between nouns, on the one hand, and numerals/pronouns, on the other. This means that numerals and pronouns should be declined in the same number but not necessarily the same case as the nouns they modify. Numerals and pronouns follow approximately the same rules, but in the nominative, numerals behave differently. Read more about that here. Full agreement between pronouns and nouns occurs in the majority of cases. Exceptions are to be found in the locative and illative singular. When the noun is in the locative or illative case, the pronoun/numeral is in the genitive. In the comitative plural, you can choose between full and semi agreement. In the table below you will find an illustration of the agreement rules for the demonstrative pronoun "dat". The fields with semi agreement are shaded.
|Nom.||dat mánná||dat mánát|
|Acc./Gen.||dan máná||daid mánáid|
|Ill.||dan mánnái||daidda mánáide|
|Loc.||dan mánás||dain mánáin|
|Com.||dainna mánáin||daiguin mánáiguin, daid mánáiguin|
When both demonstrative pronouns and numerals come before a noun in the same phrase, regular agreement rules apply to both. Adjectives do not have agreement, except, of course, the word "buorre":
- Mun adden ruđa 'dan guovtti mánnái'.
- (I gave money 'to those two children'.)
- Moai bártideimme 'dainna njeljiin boares dihtoriin'.
- (We [du.] had problems 'with those four old computers'.)
- Son čuojahii gitára 'iežas golmmain buriin suorpmain'.
- (He/She played guitar 'with his/her three good fingers'.)
In Northern Saami we distinguish between affirmative and negative sentences. Affirmative sentences are declarative sentences that do not contain a verb of negation. The affirmative verb is conjugated after the subject.
- Son 'diđii' buot. (He/She 'knew' everything.)
- Mihkkal 'lea' skuvllas. (Mihkkal 'is' at school.)
- Moai 'vurde' busse. (We [du.] 'are waiting' for the bus.)
The Saami language has a verb of negation, "ii". The verb of negation is a helping verb (auxiliary verb) that combines with the main verb. The verb of negation is conjugated to agree with the number and person of the subject. The main verb is in the connegative form after the verb of negation; the connegative does not agree with the subject for number and person. The main verb is, however, inflected for tense, present and past. Read more about the verb of negation here.
- Son 'ii dieđe' buot. (He/She 'does not know' everything.)
- Son 'ii diehtán' buot. (He/She 'did not know' everything.)
- Mihkkal 'ii leat' skuvllas. (Mihkkal 'is not' at school.)
- Mihkkal 'ii lean' skuvllas. (Mihkkal 'was not' at school.)
- Moai 'ean vuordde' busse. (We [du.] 'are not waiting' for a bus.)
- Moai 'ean vuordán' busse. (We [du.] 'did not wait' for the bus.)
Helping Verbs and Main Verbs
Some sentences have more than one verb. Here it is only the first verb that is usually conjugated for person and number. The other verbs are not conjugated, they are so called nonfinite verbs. Here are some exampls: Mun 'in boađe'. (I 'won't come'.) Soai 'eaba boađe'. (They [du.] 'won't come'.)
The first verb is the helping verb or auxiliary verb, and the second one is the main verb. Saami has three types of helping verbs: the verb "leat", the verb of negation and the modal auxiliary verbs.
After the verb "leat", the main verb can be in the perfect participle or actio essive:
- "leat" + perfect participle: Moai 'letne gárvodan'.
- (We [du.] 'have gotten dressed'.)
- "leat" + actio essive: Áhkku 'lea bassame' biktasiid.
- (Grandma 'is washing' clothes.)
After the verb of negation, the main verb takes a connegation form, which is either in the present or the past:
- "ii" + present: Soai 'eaba oro' dás.
- (They [du.] 'do not live' here.)
- "ii" + past: Mii 'eat joksan' busse.
- (We [pl.] 'did not catch' the bus.)
