Central Kurdish/Grammar

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This page is a brief documentation of Sorani Kurdish grammar. It includes a part of speech classification and ten important morphological grammar points. W. M. Thackston's Sorani Kurdish: A Reference Grammar was the main source used and most examples come directly from there; other sources are listed here.

Parts of Speech

Nouns

Sorani nouns <n> come with markers to indicate plurality <sg> <pl> and/or definiteness <ind> <def>. A noun's lemma without any suffixes gives its generic meaning (e.g. "coffee is dark", "tourists are friendly"). Sorani does not have grammatical gender or animacy; Apertium tags corresponding to these features will not be used.

  • پیاو<n> ↔ پیاو (man)
  • سه‌گ<n> ↔ سه‌گ (dog)
  • رۆژ<n> ↔ رۆژ (day)
  • نامە<n> ↔ نامە (letter)
  • دەرگا<n> ↔ دەرگا (door)

Verbs

Sorani verbs can be transitive <tv> and intransitive <iv>. All verbs have an infinitive form ending in 'ن'. As opposed to most languages, Kurdish has only 3 tenses: past <past> and non-past <non-past>. There are also imperative verbs <imp> for the 2nd person singular and plural.

  • هاتن<v><iv><inf> ↔ هاتن (to come)
  • چوون<v><iv><inf> ↔ چوون (to go)
  • خواردن<v><tv><inf> ↔ خواردن (to eat)
  • هێنان<v><tv><inf> ↔ هێنان (to bring)

Adjectives

Sorani adjectives <adj> come in many shapes and forms. Different forms of functional morphology can be used for comparatives and superlatives, just like in English.

  • گەورە<adj> ↔ گەورە (large)
  • گەرم<adj> ↔ گەرم (warm)
  • چاک<adj> ↔ چاک (good)

Pronouns

Sorani Kurdish uses the same pronouns for the subject and object cases:

  • من<prn><pers><p1><sg> ↔ من
  • ئێمە<prn><pers><p1><pl> ↔ ئێمە
  • تۆ<prn><pers><p2><sg> ↔ تۆ
  • ئێوە<prn><pers><p2><pl> ↔ ئێوە
  • ئەو<prn><pers><p3><sg> ↔ ئەو
  • ئەوان<prn><pers><p3><pl> ↔ ئەوان

There are two other "sets" of pronouns in Sorani that are attached to the end of verbs and objects for iv/tv verbs (respectively). This will be discussed in detail in the outline of verb tenses.

Adverbs

  • هەندێک جار<adv> ↔ هەندێک جار (sometimes)
  • سبەینێ<adv> ↔ سبەینێ (tomorrow)

Prepositions

  • بە<pr> ↔ بە (with)
  • لە<pr> ↔ لە (of/in)
  • بۆ<pr> ↔ بۆ (to/for)

The izafa 'ی' is covered as a grammar point.

Conjunctions

  • و<conjcoo> ↔ و (and)
  • یان<conjcoo> ↔ یان (or)
  • بەڵام<conjcoo> ↔ بەڵام (but)

Definiteness

Thackston defines Sorani nouns as having one of three states: absolute, indefinite, and definite. The absolute state of a noun is its lemma form and has a generic meaning, e.g. coffee is dark; Americans are patriotic. The indefinite state is achieved by adding the "ێك" suffix to the noun's lemma. For nouns ending with a vowel sound, the "یه‌ك" ending is used instead. The definite state is achieved using the "ه‌كه‌" suffix, and for nouns ending in 'ە' or 'ا', only کە is added to avoid double vowel occurrences.

Indefinite

  • پیاو<n><ind><sg> ↔ پیاوێک (a man)
  • سه‌گ<n><ind><sg> ↔ سه‌گێک (a dog)
  • لاپه‌ڕه‌<n><ind><sg> ↔ لاپه‌ڕه‌یه‌ك (a page)
  • نامە<n><ind><sg> ↔ نامەیەک (a letter)

Definite

  • پیاو<n><def><sg> ↔ پیاوه‌كه‌ (the man)
  • سه‌گ<n><def><sg> ↔ سه‌گه‌كه‌ (the dog)
  • لاپه‌ڕه‌<n><def><sg> ↔ لاپەڕەکە (the page)
  • نامە<n><def><sg> ↔ نامەکە (the letter)

Plural Nouns

Sorani nouns are pluralized using the "ان" suffix. Nouns with 'ا' endings get "یان" instead, while nouns with 'ە' endings omit the 'ە' and add "ان". It is also possible to make definite nouns plural this way, by changing the "ەکە" to "ەکان" (and similarly omitting the 'ە' as necessary for vowel endings).

