Learning Quechua 2 – possessives


Quechua is an agglutinative language, which means that morphemes are added to words to determine case, tense, aspect, or other grammatical functions. In Quechua, word stems receive suffixes to modify their function in a sentence. Let’s start this post by talking about possessive suffixes.

Using possessive suffixes in Quechua is the equivalent of using a possessive pronoun in English, specifically the following ones: my, our, your, his/her, their. These are the possessive suffixes, and the possessive pronoun they correspond to.

-y : my
-yki : your (singular)
-n : his/her/its
-nchik : our (inclusive)
-yku : our (exclusive)
-ykichik : your (plural)
-nku : their

Here are the possessive forms of the word “wasi”, which means house:

wasiy – my house
wasiyki – your (s.) house
wasin – his/her/its house
wasinchik – our (inc.) house
wasiyku – our (exc.) house
wasiykichik – your (p.) house
wasinku – their house

If you are unsure of how the inclusive and exclusive first person pronouns work, refer to my previous Quechua post for an explanation. Also, remember that the inclusive form of “our” is conjugated as a singular instead of plural.

For nouns that end in vowels, the above mentioned forms should be used. However, if a noun ends in a consonant, we also add the particle “ni” in between the noun and possesive suffix. For example, let’s take the word for path, “ñan”:

ñanniy – my path
ñanniyki – your (s.) path
ñannin – his/her/its path
ñanninchik – our (inc.) path
ñanniyku – our (exc.) path
ñanniykichik – your (p.) path
ñanninku – their path

When pronouncing these words, remember that most words in Quechua are stressed in the penultimate syllable.

That covers it for today’s Quechua post. If you’d like to learn a little more about the language, be sure to check out this video from Langfocus. It provides a brief but informative introduction to the structure of the language, and even includes examples that are easy to understand. It is also one of the few useful Quechua videos in the English language.

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