After modal auxiliaries, the main verb is in the infinitive form:
- máhttit + infinitiv: Issát 'máhttá rehkenastit'.
- (Issát 'knows how to count'.)
- lávet + infinitiv: Mu váhnemat 'láviiga diggot'.
- (My parents 'used to quarrel'.)
Sentences can have more than one auxiliary verb in a row. It is only the first verb, however, that is inflected for person and number. The form of the other verbs is dictated by the preceding verb. Following the verb of negation a verb takes a connegative form. After a modal verb, a verb takes the infinitive form, etc. Verbs are ordered as follows: verb of negation + the verb "leat" + modal auxiliaries + main verbs.
- ii+máhttit+hovedverb: Elle ii máhte sihkkelastit.
- (Elle doesn't know how to ride bike.)
- leat+áigut+hovedverb: Soai leaba áigon veahkehit min.
- (They [du.] have wanted to help us.)
- ii+leat+sáhttit+hovedverb: Moai ean leat sáhttán boahtit ovdal.
- (We [du.] have not been able to come earlier.)
You can read more about helping verbs (auxiliaries) here.
Interrogative Clauses with Question Words
There are two ways to construct questions: One is with a question word ("gos" 'where', "gii" 'who', "mii" 'what', etc.), and the other is with the interrogative particle "-go". There are numerous question words in Saami, such as interrogative pronouns. Interrogative pronouns are inflected for case. Other question words include: gos 'where ... at/from', gosa 'where ... to', movt/mo 'how', manne 'why', makkár 'what kind of', goas 'when', galle 'how many'. Examples:
- 'Gos' don boađát? ('Where' do you come 'from'?)
- 'Manne' jearat mus? ('Why' do you ask me?)
- 'Galle' máná dus leat? ('How many' children do you have?
- 'Maid' don ostet? ('What' did you [sg.] buy?)
- 'Gosa' don leat fárren? ('Where' have you [sg.] moved 'to'?)
When you answer a question introduced with a question word, the answer should contain a constituent in the same case form as the question word. This principle holds for one-word answers, as well. Some examples:
- 'Gos' don boađát? Mun boađán 'gávpogis'.
- ('Where' do you come 'from'? I come 'from town'.)
- 'Geainna' Elle hupmá? Son hupmá 'áhčiin'.
- ('Who' is Elle speaking 'with'? She is speaking 'with dad'.)
- 'Maid' don ostet? Osten 'jáhka'.
- ('What' did you buy? I bought a 'jacket'.
- 'Gosa' don leat fárren? Mun lean fárren 'Detnui'.
- ('Where' have you moved 'to'?) (I have moved 'to Tana'.)
- 'Geasa' don riŋget? 'Eadnái'.
- ('Who' are you calling 'up'?) ('Mom'.)
Questions with "go"
In Saami you can ask a question with a yes/no answer by setting the "go" particle after the verb:Boađát go odne? or Boađátgo odne? 'Are you [du.] coming (over) today?'. These kind of questions are answered using the verb: In boađe (no) or De boađán (yes).
You can also make negative statements into questions. Here you place the "go" particle after the verb of negation:
- It go leat geargan? In leat.
- (Haven't you finished?) (No, I haven't.)
- Eai go dus leat mánát? De leat. Guokte nieiddaža.
- (Don't you have children?) (Yes, I do.) (Two little girls.)
- Ean go moai leat dáppe ovdal leamaš? Ean leat.
- (Haven't we [du.] been here before?) (No, we haven't.)
The particle "go" can also be placed after words other than verbs. Here too, the "go" particle follows the word set first in the question. The word in first position is in focus. To answer such a question, you repeat the focused word or constituent to give a confirmative answer, or you use a negative verb construction:
- 'Guovdageidnui go' vulggii Piera? Guovdageidnui fal.
- ('Was Guovdageaidnu the place' Per went?) (Guovdageaidnu, indeed.)
- 'Munnje go' lea diet reive? Dutnje fal.
