Sentence analysis

On the sentences

We have collected sentences from different sources, and then analysed them. The abbreviations of the parts of speech and functions may be unfamiliar for users, since the abbreviations on the VISL pages are adjusted to fit all the languages.

Over thousand sentences are used, both in the grammar games, Killerfiller and the sentence trees. In addition to that, there are appr. 640 sentences used in Killerfiller only, with the morphology adjusted to that game.

Types of sentences

We use three different sentence types:

Abbreviation Sentence type Example
STA Statement Sii ráhkadedje muohtaádjáid ja muohtaeŋgeliid.
QUE Question Boađát go odne?
COM Imperative sentence Buvtte gáfe!

According to Sammallahti, there are also "exclamation sentences", expressing surprise, beginning with a particle or an adverb: Gal juo lea báhkas!. We do not have such sentences in our corpus.

The interjection has no function in the sentence, and in our analysis interjections constitute separate sentences. E.g. here we have two sentences: Hei, boađe mu lusa!.

Sentences constituents

Sentences have one or more constituents. Constituents may be:

  • singleton words, marked e.g. as. "S:n" (=the subject is a noun)
  • phrases constituting more than one word, marked as e.g. "S:g" (=the subject is a phrase)
  • embedded clause, and marked as e.g. "S:cl" (=the subject is a clause)
  • parataxis, and marked as e.g. "S:par" (=the subject is a parataxis)

The clause (cl) may be both a main clause and an embedded clause, but by definition it contains a finite verb. In addition, it may be an infinitival clause without a finite verb (icl). The verb may be missing if the clause is an elipsis (acl - averbal clause). In the VISL system, only sentences contain sentence functions, groups contain head and dependents.

We use the following constituents:

Abbreviation Sentence function Example
S Subject Min nieiddat leat čeahpit. Bahádahkki son lea! De dáhpáhuvai, ahte rievvár bođii.
P Verbal Min nieiddat leat čeahpit. Ale mana! Don galggat jaska veallát.
Od Object Bija buori dola. Maid Máret áigu oastit? Dieđát go goas mis lea čoahkkin?
A Adverbial Lávvui gullá maid uvssot. Doai leahppi áŋgirit lohkan sámegiela olles dálvvi. Nieida lei skuvllas. Jus dieđášin, de dajašin.
HAB Habitive Mus leat ustibat. Min bussás leat alit čalmmit.
fC Predicative Min bussás leat alit čalmmit. Gáttis ledje olbmot.
Cs Subject predicative Min nieiddat leat čeahpit.
Co Object predikative Son oaččui dan luoikkasin. Gáhkuid son ráhkada hui buriid.
Cp Predicative predicative Mus leat gieđat nu galbmasat.
CO Coordinator Muhto Parkera gal deavččastetne.
SUB Subordinaor Jus dieđášin, de dajašin. Son lea viššaleabbo go mun.
PART Particle Boađát go odne?
VOC Vocative Gilette, boađe donge!


Sentences may contain groups. Each group (g) contains at least two members - head (H) and dependent (D), the dependent may be an attribute or a complement. The group has only one head, but may have more than one dependent.

In order to decide which constituent is head and which is dependent, we use semantics, morphology (the head is the word with the grammatical features licensing the phrase), position (the dependent may be moved together with the head) and universality (the word may be the same dependent to the same head irrespective of the grammatical features and position or function the head has in the sentence) (Sammallahti 2005).

Here are some examples - the group is marked in bold, and the head in red:

- Mun orun (stuorra vilges viesus). - the head is the noun.

- Dovdet go (William Turnera)? - the head is the proper noun.

- Dat orru (buorre fanas). - the head is the adjective.

- Dát manna (hui bures). - the head is the adverb.

- Son čállá girjji (nuoraid birra). - the head is the postposition and it governs the case of the dependent.

- (Maŋŋil bottu) lei boađus 0-0. - the head is the preposition and it governs the case of the dependent.

- Don (sáhtát boahtit) dál. - According to Sammallahti, the head is the auxiliary verb, but we follow VISL practice, and the main verb is the head.

