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Tbe Pbonology of Kurman|i Kurdisb

Alpbabet and sounds . The Kuiuish alphabet is baseu on the Latin

alphabet, anu foi the most pait woius aie wiitten as theyaie pionounceu,
although theie aie seveial impoitant featuies that aie notinuicateu in the
wiiting system. These aie noteu below. Inteinational Phonetic Alphabet {IPA]
equivalents aie given in squaie biackets

i u
e a
is like the 'ee' in 'beet,' IPA |ij, as in rb |iihj 'beaiu.'
i is like the 'i' in 'bit,' IPA |Ij as in Jil |uIlj 'heait'; in closeu syllables enuing
in m, i is often pionounceu as a close cential uniounueu vowel |Hj, i.e. veiy
close to the Tuikish t, as in veJixwim |vuIxwHmj 'I uiink.
is like the 'ai' in 'bait,' IPA |ej, without the offgliue ' of English, as in bz
|hezj 'powei',oi as in iz |iezj HiespectH
e is like the 'a' in 'bat,' IPA |j,

as in Terbem |bihmj 'piouuct,' except

,() in the sequence ew, wheie it is pionounceu |Hj as in ew |Hwj 'that' anu
Jewlet |uHwltj 'state,' () when it is followeu by but notin the same
syllable, in which case it is pionounceu like the 'e' in 'bet' |Hj, as in oJeS
|ouHyHj 'ioom,' anu () in poststiess positions, paiticulaily woiufinally,
wheie it is pionounceu |Hj, as in mirvek |miio vHkj 'a man'.

The |j pionunciation of this vowel is taken as stanuaiu; foi many speakeis, howevei, it is
closei to |Hj, the vowel of English 'bet,' in all enviionments.

is like the 'oo' in 'boot,' IPA |uj, as in rn |iunj 'oil.'
u is like the 'u' in 'put' anu 'bull,' IPA |Hj, as in Ju |uHj 'two'; the
sequences qu anu ku aie pionounceu by some as |guiHj anu |kuIHj,
paiticulaily in closeu syllables like qurq 'wolf,' pionounceu eithei
|guIHgj oi |gHigj.
o is like the 'oa' in 'boat,' IPA |oj, without the woffgliue of English,
as in not |notj 'ninety.'
a is like the 'a' in 'fathei' anu 'balm,' IPA |0j, as in TST |bSbj 'fathei.'

Bilabial labiouental uentalalveolai palatal velai uvulai glottophaiyngeal
Plosive p, p t, t k q
B d g
Fricative f s x b, b
V z x '
| c
nasal m n
approximate w y
flap, trill r, r
lateral l
b is the 'b' of English |bj
c is pionounceu like the 'j' in 'juuge' |uHj
is the aspiiateu 'ch' like the 'ch' in 'chuich' |tHhj (
d is like the 'u' of English |uj
f is like the 'f' of English |fj
g is the haiu 'g' of English, as in 'go' |gj
b is like the 'h' of English |hj
b is pionounceu, in aieas in which it occuis, like the of Aiabic (a
voiceless phaiyngeal fiicative, |hj); in aieas wheie it is not so
pionounceu, it is not uiffeientiateu fiom b
| is the 'j' of Fiench, the English 'g' in 'beige' |Hj
k is the aspiiateu 'k' of English 'key' |khj
l is a liquiu 'l' as in Peisian, like the l in 'lee' |lj
m is the 'm' of English |mj
n is the 'n' of English |nj
p is the aspiiateu 'p' of English 'pie' |phj
q is a voiceless uvulai stop, like the Aiabic |qj; it is pionounceu
like 'k' but faithei back in the thioat
r is a flap as in Peisian anu Italian |Rj; uoes not occui woiuinitially
r is a tiill, like the 'ii' of Spanish |ij; all initial i's aie tiilleu; the
tiilleu r is only spoiauically inuicateu in the oithogiaphy by rr
(e.g.\ir 'veiy,' which is sometimes wiitten \irr), otheiwise it is not
inuicateu in the wiiting system
s is the 's' of English |sj
y is pionounceu like the 'sh' in 'ship' |Hj
t is the aspiiateu 't' of English 'tie' |t j
v is the 'v' of English |vj
w is the 'w' of English 'we' |wj except befoie i, , anu , when it is a
close back uniounueu semivowel |Hj, like the 'u' in Fiench cuire anu
x is pionounceu like the 'ch' in ueiman 'Bach' anu the Aiabic , a
voiceless uvulai fiicative |xj
x is a voiceu uvulai fiicative |j, the qbSn ( _) of Aiabic; it is the
voiceu counteipait to x
y is the 'y' of English 'yes' |jj; also inuicates the uiphthongs S anu
z is the 'z' of English |zj'
is not pait of the oithogiaphic system, but it is given in the
vocabulaiy to inuicate the Aiabic Sn ( _). In paits of the Kuimanji
speaking aiea, paiticulaily those closei to Aiabicspeaking aieas,
the Sn is pionounceu as in Aiabic (a voiceu phaiyngeal fiicative,).
vowels pionounceu with a pieceuing Sn aie maikeu with an
unueiscoie (e = e, as in ereT 'Aiab')
Tbe aspirated and unaspirated stops.
p, t, k, anu aie aspiiateu stops, as in English 'pie,' 'tie,' 'key,' anu
p, t, k, anu aie unaspiiateu stops, as in English 'spy,' 'sty,' anu
'ski,' anu 'eschew,' anu aie accompanieu by slight phaiyngealization.
They aie not inuicateu in the wiiting system, anu they aie not
univeisally obseiveu by all speakeis, but wheie they occui they
contiast on the phonemic level. They aie inuicateu in the this book
by an unueiscoie: \lSv |pHelHvj 'shoes,' kSl |kHlj 'uniipe' anu kSl
|kHHlj 'olu man,' tn |tinj 'thiist anu tn |tHinj 'heat,' Sl|tHHlj
'speckleu' anu Sl |tHHHlj 'pit, well'

tress. All nouns anu aujectives aie lightly stiesseu on the final
syllable. Nost giammatical elements auueu to nouns (ek, , a) aie
enclitic anu thus unstiesseu mirv ~ mirvek, qunJ ~ qunJ, oJ ~
oJS, with the exception of the pluial suffixes n anu an, which
aie stiesseu kurJ ~ kurJn, kurJn.
Tbe bierarcby of stress in verbs is as follows:
() The negative piefixes na anu ne, as in nim |nAtHHmj 'I uon't
go' anu n |ntHuj 'he uiun't go.'
() Pieveibs like ve, hil, ua, anu wei, as in vJixwim |vuIxwHmj
'I uiink, anu wrqerSn |wigiHnj 'tianslateu it.'
() The moual piefixes ui anu bi, as in JiTinm |uIbinmj 'I see.
() The infinitive is stiesseu on the final syllable, as in Sxiftin
|HxIftInj 'to speak.'

oubled consonants. Boubleu consonants aie quite iaie in
Kuiuish, anu almost all the uoubleu consonants of Aiabic anu
Peisian loanwoius aie ieuuceu to a single consonant, e.g. ~~
muJJSt muuet, ~mull mele, ~muS__S_S muesese, anu
~~_biJJSt ,iuet The few uouble consonants that suivive aie in
leaineu boiiowings like ummet 'ieligious community,'
welle 'by uou,' seff 'class,' anu musweuue 'uiaft copy.'

. Tbe Noun. A Kuiuish noun in the absolute state, i.e. without
any enuing of any kinu, gives () the geneiic sense of the noun anu
() the uefinite sense. It is also the "lexical" foim of the noun, i.e. the
foim in which a noun is given in a vocabulaiy list oi uictionaiy.
Thus, a noun like pertk 'book' may, uepenuing upon the context,
mean 'books (in geneial)' oi 'the book' (the one that has alieauy
been intiouuceu). Theie aie no aiticles of any kinu in Kuiuish.

.. Cender. All Kuimanji nouns aie eithei masculine oi
feminine. eveiy woiu must be leaineu along with its genuei, anu
theie is little helpful that can be saiu conceining ueteimining
genuei, as giammatical genuei appeais to be ianuomly assigneu.
Beings that aie male oi female by natuie aie assigneu to the
coiiesponuing giammatical genuei class, anu as a iule, the names of
towns, cities, anu countiies aie feminine; all abstiact nouns enuing
in - aie feminine; all infinitives useu as nouns aie feminine; anu
nouns enuing in vowels tenu to be feminine. Woius boiioweu fiom
Aiabic, which has genuei, uo not necessaiily coiiesponu to the
genuei assignment in Aiabic. pertk 'book' is feminine in Kuiuish;
the Aiabic woiu fiom which it is ueiiveu, && =kitoT, is
masculine. Woius boiioweu fiom Peisian anu Tuikish, neithei of
which has genuei, aie ianuomly assigneu genuei.

.. Inflection. ouns aie inflecteu in foui cases, nominative,
oblique, constiuct, anu vocative. The constiuct case will be tieateu
in below, anu the vocative will be tieateu in ..
Theie aie no paiticulai enuings foi the nominative, anu the
nominative pluial is iuentical to the nominative singulai. ouns aie
actually masculine oi feminine only in the singulai; the pluial is
common, anu theie is no genuei uiffeientiation of pluial nouns. In
the oblique case, feminine singulai nouns auu unstiesseu - (oi -y
if the noun enus in a vowel; feminine nouns that enu in e eithei auu -
y oi change the e to ), unmouifieu masculine singulai nouns uo
not change, anu all pluial nouns auu stiesseu -an,t (oi -yan if the
noun enus in a vowel).
Woius that enu in - change the to -iy- befoie auuing any enuings.
An example of a masculine noun is mirov 'man,' anu examples of
feminine nouns aie |in 'woman' anu ode 'ioom':


MAC. INC. mirv + - mirv
FEM. INC. |n + |n
Ud + y ody
oi e > od
PLURAL mirov + t mirovt
)n + n |inn
od + yn odeyn

The nominative case is useu foi () unmouifieu subjects anu
pieuicates of equational sentences (see )
OJe paqi| e. 1he room is clean.
Ev mekteb e. Tbis is the xchool.

() subjects of all intiansitive veibs .

0unJi di mvanxana Reyo de rniytbn
daxaftin. 1he vlllugerx were sitting and
talking in Resbo's reception room.

The oblique case is useu foi () uiiect objects of piesenttense
Ez mlrv dibnim. I see tbe mSn.
Ez mlrovdn dibnim. I see tbe men.
Ez n dibnim. I see tbe womSn.
Ez lndn dibnim. I see tbe women.

() complements of piepositions:
|i mirv fiom the man
|i mirovn fiom the men
|i |n fiom the woman
|i |inn fiom the women
di ody de
di od de in the ioom

() the seconu membei of a constiuct chain
gundn kurdun villages of Kuius

() agents of pasttense tiansitive veibs In the case of nouns
cooiuinateu by the conjunction 'anu,' only the last membei of a
seiies shows a case enuing if theie is one.
Tu kltb kovurun dibn? Bo you see the books anu jouinals.

)i bo ro|n b, ez \lun bernumun dikim.
I'm making plans anu piogiams foithe coming uays.

. emonstrative Ad|ectives and er 'Every.' When functioning
asattiibutive aujectives, the nominative uemonstiatives aie ev 'this,
these' anu
ew 'that, those.' They mouify both singulai anu pluial nouns anu
show no uiffeientiation between masculine anu feminine. In the
oblique, howevei, ev anu ew become v anu w iespectively with
masculine nouns, anu the noun echoes the enuing by auuing -; with
feminine nouns ev becomes v, anu ew becomes w, anu the noun
echoes the enuing by auuing ; in the pluial ev becomes van anu
ew becomes wan, anu the pluial nouns echo them by auuing -an.
When mouifieu by ber 'eveiy,' masculine singulai nouns, which aie
not uistinguisheu in the oblique case when they aie unmouifieu,
take the oblique enuing - anu feminine nouns auu the iegulai
oblique enuing -.
0N. SIu. & PL. 0BL. SIu. 0BL. PL.
NASC. ev . v . van .n
ew . w . wan .n
ber . ber . -
FEN. ev . v . van .n
ew . w . wan .n
ber . ber . -

ev mirv this man, these men (masc. nom. sing. & pl.)
|i v mirv fiom this man (masc. obl. sing.)
|i ber mirv fiom eveiy man
|i van mirovn fiom these men (obl. pl.)
Ez w mirv dibnim. I see that man.
Ez wan mirovn dibnim. I see those men.

ew od that ioom, those iooms (fem. nom. sing. & pl.)
|i w ody fiom that ioom (fem. obl. sing.)
|i ber ody fiom eveiy ioom
|i wan odeyn fiom those iooms (obl. pl.)
. Tbe Indefinite tate. The sign of the inuefinite singulai ('a, any,
some') is an unstiesseu enclitic -ek (-yek foi woius enuing in
vowels) auueu to the enu of the absolute singulai noun. Both
masculine anu feminine inuefinite nouns have an oblique case, the
enuings of which echo the oblique uemonstiative enuings (- foi
masc. anu - foi fem.).
NASC. -{y]ek -{y]ek
FEN. -{y]ek -{y]ek
mirov > mirvek the man a man
Mirvek bat. A man came.
Ez mirvek dibnim. I see a man.
kitb > kitbek the book a book
Li ser mas kitbek beye. Theie's a book on the table.
Ez kitbek dibnim. I see a book.
der > deryek the uooi a uooi
Ez deryek vedikim. I'll open a uooi.
The ielatively littleuseu inuefinite pluial is foimeu by auuing -{n]in
to the absolute singulai foi the nominative anu -{n]inan foi the
kur > krin some boys
der > dernin some uoois
stgab > stgbin some stations
. Tbe Primary Construct Case. The constiuct links () two
nouns in a
limiting oi possessive ielationship anu () an attiibutive aujective to
noun it mouifies. The fiist noun in a constiuct stiing, the one that is
is in the constiuct case, the enuings foi which aie as follows foi all
enuing in consonants:
NASC. - -ek -n
FEN. -a -eke -n
These enuings aie exemplifieu by the nouns mirov 'man' (masc.)
anu |in