- ('Am I the one' that letter is 'for'?) (Yes, you are.)
- 'Ieš go' leat gorron gávtti? In leat.
- (Have you sewn a sami costume 'yourself'? No, I haven't.)
Remember that "go" can also mean the subordinate conjunction 'when'.
Relative clauses are subordinate clauses. A relative clause begins with a relative pronoun. In Saami interrogative pronouns are also used as relative pronouns. The pronoun indicates a constituent in the main clause. The pronoun "mii" 'what' is used for indicating things, and the pronouns "gii" 'who', "guhte" 'which', "guhtemuš" 'which' and "goabbá" 'which (of two)' are used to indicate persons. Relative pronouns are declined for number and case. Read more about relative pronouns here: interrogative and relative pronouns.
- Son, 'gii' ovddemus olle mollii, vuoitá.
- (The one 'who' comes in first wins.)
- In bora dan, 'mii' lea beavddis čužžon beaivvi.
- (I won't eat something 'that' has been on the table all day long.)
Relative pronouns cannot be left out of the clause.
- In liiko dasa, 'maid' ikte gullen.
- (I don't like 'what' I heard yesterday.)
- Mii sáhttit atnit daid niibbiid, 'maid' mun ikte osten.
- (We [pl.] can use the knives 'that' I bought yesterday.)
Bear in mind that the relative pronoun is declined for case in relation to the relative clause. This means that the relative pronoun and the constituent in the main clause it indicates do not necessarily appear in the same case. They will, however, always be declined for the same number.
- Oidnen 'su', 'geasa' Máhtte liiko.
- (I saw 'the one' 'that' Máhtte likes.)
- Oidnen 'sin', 'geaidda' Máhtte liiko.
- (I saw 'the ones' 'that' Máhtte likes.)
- Elle osttii 'dan jáhka', 'mas' leat lummat.
- (Elle bought 'the jacket' 'that' has pockets.)
- Elle osttii 'daid jáhkaid', 'main' leat lummat.
- (Elle bought 'the jackets' 'that' have pockets.)
- 'Dat olmmoš', 'geainna' dii humaidet, lea mannan.
- ('The person' 'that' you spoke 'with' has gone.)
- 'Dat olbmot', 'geaiguin' dii humaidet, leat mannan.
- ('The people' 'that' you spoke 'with' have gone.)
'Have' Sentences and Existential Sentences
The Saami language does not have its own word to convey the meaning 'to have'. Instead Saami speakers use a construction with the verb leat in combination with a noun or pronoun in the locative case: Elles lea beana. (Elle has a dog).
These "have-constructions" consist of at least three constituents: (1) the one who has something; (2) the verb "leat", and (3) the thing that one has. The one who has something will be in the locative case. The thing that one has will be in the nominative case. The verb "leat" is conjugated according to the constituent in the nominative case. In these constructions the verb "leat" can only appear in the third person. The verb is conjugated in singular or plural depending on whether you have a single item or several items. Examples:
- 'Mánás' lea spábba. ('The child has' a ball.)
- 'Oappás' leat girjjit. ('Sister has' books.)
- 'Ohppiin' lea borranboddu. ('The students have' a break for meals.)
- 'Mus' lea biila. ('I have' a car.)
- 'Dudnos' leat ollu ustibat. ('You [du.] have' many friends.)
In negative "have" constructions, it is the verb of negation that is conjugated. The verb "leat" appears in the connegative form. The verb of negation can only occur in the third person. The verb is conjugated in the singular or plural depending on whether the item you claim not to have is a single thing or several things. Examples:
- Mánás 'ii leat' spábba. (The child doesn't have a ball.)
- Oappás 'eai leat' girjjit. (Sister doesn't have books.)
- Ohppiin 'ii leat' borranboddu. (The students don't have a break for meals.)
- Mus 'ii leat' biila. (I don't have a car.)
- Dudnos 'eai leat' ollu ustibat. (You [du.] don't have a lot of friends.)
