Word Order & Simple Sentences

Kaltxì! Hello! And welcome to The first installment of the Simplified Grammar Lessons Series.

This lesson will cover some very basic foundations of the grammar every beginner may want to start with in order to start making sentences.

Makto ko! (Let's ride!)


Word Order

Simplest Sentences

L and T Endings

Vocabulary Used

Word Order

The word order of English is very specific. In the simplest of sentences, it is always the same: The Subject comes first, then the Verb. If there is an Object, then it comes after the verb (SVO order). For example:

  • She runs. (Subject Verb.)
  • He cooks food. (Subject Verb Object.)

Word order in the Na'vi language, however, is very flexible unlike the rigid word order in English. For example:

Poe tul.
She runs.

would mean the same thing as:

Tul poe.
She runs.

Simplest Sentences

The simplest and easiest sentences in the Na'vi language are the two-word sentences, just like that one in the example above. All you need to do to make a sentence like this is follow these two simple steps:

  1. Find a noun in the dictionary to use as the subject. (nouns are marked n. and pronouns are marked pn.)
  2. Find a verb in the dictionary to use. (verbs are marked v., vin., svin., vim., vtr., or vtrm.)

These two words can be in either order, like the following example:

Payoang slele.
Slele payoang.
The fish swims.

Note that whatever word comes last in the sentence is the one that carries the most emphasis in the sentence.

L and T Endings

In all the previous sentences, there was only one noun and one verb, and no modifications. But what happens when there are two (or more) nouns involved in the action of the verb?

In English, the word order of a sentence establishes the roles of the people or things involved. For example, compare these two sentences:

  • An ikran eats a shoe. (subject is ikran, object is shoe)
  • A shoe eats an ikran. (subject is shoe, object is ikran)

As you see, the roles are switched by changing which one comes before the verb and which one comes after the verb.

In Na'vi, however, since the word order in a sentence like this one is entirely flexible, word order itself tells us nothing about the roles. Instead, the Na'vi use what are called Cases, which are small changes to the words to keep track of their roles. The above sentences would translate to the following:

ikranìl yom hawnventi.
ikran-ìl yom hawnven-ti.
An ikran eats a shoe.

As you see here above, the -ìl case ending marks ikran as the subject and the -ti case ending marks hawnven as the object.

ikranti yom hawnvenìl.
ikran-it yom hawnven-ìl.
A shoe eats an ikran.

Notice how the word order here stayed the same yet the roles were reversed simply by swapping the -ìl and -it case endings.

A famous example of this kind of sentence structure to remember is:

Oel ngati kame.
Oe-l nga-ti kame.
I See you.

This word order of "Subject object verb" (SOV) is quite commonly used. Also, here, we see other forms of -ìl and -it cases which are -l and -ti. (-it / -ti also has one last form, which is -t) These alternative forms exists for the sake of making nouns easier to pronounce when using these case endings.

In order to make any sentence of this type, just follow these steps:

  1. Look up the verb you want to use. make sure it is marked as vtr. or vtrm. (If it's not, then you can't use -l and -t cases on the nouns)
  2. Look up the noun you want to use as the subject doing the action and add -l or -ìl onto the end of it. (-ìl if the noun ends with a consonant, -l if it ends with a vowel)
  3. Look up the noun you want to use as the object receiving the action and add -t or -it or -ti onto the end of it.(-t if the noun ends with a vowel, -it if it ends with consonant, -ti always works)

These three words can be in any order. Again, note that whatever word comes last in the sentence is the one that carries the most emphasis.

Vocabulary Used

Na'vi English
kaltxì intj. hello
makto ko! phrase. Let's ride!
poe pn. she
tul vin. run
payoang n. fish
slele vin. swim
ikran n. banshee
yom vtr. eat
hawnven n. shoe
oe pn. I
nga pn. you
kame vtr. See (deep spiritual sense)
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