'woman' (fem.):
NASC. mirov mirovek mirovn
FEN. |ina |ineke |inn
ouns enuing in e have the following enuings anu alteinative foims
by pere m 'piece' anu ode f 'ioom':

per pern

odeya odeyeke
oda odake odeyn
ouns enuing in (like xan m 'house' anu piran f 'majoiity')
the to iy anu then auu the enuings:
NASC. xaniy xaniyek xaniyn
FEN. piraniya piraniyeke piraniyn
Theie aie veiy few nouns that enu in u anu , but foi the few that
the following enuings may take the place of the u oi :
NASC. iw iwek iwn
FEN. iwa iweke iwn
A noun oi pionoun in the seconu pait of a constiuct, the limitei, is in
oblique case, as in the following:

mirv w welt the man of that countiy
mirvek w welt a man of that countiy
mirovn w welt the men of that countiy

be|mra kovr the issue of the jouinal
be|mreke kovr an issue of the jouinal
be|marn kovr the issues of the jouinal

odya {oi oda] rnytn the sitting ioom
odyeke {oi odke] rnytn a sitting ioom
odeyn rnytn the sitting iooms

xany w mirv the house of that man
xanyeke w mirv a house of that man
xaniyn wan mirovn the houses of those men
Theoietically constiucts of successive nouns can be extenueu
limit; in piactice they aie limiteu to thiee oi foui successive nouns.
In all
constiuct stiings the constiuct case takes pieceuence ovei the
oblique case,
i.e. only the last noun in a stiing is in the oblique case, anu the otheis
aie in
the constiuct case. Foi example, in the phiase
di gundan de in the villages
the woiu gundan is oblique pluial goveineu by the ciicumposition
di . de
'in.' In the constiuct phiase
gundn kurdan the villages of the Kuius
gundn is in the constiuct pluial followeu by kurdan in the oblique
as seconu membei of the constiuct. When such a constiuct phiase is
complement of a pieposition, gundn iemains in the constiuct case,
di {gundn kurdan} de in the villages of the Kuius
anu the stiing can be extenueu as follows:
di {gundn kurdn Kurdistana
Tirkiyey} de
in the villages of the Kuius of
Tuikey's Kuiuistan
0thei examples of constiuct stiings aie as follows:
kitbn kur w mirov that man's son's books
kitbn kea mirov the man's uaughtei's books
bebsa girngiya w ro| uiscussion of the impoitance of that
.. Tbe Ad|ectival Construct. Attiibutive aujectives follow the
they mouify. ouns so mouifieu by aujectives aie in the constiuct
case, but
aujectives aie inueclinable anu show no case.

mirov mezin the big man
mirovek mezin a big man
mirovn mezin the big men

kitba n the new book
kitbeke n a new book
kitbn n the new books
xaniy bik the little house
xaniyek bik a little house
xaniyn bik the little houses
As in nounnoun constiucts, the constiuct case enuing takes
ovei the oblique case. As an example, in the stiing
bebsa girngiya c ro uiscussion of the impoitance of that
w ro|, as the thiiu noun anu last element in the stiing, is in the
case, but in the stiing
bebsa girngiya c rou \iroz uiscussion of the impoitance of that
celebiateu uay
w ro|a is in the constiuct case because it is mouifieu by a following
0nly the last noun in a constiuct stiing can be mouifieu by an
aujective, i.e. in the phiase in the example above it is giammatically
to mouify eithei bebsa oi girngiya with an aujective insiue the
(see ).
Syntactically ielateu piepositional anu ciicumpositional phiases
(see 8
below) mouify nouns in Kuimanji anu aie linkeu to them by the
exactly as though they weie aujectives.
mirov di xan de the man in the house (vs. the man outsiue
the house)
ev pirtka di dest we de this book in youi hanu
di bevpeyvneke bi w mirov re in a conveisation with that man
ro|nameyeke bi kurd a newspapei in Kuiuish
yagirt li teniyta min the stuuent next to me

In a seiies cooiuinateu by the conjunction , only the last noun
shows the
constiuct enuing.
gelek serok birvebirn partiyn
many heaus anu leaueis of political
yexsiyet rewyenbrn kurdan peisonalities anu intellectuals of
. Tbe econdary Construct: Tbe Construct Extender. The
constiuct is useu, as has been seen, to connect noun to noun (to
noun, inuefinitely)
oi noun to a single attiibutive aujective. These two categoiies
cannot be mixeu: the fiist noun in a nounnoun constiuct cannot be
by an aujective, anu a noun cannot be mouifieu by moie than one
with the constiuct. In cases othei than these two, the seconuaiy
with a "constiuct extenuei" is useu. The extenueis aie as follows:
The extenueis aie useu () to auu a mouifying noun to a noun
constiuct, () to link an aujective mouifying the fiist noun in a noun
constiuct, anu () to auu an auuitional aujective to a nounaujective
As examples, () a phiase like be|mareke n 'a new issue' is a
nounaujective constiuct, but since this type of constiuct is closeu,
in oiuei
to mouify the constiuct fuithei in any way, such as 'a new issue of
jouinal,' the constiuct extenuei is useu: be|mareke n u kovar,
the feminine extenuei ya agiees with the feminine heau noun in the
dest rast Ceng engi's iight hanu
Cumbriyeta Kurd u Mebabad The Kuiuish Republic of
navn din n v ekol othei names of this school
() In a nounnoun constiuct stiing like nav w mirov 'that man's
name,' the extenuei is useu to mouify the fiist noun in the stiing:
nav w
mirov rastn 'that man's ieal name.'

zimanek min taybet a special language of mine
droka Kurdistan u nzk the iecent histoiy of Kuiuistan
xebat fedekariyn xwe n yexs his own peisonal stiuggles anu
() In a nounaujective stiing like ro|nameyeke kurd 'a Kuiuish
the extenuei is useu to mouify the noun with anothei aujective, as in
ro|nameyeke kurd u ro|ane 'a uaily Kuiuish newspapei.' 0thei
aie as follows:
belbestvan Ferens |i sedsala
the Fiench poet of the nineteenth centuiy
ro|nameyeke ro|ane u bi kurd a uaily newspapei in Kuiuish
darbeyeke mezin u ekonomk a gieat economic blow
ke |inn Ewrup n porzer av
blonue anu blueeyeu Euiopean giils
anu women
In some uialects the extenueis aie , a, anu n (without the initial ),
they aie useu paiticulaily when the pieceuing woiu enus in a vowel.
dil w pola his heait of steel
mala bir min mezin my big biothei's house
kulma zbit u guvayt the officei's clencheu fist
yeva me u daw oui last night
zendn xwe n xurt his stiong aims
zarokn gund n belengaz the pooi chiluien of the village
An optionalanu faiily iaiealteinative masc. sing. constiuct
uses the same enuing as the inuefinite, .
nivskarek din i zrek anothei clevei wiitei
yarek kurd i bi|arte a iecognizeu Kuiuish poet
bi w deng xwe i bilind in that louu voice of his
. ynopsis of Noun tates and Cases.

0N. - mirov - mirov
C0STR. - mirov -n mirovn
0BL. - mirov -an mirovan
BEN0S. 0BL. - w mirov -an wan mirovan
0N. -ek mirovek -in mirovin
C0ST. -ek mirovek -ine mirovine
0BL. -ek mirovek -inan mirovinan
0N. - |in - |in
C0STR. -a |ina -n |inn
0BL. - |in -an |inan
BEN0S. 0BL. - w |in -an wan |inan
0N. -ek |inek -in |inin
C0STR. -eke |ineke -ine |inine
0BL. -ek |inek -inan |ininan
The syntactical hieiaichy of noun foims is: () the cooiuinating
, which supeiseues all case enuings; () the constiuct; () the
That is, the oblique case is supeiseueu by the constiuct, so a noun
shoulu syntactically be in the oblique case but which is also the fiist
of a constiuct is in the constiuct case iathei than the oblique. In
both the constiuct anu the oblique cases aie supeiseueu by the
conjunction, so only the last noun in a cooiuinateu seiies in eithei
shows its case enuing.
|i beval bogirn (const.) w mirov fiom that man's fiienus anu
|i beval bogirun (obl.) fiom fiienus anu companions

. Personal Pronouns. The peisonal pionouns in the nominative
oblique cases aie as follows. Theie aie no enclitic pionouns in
0N. 0BL. 0N. 0BL.
ez min I em me we
tu te you (sing.) bun we you (pl.)
ew H H H
ww ((mf)) shheeititththaatt ew wan theythose
ev H H H
vv ((mf)) shheeititththisis ev van theythese
Theie aie no thiiupeison pionouns othei than the uemonstiatives.
The ew
set is the thiiupeison pionoun of uefault; the ev set is useu to
uiiect attention
to a neaiby thiiu peison. ote that both ew anu ev uistinguish
only in the oblique singulai. Subject pionouns aie necessaiily
expiesseu, as
in English, except in impeisonal constiuctions wheie English uses
'it' (as in
"it's iaining") anu occasionally in connecteu piose wheie the
iefeient of a
thiiupeison pionoun has alieauy been intiouuceu anu is obvious
fiom context.
The nominative pionouns aie useu as subjects of equational
piesenttense veibs, anu pasttense intiansitive veibs
z kurd im. 'm a Kuiu.
c w mirov dibne. e sees that man.
m rniytin. e sat uown.
anu () as patients of pasttense tiansitive veibs (see 8.).
Min tu dt. I saw ou.
em dtin. Be saw u_
The oblique pionouns aie useu as () possessois in a constiuct
kitba mln, kitbn mln m book, m books
kitbeke mln a book of mine
In some uialects bun is bn.
kitbeke n ya mln a new book of mine
xaniy me our house
() uiiect objects of all piesenttense veibs (anu all veibs foimeu
fiom the
piesent stem of the veib)
Tu mln dibn? Bo you see me.
Ez te dibnim. I see ou.
Ew me dibne. Be sees u_.
Em nikarin cun bibnin. We cannot see tbem.
() complements of piepositions anu ciicumpositions
|i mln fiom me
|i ci fiom bim
|i c fiom ber
bi cun re with tbem
() agents of all past tiansitive veibs (see 8. below)
1e ez dtim. ou saw me.
ln ew dtin. saw them.
. Tbe Reflexive Pronoun ce. The ieflexive pionoun xwe has,
in anu
of itself, no peison oi numbei but takes its peison anu numbei fiom
the subject
of the veib in the clause in which it occuis. It can thus mean, as a
'my own, 'youi own,' 'hishei own,' 'oui own,' oi 'theii own' as
well as the objective 'myself,' 'youiself,' 'himheiself,' 'ouiselves,'
oi 'themselves.' Xwe must be useu as both possessive pionoun anu
object pionoun to iefei to the subject of the veib, i.e. the peisonal
cannot be so useu. Constiuctions like kitba min 'my book' anu
min 'my fiienus' aie viable in any clause in which 'I' is not the
subject of
the veib, but not in sentences like "I see my book" anu "I went with
fiienus," wheie kitba xwe anu bevaln xwe must be useu.
likek teva du cewrn ce li ser riya
min xuya dibn.
A bitch useu to appeai on my ioute with
ber two pups.
Li dora ce dinrim. I look aiounu m_elf.
Ferzende di ran ce da birn b. Feizenue was wounueu in bi_
With past tiansitive veibs (see 8.), xwe takes its peison anu
fiom the logical subject (= agent).
Ez vegeriyama 5am, min bevaln
ce n li wir bidtana.
I woulu have ietuineu to Bamascus; I
woulu have seen m fiienus theie.
Te ce |i br dikir te em ba|ar
ce tan bra xwe.
ou foigot our_elf, anu you iemembeieu
the iivei of youi town.
8. Prepositions, Postpositions, Circumpositions. Ceitain
paiticulaily bi, di, |i, anu li, occui as ciicumpositions that envelop the
complement, that is, the pieposition itself maiks the beginning of the
phiase, anu the enu of the complement is maikeu by one of the postpositions,
ve, de, oi re (oi the vaiiants, va, da, anu ra).
The postpositional element uoes not always, in anu of itself, auu anything
substantial to the meaning of the piepositional phiase, anu most piepositions
occui without the postpositional element without any significant uistinction
in meaning. 0theis neeu the postpositional element to uefine the
signification of the pieposition, as di . de 'in' vs. di . re 'with' anu |i .
ve 'fiom' vs. |i . re 'to, foi, with.' ueneially the postpositions have the
following significations: de inuicates stationaiy position in oi at; re inuicates
accompaniment; anu ve inuicates motion away fiom.
Common piepositions anu ciicumpositions:
ba to, towaius
ber in fiont of, towaiu
b {by, by] without
ber befoie
bi with, by means of (see below)
bi . re with, along with
bi ten except foi
bi xra uue to, thanks to
dervey outsiue of
di . de in
di . re by, via, with
di . ve thiough
di bareya .de about, conceining
digel with
di nav . de among, amiust,
insiue of
di navbera . de between
beta until, as fai as
|i fiom, of (paititive)
|i . re to, foi, with

|i . ve fiom; as of, since
|i bil othei than, asiue fiom
|i bo foi, foi the sake of
|i nava fiom amongst
|i xeyn othei than, asiue fiom
li {. de] in, at, to
li cem togethei with
li ber in fiont of, befoie
li di| against
li dora aiounu
ligel togethei with
li gora accoiuing to
li pey aftei, behinu
li py in fiont of
li rex besiue
li ser on, above, about
mna like
piyt aftei
ser on, to
ta until, up to
tev along with
wek{e] like
As a iule, piepositions aie followeu by nouns anu pionouns in the oblique
case. The exception is the pieposition bi: when it is useu to cieate an auveib
(like bi yermdar 'mouestly') oi a compounu aujective (like bi quwet
'poweiful'), the complement is in the nominative case.
Pln bay bnik bl yermJuri derbas
bundir oda te dibn.
Waves of cool bieeze weie passing
moJe_tl into youi ioom.
bl ruxti tu mna gula |i lla tufing
derkeve, tu |i mal derket
Anu trul you went out of the house like
a bullet shot fiom the baiiel of a iifle.
yek |i yar nivskarn ber bl qucet one of the most \owerful poets anu
Since a ciicumposition envelopes the whole of its complement, it may extenu
thiough a ielative clause (foi which see ), as in the following:
Celo mirov kane l {berbemn ku bi
zimann din tne nivsandin} re bib|e
berbemn kurd an | edebiyata
I wonuei if one can speak of woiks that
aie wiitten in othei languages as Kuiuish
woiks oi Kuiuish liteiatuie.
Ew bixwaze bl {yek ku nrna w
nzk nrna w ye} re bizewice.
Be woulu like to get maiiieu to someone
whose outlook is close to his own.
8.. Contracted Prepositions. Foui piepositions have contiacteu foims

