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A typical verb denotes the occurrence or abandonment of an action (run, stop), a relationship (have, lose), or a state (stand, melt). In LFN, verbs do not change to indicate such things as tense or mood. Instead, adverbs are used – especially the three preverbs ia, va, and ta. Any verb can be reused without change as a noun.
The future tense is marked with va (a word of French origin). Past tenses, including perfect and pluperfect, are marked with ia (of Chavacano origin). These are special adverbs that precede the verb. The present tense is unmarked:
- Me canta. – I sing / I am singing.
- Me va canta. – I will sing / I am about to sing.
- Me ia canta. – I sang / I was singing / I have sung / I had sung.
Stories often describe events that take place in the past (or an imagined past), or whose location in time is of no concern to the reader. In such cases, the ia may be omitted.
LFN does not distinguish perfect and imperfect aspects of the verb (e.g. "I ate", "I used to eat", "I have eaten", "I had eaten"). However, one can easily clarify the temporal sequence of two actions by marking the earlier one with ja ("already"):
- Cuando tu ia encontra nos, nos ia come ja. – When you met us, we had (already) eaten.
- Si tu reveni doman, me va fini ja la labora. – If you come back tomorrow, I will have (already) finished the work.
- Si tu ta esplica ja plu bon la problem, me no ta fa esta era. – If you had explained the problem better, I wouldn't have made this mistake.
- Si me no ia vide ja la aparato, me no ta comprende. – If I hadn't (already) seen the device, I wouldn't understand / I wouldn't have understood.
- Sempre cuando me ateni la fini de un capitol, me oblida ja la titulo. – Whenever I reach the end of a chapter, I've (already) forgotten the title.
There are other ways to clarify the temporal sequence:
- Me ia come ante aora. – I ate before now.
- Me ia come plu temprana. – I ate earlier.
- Me ia fini come. – I finished eating.
- Me va come pronto. – I will eat soon.
- Me comensa come. – I start to eat.
- Me va come pos acel. – I will eat after that.
- Me va come plu tarda. – I will eat later.
LFN does not directly indicate conditional and subjunctive moods. The presence of si and donce ("if", "then") are normally enough to suggest a conditional meaning, and verbs such as duta ("doubt"), vole ("want"), desira ("desire"), espera ("hope"), and debe ("must") often suffice to suggest the subjunctive.
However, LFN has an optional "irrealis" particle ta (of Haitian origin) that can be used to indicate that something is unreal, or in doubt, or merely possible or desired. Ta can also convey a polite request. It can be used in various situations where many languages would use subjunctive or conditional moods, and it often corresponds to the English word "would":
- Si me ta rena la mundo, cada dia ta es la dia prima de primavera. – If I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of spring.
- Si lo no esiste, on ta debe inventa lo. – If it didn't exist, you'd have to invent it.
- Me duta ce tu ta dise acel. – I doubt you would say that.
- La mundo ta es sempre pasosa! – May the world be peaceful forever!
- Tu ta dona la sal, per favore? – Would you pass the salt, please?
- Nos ta dansa! – Let's dance!
Normally, only one of va, ia, and ta can be used with each verb. An exception is ia ta, which has the same meaning as the past conditional in the Romance languages and "would have" in English. An example is an amusing comment by Richard Nixon:
- Me ia ta es un bon pape. – I would have made a good pope.
Unlike in English, reported speech in LFN retains the tense of the original utterance:
- El ia dise ce la sala es fria. = El ia dise: "Oji, la sala es fria." – He said the room was cold. = He said: "The room is cold today."
- El ia demanda esce la sala es fria. = El ia demanda: "Esce la sala es fria?" – He asked if the room was cold. = He asked: "Is the room cold?"
- El ia pensa ce la sala ia es fria. = El ia pensa: "Ier, la sala ia es fria." – He thought the room had been cold. = He thought: "The room was cold yesterday."
The imperative, or command form of the verb, is unmarked. It differs from the present tense in that the subject is omitted. The subject would normally be tu or vos, i.e. the person addressed. Ta or ta ce can be used if a subject has to be included:
- Para! – Stop!