- Mus leat (guokte oambeali). - the head is the numeral, in nominative, it would also work in the sentence without a dependent.

- Mun ledjen (máŋgga sajis). - the head is the locative noun.

- Juhán vulggii dohko (viđain nieiddain). - the head is the comitative noun. The dependent is also in the comitative, with full agreement.

- Son lea viššaleabbo (go mun). - the head is the conjunction.

The members of the group are:

Abbreviation Meaning Example
H Head mu nieida
D Dependent mu nieida
g Phrase Dát lea mu nieida.
cl Clause gii lea mu nieida

Embedded phrase

One phrase can contain another phrase:

(Maŋŋil (vuosttaš vuoru)) lei boađus 0-0."

In the innermost phrase "vuoru" is the head and "vuosttaš" the dependent. In the outer phrase "maŋŋil" is the head and "vuosttaš vuoru" is the dependent.

or even more levels:

(Maŋŋil (láivves (vuosttaš vuoru))) lei boađus 0-0.

In the innermost phrase "vuoru" is the head and "vuosttaš" the dependent. In the mediate phrase "vuosttaš vuoru" is the head and "láivves" the dependent. In the outermost phrase "maŋŋil" is the head and "láivves vuosttaš vuoru" is dependent.

In some cases there may be more than one dependent related to the same head, such as in the sentence: "Mun orun (stuorra vilges viesus)." - or: "Mun (in sáhte boahtit) odne." The relevant phrases are set in parentheses.

Discontinous phrases

Somtimes the phrase is split by other constituents. An example is the phrase "áiggun vuoššat" in the following sentence, where the phrase is divided by the object: Dál gal áiggun mulju vuoššat.


Words, phrases or sentences may be coordinated, realising the same function. The phrase is then marked as conjunct (CJT), and it is normally coordinated with a coordinator (CO), e.g. "ja", "dahje", "vai", "muhto", "sihke - ja", "(ii) - (ii)ge".

In the VISL sentence trees, parataxis is marked with its function, e.g. "S:par" - there is a paratactical construction functioning as subject, or "STA:par" - the declarative sentence contains one or more sentences.


- Mii rievidit ja hearjidit jávohaga. - "V:par" (=Parataxis as verbal.)

- Mun láibbun sihke šuhkoládagáhku ja lákcagáhku. - "Od:par" (=Parataxis as object.)

- Mu áhkku lea jápmán, muhto mu áddjá eallá velge. - "STA:par" (=Two coordinate sentences.)

- Mánná ii hálit borrat iige juhkat. - "STA:par" (There is a parataxis between two sentences, but the coordinator is not marked, since "iige" is a finite verb and thus a part of the verbal of one of the sentences.)

Some of the conjuncts are part of one of the groups, and then marked with "X:par". In this sentence "sojahit" and "ráhkadit" belong to the same verbal, and the dependent is the auxiliary "galgat":

- Oahpaheaddji čilge govt mii galgat sojahit sániid ja ráhkadit cealkagiid. - "X:par"

We use these abbreviations in connection with coordination:

Abbreviation Coordinating constituent Example
CO Coordinator Sii ráhkadedje muohtaádjáid ja muohtaeŋgeliid.
CJT Conjunct Sii ráhkadedje muohtaádjáid ja muohtaeŋgeliid.
par Parataxis Sii ráhkadedje muohtaádjáid ja muohtaeŋgeliid. ("Od:par" when object)

Syntactic functions (not ready)

The Saami textbooks define syntactic functions in many ways, and in some books several central topics are not treated at all. We have compared some of the more important textbooks and grammars, and made some choices. It is, however, important that our definitions will be helpful to the grammar teaching in school, and we are open for comments as to whether we are able to achieve that.

The subject and the finite verb normally agree in number and person. But some singular subjects may have a plural meaning, such as álbmot and in that case, the verb may be in plural. The verbal is in singular if the subject is a mass noun or denotes an abstract concept. If the subject is coordinated, the verbal may agree with the closest constituent, e.g. Jogo mun dahje don galggat dan bargat. The subject may be a noun, or a pronoun, but also e.g. an infinitive or an embedded clause.