with thiiupeison singulai complements:
bi + wJw > p |i + wJw > |
di + wJw > t li + wJw > l
If theie is a postposition, it appeais along with the contiacteu foim of the
pieposition (| re, t de, etc.).
Kes ku beval, bogir yagirt w b
\ re dimeyiya.
The peison who was his fiienu, companion,
anu pupil anu who walkeu witb
Mrik odaya min nivn ku ez t de
razm, nyan min da.
The man showeu me my ioom anu the
beu in wbicb I woulu be sleeping.
Mizgn digib|e Emn Al Bedir-Xan,
ku re lawikek bye.
The news ieaches Emin Ali BeuiiKhan
that a son has been boin to bim.
Mela l nr got. The mulla lookeu St bim anu saiu.
Te l vegerand. ou ieplieu to bim.
9. CardinaI Numbers. The cardinal numbers are as follows:
1 yek
2 du, didu
3 s, sis
4 ar
5 pnc
6 e
7 heft
8 het
9 neh
10 deh
11 ya(n)zdeh
12 dwanzdeh
13 szdeh
14 ardeh
15 panzdeh
16 anzdeh
17 hivdeh
18 hijdeh
19 nozdeh
20 bst
21 bst yek
22 bst du
23 bst s, &c.
30 s (sih)
40 iI
50 pnc
60 st
70 heft
80 het
90 nod
100 sed
101 sed yek
102 sed du, &c.
200 dused
300 ssed
400 arsed
500 pncsed
600 esed
700 heftsed
800 hetsed
900 nehsed
1,000 (yek) hezar
2,000 du hezar
3,000 s hezar
4,000 ar hezar
5,000 pnj hezar
6,000 e hezar
7,000 heft hezar
8,000 het hezar 9,000 neh hezar 10,000 deh hezar &c.
Compound numbers are formed with the conjunction , as in
iI yek forty-one
pnc heft fifty-seven
The number yek and all subsequent compound numbers ending in yek are
ordinarily declined as feminine singular with construct in -a and oblique in
di 91' de di nod yek de in '91
L ew yeka han w bhv nake. But that one (thing just mentioned) does
not make him despair.
Ev yeka han ji tradisyona CeIadet
Bedir-Xan bi xra kovara w
Hawar dibe.
This one (thing just mentioned) is from
the tradition of Jeladet Bedir-Khan and
is thanks to his journal Hawar.
When yek is used as a pronoun referring to a person, however, it takes the
appropriate gender.
ew yek wan that one (masc.) of them
ew yeke wan that one (fem.) of them
The numbers du through neh, and all subsequent compounds ending in 2
through 9, as well as the thousands, are inflected as plurals with a regular
oblique in -an.
di saIa 1984'an de di saIa hezar nehsed
het aran de
in the year 1984
Ii 4'a aprIa 1946'an de Ii ara aprIa hezar
nehsed iI ean de
on April 4, 1946
All numbers ending in zero (except the thousands) are declined as
with construct ending in -n, but the oblique ends in -(y).
di saIn 1300' de di saIn hezar ssed de in the 1300s
di navbera 1968-70'y de di navbera hezar nehsad
est het hefty
between 1968 and 1970
Oidupusa SofokIes bi kman
ber niha bi 2450
saI hatiye nivsandin.
Oidupusa SofokIes bi
kman ber niha bi du
hezar arsed pnc
saI hatiye nivsandin.
Sophocles' Oedipus was
written at least 2450
years ago.
Numbers that modify nouns are indeclinable and are followed immediately
by the noun counted, and the noun is pluralof course this will show
only in the oblique and construct cases.
The numbers '2' and '3' by themselves are didu and sis; when they
modify nouns and when they are part of a compound number they are du
and s, and nouns following them are construed as plural, as are the nouns
after all numbers.
Ap min /: kes n nava ikeft. My uncle and the two men went
the cave.
pit /: rojn din after two more days
Her /: avn w sor, wek du pizotn
gir bn.
ts two eyes were red, like two brands of
$ hefte ar roj mabn. Three weeks and four days remained.
pit e meh (ar/eh) rojan after six months and fourteen days
Temporal expressions of duration of time ("for X amount of time) and
instance ("X number of times) are in the oblique case.
S roj s evan di w cih da ma. He stayed in that place for three days
and three nights.
Ez het caran hatim girtin. was arrested eight times.
Pnc, het, /eh caran ew Iat biIind
dibn ber ku giranbna wan wan
bikine bin goI.
ive, eight, ten times those stones
skipped before their weight pulled them
to the bottom of the lake.
9.1. OrdinaI Numbers. With the exception of '1st,' ordinal numbers are
formed from the cardinal numbers plus the suffix -(y)an, as in the following:
1st eweI()
2nd diduyan, duduyan
3rd sisiyan
4th aran
5th pncan
6th ean
7th heftan
8th hetan
9th nehan
10th dehan
11th yanzdehan
12th dwanzdehan &c.
The ordinals are construed as normal adjectives.
Bi hatina cunta fast a diduyan re ez
j hatim avtin.
With the coming of the second ascist
junta was thrown out of there.
di hejmara Hawar ya 4'an [aran] de in the fourth issue of Hawar
#oja sisiyan Ia kur xwe da pita
xwe bir maI.
n the third day he put his son's body
on his back and carried him home.
Xeyn ji deng segek tu dengn din ne
dihatin guhan, I dirj ne kir, dema
deng segek b y duduyan sisiyan
Aside from the sound of a dog no other
sounds could be heard, but it wasn't
long before there was the sound of a
second, third, and fourth dog.
There is an alternative set of ordinals formed in the Persian manner with
the suffixes -em and -emn, as follows:
1st yekem(n)
2nd duyem(n)
3rd syem(n)
4th arem(n)
5th pncem(n)
6th eem(n)
7th heftem(n)
8th hetem(n)
9th nehem(n)
10th dehem(n)
11th yanzdehem(n)
12th dwanzdehem(n) &c.
These ordinals tend to be used in set phrases like er chan y
'the irst World War' and cara yekem 'the first time.'
9.2. Months of the Year and Days of the Week. There are several
systems in use for the months. The names of the first set are
borrowed from rench, and they are as follows:
janvye/januar January fevrye ebruary
mars March
aprI April
m May
jen June
jya July
t August
september September
oktober ctober
november November
desember December
The names of the second set either correspond to or were borrowed
from the Arabic versions of the ancient Semitic month names that were
to fit the Julian calendar months of the Roman Empire. May and July
have fallen out of use in this set. The names are given with their Arabic
equivalents in parentheses:
iIeya pan January ( ( -' _-'`&
sibat ebruary ( '(
adar March ( (&&
nsan April ( '(
hezran June ( &(
ab August ( (&
eyII September ( (-&
iriya pn ctober ( / ~.(
iriya pan November ( ~.
iIeya pn December ( /(-'
The third set consists of traditional Kurdish names for a few months:
reeme ebruary
avdar March
guIan May
trmeh July
geIawj August
Ion September
Dates are written and read as follows:
31' adara 1947'an s yek adara hezar
nehsed iI heftan
March 31, 1947
di 26' nsana 1893'an de di bst e nsana
hezar hetsed nod
sisiyan de
on the 26th of April 1893
di 25.07.1974'an de di bst pnc trmeha
hezar nehsed heft
aran de
on 25 July 1974
The days of the week (all feminine) are as follows. The b of emb is
deleted in the nominative case and restored in the oblique and con-
struct cases, as in em (nom.) but roja emb (obl.):
em(b) Saturday
yekem(b) Sunday
duem(b) Monday
sem(b) Tuesday
arem(b) Wednesday
pncem(b) Thursday
n riday
9.3. TeIIing Time. n all expressions for telling time, the basis of the
is saet (or the variant seet) 'hour.'
Saet i ye? What time is it?
Saet deh e. t's ten o'clock.
Saet nzk dudiy pit nvroje (nro)
t was nearly two o'clock in the afternoon.
saet sis sibeh/ev three o'clock in the morning/at night
10. Comparative and SuperIative Adjectives. The comparative degree
of the adjective is made by suffixing -tir. There are only a few irregularly
formed comparatives, viz. pir 'much' > btir 'more,' ba 'good' > tir
'better,' and mezin 'big' > meztir (as well as the regularly formed mezintir)
'bigger, older.' Adjectives ending in t drop the t before the addition of
-tir (pwist > pwistir, not *pwisttir, and xurt > xurtir, not *xurttir). The
preposition of comparison is ji, as in the following examples.
Min ji her tit btir ji wan hez dikir. liked them more than anything.
Hin ji wan, bi baIefiran, ya j bi
gemiyn mezin /Prtir b.
Some of them had gone further in planes
or large ships.
Ew pwist e ku nivskarn me Ii ser
jiyana gund axayan biaxivin, I
pwistir e ku ew ji br nekin ku kurd
Ii ehran j dijn.
t is important that our writers speak of
the life of villagers and lords, but it is
more important that they not forget that
Kurds live in cities too.
Ez ten e saIan ji te mezintir im. 'm only six years older than you.
Erebiya min ji kurd turkiya min
tir b tir e j.
My Arabic was and still is better than
my Kurdish and Turkish.
Tu her roj x:rtir dib. ou get stronger every day.
'More than' followed by a number is expressed by btir (or pirrtir) +
the number:
Hn btir pnc mitr di bin zemna
Pars de bn.
ou were more than fifty meters beneath
the ground of Paris.
Pirrtir /:se/ P pnc kut ji Iekern
tirkan heb.
There were more than two hundred fifty
slain among the soldiers of the Turks.
The superlative is indicated by context, not by a special form. The first
example in this section could just as well be translated as " liked them the
most of anything. A comparative adjective followed by a construct usually
gives the superlative sense, and a following construct is the equivalent of
the English "in.
Xurd /ewlementir g:n/ b. Khurshid was the richest (person) in the
W Ii kur xwe dinr xwe bextyartir
/in dizan.
He used to look at his son and consider
himself the luckiest (person) in the
A true superlative adjective is made by adding -tirn to the adjective, and
such superlatives precede the nouns they modify:
Mezintirn nav ku bi ziman
edebiyata kurd ya kIask re bye
yek, Ehmed Xan ye.
%he greatest name that has occurred in
the classical Kurdish language and literature
is Ahmad Khani.
A second type of superlative is made with her preceding the adjective.
Like issimo in talian, her gives a superlative sense of "really, e.g. her
girng means "most important in the sense of "really important.
of compound adjectives like bi quwet 'powerful' and past participles
used adjectivally like Iipamay 'backward,' where the addition of -tir
would be awkward or impossible, are signaled by her.
Ew yek ji ar nivskarn her bi
q:wet mekteba "Hawar" b.
He was one of the most powerful poets
and writers of the Hawar school.
Nirvanek her /ilr j newir b bi
roj di nav re derbas bibya.
Even a really intrepid hunter would not
have dared to pass through in the daytime.
Cumhriyeta Mehabad di droka
Kurdistan ya nzk de yek ji
byern her girng e.
The Republic of Mahabad is one of the
most important events in the recent
history of Kurdistan.
Kurdistan herma Tirkiyey ya her
lipamay ye; Mrdn bajar Tirkiyey
y her lipamay ye; Nisbn
qeza Mrdn ya her bi /er/ e; StiII
nehiya Nisbn ya her belengaz e;
iving gund StiII y her lipamay
ye. Li gor nifsa min ez Ii ikefta
jimar dido ya v gund hatime dinyay.
Kurdistan is the most backward part of
Turkey; Mardin is the most backward
city in Turkey; Nusaybin is the most
wretched district of Mardin; Still is the
most destitute part of Nusaybin; Ziving
is the most backward village in Still.
According to my identity card, was
born in cave number two of this village.
11. Present CopuIas. The present-tense copulas ('am, is, are') are
i.e. unstressed, but they are usually written as separate words.
im in me ne
in y ne
e in ye ne
Examples of postconsonantal copulas:
ez kurd im ' am Kurdish' em kurd in 'we are Kurdish'
tu kurd 'you are Kurdish hun kurd in 'you are Kurdish'
ew kurd e 's/he is Kurdish' ew kurd in 'they are Kurdish'
Examples of postvocalic copulas:
ez bi w re me ''m with him' em bi w re ne 'we are with him'
tu bi w re y 'you're with him' hun bi w re ne 'you are with him'
ew bi w re ye 's/he's with him' ew bi w re ne 'they are with him'
The negative ne (stressed) is positioned before the complement (or
is negated, but not before the copula). Examples of copulas with negatives:
ez ne kurd im ''m not Kurdish' em ne kurd in 'we aren't Kurdish'
tu ne kurd 'you aren't Kurdish' hun ne kurd in 'you aren't Kurdish'
ew ne kurd e 's/he isn't Kurdish' ew ne kurd in 'they aren't Kurdish'
ther examples are as follows:
Tu xwndekr . ou are a student.
Tu xwndekrek b . ou are a good student.
Tu n xwndekrek b . ou are not a good student.
B e. t is good.
N b e. t is not good.
Ev xanyek e. This is a house.
Ev xan ne. These are houses.
Ev n xanyek e. This is not a house.
Ez ne ji era we me, ez ne iyay ne
j det me; ez bajar me. L beriya
hertit, ez j merivek im.
am not from your tribe; am not a
mountaineer or from the plains either;
am an urbanite, but before anything else
am a person.
The combination of an oblique plural ending in -an and the first-person
singular enclitic im usually becomes -a me instead of -an im.
Ez yek ji wan nivskara me. am one of those writers.
Ez j yek ji wan kurda me ku . too am one of those Kurds who .
Ez bi xwe yek ji wan kesa me ku . myself am one of those people
12. 'To Have' and the ExistentiaI Verb HebPn. The existential verb 'to
exist' is hebn, the present and past conjugations of which are as follows:
ez hme em hne ez hbm em hbn
tu hy hun hne tu hby hun hbn
ew hye ew hne ew hb ew hbn
The third-persons singular and plural are used for 'there is' and 'there
are' respectively.
Gotineke piyn me heye. There is a saying of our ancestors.
Ger xwendevann kurd tunebin
sedem w hene.
f there are no readers of Kurdish, there
are reasons for it.
Pir kes Ii dora min hebPn ku ji iran
hez dikir ir dinivsandin.
There were many people around me who
enjoyed poetry and wrote poems.
Di avn w da ronahiyeke dijwar
There was a hard light in his eyes.
The negative of heye is tune 'there is not any., there is no.,' and the
negative of heb is tuneb 'there was not any., there was no..'
Madem ku zimannivs t:ne, ev dewIetkirin
i ye?
As long as there are no writers, what's
the use of creating this state?
Di v war da otorteyeke resm t:ne. n this regard there is no official
Divab ku ew kzik w ev bihata
kutin an na xew Ii min t:nebP.
That bug would have to be killed that
night or else there would be no sleep
for me.
There is no verb in Kurdish equivalent to the English verb 'to have.'
Kurdish expresses possession by the possessive construct followed by the
appropriate third person of the existential verbheye 'there is,' hene 'there
are,' heb 'there was,' or hebn 'there were.'
Pirsiyareke min heye. have a question.
Pirsiyareke min heb. had a question.
Pnc zarokn w hene. He has five children.
Cihek bajar Mehabad y taybet di
diI me de heye.
The city of Mahabad has a special place
in our hearts.
13. The Infinitive. Kurdish infinitives end in -in, -n, -an, or -n, are
stressed on the final syllable (dtn 'to see,' meiyn 'to walk,' tirsn 'to
fear'), and are construed as feminine nouns. The use of the infinitive as a
noun occasionally coincides with English usage, but it is more often used
where the English gerund ("-ing) is used.
Axaftin, xwen/in nivsna bi ziman
zikmak, ji her mirov re pwstiyek
%o speak, to read, and to write in one's