- Pardona me. – Excuse me / Sorry.
- Toca la tecla de spasio per continua. – Press the spacebar to continue.
- Vade a via, per favore! – Please go away!
- Tu rena ta veni. – Thy kingdom come.
- Ta ce tu rena veni! – May thy kingdom come!, would that thy kingdom come!
Verbs are negated with the adverb no, which precedes both the verb and va, ia, or ta:
- Me no labora oji, e me no va labora doman. – I'm not working today, and I won't be working tomorrow.
- El no ia pensa ce algun es asi. – He didn't think anyone was here.
- No traversa la strada sin regarda. – Don't cross the street without looking.
A participle is a verb used as an adjective or adverb. Verbs form active participles in -nte, and passive participles in -da. These are adjectives equivalent to those in "-ing" and "-ed" (or "-en") in English, and can be used equally well as adverbs and nouns. The active participle normally also implies an ongoing action, while the passive participle suggests that the action occurred in the past:
- Un ruido asustante ia veni de la armario. – A frightening noise came from the cupboard. (adjective)
- La om creante scultas es amirable. – The man creating sculptures is admirable. (adjective; = la om ci crea scultas)
- El ia sta tremante en la porta. – She stood shivering in the doorway. (adverb)
- Nos ia colie tota de la composantes. – We have collected all of the components. (noun)
- Per favore, no senta sur la seja rompeda. – Please do not sit on the broken chair. (adjective)
- El ia cade embarasada tra la seja. – He fell, embarrassed, through the chair. (adverb)
- Se novela va es un bonvendeda. – Her novel will be a bestseller. (noun)
The active participle can have an object. Furthermore, it can be used as a complement of the verb es to convey a progressive sense:
- Me es lenta asorbente la informa. – I am slowly absorbing the information.
- Me no ia disturba tu, car tu ia es laborante. – I didn't disturb you, as you were working.
But a participial construction is often unnecessary, as there are others ways to express this meaning:
- Me asorbe lenta la informa. – I slowly absorb / am slowly absorbing the information.
- Vade a via, me labora. – Go away, I'm working.
- Me continua come. – I continue to eat.
- Me come continual. – I eat continually.
- Me come tra la dia intera. – I eat throughout the day.
The passive participle can be used as a complement of the verbs es or deveni, producing a passive sense. Par ("by") introduces the agent of a passive action:
- Esta sala ia es pintida par un bufon. – This room was painted by a clown.
- La sala deveni pintida. – The room is being painted.
- Acel ponte ia es desiniada par un injenior famosa. – That bridge was designed by a famous engineer.
- Ia deveni conoseda ce el ia es un om perilosa. – It became known that he was a dangerous man.
An active sentence with on or algun as its subject is often an elegant alternative to a passive sentence:
- On pinti la sala. – The room is being painted.
- On no conose cuanto persones teme aranias. – It's not known how many people are afraid of spiders.
- Algun ia come lo. – It was eaten by someone.
The active participle of es is esente:
- Esente un bufon, el ia senta sur la seja rompeda. – Being a clown, he sat on the broken chair.