Theverbal can be simple (just the finite verb), or it can consist of more verbs (finite verb + infinite verb). In principle, clauses always have a verbal, but there are also ellipses without a verbal, such as Gosa don dál?. It is also possible that the verbal is missing in one of the paratax sentences, when the sentences have the same verb, for example Unna mánážat dulbmet eatni askki, stuora mánát (dulbmet) fas váimmu.

Infinite verbforms belonging to the verbal are:

  • perfect participle, omd (lean) boahtán
  • connegative form, omd (in) boađe
  • actio essive, when it is preceded by leat, orrut or a verb of motion, omd (lea) muohttime, (orru) leamen, (finan) viežžame.
  • actio locative can belong to the verbal, for example (heaitit) juhkamis
  • infinitive, for example (áiggun) boahtit

The infinitive is part of the verbal if it follows an auxiliary verb (modal or similar) (soaittán) boahtit, perfect conditional 2 (ledjen) dadjat and supine (amas) nohkkat (Nickel).

There are certain criteria according to which one can decide whether a verb is an auxiliary verb or not. However, the many differences between auxiliary verbs deter a clear-cut categorization. You can read more about this in Magga 1982.

We treat these verbs as auxiliary verbs: bállet, berret, dáidit, fertet, galgat, gillet, lávet, sáhttit, seahtit, soaitit, viggat, áigut, álgit, beassat, háliidit, máhttit, nagodit, ollit, orrut, sihtat, veadjit, boahtit. Some of these verbs can be used as main verbs as well, such asveadjit and boahtit.

Object A nominal object will be in the accusative case. The object of an active sentence will be the subject of a corresponding passive sentence. When the verbal consists of a causative verb, the sentence can have two objects, one is the object of the causative suffix and the other is the object of the verb itself, for example "su" and "dan": Mii su dan barggahii? . Nickel regards nouns in other case forms as objects as well, such as "sutnje": Mun liikon sutnje. Others call these adverbials. We do not think that the Nickel analysis is common in schools, so we do not follow it.

Objeaktan sáhttet leat earret nomeniid, maid infinitiiva, oalgecealkka ja cealkkavástta, omd. "goarrut" "ahte bussá čohkkái muora vuolde" ja "bussá čohkkámin muora vuolde": Son oahppá goarrut. Sáhpán oinnii ahte bussá čohkkái muora vuolde. Sáhpán oinnii bussá čohkkámin muora vuolde.

Muhtumin predikatiiva sáhttá váldit objeavtta, nugo "guliid": Dat lea hui oažžul guliid.

Habitiiva muitala geas lea dahje gii oažžu. Cealkkalahttu sáhttá leat lokatiiva- dahje illatiivahámis. (Nickel) Nissonis lea rukses biila. Munnje šattai ahkit.

Predikatiiva eksistentiála ja habitiiva cealkagiin. Eksistentiálacealkagiid nominatiivahápmásaš cealkkalahttu kongruere verbálain, muhto duála ii geavahuvvo, nugo normála cealkagis. Eksistentiála cealkka lea Jávregáttis ledje guokte olbmo. , muhto Guokte olbmo leigga jávregáttis. lea normála cealkka. Seammáládje go lea habitiiva cealkka: Mus leat guokte máná. Dáin cealkagiin livččii vejolaš atnit nominatiivahápmásaš cealkkalahtu subjeaktan, nugo dahkko ođđaseamos oahppogirjjis, Sara 2006, ja nu dahká maid Sammallahti. Mii leat dattetge válljen gohčodit dan predikatiivan, seammáládje go Nickel 1994, Helander ja Ijäs/Turi 1998.

Subjeaktapredikatiiva muitala makkár subjeakta lea dahje šaddá, dahje manin gohčoduvvo. Nieiddat leat čeahpit. Son šaddá stuoris. Nieida gohčoduvvo Unna Márehažžan. Nominatiivahápmásaš subjeaktapredikatiiva čuovvu subjeavtta logu.