When you make a question, you place the question particle "-go" after the verb "leat" in affirmative sentences, and after the verb of negation in negative sentences. In questions with question words, the question word should be declined in the locative case. Examples:
- 'Lea go' mánás spábba? (Does the child have a ball?)
- 'Leat go' oappás girjjit? (Does [your] sister have books?)
- 'Ii go' mánás leat spábba? (Doesn't the child have a ball?)
- 'Eai go' oappás leat girjjit? (Doesn't [your] sister have books?)
- 'Geas' lea biila? (Who has a car?)
- 'Geas' leat ollu ustibat? (Who has a lot of friends?)
Existential clauses tell us that something exists or is to be found somewhere. In Northern Saami this is expressed in a construction with the verb "leat" in combination with a noun in the locative case. These constructions have at least three constituents: (1) the place where something is to be found; (2) the verb "leat", and (3) whatever it is that is to be found. The verb "leat" is conjugated according to the constituent (3), the thing that is said to exist. In this construction the verb "leat" can only occur in the third person. The verb is inflected in the singular or plural. Examples:
- 'Gievkkanis' lea beavdi. (In the kitchen, there is a table./ There is a table in the kitchen./ The kitchen has a table in it.)
- 'Lávus' leat riššat. (There are matches in the lavvu.)
- 'Norggas' ásset sápmelaččat. (There are Saamis living in Norway.)
In negative clauses, it is the verb of negation that is inflected for singular and plural in the third person. In questions the question particle "-go" comes after the inflected verb, (the verb "leat" in affirmative sentences and the verb of negation in negative sentences). Examples:
- Gievkkanis 'ii leat' beavdi. (The kitchen doesn't have a table in it.)
- Lávus 'eai leat' riššat. (There are no matches in the lavvu.)
- 'Lea go' gievkkanis beavdi? (Is there a table in the kitchen?)
- 'Leat go' lávus riššat? (Are there matches in the lavvu?)
Even in the perfect the verb "leat" is translated into English with "have". It is important that we distinguish between the perfect and "have" constructions. In the perfect the verb "leat" is inflected according to the subject of the sentence and is followed by a main verb in the perfect participle form. Here are some examples of the "have" construction and the perfect: (Pay specific attention to the inflection of the verbs)
- Mus 'lea' biila. (I 'have' a car.)
- Mun 'lean oastán' biilla. (I 'have bought' a car.)
- Sudnos 'lea' girji. (They [du.] have a book.)
- Soai 'leaba' lohkan girjji. (They [du.] have read the book.)
The imperative is the command form, that is we use it when we want to ask someone to do something. All nine persons have their own command forms, but the second person singular is the form most commonly found: Boađe deike! 'Come here!' Juga gáfe! 'Drink [some] coffee!' You can read more about the imperative here.
In imperative sentences the subject is dropped. The verb is conjugated according to the person addressed. The object in imperative sentences should be declined in the accusative, just as it is in ordinary sentences.
- 'Mana' ruoktot! ('Go' home!)
- 'Vulgot' dal skuvlii! ('Let's [pl.] leave' for school then!)
- 'Orrot' jaska! ('Let's [pl.] be quiet!)
- 'Boahtti' deike! ('Come [du.]' here!/ 'Come [du.]' here, you two!)
- 'Čájeheahkki' munnje govaid! ('Show [du.]' me the pictures!)
There is also a negative imperative. The negative imperative consists of the verb of negation and the main verb in the connegative form. The verb of negation has its own imperative form, which is "ale" in the second person singular. Read more about the negative imperative, here.
- 'Ale' čiero! ('Don't [sg.]' cry!)
- 'Allot' vuolgge skuvlii! ('Don't [du.] leave for school'!)
- 'Allet' huma duššiid! ('Don't [pl.]' talk rubbish!)
- 'Alli' boađe deike! ('Don't [du.]' come here!)