native language is a requirement for
every person.
pit wean/ina kovara xwe bi saIek
pit avakirina Cumhriyeta Tirkiy
bi deh saIan
a year after publishing his journal and
ten years after the founding of the Republic
of Turkey
An unmodified direct object of an infinitive precedes the infinitive and
forms a generic compound with it. Thus, qehwe vexwarin 'to drink coffee,'
rojname xwendin 'to read newspapers,' kovar weandin 'to publish
and hotI yn 'to frequent hotels' are generic compounds. A modified
direct object of an infinitive is linked to the infinitive by an objective
genitive construct. So, vexwarina qehweya xwe 'to drink one's coffee,'
xwendina rojnameya xwe ya bi kurd 'to read one's newspaper in
weandina kovara xwe 'to publish one's journal,' and yna min ya
hotI 'my going to the hotel,' where the objects and complements are
indefinite, or modified (i.e. not generic), become construct phrases.
Ez dixwazim her sibeh bi vexwarina
qehweya xwe re rojnameya xwe ya bi
kurd j bixwnim.
want to read my newspaper in Kurdish
every morning while drinking my coffee.
Bi Pyna min ya hotl diI xwe girtin. They were offended by my going
to the
The infinitive is also used with the preposition ji bo to express purpose:
Ji bo /tina wan ez me Sriy. went to Syria in order to see them.
Min bihst ku Ii weIatn #oheIat iI saI
xebat divt ji bo kirina erbikek
have heard that in the countries of the
rient forty years of labor are needed in
order to produce a porcelain vase.
14. The Present Tense. The present tense corresponds to the English
present used for habitual action (" work) and to the present progressive
("'m working). t is formed from the present stem of the verb.
The present stems of a few very common verbs are totally irregular and
must be learned as a principal part of the verb (e.g. dtin 'to see' > bn-,
xwestin 'to want' > xwaz-). With few exceptions, verbs with infinitives
ending in -an, -iyan, -n, and -n are regular and form the present stem by
dropping those endings. Verbs that end in -andin (for which type see 28
below) form their present stems by changing the -andin ending to -n- (e.g.
mirandin 'to cause to die' > mirn-).
To form the present tense, the stressed progressive/habitual modal marker
d is prefixed to the present stem, and the following suffixed personal
are added to the stem.
-im -in -m -n
- -in -y -n
-e -in - -n
Examples of conjugation are as follows. n Kurmanji, pronominal subjects
are not optional and must be expressed.
ez dim em din ez dom em don
tu d hun din tu doy hun don
ew de ew din ew do ew don
n the negative, the modal marker di is replaced by stressed n-.
ez nim em nin ez nom em non
tu n hun nin tu noy hun non
ew ne ew nin ew no ew non
f the present stem begins with a- or -, the prefix di- may drop its vowel
and becomes d-, as in axaftin/axiv- 'speak' and andin/n- 'to hurt,'
present tenses of which are either daxivim or diaxivim ' speak' and either
dnim or dinim ' hurt.'
There are two verbs with irregular conjugations in the present tense, hatin
'to come' and ann 'to bring.' n both these verbs the d- modal marker
has assimilated to the present stem and appears as t-. Their present
affirmative and negative, are as follows:
ez tm em tn ez tnim em tnin
tu tey hun tn tu tn hun tnin
ew t ew tn ew tne ew tnin
ez naym em nayn ez naynim em naynin
tu nayey hun nayn tu nayn hun naynin
ew nay ew nayn ew nayne ew naynin
There are also two verbs, zann 'to know' and karn 'to be able,' that are
irregular in the negative. They form the negative with n instead of na.
ez nizanim em nizanin ez nikarim em nikarin
tu nizan hun nizanin tu nikar hun nikarin
ew nizane ew nizanin ew nikare ew nikarin
The present tense is used for (1) present habitual action (" go) and (2)
present progressive action ("'m going), and context usually makes it clear
which tense should be used in English. Normal word order in Kurdish is
subject, object, verb.1 Complements of verbs of motion (where one comes,
goes, brings, etc.) tend to follow the verb in the oblique case, as in the first
example below.
Ez naim doktor. Ez derman venaxwim.
Derziy j naxwazim.
'm not going to the doctor. 'm not
taking medicine. don't want stiches
XeIkn Mehabad w roja han mna
karnevaIek proz dikin, dehoI zurnevann
bajr Idixin, Mehabad j bi
destn hev digirin direqisin.
The people of Mahabad celebrate that
day like a carnival, they play the city
drums and clarions, and Mahabadis join
hands and dance.
Du jinn gund nzktir dibin, heta ber
der Iojman tn, Mamoste Kevanot
av Ii wan dikeve bi matmayn
Two village women get closer. They
come up to the door of the lodging.
Master Kevanot looks at them and says
with astonishment.
15. Compound Verbs. Compound verbs, which do not differ significantly
from their counterparts in Persian and Sorani, consist of a nonverbal
(preverb or complement) and a verb. n Kurmanji some compound
verbs are consistently written as one word, like hiIdan 'to lift,' which
of the preverb hiI and the verb dan 'to give' (present stem d-), vekirin
1 ull normal word order is: (1) temporal expression, (2) subject, (3) direct
(4) miscellaneous prepositional phrases, (5) verb, (6) directional
complement. Many
other orders are possible, but when any element is moved from its normal
position it
is highlighted or emphasized in some way.
'to open,' which consists of the preverb ve and the verb kirin 'to do'
stem k-), and rnitin 'to sit down,' which consists of the preverb r
and the verb nitin (present stem n-); others are written as two separate
words, like behs kirin 'to discuss' and aIkar kirin 'to help.' The di- prefix
is added to the verbal part of the compound, i.e. after the nonverbal part.
Stress in the affirmative is on the preverb.
ez vdikim em vdikin ez bhs dikim em bhs dikin
tu vdik hun vdikin tu bhs dik hun bhs dikin
ew vdike ew vdikin ew bhs dike ew bhs dikin
ez hIdidim em hIdidin ez rdinm em rdinn
tu hIdid hun hIdidin tu rdiny hun rdinn
ew hIdide ew hIdidin ew rdin ew rdinn
n the negative the stressed prefix n- takes the place of di- in compound
ez venkim em venkin ez behs nkim em behs nkin
tu venk hun venkin tu behs nk hun behs nkin
ew venke ew venkin ew behs nke ew behs nkin
ez hiIndim em hiIndin ez rnnm em rnnn
tu hiInd hun hiIndin tu rnny hun rnnn
ew hiInde ew hiIndin ew rnn ew rnnn
Depending upon the semantics of a given compound, many compound
verbs can be extended to include any and all matter that complements the
nonverbal part of the compound. or instance, compound verbs like aIkar
kirin 'to help' and behs kirin 'to discuss' can be extended through a
(or multiple constructs) as in the following examples. n extended
constructs the construct takes care of modifications and relationships that
are expressed by various means in English, usually with prepositions.
Ew j alkariya kovara Enstt:ya k:r/
ya Pars dike.
He also helps out on the journal of the
Paris Kurdish Institute.
Em behsa be k:r/n K:r/istana
Tirkiyey dikin.
We are discussing the role of the Kurds
in %urkeys Kurdistan.
Close compound verbs of the hiIdan 'to raise' and vekirin 'to open' type
do not admit extension through a construct. They take normal direct objects
before the verb.
Ji peyayn gund hinek ji dr ve siIav
Ii w hiIdidin.
A few of the village men raise a greeting
to him from afar.
Soviyet pirtkn dersan yn bi kurd
ap dikin dibistann kurd vedikin.
The Soviets print schoolbooks in Kurdish
and open Kurdish schools.
16. The Formation of the Present Subjunctive. Like the present
the present subjunctive is formed from the present stem of the verb and
the personal suffixes. The modal marker for the subjunctive is b-. Unlike
the d prefix, b does not usually drop its vowel in favor of an initial a in the
stem, but in some dialects it may do so (i.e. baxivim for biaxivim).
ez bim em bin ez baxivim em baxivin
tu b hun bin tu baxiv hun baxivin
ew be ew bin ew baxive ew baxivin
n compound verbs, the b- prefix is optional, and it is usually omitted
with close compounds (generally speaking, those that are written together
one word and, by and large, verbs compounded with kirin unless there is
extended complement). When the b- prefix is omitted, the absence of a
modal prefix identifies the verb as subjunctive, as in ve-xwarin (ve-xw-) 'to
drink' and hiI-dan (hiI-d-) 'to lift':
ez vxwim em vxwin ez hIdim em hIdin
tu vxw hun vxwin tu hId hun hIdin
ew vxwe ew vxwin ew hIde ew hIdin
The negative prefix for the subjunctive is n-, which replaces b- where it
occurs. Where there is no bi- prefix, the negative is attached to the verbal
part of compounds.
ez nim em nin ez hiIndim em hiIndin
tu n hun nin tu hiInd hun hiIndin
ew ne ew nin ew hiInde ew hiIndin
There are two present subjunctives of the verb bn 'to be, become,' with
and without the subjunctive marker bi-. The conjugation without the marker
is used when the verb means 'be'; the conjugation with the marker is used
when the verb means 'become' and when it is part of a compound verb.
ez bim em bin ez bbim em bbin
tu b hun bin tu bb hun bbin
ew be ew bin ew bbe ew bbin
n the negative the distinction between 'be' and 'become' is lost, and there
is only one negative present subjunctive.
ez nbim em nbin
tu nb hun nbin
ew nbe ew nbin
There are two present subjunctives of hatin 'to come.' ne is regularly
conjugated based on the stem wer- without the bi- prefix; the other is
conjugated based on the stem b-, a contraction of bi- and y-, the
present stem of hatin.
ez werim em werin ez bm em bn
tu wer hun werin tu by hun bn
ew were ew werin ew b ew bn
The negative present subjunctive of these two variants is as follows:
ez nwerim em nwerin ez nym em nyn
tu nwer hun nwerin tu nyy hun nyn
ew nwere ew nwerin ew ny ew nyn
There are also two present subjunctives of n 'to go.' ne is regularly
congujated based on the stem - with the b- subjunctive marker; the other
is regularly conjugated based on the stem her- without the subjunctive
ez biim em biin ez herim em herin
tu bi hun biin tu her hun herin
ew bie ew biin ew here ew herin
Negatives are predictably formed:
ez nim em nin ez nherim em nherin
tu n hun nin tu nher hun nherin
ew ne ew nin ew nhere ew nherin
16.1 Uses of the present subjunctive. The present subjunctive is used
the following instances:
(1) independentlyi.e. not dependent upon a preceding constructionas
a deliberative (English 'should').
Ez ro bm? Should come today?
car em i bikin? Now what should we do?
(2) in the first persons singular and plural as a cohortative ('let me, let's')
and in the 3rd persons as a hortatory ('let him., may he .'). The hortatory
is often preceded by biIa 'let.'
Pe ez bibjim ku . irst let me say that .
Ew der veke. Let him open the door.
Em herin! Let's go!
Bi siyaset biIa ew mijI bibin. Let them get involved in politics.
(3) as complement to all verbs and constructions of desire and wanting
(see 16.2), ability (see 16.3), necessity, deciding, ordering, etc.
Lazim e t: Kurmanc biaxiv. Its necessary that you speak Kurmanji.
Di v babet de ez naxwazim titek
I dont want to say anything in this
T: /ikar hinek behsa xwe jiyana
xwe bik?
an you speak a bit about yourself and
your life?
Em kurd in kurd gereke ber hem
zimanan, bi ziman xwe biaxivin,
bixwnin P binivsin.
We are Kurds, and Kurds ought to
speak, read, and write in their own
language before all other languages.
Ber her tit gereke ez nan bi/im ku
ji mefhma "kovara sIam" ez i tit
fehim dikim.
Before anything else, it is necessary for
me to indicate what understand by the
concept of an "slamic journal.
Gereke kovar xwe zencr nekin. It is necessary that journals not fetter
W pirr caran biryar /abP ku d Ii
xurn cixar nekine.
Many times he had decided not to smoke
cigarettes any more on an empty stomach.
Doktor /iv ryek nan me bi/e
derman binivsine.
The doctor must show us a way and
write a [prescription for a] remedy.
(4) after a number of conjunctions like ber ku 'before' (which is usually
followed by the subjunctive), ax ku 'when' (which is followed by the
subjunctive when it refers to the future), and mna ku 'as though.' See 30.
Ber k: ez /erkevim dervey weIt, min
soran nebihstib.
efore I went outside the country, had
not heard Sorani.
ax k: firseta min bibe, ez bi ev
rojan bo ziman edebiyata kurd
hen I get the opportunity, will work
day and night for Kurdish language and
Mna k: di ber de naxoiyek di
navna wan de hebe.
s though there was some unpleasantness
between them before.
(5) in the protasis (the "if clause) of a possible conditional with reference
to the present or the future:
Ger ev rast be, . If this is true, .
Ger ew bibin yek, ew dikarin her tit
If they unite, they can do anything.
(6) in all purpose clauses, usually introduced by ji bo ku 'in order that':
Ez diim xwendegeh ji bo k: ez
go to school in order to study.
Ez dixwnim ji bo k: bibim mamoste. 'm studying in order to become a
Ji bo k: t: ji nexweiy bifilit, div
doktor Ii te binre bi nexweiya te
In order for you to get rid of your illness,
it is necessary for the doctor to have a
look at you and diagnose your illness.
(7) in clauses complementary to adjectives, where English usually has a
complementary infinitive:1
GeI me, gotin keImeyn ku dizane
j ne ame/e ye k: ji semboI herfan
ur society is not ready to read even
words it knows from symbols and
(8) n relative clauses introduced by indefinite relative pronouns like
ku 'anybody who' &c.:
Herkes k: bi kurd binivse, di destpk
de heta demeke dirj, perg
zehmetiyn mezin were.
nybody who writes in Kurdish will encounter
major difficulties at the beginning
and for a long time.
(9) n relative and result clauses after negative expressions:
Titek ne /ihat xuya kirin k: mirov
bibje ev bikaribe bibe sedema ewte
ewta kikn gund.
othing could be made out that one
might say it could be the reason for the
barking of the dogs of the village.
SaIn min ne ewqas zde ne k: ez
bibjim, ez pir jiyame min geIek
My years are not so many that I could
say have lived a lot and seen much.
1But not in clauses dependent upon adjectives that describe situations or
that actually pertain or have taken place, which are in the indicative mood,
Ez xwe bextiyar dibnim k: mamostetiya
gundeki weha bPye para min.
count myself lucky that a teaching job
in such a village has been my lot.
(10) n relative clauses with indefinite antecedents, often preceded by
wek or mna 'like.' See 22 (3).
Mna guIa ji IIa tufing /erkeve, tu ji
maI derket.
ou lit out of the house like a bullet shot
from the barrel of a rifle.
Dtina w b mna kra ku tu di birn
de bigern.
Seeing him was like a knife you twist in
a wound.