Sihke Ijäs/Turi 1998 ja Helandera mielde 'stális' lea predikatiiva dan cealkagis: Niibi lea stális. danne go muitala niibbi iešvuođa, ahte lea stálleniibi. Nickel 1994 mielde dat lea advearbiála. Mii lea maid gohčodan dan subjeaktapredikatiivan danne go dalle boahtá buorebut oidnosii ahte cealkagis Guksi lea muoras leat guokte dulkoma. Nuppis lea "muoras" adverbiála (ahte muoras lea guksi) ja nuppis lea "muoras" subjeaktapredikatiiva (ahte lea muorraguksi).

Objeaktapredikatiiva sáhttá leat akkusatiiva- ja essiivahápmásaš nomenat ja muitala makkár objeakta lea, omd. "gonagassan" ja "hui buriid": Sii válljejedje su gonagassan. Gáhkuid son ráhkada hui buriid. Akkusatiivahápmásaš objeaktapredikatiiva čuovvu objeavtta logu.

Eará predikatiivvat leat Nickel 1994 mielde habitiivapredikatiiva, nugo "Norgga riikavuložin": Makkár vuoigatvuođat dain leat Norgga riikavuložin? ja predikatiivapredikatiiva, omd. "nu galbmasat": Márehis leat gieđat nu galbmasat.

Advearbiála lea verbála dahje predihkáhta mearus mii ii leat objeakta iige predikatiiva. Dakkár adverbiálaid man haga verbála ii birge, gohčoduvvo deavddaadvearbiálan. Luovos advearbiálat fas eai leat bákkolaččat. (Magga 1980). Advearbiálan sáhttá leat advearba, (partihkkal), nomen, preposišuvdna- ja postposišuvdnagihppu, vearbbaid nominálahámit (vearbagenetiiva, vearbaabessiiva, infinitiiva, gerunda, aktio lokatiiva, perfeakta partisihppa) ja oalgecealkka.

Examples (Nickel 1994):

  • 'Goađis' leat guokte áhku.
  • Mun boađán 'bearjadaga'.
  • Mun čálán 'mášiinnain'.
  • Láibi lea 'beavddi alde'.
  • Son čállá 'čábbát'.
  • Mun boađán 'go siđát'.
  • Mun bohten 'vácci'.
  • Dan mun vajáldahtten 'logakeahttá'.
  • Mun fillehallen 'dan olbmui'.
  • Muital 'eadnái'!
  • Mii doalvvuimet ealu 'guokte miilla' 'dan beaivve'.
  • Dat bođii 'dán geainnu'.
  • Boađe sisa 'gáfe juhkat'.

Coordinator doaibmá bálddalasti kunjunkšuvdna. Koordináhtor sáhttá bálddalastit cealkagiid, cealkkalahtuid dahje depedeanttaid. omd. ja, dahje, sihke, vai, muhto.

Subordináhtorin doaibmá vuollálasti konjunkšuvdna mii laktá oalgecealkaga váldocealkagii, jus, go, ahte, daningo, vaikko.


  • - Pope/Sara 2004: Eatnigiella - Giellaoahpu váldogirji. Davvi Girji. - Vuođđoskuvllas vuosttašgiela oahppit dábálaččat geavahit dán.
  • - Nickel 1994: Samisk grammatikk. Rievdaduvvon 2. deaddileapmi. Davvi Girji. - Geavahuvvo universitehta- ja allaskuvladásis.
  • - Helander 199?: Cealkkaoasit. Sámegiela vuođđofága, Romssa universitehta
  • - Magga 1980: Giellaoahppa. Dieđut nr.3. Sámi Instituhtta.
  • - Magga 1992: Modalverb og infinitiv innen verbalet. Prosjektrapport. Dieđut nr 1, Sámi Instituhtta.
  • - Ijäs/Turi 1998: Sánit teakstan. Davvi Girji. - Geavahuvvo joatkkaskuvllas.
  • - Sammallahti 2005: Láidehus sámegiela cealkkaoahpa dutkamii. Davvi Girji.
  • - Sara 2006: Joatkke ain. Davvi Girji.- Geavahuvvo nuoraidskuvllas nubbigiellaoahpahusas.

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