Lemma Plurals

  • پیاو<n><pl> ↔ پیاوان (men)
  • سه‌گ<n><pl> ↔ سەگان (dogs)
  • لاپه‌ڕه‌<n><pl> ↔ لاپەڕەیان (pages)
  • نامە<n><pl> ↔ نامەیان (letters)

Definite Plurals

  • پیاو<n><def><pl> ↔ پیاوەکان (the men)
  • سه‌گ<n><def><pl> ↔ سەگەکان (the dogs)
  • لاپەڕە<n><def><pl> ↔ لاپەڕەکان (the pages)
  • نامە<n><def><pl> ↔ نامەکان (the letters)

Simple Past (Intransitive)

The simple past form of an intransitive verb is obtained by removing the 'ن' suffix from its infinitive and adding unstressed personal suffixes to the end of the verb itself (this is an important point). The suffixes from "Set 3" identified in Pronouns is used for this tense. Note that because there is no "Set 3" personal suffix for 3rd person singular, the 3rd person singular conjugation is just the infinitive without its final letter.

To Come

  • هاتن<v><iv><past><p1><sg> ↔ هاتم (I came)
  • هاتن<v><iv><past><p1><pl> ↔ هاتین (we came)
  • هاتن<v><iv><past><p2><sg> ↔ هاتیت (you came)
  • هاتن<v><iv><past><p2><pl> ↔ هاتن (you(pl.) came)
  • هاتن<v><iv><past><p3><sg> ↔ هات (he/she/it came)
  • هاتن<v><iv><past><p3><pl> ↔ هاتن (they came)

To Go

  • چوون<v><iv><past><p1><sg> ↔ چووم (I came)
  • چوون<v><iv><past><p1><pl> ↔ چووین (we came)
  • چوون<v><iv><past><p2><sg> ↔ چوویت (you came)
  • چوون<v><iv><past><p2><pl> ↔ چوون (you(pl.) came)
  • چوون<v><iv><past><p3><sg> ↔ چوو (he/she/it came)
  • چوون<v><iv><past><p3><pl> ↔ چوون (they came)

Simple Past (Transitive)

The simple past form of a transitive verb is obtained by removing the 'ن' suffix from its infinitive and adding unstressed personal suffixes to the end of the verb itself (this is an important point). The pronouns from "Set 3" identified in Pronouns is used for this tense.

(Water)

  • ئاو<n><obj>+من<prn><pers><p1><sg> ↔ ئاوم
  • ئاو<n><obj>+ئێمە<prn><pers><p1><pl> ↔ ئاومان
  • ئاو<n><obj>+تۆ<prn><pers><p2><sg> ↔ ئاوت
  • ئاو<n><obj>+ئێوە<prn><pers><p2><pl> ↔ ئاوتان
  • ئاو<n><obj>+ئەو<prn><pers><p3><sg> ↔ ئاوی
  • ئاو<n><obj>+ئەوان<prn><pers><p3><pl> ↔ ئاویان

(Food)

  • نان<n><obj>+من<prn><pers><p1><sg> ↔ نانم
  • نان<n><obj>+ئێمە<prn><pers><p1><pl> ↔ نانمان
  • نان<n><obj>+تۆ<prn><pers><p2><sg> ↔ نانت
  • {{morphTest|نان<n><obj>+ئێوە<prn><pers><p2><pl>|نانتان}
  • نان<n><obj>+ئەو<prn><pers><p3><sg> ↔ نانی
  • نان<n><obj>+ئەوان<prn><pers><p3><pl> ↔ نانیان

(if I use '+' between the two it flips the RTL script for some odd markup reason)

Present & Future

Sorani verbs in the non-past tense are obtained by adding the root of the verb (usually the first one or two letters) to the "set 2" personal suffixes for both the transitive and intransitive case. They also go onto the end of the verb in both cases, unlike the past tense case.

To Go

  • چوون<v><iv><npast><p1><sg> ↔ دەچم (I am going)
  • چوون<v><iv><npast><p1><pl> ↔ دەچین (we are going)
  • چوون<v><iv><npast><p2><sg> ↔ دەچیت (you are going)
  • چوون<v><iv><npast><p2><pl> ↔ دەچن (you(pl.) are going)
  • چوون<v><iv><npast><p3><sg> ↔ دەچێت (he/she/it is going)
  • چوون<v><iv><npast><p3><pl> ↔ دەچن (they are going)

Imperative

The imperative form is derived by taking the present stem of the verb and prefixing with 'ب'. For the second person plural, there should also be 'ن'.