Two verbs, karn 'to be able' and zann 'to know,' do not form their
present subjunctives as other verbs do but use the form of the past
(see 22 below) instead.
16.2. The Future Tense. The future tense is formed by adding - or d to
the personal pronouns followed by the present subjunctive conjugation. Tu
+ is often contracted to t (t and tiw also exist), and ew + may be
contracted to w, although the contraction is not mandatory. The
of the future tense of n (affirmative and negative) is:
ez (ez d) biim em (em d) biin ez (ez d) neim em (em d)
t (tu d) bi hun (hun d) biin t (tu d) ne hun (hun d) nein
ew (ew d) bie ew (ew d) biin ew (ew d) nee ew (ew d)
When the subject of a future-tense verb is a noun, w, , or d comes after
the noun. All the future markers are reflexes of the present stem ( w)
of the verb 0 wstin 'to want,' which still exists in Sorani Kurdish and
which has produced this synthetic tense much like the English future
with 'will.'
Dema em / bighjin Ewropa,1 ken
porzer Ii Ferensa Ii Swd w Ii ser
por me /n bibin.
When we get to Europe, the blonde girls
in rance and Sweden will go crazy for
our hair.
Ew dibje ku ew bi siyaset ve mijPl
He says he wont get involved in politics.
1Kurdish, like rench (quand nous arriverons en urope), uses the future
'when' when it has a future implication.
Ya meriv israr bike bi kurd binivse,
yan j meriv zimanek din ku ji
kurd geIek pkettir e, terch bike.
Either a person will insist and write in
Kurdish, or a person will prefer another
language that is much more advanced
than Kurdish.
"Ya reb, ez i bikim?" min di diI
xwe de got.
" Lord, what will I do? said to myself.
16.2. Xwestin, 'To Want.' The Kurmanji verb for "to want is xwestin
(present stem xwaz-). Verbal complements are in the present subjective. A
full inflection of the present tense of 'to want to go' is as follows:
ez dixwazim biim em dixwazin biin
tu dixwaz bi hun dixwazin biin
ew dixwaze bie ew dixwazin biin
When the subject of xwestin and the subject of the following subjunctive
complement are the same, the subjunctive follows in the same person, as
the following examples.
Ez naxwazim v behs dirj bikim. don't want to prolong this
Ew dixwaze ji avakirina Cumhriyet
re bibe pitgir aIkar.
He wants to become a supporter and
helper in the founding of the republic.
When the subjects are different, however, the conjunction ku usually
and the subject of the subjunctive verb must be expressed.
Bav w dixwaze k: ew bixwne. His father wants him to study.
Bav min dixwaze k: ez bixwnim. My father wants me to study.
See note on the past tense of xwestin at 18.3 below.
16.3. Karn, 'To Be AbIe.' The verb 'to be able' is karn (present stem
kar-). Karn is regularly conjugated in the present, often without the
and it is followed by a subjunctive complement. The negative present
is formed with ni- instead of na-. Below is given the full present
affirmative and negative, of ' can go/ can't go':
ez dikarim biim em dikarin biin ez nikarim biim em nikarin biin
tu dikar bi hun dikarin biin tu nikar bi hun nikarin biin
ew dikare bie ew dikarin biin ew nikare bie ew nikarin biin
HevaI hja, tu kar xwe bi me bid
Dear friend, can you introduce yourself
to us?
Tu dikar, ji kerema xwe re, hinek
behsa xwe jiyana xwe bik?
Can you please talk a bit about yourself
and your life?
Meriv nikare di hengamek de Ii end
cihan be.
A person cannot be in several places at
Karn does not form its present subjunctive in the normal manner. or it,
see 22 below. or the past tense of karn see 21.1 and note 3 on p. 54.
A dialectal variant of this verb, kann, is used by some writers.
17. The Imperative. The singular imperative of verb stems ending in
vowels is formed from b- + the present stem. To present stems that end in
consonants is also suffixed an unstressed -e. The plural imperative is
to the 2nd-person plural subjunctive. As is the case in the subjunctive of
close compound verbs, the b- prefix is usually omitted; in open compounds
it is generally found but may be omitted.
bn 'be' b- bbe bbin
-bn 'become' -b- -be -bin
n - be bin
girtin gir- bgire bgirin
hiIdan hiI-d- hIde hIdin
kirin k- bke bkin
rnitin r-n- rn rnn
ustin o- bo bon
vekirin ve-k- vke vkin
Hatin and n form imperatives on their second present stems, wer- and
her- respectively.
hatin wer- were werin
n her- here herin
The negative imperative prefix is n-.
bn b- nbe nbin
n - ne nin
girtin gir- ngire ngirin
hiIdan hiI-d- hiInde hiIndin
kirin k- nke nkin
rnitin r-n- rnn rnnn
ustin o- no non
vekirin ve-k- venke venkin
17.1. The Vocative. n the vocative the stress shifts to the first syllable of
the noun and the following endings are added:
-o - -n/-no
Hi be, kro! Be quiet, boy!
Were, k! Come here, girl!
Krkern, yekgirin! Workers, unite!
bin, hevaIno! Be quick, friends!
The difference between the -n ending and the -no ending for the plural is
18. The SimpIe Past (Intransitive). The simple past (preterite) of
verbs is formed by adding unstressed personal suffixes to the past
stem of the verb. The past stem is derived by deleting the -(i)n ending of
infinitive; this will leave a past stem in a consonant, , , or a.
-im -in -m -n
- -in -y -n
- -in - -n
Examples of the simple past inflection are from hatin 'to come,' bn 'to
be,' tirsn 'to fear,' and man 'to remain.'
ez hatim em hatin ez bm em bn
tu hat hun hatin tu by hun bn
ew hat ew hatin ew b ew bn
%I#$Z M
ez tirsm em tirsn ez mam em man
tu tirsiy hun tirsn tu may hun man
ew tirs ew tirsn ew ma ew man
The negative is formed by prefixing n-:
ez nhatim em nhatin ez nbm em nbn
tu nhat hun nhatin tu nby hun nbn
ew nhat ew nhatin ew nb ew nbn
ez ntirsm em ntirsn ez nmam em nman
tu ntirsiy hun ntirsn tu nmay hun nman
ew ntirs ew ntirsn ew nma ew nman
The Kurdish simple past tense usually corresponds closely to the English
past tense.
Tu bi peIikan Py jor. ou went down the stairs.
Demek j midr dibistan bPm. or a time was a school principal.
Hem man bdeng. They all remained silent.
However, since the Kurdish simple past tense indicates anything that took
place or has taken place in the past, it sometimes corresponds to the
present perfect tense. n journalistic and advertising usage, the simple past
tense is used in headlines and story titles, where English normally uses the
present, as in the following:
Kaset cd derket Ii hem mzk
The cassette and CD have come to (are
available in) all music stores.
Konferansa Tevgera Jinn Azad bi
daw b.
The conference of the Liberated
Women's Movement has ended.
Li bar Kurdistan di 10 saIn daw
de 2733 kes mirin, 4913 kes j
birndar bn.
2,733 people have died and 4,913 people
have been wounded over the last ten
years in the south of Kurdistan.
A distinction between the two meanings of the verb bn, 'to be' and 'to
become,' is shown in the past tense by the placement of the verb. When it
means 'to be' it follows the predicate, but when it means 'to become' the
verb comes between the subject and the predicate, as in the following:
Ew zabitek jr jhat bP. He was a talented and worthy officer.
Ew bP zabitek jr jhat. He became a talented and worthy officer.
18.1. The Past HabituaI/Progressive (Intransitive). The past habitual ('
used to go') and progressive (' was going') is formed by adding the
progressive prefix d- to the simple past.
ez dhatim em dhatin ez dm em dn
tu dhat hun dhatin tu dy hun dn
ew dhat ew dhatin ew d ew dn
Gava dim dibistan vedigeriyam,
dIikek teva du cewrn xwe Ii ser riya
min xuya dibn bi min da direyan.
When was going to school and coming
back, a dog and her two pups used to
appear in front of me and bark at me.
Lekern tirk wek peIkn daran di ser
pita hespan de dihatin xar.
Turkish soldiers were coming down
from the backs of horses like leaves of
or past habituals in di-, the negative is regularly formed by prefixing nto
the affirmative (and not, as in the present tense, by combining the negative
prefix with di-):
ez nedihatim em nedihatin ez nedim em nedin
tu nedihat hun nedihatin tu nediy hun nedin
ew nedihat ew nedihatin ew nedi ew nedin
Xwe t bra min xew ne/iket avn
min, heya diya min rokek ji min re
remember well that sleep used not to
come to my eyes until my mother had
told me a story.
#ojek /erbas ne/ibP, b ku ew
mirin Ii avn hev ne nihrin.
ot a day used to go by that he and death
did not look each other in the eye.
18.2. The SimpIe Past (Transitive): The Ergative. The simple past
of transitive verbs exhibits a phenomenon called ergativity, whereby (1) the
agent is marked, (2) the patient is unmarked, and (3) the verb agrees with
the patient.
The tense is formed from the past stem of the verb, and to it are added the
personal endings of the intransitive past, but these endings agree in person
and number with the patient (what we call the direct object). The agent (our
subject) is in the oblique case, and the patient is in the nominativei.e. just
the reverse of the present tense.
min ew dt
him saw-him
w ez dtim
he me saw-me
w jin tu dt
that woman you saw-you
te ew dtin
you them saw-them
The first conjugation below reflects changing agents, and even if the
singular patient ew were not expressed, it would still be inextricably
built into dt. The second conjugation reflects changing patients.
min ew dt saw him me ew dt we saw him
te ew dt you saw him we ew dt you saw him
w ew dt he saw him wan ew dt they saw him
w ez dtim he saw me w em dtin he saw us
w tu dt he saw you w hun dtin he saw you
w ew dt he saw him w ew dtin he saw them
Negatives are formed by prefixing n- to the affirmative.
w ez nedtim he didn't see me w em nedtin he didn't see us
w tu nedt he didn't see you w hun nedtin he didn't see you
w ew nedt he didn't see him w ew nedtin he didn't see them
The past habitual/progressive is regularly formed by adding the d- prefix
to the verb and ndi- for the negative.
min ew didt used to see him w ez nedidtim he didn't use to see
Pronouns in the oblique case are the clearest indicators of agency. Noun
agents are also in the oblique case; however, masculine singular nouns are
not marked for the oblique.
Alfre/ Nobel pit mirina xwe, serweteke
mezin Ii d xwe hit.
Alfred Nobel left behind a large fortune
after his death.
Mrik bi kenek ne ji diI got. The fellow said with a smile not from
the heart.
eminines, of course, are marked in the oblique, as are masculines
by a demonstrative and all plurals.
Jinikek aya me an. A woman brought our tea.
W mirov ay an. That man brought tea.
G:n/iyan titek negot. The villagers didn't say anything.
f any one in a series of co-ordinated verbs in the past tense is transitive,
the ergative construction takes precedence and the agent is marked.
#ewen Xanim demek bdeng ma,
kr kr fikir cigarek vxist.
Mme Rewshen remained silent for a
moment, lost in her thoughts, and lit a
n the example above, neither ma nor fikir is transitive, but since the final
verb in the series, vxist, is transitive and therefore ergative, the agent,
#ewen Xanim, is in the oblique case.
The ergative verb agrees in person and number with its patient (logical
object), but since the patient is in the nominative case and unmodified
nouns do not have an external plurality, the number is indicated only by the
verb, as in the following examples. Compare:
W kaxiz ji dest w girt. She took the page from his hand.
W kaxiz ji dest w girtin. She took the pages from his hand.
n the second example only the plural verb girtin indicates the plurality of
the patient kaxiz.
Me ew heIbest xwend. We read that poem.
Me ew heIbest xwendin. We read those poems.
Here only the plural verb xwendin indicates the plurality of the patient ew
Just as in a series of co-ordinated nouns only the last noun shows case, in
a series of co-ordinated past transitive verbs with a plural patient, only the
last in the series shows the plural. n the following example, the patient,
destn xwe 'their hands,' is plural, but only the second of the two verbs,
ann, shows the plurality.
HavaIan destn xwe bi hustiwn hev
re bir ann.
The friends reached out and put their
hands on each other's necks.
18.3. Number Agreement in Extended Ergative Verbs. n the past
tenses of compound verbs whose complements can be extended through
construct (like behs kirin 'to discuss,' which can be extended as behsa .
kirin 'to discuss something,' and baI kiandin 'to attract attention,' which
can be extended as baIa . kiandin 'to attract the attention of someone'),
the verb agrees in number (singular or plural) with with the last element
(not necessarily the last word) in the extension, i.e. if the last element in the
extension is plural, it attracts a plural verb, as in the following:
W ji min re behsa serphatiyn xwe
He discussed his adventures with me.
Here the extended patient is behsa serphatiyn xwe 'discussion of his
adventures,' and the past verb kirin agrees in the plural with the last
in the sequence, serphatiyn xwe 'his adventures.'
Wneyn min baIa rojname
hunermendan kiandin.
My pictures attracted the attention of
newspapers and artists.
n this example the extended patient is baIa rojname hunermendan 'the
attention of newspapers and artists,' and the plural verb kiandin agrees
with the last element in the sequence, the plural hunermendan 'artists.'
KemaIstn tirk fermana bi dardakirina
Emn EI Bedirxan hers
kurn w j derxistin.
The Turkish Kemalists issued an order to
hang Emin Ali Bedirkhan and all three
of his sons.
n this example the extended patient is fermana bi dardakirina Emn EI
Bedirxan hers kurn w 'an order to hang Emin Ali Bedirkhan and all
three of his sons,' and the plural verb derxistin agrees with the last
in the extended patient, hers kurn w 'all three of his sons.'
18.4. The Past Tense of Xwestin. The past tense of a transitive verb like
xwestin is ergative, but the following subjunctive complement is not.
Therefore, even when the subject of the two verbs is the same, the two
one oblique for the ergative and the other nominative for the subjunctive
must be expressed, and optionally ku may intervene between the
two verbs. An example is the conjugation of the phrase " wanted to say:
min xwest (ku) ez bibjim me xwest (ku) em bibjin
te xwest (ku) tu bibj we xwest (ku) hun bibjin
w xwest (ku) ew bibje wan xwest (ku) ew bibjin
Min xwest k: ez ji gund /erkevim P ji
xwe re ber ber em bimeim.
I wanted to get out of the village and
walk by myself along the river.
Ew tit ku di ser diI min de b
min /ixwest ez bi/im, pk nehat.
The thing that was in my heart and mind,
and which I wanted to give, didn't
come to be.
18.5. Loss of Ergativity. or stylistic reasons ergativity may be lost in
past transitive verbs. Normally this happens only in expressions like " saw