- 'Allu' čájet sutnje govaid! ('Let's not [du.]' show him/her the pictures!)
In Northern Saami the passive form is derived with the formative -juvvot. In bisyllabic verbs the vowel in the second syllable changes to "o", and the consonant cluster takes the extra strong grade, "borrojuvvot" 'to be eaten' and "lohkkojuvvot" 'to be read', for instance. No changes occur in the contraction stem such, such as "málejuvvot" 'to be painted; to be ground'. In trisyllabic stem verbs the formative "-uvvot" is placed after the last stem consonant, "muitaluvvot" 'to be told', for instance.
Passive verbs with the formatives "-(j)uvvot" are contraction-stem verbs. Hence they are not subject to gradation. Like other verbs, the passive verbs agree in number and person with their subject. In sentences with the ending "-juvvot" it is not possible to indicate the agent, that is to say they cannot indicate the one who brings about the action, as is done in English.
- Mánná 'vižžojuvvui' ruoktot.
- (The child 'was taken' home.)
- Nuoraide 'lágiduvvojedje' gilvvut.
- (Competitions 'were organized' for the young people.)
- Bihtát galget 'gárvejuvvot' ihttážii.
- (The assignments must be completed for tomorrow.)
- Moai dolvojuvvuime girdišilljui.
- (We [du.] were taken to the air strip.)
Some bisyllabic verbs have short passive forms as well. The vowel in the second syllable is "o" and the consonant cluster is in extra strong grade, for example, "borrot" 'to be eaten' and "lohkkot" 'to be read'. The short passive verbs are also contraction stem verbs.
- viežžat > vižžot: Mánná 'vižžui' ruoktot.
- The child 'was taken' home.
- bidjat > biddjot: Moai 'biddjuime' bargui.
- (We [du.] were put to work.)
- čállit > čállot: Dán áššis leat 'čállon' ollu giellásat.
- (A lot of lies have been written on that matter.)
You can also make passives with the formative -hallat. This is used with bisyllabic verbs. The stems are weak grade, "borahallat" 'to get eaten', "gávnnahallat" 'to get caught'. Verbs with the "-hallat" ending are bisyllabic, and therefore they have gradation in the last foot of the word. This passive form bears the extra meaning "unfortunately". In sentences with the "-hallat" form you can indicate the agent, just like in English. The agent takes the illative case.
- gávdnat > gávnnahallat:Suola 'gávnnahalai' viesu eaiggádii.
- (The thief was caught by the owner of the house.)
- vuodjit > vuojahallat: Áhkku 'vuojahalai' boastabiilii.
- (Grandma was run over by the mail bus.)
- bealkit > bealkkahallat: Vázzi olbmot čuoiganláhttus 'bealkkahalle' čuoigái.
- ( People walking on the ski track were yelled at by a skier.)
Numeral phrases are phrases containing a numeral and a noun, such as "golbma máná" 'three children' and "vihtta viesu" 'five houses'.
Aftr numerals greater than 1, the noun appears in the genitive singular. Even if the noun is in the singular, the phrase will be understood as plural. This can be observed in agreement in the verb. After "okta" 'one', the noun appears in the nominative singular. You can read more about the genitive, here.
Verbs that occure in numeral phases with "okta" 'one' are inflected in the singular. Othere numeral phrases are inflected in the plural.
- Mánás lea 'okta spábba'. (The child has 'one ball'.)
- Oappás leat 'gávcci girjji'. ([My] sister has eight books.)
- 'Guhtta máná' bohte skuvlii. ('Six children' came to school.)
- 'Okta mánná' bođii skuvlii. ('One child' came to school.)
- Dus leat 'čuođi heađi'. (You [sg.] have a hundred problems.)
In other case forms there are rules for agreement. The main rule is that the numeral and the noun should be in the same case. Exceptions to this rule are the locative and illative singular. In the locative and illative singular the numeral appears in the genitive while the noun is declined in the locative or illative. You can read more about agreement, here.