Singular Imperative

  • خواردن<v><tv><imp><p2><sg> ↔ بخۆ (eat)
  • چوون<v><iv><imp><p2><sg> ↔ بچۆ (go)
  • هاتن<v><iv><imp><p2><sg> ↔ وەرە (come) *this is an irregular form
  • هێنان<v><tv><imp><p2><sg> ↔ بهێنە (bring)

Plural Imperative

  • خواردن<v><tv><imp><p2><pl> ↔ بخۆن (eat)
  • چوون<v><iv><imp><p2><pl> ↔ بچن (go)
  • هاتن<v><iv><imp><p2><pl> ↔ وەرن (come) *this is an irregular form
  • هێنان<v><tv><imp><p2><pl> ↔ بهێنن (bring)

Negatives

The following negative forms are only for the 3rd-person singular conjugation, but the rules for past/present tense conjugation apply the same here, so other forms can also be inferred.

Past Verbs

To negate an past tense verb, simply prefix with "نە".

  • خواردن<v><tv><past><neg><sg><p3> ↔ نەکرد (did not eat)
  • چوون<v><iv><past><neg><sg><p3> ↔ نەچوو (did not go)
  • هاتن<v><iv><past><neg><sg><p3> ↔ نەهات (did not come) *this is an irregular form
  • هێنان<v><tv><past><neg><sg><p3> ↔ نەهێنا (did not bring)

Present Verbs

For present verbs, replace the prefix "دە" with "نا".

  • خواردن<v><tv><npast><neg><sg><p3> ↔ ناخوات (is not eating)
  • چوون<v><iv><npast><neg><sg><p3> ↔ ناچێت (is not going)
  • هاتن<v><iv><npast><neg><sg><p3> ↔ نایەت (is not coming) *this is an irregular form
  • هێنان<v><tv><npast><neg><sg><p3> ↔ ناهێنێت (is not bringing)

Imperative Verbs

To negate an imperative verb, replace the prefix 'ب' with "مە". For transitive verbs, add 'ی' just before the verb stem.

  • خواردن<v><tv><imp><neg><sg><p3> ↔ مەیخۆ (don't eat it)
  • چوون<v><iv><imp><neg><sg><p3> ↔ مەچۆ (don't go)
  • هاتن<v><iv><imp><neg><sg><p3> ↔ مەیە (don't come) *this is an irregular form
  • هێنان<v><tv><imp><neg><sg><p3> ↔ مەیهێنە (don't bring it)

Comparative & Superlative

Comparative adjectives are always formed by adding the "تر" suffix. The superlative is formed by adding "ترین".

Comparative Forms

  • گەورە<adj><comp> ↔ گەورەتر (larger)
  • گەرم<adj><comp> ↔ گەرمتر (warmer)
  • چاک<adj><comp> ↔ چاکتر (better)

Superlative Forms

  • گەورە<adj><sup> ↔ گەورەترین (largest)
  • گەرم<adj><sup> ↔ گەرمترین (warmest)
  • چاک<adj><sup> ↔ چاکترین (best)

Demonstratives

The demonstrative pronouns "ئەمە، ئەوە، ئەمانە، ئەوانە" (this, that, these, those) can function as words by themselves, but they can also envelop the words they modify as circumfixes. Note that the definite marker is no longer required when using a demonstrative pronoun.

  • سەگ<n>+ئەمە<det><dem><prx><sg> ↔ ئەم سەگە
  • سەگ<n>+ئەوە<det><dem><dst><sg> ↔ ئەو سەگە
  • سەگ<n>+ئەمانە<det><dem><prx><pl> ↔ ئەم سەگانە
  • سەگ<n>+ئەوانە<det><dem><dst><pl> ↔ ئەو سەگانە

Attribution

The izafa enclitic 'ی' is a preposition <pr> and it serves to connect nouns to other nouns (examples 1-3 below), as well as to descriptor adjectives (examples 4-5 below).

  • پەڕ<n><pr>+باڵندەکان<n><def><pl> ↔ پەڕی باڵندەکان (the feathers of the birds)
  • سەر<n><pr>+مارێک<n><ind><sg> ↔ سەری مارێک (the head of a snake)
  • قاچەکان<n><def><pl><pr>+من<prn><pers><p1><sg> ↔ قاچەکانی من (my legs; literally "the legs of me")
  • سەگ<n>+ئەمانە<det><dem><dst><pl> ↔ ئەو سەگە