that. and " said that. when the verb is followed by a subordinate
clause as its complement:
Min gotim ku. said that. (not min got)
Min dtim ku. saw that. (not min dt)
therwise all tenses and moods constructed on the past stem of transitive
verbs are normally ergative. n some eastern dialects, however, ergativity is
sporadically lost. The criteria for this loss have not been determined.
Di hundur kI da sosreteke re
giran /tin.
nside the hut/hole ??? they saw
something unusual, black and heavy.
19. The Past ParticipIe. The past participle is formed by adding - to the
past stem of verbs whose stems end in consonants. With past stems that
in -a and - the participle is formed by adding -y to the past stem. With
past stems that end in -, the past participle is identical to the past stem.
hatin > hat > hat 'come' man > ma > may 'remained'
ustin > ust > ust 'washed' n > > y 'gone'
kirin > kir > kir 'done' kirn > kir > kir 'bought'
n meaning the past participle corresponds fairly closely to the English past
participle: hat 'come,' vekir 'opened,' ust 'washed' as in
ciIn ust washed clothes
weIatek pket an advanced country
weIatek Iipamay a backward country
kitbeke apkir a published book
Negative participles are formed by prefixing ne-, as in
kitbn neapkir unpublished books
ciIn neust unwashed clothes
benn nexuyay unseen bonds
titn negot unsaid things
20. The Present Perfect Tense (Intransitive). The present perfect tense
of intransitive verbs is formed from the past stem with the following
-ime -ine -me -ne
-iye -ine -ye -ne
-iye -ine -ye -ne
Note that the second and third persons singular are identical. Examples
from hatin 'to come' and n 'to go' are:
ez hatime em hatine ez me em ne
tu hatiye hun hatine tu ye hun ne
ew hatiye ew hatine ew ye ew ne
The negative is formed by prefixing nez
nehatime em nehatine ez neme em nene
tu nehatiye hun nehatine tu neye hun nene
ew nehatiye ew nehatine ew neye ew nene
20.1. The Present Perfect Tense (Transitive/Ergative). The present
tense of transitive verbs is made from the agent pronouns plus the
endings given above, but the construction is ergative, as in the simple past.
Examples reflect changing agents (', you, &c. have seen him/her/it') and
changing patients ('he has seen me, you, &c.'). The negative is formed by
prefixing n- to the verb.
min ew dtiye me ew dtiye w ez dtime w em dtine
te ew dtiye we ew dtiye w tu dtiye w hun dtine
w ew dtiye wan ew dtiye w ew dtiye w ew dtine
min ew nedtiye me ew nedtiye w ez nedtime w em nedtine
te ew nedtiye we ew nedtiye w tu nedtiye w hun nedtine
w ew nedtiye wan ew nedtiye w ew nedtiye w ew nedtine
Generally, the present perfect tense of Kurdish corresponds fairly closely to
the English present perfect (" have come).
Min heta niha ar kitb ap kirine. Until now have published four books.
GeIo ew j wek min win/a bPye. wonder if he too, like me, has become
But the Kurdish present perfect is in all respects the exact equivalent of the
Persian past narrative (hatime '-~~, maye ~-'~ & ). n Kurdish, as in
Persian, the present perfect tense is used for anything that happened in the
past, the effects or results of which are felt to be relevant to the present or
the topic at hand. Compare, for instance, the following two examples with
their literal translations:
W tu caran titek wiIo negot. "He never said any such thing.
W tu caran titek wiIo negotiye. "He has never said any such thing.
The first example in Kurdish is a simple statement of fact, as in English.
The second example can only be said in English if the person about whom
is said is still alive; if he is dead, we have to say, "He never said any such
thing. n Kurdish, however, the present state of the person is irrelevant;
what pertains is whether his not having said any such thing is or is not felt
to be relevant to the presenti.e., is it still true and relevant to the topic at
hand that he never said such a thing? f so, present perfect; if not, simple
ther examples of usage are as follows:
Jiyana min geIek bi equdeq bihuriya.
Ten d bi kurt bibjim: Ez di
Sibata 1953'an de, Ii Hedhedk hatime
din. P, min xwendina oI Ii
cem bav xwe xwen/iye. car pitre ez
derketime feqtiy Ii hin medreseyn
Kurdistan geriyame.
My life has been spent mostly in misery
and hardship. will only say in brief:
was born in ebruary 1953 in Hedhedik.
irst had religious instruction
with my father. Then became a religious
student and made the rounds of
some schools in Kurdistan.
n this example, the writer's first verb, bihuriya, is in the simple past tense
as a statement of fact, while English demands the present perfect.
that the writer was born in 1953, studied with his father, became a
religious student, etc. are all relevant to his having had a miserable life,
which is the topic at hand. Therefore he uses the present perfect tense.
Diya min Ii wir bPye meriyn w roj
Ii her du hIn xeta hesin bi ch dibin.
My mother was from there, and today
her people live on both sides of the
"ron Line.1
n this example the writer says literally, "my mother has been from there
because the fact that his mother was from there explains why he has
on both sides of the border.
21. The Past Perfect Tense (Intransitive). or intransitive verbs with
past stems ending in a consonant, the past perfect tense, which is
equivalent to the English past perfect (' had come, you had gone'), is
formed from the past stem + i + the past tense of bn 'to be.' Verbs with
past stems ending in a vowel form the past perfect tense from the simple
stem + the past tense of bn. Some writers shorten a final in the stem to i
(i.e. ez tersibm ' had feared' for ez tersbm). Examples of conjugation
are from hatin and n.
ez hatibm em hatibn ez bm em bn
1 The "ron Line, coined on the model of the "ron Curtain, is Turkey's
with Syria and raq, which divides Kurdistan.
tu hatiby hun hatibn tu by hun bn
ew hatib ew hatibn ew b ew bn
The negative is formed by prefixing n- to the verb:
ez nehatibm em nehatibn ez nebm em nebn
tu nehatiby hun nehatibn tu neby hun nebn
ew nehatib ew nehatibn ew neb ew nebn
Tu caran neketibP bra min ku ez
rojek ji hv j nefret bikim.
Never had it occurred to my mind that
one day would hate the moon.
Pirraniya mirovn bajr PbPn havna
xwe Ii ber Ivn der dengizn
bar derbas kin.
Most of the people of the city had gone
to spend their summers on the shores of
the seas in the south.
Heta demek pir dirj bi hevaI dostn
xwe re j nepeyivbP.
He hadnt spoken to his friends and buddies
for a very long time.
21.1. The Past Perfect Tense (Transitive/Ergative). The past perfect
tense of transitive verbs is formed, like that of intransitive verbs, from the
past stem + -i- + the past tense of bn on the ergative model. Past stems
end in vowels add b directly without the -i-.
min dtib had seen (it) me dtib we had seen (it)
te dtib you had seen (it) hun dtib you had seen (it)
w dtib he had seen (it) wan dtib they had seen (it)
w ez dtibm he had seen me w em dtibn he had seen us
w tu dtiby he had seen you w hun dtibn he had seen you
w ew dtib he had seen him w ew dtibn he had seen them
ngiIzan ziman hindiyan qe/exe
The English had not banned the ndians'
W pirr caran biryar /abP ku. Many times he had decided that.
1 or the reason for the plural verb, see 18.3.
W roj, germa havn tu gj kiribPy. n that day the heat of summer
made you dizzy.
Bi fikira ku beIk mrik Ii hember
poIsan rabe titek bi kar bne,
poIsek demanca xwe j kian/ibP.
Thinking that the man might resist the
police and use something [as a weapon],
a policeman had drawn his pistol.
As in Persian, the past perfect tense in Kurmanji is not necessarily tied to
a temporal reference as it is in English. t is often used independently for a
past tense with a somewhat more remote signification where English would
have a simple past, particularly in narratives.
Gava min di hevpeyvneke bi Osman
Sebr re, pirsa ku w "keng dest bi
nivsandin kiriye" kiribP, w gotibP
ku .
When, during a conversation with sman
Sebr, asked (not "had asked)
when he had started writing, he said
(not "had said) that .1
Tu heta niha Ii ku b? -Ez bsk
PbPm maIa Ehmed. Ji wir j em n
Where have you been till now? went
to Ahmad's house for a bit. rom there
we went to the society.2
21.2. The Past Perfect Tense of Karn and Zann. The past perfect
of the verbs karn 'to be able' and zann 'to know' is used as the normal
past tense. Thus ez/min dikaribm means ' was able, could,' and min
dizanib means ' knew.' As in the present tense, the negatives of these
verbs are formed with ni-, as in ez/min nikaribm ' wasn't able,
couldn't' and min nizanib ' didn't know.' Negatives with di- (past perfect
progressive) are nedi-. Complements of the past perfect of karn are
either in the present subjunctive or in the past conditional (see 25.1
or sequence of tenses in clauses following the past perfect of zann,
1 n this example, both Persian and Turkish might very well have the past
tense in both positions ( & _, sormutum and &
- , demiti) to imply that
significant time has passed since the exchange occurred. Since the
example is without
a secondary time reference, English would not use the past perfect.
2 Here the first verb is in the past perfect because the speaker wants to
convey that
he had gone to Ahmad's house before he and the others went somewhere
see 33.
avn Naz ne/ikaribPn d hstiran
pa ve vegernin.
Naz's eyes couldn't keep back the tears
any longer.
W ba /izanibP ku w r a ne kiriye. He well knew that he hadn't
made a
A rast me nizanibP em bi ku da diin. We really didn't know where we
Although, strictly speaking, karn is intransitive, in the past tenses the
choice of nominative or oblique subject pronoun is generally dictated by the
complementary verb. When the complementary verb is intransitive, the
nominative pronoun is used and karn is conjugated as an intransitive, as
the following:
Ez d nikarbPm Ii ser Iingan rawestiyama.
was still not able to get up on my legs.
Ez nikarbPm j re bibma aIkar. wasn't able to be helpful to him.
When the complementary verb is transitive, the oblique pronoun is used
karn is conjugated as an ergative, as in the following:
Te nikaribP awirn xwe ji dest akt
vaIa /Pr bik.
ou couldn't take your eyes off the
empty sleeve of the jacket.
"eder mehek min nikarbP dora xwe
or a month wasn't able to see my surroundings..
22. The Past Subjunctive. The past subjunctive is formed like the past
perfect, but instead of the past tense of bn, the present subjunctive of
is added, and to the whole is added the b- subjunctive prefix (which may
omitted for stylisic reasons) or n- for the negative. As with all past tenses,
the past subjunctive is nonergative with intransitives and ergative with
ez bihatibim em bihatibin min bidtibe me bidtibe
tu bihatib hun bihatibin te bidtibe we bidtibe
ew bihatibe ew bihatibin w bidtibe wan bidtibe
ez nehatibim em nehatibin min nedtibe me nedtibe
tu nehatib hun nehatibin te nedtibe we nedtibe
ew nehatibe ew nehatibin w nedtibe wan nedtibe
The past subjunctive is used (1) after all constructions that take subjunctive
complements (see 16.1) when the complement is in the past.
Gereke baran barbe. t must have rained.1
Ger car caran di hin cihan de irskin
pketibin j, dewIet bi xurt ye ser
wan, bi girtin, Idan kenc deng
wan birne.
If occasionally in some places some
sparks have caught fire, the state has
attacked them forcefully and silenced
them through arrest, beating, and torture.
(2) n past relative clauses with indefinite antecedents and in past clauses
introduced by indefinite relatives like 'whoever,' 'whatever,' 'no matter
who,' 'no matter what,' 'however much,' &c.
K:r/n k: navn SaIih CeIadet
Bedir-Xan nebihstibin pir km in.
Kurds who havent heard the names of
Salih and Jeladet Ali Bedir-Khan are
very few.
Heriqas me berhemn van nivskaran
ba nexwen/ibin j .
However much we havent read the
works of these writers well.
Te ev i kiribe div tu ji min re
hatever youve done tonight, you have
to tell me.
K bi i away nerazbna xwe ya Ii
dij dewIet anbe ziman, k bi i
away Ii dij dewIet /erketibe, k bi i
away ji bo bidestxistina mafn geI
kurd tkon /abe, dewIet heta niha
bi eyn metodn nemirovane ye ser
hoever has expressed by any means
whatsoever his discontentment with the
state, whoever has combatted the state
by any means whatsoever, whoever has
made an effort by any means whatsoever
to attain the goals of Kurds, until
now the state has attacked them with
the same base methods.
(3) after weke ku 'as though' in the past for hypothetical situations and in
1 Compare this with the present subjunctive: gereke baran bibare 'it must
relative clauses with an antecedent preceded by wek or mna 'like.'
wek peza k: o Ii ser ketibe like a sheep on whose head a stick has
(4) The past subjunctive form of two verbs, karn 'to be able' and zann
'to know,' is normally used as the present subjunctive.
nsan naxwazin ku kesn din bizanibin
ew titn weha dixwne.
People don't want others to know that
they read such things.
Em dixwazin bizanibin. We want to know.
Ev girng e ku mirov bizanibe . t's important that one know that.
Ez ne bawer im ku tu kes bikaribe
bibje ku rewa ziman edebiyata
kurd ba e.
don't believe that anybody could say
that the style of Kurdish language and
literature is good.
Km berhemn geI miIetn din yn
evqas kevin hene ku mirov b aIkariya
ferhengan bikaribe j tbigih.
There are few works belonging to other
such ancient groups and nations that
one could understand without the help
of a dictionary.
Ji bo ku bikaribim razm, min di ser
xwe de pIana ku ez awa bi i away
bikaribim w benderuh bikujim,
n order that I be able to sleep, was formulating
a plan in my head how and by
what means would be able to kill that
23. The Future Perfect Tense. The future perfect is formed, like the
by adding to pronominal subjects or w to nominal subjects, and the
verb is in the past subjunctive. Effectively only two verbs, zann and karn,
occur in this tense, and they are used for a past modal of 'know' and 'can,'
like the English modal 'would know' and 'would be able' (and not like the
English future perfect ' will have known'), as in the following conjugations:
zann karn
ez bizanbim em bizanbin ez bikarbim em bikarbin
t bizanb hun bizanbin t bikarb hun bikarbin
ew bizanbe ew bizanbin ew bikarbe ew bikarbin
d her kes w bizanbe ku kar me
iqas bi zehmet e.
Now everybody would realize how difficult
our work was.
Titek ne dihat xuya kirin ku mirov
bibje ev bikaribe bibe sedema ewte
ewta kikn gund.
Nothing could be made out that one
might say it could be the reason for the
barking of the village dogs.