- 'Golmma mánás' lei nuorvu.
- (Three children had colds.)
- Oahpaheaddji manai 'golmmain mánáin' girjerádjosii.
- (The teacher went to the library with 'three children'.)
- Hoavda riŋgii 'golmma bargái'.
- (The boss called up 'three workers'.)
Some verbs require that a noun or pronoun take a certain case.
A locative verb requires noun or pronouns in the locative case. Typical locative verbs are: ballat 'to be afraid of', beroštit 'to be concerned about', dolkat 'to be fed up with', heaitit 'to quit', nohkkot 'to run out of', váruhit 'to warn of'. Read more about the locative, here. Examples:
- Mánná ballá 'stálus'. (The child is afraid 'of the troll'.)
- Eadni berošta 'mánás'. (The mother has feelings 'for her child'.)
- Oahppit leat dolkan 'guolis'. (The students have grown tired 'of fish'.)
- Finnmárkulaččat heitet 'joatkkaskuvllas'. (Finnmarkers are quitting secondary school.
- Mii nohkkuimet 'niesttis'. (We [pl.] ran out 'of provisions'.)
- Váruhehket 'beatnagis'! (Beware [pl.] 'of the dog'!)
An illative verb requires a noun or pronoun in the illative case. Typical illative verbs are: álgit 'to begin', darvánit 'to get caught in', guoskat 'to touch', heivet 'to suit', liikot 'to like', suhttat 'to become angry with'. Read more about the illative, here. Examples:
- Čakčat soai álgiba 'skuvlii'.
- (In autumn they [du.] will begin 'school'.)
- Rievssat darvána 'gillii'. (The ptarmigan will be caught fast 'in the snare'.)
- Málagušta guoskkai 'gáktái'. (The paint brush touched the coat.)
- Diet gákti ii heive 'munnje'.
- (That gakti [you have] doesn't fit me.)
- Mánná liiko 'njálgáide'. (The child likes 'sweets'.)
- Eadni suhtai 'siessái'. (Mom got mad at '[our] aunt'.)
A Comitative verb requires a noun or pronoun in the comitative case. Typical comitative verbs are: hilbošit 'to be naughty', háladit 'to talk with', humadit 'to speak with', ságastallat 'to talk with', bártidit 'to get into difficulties with', riidalit 'to quarrel with'. Read more about the comitative, here. Examples:
- Mánná hilbošii 'áhkuin'. The child was naughty to his grandmother.
- Oahpaheaddji háladii 'rektoriin'.
- (The teacher spoke 'with the principal'.)
- Báhppa humadii 'konfirmánttaiguin'.
- (The minister spoke 'with the confirmation candidates'.)
- Mun ságastallen guhká 'doaktáriin'.
- (I spoke 'with the doctor' for a long time.)
- Soai bártideigga 'dihtoriin'.
- (They [du.] got into problems 'with the computer'.)
- Manne don riidalat 'ránnjáiguin'?
- (How come you're quarreling 'with the neighbors'?)
Sentences can be broken up into constituents. A constituent can be a single word, a clause or a group of words that function as a unit:
- single word: Moai borre 'gáhku'.
- (We [du.] are eating 'cake'.)
- group of words: Moai borre 'golbma njálgga gáhku'.
- (We [du.] are eating 'three tasty cakes'.)
- clause: Mun dieđán 'ahte áhkku lea boahtán'.
- (I know 'that grandma has come'.)
Sentence constituents have functions in a given sentence. The typical syntactic functions are subject, predicator, object, complement and adverbial.
The subject in a sentence is in the nominative form. The subject and verb agree in person and number. You can find the subject by asking:: 'who/what + verb in a sentence'. The subject of a sentence can be a noun, pronoun, adjective, numeral, infinitive verb form or a constituent clause:
- pronouns: 'Soai' álgiba skuvlii. ('They [du.]' will start school.)
