Parts of Speech
These forms take no further nominal morphology apart from the appropriate case markers, such as the objective -ni or the plural marker -cha.
Irrespective of their formation method, nouns are pluralised with the suffix -echa, -icha, or -cha (depending on the variety).
wari<n><pl> ↔ wariecha (women)
kurú<n><pl> ↔ kurúcha (fishes)
anátapu<n><pl> ↔ anátapuicha (trees)
In Purépecha, the nominative case (unmarked) is a coding property of subjects, while the suffix -ni is the case marker for objects, both in monotransitive and ditransitive constructions.
ganádu<n><pl><obj> ↔ ganáduni (cattle)
kurú<n><pl><obj> ↔ kurúchani (fish)
yurhíri<n><sg><obj> ↔ yurhírini (blood)
Purépechan is a very agglutinative language, meaning that the words in the language are made by stringing together morphemes. A large portion of the agglutination happens in the verbs. Adding suffixes to the words can help users express locative, directional, causative, voice/valency, desiderative, adverbial, third person plural object, aspect, tense, irrealis, mood, and person and number. A few examples we:
kw’i<v><pres><sub><p1><sg> ↔ kw’ixakani
kw’i<v><pres><ass><p1><sg> ↔ kw’ixakani
eshé<v><pprs><pres><1/2ind><p1><sg> ↔ eshéshakani
jwá<v><perf><past><3ind> ↔ jwáspti
Roots and Agents
The suffix-nominalising suffix, most frequently -kwa (-ka in some varieties) as in pire-kwa; -ri, the most common nominalising suffix, generally refers to an agent, as in pire-ri 'singer'.
pire<inf> (to sing)
pire<n><sg> ↔ pirekwa (song)
pire<n><sg> ↔ pireri (singer)
Aspect and tense markers are the same for all persons, but the indicative mood morpheme changes from -ka for the 1st and 2nd person to -ti for the 3rd person. Aspect co-occurs with tense and mood.
yontki wantanaxïnanti juchari anapu
before speak language
'Before, our language was spoken.'
ximpóka xuchá/María t’iréspka ya
because Maria<pl> eat already
‘ . . . because we have already eaten/Maria has already eaten.’
éka t’ú/tumpíicha xanó-∅-p-ka ya
when boy arrive already
‘ . . . when you had already arrived/the boys had already arrived.’
ni-a-ti go (He will go)
ni<v><irr><p3><sg> ↔ niati
ewa-a-a-ka remove ('I will remove them.')
ewa<v><3PL.O><irr><ass><p1><sg> ↔ ewaaaka
Purépecha the verbal inflection only distinguishes the person features of the subject in the indicative mood. The indicative verbal forms must be inflected in agreement with the grammatical subject: if the subject is 1st or 2nd person, the verb is marked with -ka; if it is 3rd person, then the marker is -ti. In contrast with the interrogative/clarificational inflection, marked with -∅ or -ki for all persons, and the subjunctive mood, marked with -ka regardless of the person of the subject.
|Interrogative||Ø or ki suffix|
Atá<v><prf><pres><ind><p1> ↔ Atáska
Atá<v><prf><pres><ind><p2> ↔ Atáska
Atá<v><prf><pres><ind><p3> ↔ Atásti
xupá<v><prf><pres><sg><sbj><p1> ↔ xupáskani
xanó<v><prf><pres><sg><sbj><p1> ↔ xanóskani
The object suffix -a is considered a 3rd person plural marker, which, according to some authors, has a pronominal or agreement value.
Person and Number
Aspect and tense markers are the same for all persons, but the indicative mood morpheme changes from -ka for the 1st and 2nd person to -ti for the 3rd person.
eró+ka-sha-ka eró<prog><p1><ind>erókashaka eró<prog><p2><ind>erókashaka
‘I / you / we / you(pl) are waiting’
‘He/they are waiting’
If one wishes to be more specific about the subject number, a set of clitics can be optionally attached to the inflected verb:
eró+ka-sha-ka=ni eró<prog><p1><ind><s_sg1>erókashakani ‘I am waiting’
eró+ka-sha-ka=ri eró<prog><p2><ind><s_sg2>erókashakani ‘You are waiting’
eró+ka-sha-ti eró<prog><p3><ind>erókashati ‘He/they are waiting’
eró+ka-sha-ka=tsï eró<prog><p2><ind><s_pl2>erókashatsï ‘You (pl) are waiting’
eró+ka-sha-ka=ksï eró<prog><p1><ind><s_pl1>erókashaksï ‘We are waiting’
eró+ka-sha-ti=ksï eró<prog><p3><ind><s_pl3>erókashatiksï ‘They are waiting’
Determinants or Determiners
Purépecha does not have a definite determiner like English "the" or Spanish "el/los." Among the most common demonstratives are the singular forms í 'this', inté 'that (visible to the speaker)', and imá 'that (not visible to the speaker)', as well as the corresponding plural forms ts'ï 'these', ts'ïmí 'those', and ts'ïmá 'those'.
|imá||'that' (not visible to the speaker)|
|inté||'that' (visible to the speaker)|
í atá-s-∅-ti inté-ni
this strike<prf><prs><p3><ind> that<obj>
'This (one) struck that (one).'
ts'ïmá atá-s-∅-ti inté-ni
those strike<prf><prs><p3><ind> that<obj>
'Those struck that (one).'
ihtsï iámindu juát-icha júkska-kata jarha-h-ti
DEM.PL all hill<pl> sow<ppl> be<pfve><p3><ind>
‘All these hills are sown (with corn)’
ihtsï tanímu juát-icha júkska-kata jarha-h-ti
<dem><pl> three hill<pl> sow<ppl> be<pfve><p3><ind>
‘These three hills are sown (with corn)’
Reduplication is an available but limited morphological process. Single vowel roots and some CV roots such as pá- (carry) are not reduplicated. About 70 roots never occur unreduplicated (niní-n (to ripen)). About a dozen reduplicate only the first syllable. In general, practically any root can stand either alone or reduplicated.
- k'waní-k'waní-ta-n (to throw up repeatedly) -- an aspectual system
- meré-meré-hku-n (to be very brilliant) -- modal system
- p'uní-p'uní-hku-n (to blow off all over (as when dusting)) -- locative system
- učú-učú-hku-ndi-n (to smell of fish, sex, or carrion) -- spatial suffix (oral and facial, involves smell)
- opó-opó-k-haśi (swollen (of the entire body)) -- the roots may be followed by one of six consonants and the stativizing suffix -hási ‘class, type of’, as in opó- ‘large, round’
- kwená-hku-n (to lick upward (as of fire)) -- roots are followed by intransitivizing -hku
- wá-wá-kuri-n (to be missing one’s teeth, leaves, etc.) -- reflexive theme
- arí-arí-ta-n (to give advice) -- yield a transitive theme
- yará-yará-c-ka-pa-n (to go about urinating on oneself) -- lexical/spatial suffix value of ‘bottom’
- šún-šún-á-pi-ti (very green) -- only first CV is reduplicated
- tíks-tíks-á-ni-n (to beat of fright) -- cavity/thorax spatial suffix