24. The ModaI of Karn. The verb karn 'to be able' in the past
and future perfect corresponds to the English modal 'could' or 'would
be able.' When the modal indicates present or future time it is followed by
the present subjunctive, as in the following examples:
Gava mirov pirsek wiIo ji te bike, tu
nav kjan romana xwe bid? -Mixabin,
ez nikaribim bersiva v
When someone asks you such a question,
which novel of yours would you
name? Unfortunately wouldnt be
able to give him an answer.
Ji bo ku ew bikaribe aIfabeya xwe di
nava kurdan de beIav bike, ew biryara
derxistina kovarek dide.
So that he could spread his alphabet
among the Kurds he decided (hist.
pres.) to bring out a journal.
Asr, ereb, ermen, faris crann me
ne yn her kevin in, I mixabin di
bareya edebiyata wan de titek
nizanim ku bikaribim ya me yn
wan bidim ber hev.
Assyrians, Arabs, Armenians, and
Persians are our neighbors, and very
anciently so, but unfortunately don't
know anything about their literatures
that could compare ours with theirs.
25. The IrreaIis Mood. Kurmanji Kurdish is particularly rich in irrealis
or contrafactualmodals. There are two modal tenses devoted to the
a past conditional and a past perfect conditional, of which there are two
25.1. The Past ConditionaI. The past conditional is made by prefixing
adding the following endings to the past stem. n close compound verbs
the b- prefix may be omitted.
b- stem -ama b- stem -ana b- stem -ma b- stem -na
b- stem -ay b- stem -ana b- stem -ya b- stem -na
b- stem -a b- stem -ana b- stem -ya b- stem -na
The past conditional of intransitives is intransitive and non-ergative; the
past conditional of transitives is ergative.
ez bihatama em bihatana w bidtama w bidtana
tu bihatay hun bihatana w bidtay w bidtana
ew bihata ew bihatana w bidta w bidtana
ez nehatama em nehatana w nedtama w nedtana
The past conditional of bn does not normally have the bi- prefix when it
means 'be.' ts conjugation is as follows:
ez bma em bna
tu bya hun bna
ew bya ew bna
n compound verbs and when it means 'become,' the past conditional of
bn does have the bi- prefix.
Nirvanek her diIr j newir b bi
roj di nav re /erbas bibPya.
Even a really intrepid hunter would not
have dared to pass through in the daytime.
W ferqiyeta herdu zaravayn kurd
yn mezin hd hd hindiktir bibPya.
The difference between the two large
Kurdish dialects would gradually have
The past conditional is used (1) as the complement to the past perfect
tense of karn, which is, as has been stated, the normal equivalent to the
English past tense of 'be able.' While the present tense of karn is followed
by the present subjunctive, in some dialects the past perfect is followed by
the past conditional. See the following examples.
Wek ber d nikaribP bar giran hilgirta.
He wasnt able to carry heavy loads any
more like before.
Heta destpka saIn 1930' j, CeIadet
AIi Bedir-Xan nikaribP nameyek bi
kurd binivsan/a.
Until the beginning of the 1930s Jeladet
Ali Bedir-Khan couldnt write a letter
in Kurdish.
Her miIet di hundur snorn mperetoriy
de /ikaribP hunera xwe bi p
bixista, edebiyata xwe biafiran/a, bi
ziman xwe perwerdeya xwe bikira.
Every nationality within the borders of
the empire could advance its own art,
create its own literature, and carry out
its education in its own language.
(2) t is similarly used as the complement to the past tense of diviya or
diva b, the past and past perfect tenses of div 'must, have to,' and in
some dialects as the complement to the past tense of xwestin 'to want.'
Mr oro ne/ixwast nav suItan
Mir Zoro did not want to hear the sultan's
Di v ders de her agirtek /iva bP Ii
ser serphatiyek xwe bipeyiviya yan j
rokek ji rokn ku bihstib bigota.
n that class every student had to speak
about an adventure or to tell a story he
had heard.
Li gor peymana ngiIz Sovyetiyan
Ii gor biryara Yektiya Neteweyan,
/iviyabP Sovyet di demeke kurt de ji
ran /erketa.
n accordance with the Anglo-Soviet
pact and in accordance with the decision
of the League of Nations, the
Soviets were supposed to withdraw
from ran in a short time.
(3) t is used for the verb bn 'to be' in both parts of a past contrafactual
conditional (see 25.2).
25.2 The Past Perfect ConditionaIs. There are two past perfect
in use, but they seem to be mutually exclusive, i.e. depending on
dialect a given speaker will use either one or the other. (1) The first past
conditional is formed by prefixing the subjunctive prefix b- for the
or n- for the negative and suffixing -(y)a to the past perfect:
ez bhatibma em bhtibna min bdtibya me bdtibya
tu bhatibya hun bhatibna te bdtibya we bdtibya
ew bhatibya ew bhatibna w bdtibya wan bdtibya
ez nhatibma em nhatibna min ndtibya me ndtibya
tu nhatibya hun nhatibna te ndtibya we ndtibya
ew nhatibya ew nhatibna w ndtibya wan ndtibya
(2) The second past conditional is formed by prefixing the subjunctive bor
n- and substituting ba- in place of b in the past perfect.
ez bhatibam em bhatiban min bdtiba me bdtiba
tu bhatibay hun bhatiban te bdtiba we bdtiba
ew bhatiba ew bhatiban w bdtiba wan bdtiba
ez nhatibam em nhatiban min ndtiba me ndtiba
tu nhatibay hun nhatiban te ndtiba we ndtiba
ew nhatiba ew nhatiban w ndtiba wan ndtiba
The past conditional mood is used in the following instances:
(1) n past contrafactual conditional sentences, the verb of the protasis
(the "if clause) is in the past perfect conditional mood (with or without
bi-), and the verb of the apodosis (the result clause) is in either the past
conditional or the future perfect conditional. When either part of a past
contrafactual conditional contains the verb bn, it is in the past conditional,
not the past perfect conditional. When the apodosis contains the verb
it is usually in the future perfect conditional.
Ma eger Aristo ne yunan, I n bPya,
w bikaribPya feIsefa xwe pk bne?
f Aristotle had been not Greek but
Chinese, would he have been able to
put his philosophy together?
MewIana eger ne pars, I meseIen bi
tirk nivsan/ibPya, ma w bikarbPya
Mesnew biafirne?
f Mevlana had written not in Persian
but, for instance, in Turkish, he
wouldnt have been able to create the
Masnavi, would he?
Ger ez nePbPma Drik, min Gir
TrceI ne/tiba.
f hadnt gone to Drik, wouldnt
have seen Turjel Hill.
Ez bawer im ger ez ne kurd bPma j,
min dsa Ii ser kurdan binivsan/a.
believe that, even if werent a Kurd,
would have written about Kurds anyway.
Ger wiIo /om bikira ew erpeze dn
f it had continued like that, he would
have gone crazy.
Ger w dest xwe ji siyaset bikian/a,
w hewcedariya ku ew nameyeke
dirj ji Mustefa KemaI Atatrk re
bine, ne/ta.
f he had given up politics, he would not
have considered it necessary to send a
long letter to Mustafa Kemal Atatrk.
The phrase ne ji . bya 'were it not for .' is a past conditional
Ne ji CeIadet Beg bPya, me nizanbP
ku ziman kurd ziman nivsandin
ye an na.
ere it not for Jeladet Beg, we wouldnt
have known whether Kurdish was a language
for writing or not.
(2) as a past or modal complement of past constructions that demand a
subjunctive, like Iazim in the first example and complement to an indefinite
antecedent in the second:1
LbeI Iazim b ku me ji derek ve
dest bi v kar bikira me kir.
n the other hand, it was necessary that
we begin this labor somewhere, and so
we did.
#skeke mezin heb ku wan ez tewqif
There was a great risk that they would
arrest me.
Diviyab Sovyet di demeke kurt de ji
ran /erketa.
The Soviet [Union] was supposed to
have withdrawn from ran in a short
XeIk w ax newrbn xwe nzk
kesn sosyaIst bikirana.
People at that time didn't dare to get
close to socialist persons.
1 Some writers follow the Persian model and use the present subjunctive
these expressions, but the past conditional is much more commonly used.
Te dixwest jinek porzer Ia sp
dagirt bi te re baya.
ou wanted there to be a blond-haired,
white-skinned, well-built woman with
Some writers use it after ber ku 'before' with reference to past time:1
Aw nivsarn ku ji Hawar re dihatin
andin, ber k: bihatana wean/in
kes ew di ber av re derbas dikirin?
Did anyone review the writings that
were sent to Hawar before they were
(3) ollowing a past perfect or modal of karn 'to be able' for an unfulfilled,
unfulfillable, or unrealized situation, i.e. what one couldn't do,
couldn't have done, could have done but didn't, or should or shouldn't have
Di mehn destpk de ez nikaribPm j
re bibPma aIkar.
n the initial months wasnt able to be
helpful to him.
Ew /ikaribP bibPya yek ji arn dema
xwe y her navdar.
He could have become one of the most
famous poets of his age.
Meriv /ikaribP ew bi her tit bi nav
bikirina, I ne .
ne could call them anything but not .
mkann min ku ez bikaribPma vegeriyama
Batman, Srt an j Diyarbekir
bimama, bijiyama, tune b.
There were no possibilities for me that
could return to Batman, Siirt, or even
Diyarbekir and remain and live there.
Kesn ku bikaribana binivsiyana j
geIek km bn.
Persons who could write were very few.
With the addition of /w/d to the past conditional, a future conditional
modal ('would, should') is produced.
Ber min, kesin din ev ixuI bi ser
xistibn. ima min nekira?
thers before me had put this business
in their heads. Why shouldnt I do it?
L w biryara xwe dab, w bixwen/a.
But he had made his decision: he would
1 ther writers prefer the present subjunctive exclusively after ber ku.
Ez p bawer bm ku meriv bikaribPya,
bi ziman kurd, romanek ava
believed that one should be able to produce
a novel in Kurdish.
Ji rnitevann w, mirov / bigotaya
Kurdistan e.
To judge by the inhabitants of it, one
would say it was Kurdistan.
Ew geIek neba bibPya. t would have been very bad.
(4) After xwez 'would that, wish' or the verb xwiziyan 'to wish' for
unfulfillable wishes in the past, often without the bi- prefix.
Ax, xwez w zanbPya ez iqas bi v
peyv diiyam.
h, would that he had known how
pained was by those words.
Xwiziya w satiIa Naz j bi xwe re an
ba bo tij av bike.
He wished he had brought Nazi's bucket
too to fill it with water.
26. The Passive Voice. The passive voice is constructed from the verb
hatin (conjugated in all persons, moods, and tenses) plus the infinitive.
of the passive are the following conjugations of hatin dtin 'to be
seen.' or any other passive verb, simply substitute the infinitive for dtin.
' am seen, &c.' 'that be seen, &c.'
ez tm dtin em tn dtin ez bm dtin em bn dtin
tu ty dtin hun tn dtin tu by dtin hun bn dtin
ew t dtin ew tn dtin ew b dtin ew bn dtin
' will be seen, &c.' ' was seen, &c.'
ez bm dtin em bn dtin ez hatim dtin em hatin dtin
t by dtin hun bn dtin tu hat dtin hun hatin dtin
ew b dtin ew bn dtin ew hat dtin ew hatin dtin
' have been seen, &c.' ' had been seen, &c.'
ez hatime dtin em hatine dtin ez hatibm dtin em hatibn dtin
tu hatiye dtin hun hatine dtin tu hatiby dtin hun hatibn dtin
ew hatiye dtin ew hatine dtin ew hatib dtin ew hatibn dtin
'that have been seen, &c.' 'had been seen, &c.'
ez hatibim dtin em hatibin dtin ez bihatama dtin em bihatana dtin
tu hatib dtin hun hatibin dtin tu bihatay dtin hun bihatana dtin
ew hatibe dtin ew hatibin dtin ew bihata dtin ew bihatana dtin
' would have been seen, &c.' ' would have been seen, &c.'
ez bhatibma dtin em bhtibna dtin ez bhatibam dtin em
bhatiban dtin
tu bhatibya dtin hun bhatibna dtin tu bhatibay dtin hun
bhatiban dtin
ew bhatibya dtin ew bhatibna dtin ew bhatiba dtin ew bhatiban
n the present and present subjunctive of hatin, the third-person singular
forms are sometimes tte and bte (cf. Sorani &beta) instead of t
and b,
as in the first two examples below. The agent of a passive verb is
by the circumposition ji aIiy . ve.
Em hvdar in ew j di nzk de bte
ap kirin.
We are hopeful it will soon be published.
Her ziman edebiyat bi hin nav
kesan ve tte nasn.
Every language and literature is known
by a few names and persons.
Ji xwe ez ji weIat xwe hatibPm /Prxistin.
I had been exiled from my country by
my own self.
Bi saIan bi v nav ve hatiye naskirin. He has been known for years by
Ew di nava kurdn her ar pereyn
weIt de t naskirin P hezkirin.
t is known and loved among Kurds of
all four parts of the country.
I carek hatibP vxistin divab ku
were kian/in.
but once it had been lit it would have to
be smoked.
Gavn w bi Iez p ve /ihatin avtin. His steps were being taken
S r hebn; an ez / bihatama girtin,
di girtgeh de biriziyama, an ez ji
aIiy MT ve bihatma k:tin, an j
min weIat xwe terk bikira.
There were three alternatives: I would be
caught there and thrown into prison, or
I would be killed by the MT,1 or
would leave my country.
Strann ku heta niha nehatine gotin,
ziman ku nehatiye vejan/in,
edebiyata ku nehatiye nivsan/in,
kIaskn ku nehatine apkirin
belavkirin, kuItura ku nehatiye
nasan/in geIek titn din.
Songs that havent been sung yet, a
language that hasnt been revived,
literature that hasnt been written,
classics that havent been printed or
published, a culture that hasnt been
recognized, and a lot of other things.
27. Postposed VerbaI CompIements. Directional complements often
the verb directly and are in the oblique case without a preposition.
Min pniyaza xwe and $wsrey. sent my proposal to Switzerland.
ew end Iibn ku digihtin wan
welatan j
even those few copies that reached those
Ew ji weIat xwe dengbj stranbjn
tne $tenbol.
He brings singers from his country to
The postposed complement is sporadically indicated by the addition of e
to the verb, but this is not so regular a feature of Kurmanji as it is in Sorani
(see Sorani 44). The addition of the directional -e to most forms of the
tense makes most resulting verbs indistinguishable from the present
tense, although the third-person singulars are different (pres. perf. hatiye
'has come' vs. directional hate 'came to'). Context usually makes the tense
Ez me $Priy. went to Syria.
Me ji gund barkire Nisbn. We moved from the village to Nusaybin.
Deng xixiek hate min. A scratching sound came to me (
reached my ears).
A postposed third-person pronominal complement is indicated by the ad-
1MT, Mill stihbarat %ekilat, National ntelligence rganization, the
secret police.
dition of -(y) to the verb.
Min got. said to him/her.
Bav w dest avt, I ne gihay. His father stretched out his hand to him,
but it didn't reach him.
28. Factitive Verbs. The factitive infinitive, by which an intransitive verb
is rendered transitive, is formed from the present stem of the base verb +
-andin. The present stem of all such verbs is in -n-.
mirin 'to die' > mir- > mirandin mirn- 'to make die, kill'
ewitan 'to burn' > ewit- > ewitandin ewitn- 'to make burn,
set fire to'
tirsn 'to be afraid' > tirs- > tirsandin tirsn- 'to scare'