- nouns: 'Lottit' girdiledje. ('The birds' flew away.)
- adjectives: 'Dat ruoksadat' leat čábbát. ('The red ones' are beautiful.)
- numerals: 'Guhtta' leat láhppon. ('Six' [of them] have gone stray.)
- infinitive verb forms: 'Čállit' lea somá. (It's fun 'to write'.)
- subordinate clause: Lei buorre 'go don bohtet'. (It was good 'that you [sg.] came'.)
Predicators can consist of a single verb or a structure with several verbs. Is the predicator consists of several verb, only one of them is in a finite from. The finite verb will agree with the subject in number and person. Grammatical sentences must always contain a finite verb.
- Soai 'álgiba' skuvlii. (They [du.] will start school.)
- Lottit 'leat girdilan'. (The birds 'have flown away'.)
- Okta loddi 'ii leat girdilan'. (One bird 'didn't fly away'.)
- Moai 'letne čállime'. (We [du.] 'were writing'.)
The object is usually a noun or pronoun, and it should be declined in the accusative. The object in a sentence can be located by asking: what/whom + predicator (verb) + subject. The object can also be an adjective, numeral, infinitive form of a verb, subordinate clause or a non-finite clause.
- pronouns: Mun oidnen 'sudno'. (I saw 'them [du.]'.)
- nouns: Moai letne hukseme 'viesu'. (We [du.] were building 'a house'.)
- adjectives: Mun čoggen 'daid ruoksadiid'. (I picked 'those red ones'.)
- numerals: Soai válddiiga 'ovtta'. (They [du.] took 'one'.)
- infinitive verb forms: Skuvllas mii oahppat 'lohkat ja čállit'.
- (At school we learn 'to read and write'.)
- subordinate clauses: Mun oidnen 'ahte mánná gahčai'.
- (I saw ' the child fall'.)
- non-finite clauses: Mun oidnen 'máná gahččame'. (I saw 'the child falling'.)
The complement describes the subject or object by indicating what or what kind of thing it is, becomes or is called. It typically comes after the verbs "leat" 'to be', "šaddat" 'to become' and "gohčodit" 'to be called'. This constituent can be a noun or adjective in nominative or essive form. When the complement describes the subject in a sentence, it is called a subject complement. The subject complement will agree with the subject for number. If the complement describes the object in the sentence, it is call the object complement.
The subject complement:
- Máret lea 'oahpaheaddji'. (Máret is 'a teacher'.)
- Máret šattai 'oahpaheaddjin'. (Máret became 'a teacher'.)
- Moai letne 'lihkolaččat'. (We [du.] are 'happy'.)
- Sii leat 'kveanat'. (They [pl.] are 'Kvens'.)
- Sii gohčoduvvojit 'kveanan'. (They [pl.] are called 'Kvens'.)
- Biila lea 'divrras'. (The car is 'expensive'.)
- Biillat leat 'divrasat'. (The cars are 'expensive'.)
The object complement:
- Mun gohčodan Iŋggá 'muoŧŧán'. (I call Iŋgá 'aunt'.)
- Soai máliiga viesu 'vielgadin'. (They [du.] painted the house 'white'.)
The adverbial provides additional information about the predication, such as "when", "where" and "how" something has come about. Adverbials can be subdivided into temporal adverbials, spatial adverbials and adverbials of measure. Adverbials can be adverbs, inflected nouns, prepositional or postpositional phrases and subordinate clauses.
- inflected nouns: Soai leaba 'skuvllas'. (They [du.] are 'at school'.)
- adverbs: Sii murjejit 'čakčat'. (They [pl.] pick berries in the autumn.)
- postpositiona phrases: Stállu jávkkai 'vári duohkái'.
- (The troll disappeared 'over the fell'.)
- subordinate clauses: 'Go áhčči lei nuorra', de son barggai bohccuiguin.
- ('When dad was young,' he worked with reindeer.)