MaIa w ewita. His house burned down.

Wan maIa w ewitand. They burned his house down.

Ez pirr ditirsim. 'm very afraid.

i wan ditirsne? What is scaring them?
Exceptional are the verbs nivsn and nivsandin, both of which mean 'to
write' without any apparent difference in meaning.
28.1. The Periphrastic Factitive Construction. "To have something
done or "to make something be done is commonly achieved by the verb
dan 'to give' plus the infinitive, as naskirin 'to know (a person)' > dan
naskirin 'to introduce,' zann 'to know (a fact)' > dan zann 'to cause to
know,' and xuya kirin 'to be clear' > dan xuya kirin 'to make clear.'
Ew xwe dide naskirin. He introduces himself.
W derd kuIn gundiyan bi eskeran
didane zann.
He used to communicate the villagers'
troubles and sorrows to the soldiers.
GeIo tu bikarib xwe bid naskirin? wonder if you could introduce
Ew di wir de dide xuya kirin, ku kurd
ne tirk in.
There he makes it clear that Kurds are
not Turks.
29. Subordinate CIauses and Subordinating Conjunctions.
conjunctions in Kurdish consist generally of prepositions + ku. A short
list of common subordinating conjunctions follows:
ber (or beriya) ku (+ pres. subj.)
b() ku (+ pres. subj.) without
ax ku when
da ku (+ pres. subj.) in order that
digeI ku although
dema (ku) when
gava (ku) when
geIo whether
gor ku as
hema ku as soon as (+ past or
pres. subj.)
herwek ku just as
heta (ku) (+ pres. subj.) in order
that; (+ past) until
ji ber ku because, on account of
the fact that
ji bo ku (+ pres. subj.) in order
jibona (ku) (+ pres. subj.) in
order that
ku (+ pres. subj.) in order that
madem ku as long as
mna ku as though
pa ku after
pit ku after
ta ku as long as
weke (ku) as
wexta (ku) when
Conjunctions that mean 'after' (pa ku, pit ku) are followed by an
verb, present or past according to sense.
Pa k: min pstiya wan /t, ez ji wan
bi dr ketim.
fter I saw how bad they were, avoided
Pit k: v merov end gotinn xwe
peyiv, agirt rnitin.
fter this man spoke his few words, the
pupils sat down.
Conjunctions that mean 'before' are normally followed by a present
verb. The correct tense for English translation is gained from context.
Ber k: ewrek re y n bi ser v
bajar de bigire, ji pit iyan rojeke
bhawe xwe biIind dibe.
efore a black cloud of mourning covers
this city, an extraordinarily nice day
breaks from behind the mountains.
Beriya k: em dest bi dersn xwe bikin,
dixwazim ji we re I titek bikim.
efore we start our lessons, want to
discuss something with you.
Ber k: ez bersiva v pirsa te bi/im, ez
titek bik Ii ser gotina we bjim.
efore answer this question of yours,
let me say a little something about what
you all have said.
Ber k: ez /erkevim dervey weIt, min
soran nebihstib.
efore wound up outside the homeland,
hadn't heard Sorani.
Ber k: Ieker Ii ber xwe binrin, Ferzende
ajote ser wan
efore the soldiers looked in front of
themselves, erzende attacked them.
Conjunctions that mean 'when'dema (ku), gava (ku), ax (ku), wexta
(ku)are normally followed by an indicative verb (past, present, or future
according to sense).
Gava k: mirov ji derve Ii avahiya
hotI /inihr, hoteI geIek xwe
Iuks xuya dikir.
hen one was looking at the hotel building
from the outside, it looked very
nice and deluxe.
Pirr nivskar, /ema /ixwazin Ii ser
kurdan binivsin, jiyana kurd di
pencerek teng de dibnin.
Many writers, when they want to write
about Kurds, see Kurdish life through a
narrow window.
Dema em / bighjin Ewropa ken
porzer Ii Ferensa Ii Swd w Ii ser
por me dn bibin.
hen we get to Europe, blonde girls in
rance and Sweden will go crazy over
our hair.
Dibe ku anuha pir neye, I wexta k:
iya, tu bibje, em derman bidine te.
t shouldn't hurt much anymore, but
when it hurts, you tell us so that we
may give you some medicine.
All conjunctions that mean 'in order that' are followed by a present
verb (except karn and zann, which use the past subjunctive form
for the present subjunctive).
Ji bo k: b tirs fikar bikaribim
razm, min di ser xwe de pIana ku
ez awan bikaribim w benderuh
bikujim, dikir.
In order that I might be able to sleep
without fear or worry, was formulating
a plan in my head how could kill
that creature.
Div tu her bajr, ji bo k: t: tkev
ou have to go to town in order that you
attend to school.
Serdar hsan Nr, Ferzende digeI st
siwar ande nav ern serhedan da
k: sedek hesp pey/a bike.
Commander hsan Nuri, sent erzende
with sixty cavalrymen among the tribes
of the borders in order to find a hundred
Em radipeIikn penceran /a k: em
rokan bibihzin.
We used to creep up to the windows in
order to hear the stories.
Conjunctions like weke ku 'as,' which do not necessarily take a following
subjunctive, may do so when doubt is implied.
Weke ku hun zanin. As you may know.
Compare the above example with the following, where no doubt is implied:
Weke ku hun dizanin. As you know.
The conjunction her ku has a variety of meanings for translation, but the
basic meanings are "the more.the more when there is a comparative
involved (or implied) and "every time for temporals.
Her ku roj biIind dibe, Mehabad
dikevin tevger.
The higher the sun rises, the more the
Mahabadis fall into activity.
Her ku ber bi dibistan t nzktir
dibe, btir j diyar dibe ku kaIek
saImezin e.
As he approaches the school, the closer
he comes, the more it becomes apparent
that he is an old man of great age.
Her ku hejmareke n ya kovar
derdiket, ew mna zarokek diIa
Every time a new issue of the journal
would come out, he used to be as happy
as a child.
Her ku with a 3rd-person singular form of n in an appropriate tense is
used for the constant increase of something ("to keep getting.).
Deng ji ezmn herku di btir dib. The noise from the sky kept
Her ku die dunya pik dibe. The world keeps getting smaller.
Tirs herku btir b tamarn
erko sist kirin.
The fear kept getting more and weakening
Sherko's nerves.
30. #eIative CIauses. Relative clauses in Kurdish are introduced by the
relative pronoun ku (or the variant ko) 'who, which, that.' Unmodified
antecedents of the relative are in the construct case (tit k: 'the thing
saIa k: 'the year which,' weIatek k: 'a country that,' titek k: 'a thing
which,' titn k: 'things that,' rokn k: 'stories which'). Modified
have the construct extender (ziman me y k: 'our language,
which,' dayka xwe ya k: 'his mother, who,' titn din yn k: 'other things
which'). When relative clauses are embedded within the main clause, there
is no distinction between restrictive and nonrestrictive relative clauses.
Min meqaIeyn k: bi ziman k:r/
hatibPne nivsan/in dtin.
saw articles that had been written in
the Kurdish language.
Ji deng zarokn k: li /er P /or /ilstin
ptir deng tuneb.
There was no sound from the children
who had been playing in the vicinity
DigeI ku geIek saIn dirj di ser re
derbas bne, ew aIfabe rzimana
k: ji aliy Cela/et Be/ir-Xan ve hatiye
/ann P /i kovarn w /e hatiye bikarann,
ro j bersiva hewcedariya
ziman kurd dide.
Although many long years have passed,
the alphabet and grammar that were
established by Jeladet edirKhan and
were used in his journals satisfy the
needs of the Kurdish language even
Ew w ziman k: li ber mirin ye jndar
He is revivifying this language, which is
on the verge of dying.
When relative clauses follow the main clause they are introduced by y
ku, ya ku, and yn ku and are nonrestrictive.
Deng segn gund erko dsa hiyar
kir, y k: ji kfxweiy hema hin/ik
mabP bifire.
The sound of the village dogs once again
awoke Sherko, who was almost flying
from happiness.
Li ser miIek w j trek mezin heb, y
k: di hindir xwe de ekir titn din
yn ku ji qaaxiyan hatibn kirn,
ver one of his shoulders there was a
large sack, which contained sugar and
other things that had been bought from
With the exception of temporal expressions ('the year in which,' 'the
days during which,' etc), in relative clauses in which the antecedent is other
than the subject or object of the verb in the relative clause (i.e. types like
'the thing of which was afraid,' 'the man with whom went'), the syntax of
the relative is indicated by a referent pronoun (literally "the thing which
was afraid of it, "the man who went with him).
Tit k: CeIadet Bedir-Xan j ditirsiya,
bi ser kurdn Tirkiyey ve
%he thing of which Jeladet Bedir-Khan
was afraid has happened to the Kurds of
GeIo tu ima na w welat k: tu li wir
ji dayik by evqas j hez dik?
wonder why you don't go to that country,
where you were born and which
you like so much.
Mrik odeya min nivn k: ez t /e
razm, nan min da.
The fellow showed me my room and the
bed in which would sleep.
Temporal expressions do not normally have a referent pronoun, and the
relative ku after temporal expressions is usually best translated as 'when.'
Pit saIa 1972 k: derketim Ewrp. After the year 1972, when went
off to
Pit 12 Ina 1980, k: cunta sisiyan
a fast Ii Tirkiy hate ser hikim.
After September 12, 1980, when the
third fascist junta came to power in
Relatives without noun antecedents use y ku 'he who,' ya ku 'she who,'
and yn ku 'those who' or kes ku 'one who,' kesa ku 'one (f) who,' and
kesn ku 'persons who.'
Ya k: ji min re /er vekir berdestka w
%he one (fem.) who opened the door for
me was her servant.
ro di nava kurdn me yn Sriy de
yn k: k:r/ bi alfabeya ereb /inivsnin,
i bigire tune ye.
Today among our Kurds in Syria, those
who write Kurdish in the rabic alphabet
are practically nil.
Ew kesn k: /ixwazin huner edebiyat
bikevin bin bandora poItkaya
%hose persons who want art and literature
to come under the influence of the
politics of the day.
As in English, there is an occasional elipsis of the relative ku when the
relative is the object of the verb in the relative clause.
Min fahm kir ku titn min nivisbPn,
ne ir bn.
understood that the things I had written
were not poetry.
Te xwest bib baoke, ew teyr te pirr j
hez /ikir.
ou wanted to become a falcon, that
bird you liked so much.
31. The Emphatic J. The Kurmanji enclitic j, equivalent to the Sorani
enclitic 0sh, the Persian -, and the Turkish de/da, emphasizes the
that precedes it. ts meanings range from 'even' to 'also,' but it is often
since the function it serves is taken care of in English by voice
inflection and intonation (italicization or underscore in writing). t is often
helpful to think of j as a spoken underscore.
Bguman ew ne Xweda ye. Kmas
aiyn w j hene.
f course, he isn't God. He too has
weaknesses and faults.
Min mamostetiya ziman ereb dikir
ez demek j midr dibistan bm.
used to teach the Arabic language, and
also for a time was a school principal.
Di geIek waran de ew h j mamostayiya
me dike.
n many respects he is still teaching us.
32. Expressions of TemporaI Duration. There are two constructions for
temporal duration, the first of which is the more commonly used.
(1) The formula for present expressions of temporal duration ("'ve been
here for two hours) is as follows: (bi) length of time + e (or in) + (optional
ku) + present-tense affirmative verb or present-perfect negative verb.
Du saet e ku ez Ii vir im. 've been here for two hours.
.zimanek mna kurd ku bi sedsaIan
e nebye ziman nivsandin
.a language like Kurdish, which has
not been a language of writing for centuries
Ji keng ve ye ku tu bi kurd dinivs? Since when have you been writing
Hefteyek e ku min ew nedtime. haven't seen him for a week.
Bst yek saI e ku ez neme weIt. haven't gone to the homeland for
twenty-one years.
Ev heft saI in ku geI kurd ji derd v
nexweiya han dinaIe.
The Kurdish nation has been complaining
of the pain of that very sickness for
these seventy years.
n past expressions of temporal duration (" had been here for two hours
when.), the formula is: length of time + b + (ku) + past-tense affirmative
verb or past-perfect negative verb.
Du saet b ku ez Ii vir bm. had been here for two hours.
Bst yek saI b ku ez nebm weIt. hadn't been to the homeland for
twenty-one years.
(2) The second construction literally means "this is my (X amount of
time) that am (doing something), as in the following:
Ev panzdeh saIn min in ez tgihtime,
ku weIatek b ziman ne tu
weIat e.
or fifteen years now 've understood
that a country without a language is no
country (lit. "these are my fifteen years
have understood that.).
Ev 55 saIn min in ku ez di nava v
xebat de me.
've been in the midst of this struggle for
55 years now (lit. "these are my 55
years that.).
Deh saIn te Ii ehri Pars derbas
ou had been in the city of Paris for ten
years (lit. "your ten years had passed).
33. Sequence of Tenses After Past Verbs of Perception. While
verbs of perception (seeing, hearing, thinking, realizing, feeling,
guessing, &c.) do not pose any particular problem for English-speakers,
past-tense verbs of perception are followed, as in Persian, by the tense of
the verb that would have been used by the speaker at the time of the
n English all such verbs are thrown back by one tense.
W hs kir ku ten ye. He felt he was alone. (i.e., at the time, he would
have verbalized his feelings
as " am alone)
Ez tgihtim ku zimanek
min y taybet heye.
came to the realization
that had a special language.
(i.e. what said to myself
at the moment of realization
was, " have a special
Min dtim ku mamoste
ne t ye.
saw that the teacher was
not there.
(i.e. what would have
said to myself at that
moment was, "The
teacher is not here)
Em difikirn ku ev roj
We used to think that this
day wouldnt come.
(i.e. what we used to think
was, "That day will not
Mna ku dizanib w
poIs dest w keleme
bikin, herdu destn xwe
dirj poIs kirin.
As though he knew the
police were going to
handcuff him, he extended
both his hands
toward the policemen.
(i.e., at the time, he would
have said to himself, "the
policemen are going to
handcuff me)
Min zanb w saet ava
germ pey/a nabe.
realized that at that hour
there was no hot water to
be found.
(i.e., at the time, would
have said to myself,
"there is no hot water)
34. "uestions with Ma. The particle ma, which is the equivalent of the
Persian ~, introduces an affirmative question to which a negative answer
expected (English, "you don't know, do you?).
Ma rast e? That's not right, is it?
Ma ez karibim careke din ry diny
won't ever be able to see the face of the
earth again, will ?
Ma ji bo me tu dern b tehIke, b
tirs hene?
or us there aren't any places without
danger, without fear, are there?
t also introduces a negative question to which an affimative answer is
(English, "it rained last night, didn't it?).
Ma em j eyn tit nakin? We do the same thing, don't we?
Ma tu ne herdem di odak de y? ou are always in a room, aren't you?
The reply to such a question need not be in the affirmative, but an
expectation is implied by the asking of such a question, as in the following
Gava mrik bdeng ma, jinik dsa
-Er, ma ne wiIo ye?
-Na, ne wiIo ye! mrik bi hrs got.
When the husband remained silent, the
wife said once again, "es, that's how it
is, isn't it?
"No, the husband said irritatedly, "it's
not like that!
Ma also has the contradictory force of 'but,' particularly in questions that
also contain an interrogative ('who,' 'where,' 'why') or geIo, which
a "wondering querry and can be implied.
avn te girt bn germa dijwar Ia
te sist kirib, te gj kirib. Ma hi te
Ii ku b dema teIefona Ii ber te, Ii ser
masa te, I xist?
our eyes were closed, and the oppressive
heat had weakened your body, had
made you dizzy. ut where was your
mind when the telephone in front of
you on your desk rang?
Er, ez im, ma tu k y? es, it's me, but who are you?
Min xwe dt di Xonav de. ma gelo
ew xwe di hinekn din de bibne?
saw myself in Khoshnav, but I wondered
if he would ever see himself in
Ma saet and e? I wonder what time it is.