- Me senta. – I am sitting. (senta is intransitive)
- La patatas coce. – The potatoes are cooking. (coce is intransitive)
- El usa un computador. – She's using a computer. (usa is transitive)
- Los come bananas. – They're eating bananas. (come is transitive)
Transitivity is flexible in LFN. For example, if you add an object after an intransitive verb, the verb becomes transitive. The object corresponds semantically to the intransitive subject, and the verb now means "causes (the object) to ...":
- Me senta la enfantes. – I seat the children. (= Me causa ce la enfantes senta)
- Me coce la patatas. – I cook the potatoes. (= Me causa ce la patatas coce)
The object of a transitive verb can be omitted if it's obvious from the situation or the context:
- El canta un melodia. – She's singing a tune. > El canta. – She's singing. (= El canta alga cosa)
When a verb's object and subject are the same thing, you can use a reflexive pronoun as the object:
- Me senta me. – I seat myself / I sit down. (= Me deveni sentante)
- La porte abri se. – The door opens (itself). (= La porte abri – but emphasizing that nobody seems to be opening it; it's opening by itself)
And to make it clear that a verb is being used transitively, you can use expressions with fa or causa:
- Me fa ce la enfantes senta. – I make the children sit. (= Me senta la enfantes)
- Me causa ce la fango adere a me botas. – I cause the mud to stick to my boots. (= Me adere la fango a me botas)
In some languages, the object of a transitive verb can have a complement. LFN uses other constructions instead:
- Los ia eleje el a presidente. – They elected him president. (preposition of resulting state)
- Me ia pinta la casa a blanca. – I painted the house white. (preposition of resulting state)
- Me ia fa ce el es felis. – I made him happy. (noun clause)
- El ia dise ce me es stupida. – He called me stupid. (noun clause)
The one exception involves the verb nomi, and is regarded as an example of apposition:
- La esplorores ia nomi la rio la Amazon. – The explorers named the river the Amazon. (= los ia dona la nom "la Amazon" a la rio)
Verbs without subjects Edit
There are a number of verbs that have no obvious subjects. The clearest examples are words referring to the weather or the general environment:
- Neva. – It's snowing.
- Va pluve. – It's going to rain.
- Es tro calda en esta sala. – It's too hot in this room.
- Es bon – It's good.
Another example is when the subject is effectively a trailing noun clause:
- Pare ce tu es coreta. – It seems that you are correct.
- Es importante ce me no oblida esta. – It's important that I don't forget this.
With the verb es, if the subject is a pronoun (typically el, lo, or los) followed by a relative clause, it's possible to omit the pronoun and move the relative clause to the end of the sentence:
- Es me ci ama Maria. = El ci ama Maria es me. – It's me who loves Mary. = The one who loves Mary is me.
- Es Maria ci me ama. = El ci me ama es Maria. – It's Mary that I love. = The one that I love is Mary.
- Es la bal blu cual me ia perde. = Lo cual me ia perde es la bal blu. = La bal blu es lo cual me ia perde. – It's the blue ball that I've lost = What I've lost is the blue ball. = The blue ball is what I've lost.
Ave with no subject indicates the presence or existence of something. The opposite is no ave:
- Ave un serpente en la rua. – There is a snake in the road.
- No ave pexes en esta lago. – There aren't any fish in this lake.
- Ave multe persones asi oji. – There are many people here today.
In LFN, the object of a verb can be an unmarked noun clause – often containing just a verb, or a verb and its object. This subordinate verb would be infinitive in many languages, but LFN verbs don't have a special infinitive form. Instead, the sequence is known as a verb chain (un cadena de verbos). An adverb can still be included after the main verb, and the subordinate verb can be negated:
- Me espera ariva ante tu parti. – I hope to arrive before you leave.
- La sol ia pare flota sur la acua. – The sun seemed to float on the water.
- Me ia gusta multe escuta oji me musica. – I greatly enjoyed listening to my music today.
- On pote nunca spele coreta me nom. – People can never spell my name correctly.
- El teme no velia en la matina. – He fears not waking up in the morning.
In addition to serving as the object of the main verb, a subordinate verb can also appear as the subject of a main verb, or after a preposition. Such a verb is equivalent to a gerund or infinitive in other languages, and requires no determiner:
- Nada es un bon eserse. – Swimming is good exercise. To swim is good exercise.
- Scrive un bon libro es multe difisil. – Writing a good book is very difficult / To write a good book is very difficult.
- Es o no es, esta es la demanda. – To be or not to be, that is the question.
- Me viaja per vide la mundo. – I'm travelling (in order) to see the world.
- El ia mori pos nomi se seguor. – She died after naming her successor.
- El ia abri la noza par colpa lo forte con un martel. – He opened the nut by hitting it hard with a hammer.
- On no pote pasea tra la mundo sin lasa impresas de pede. – You can't walk through the world without leaving footprints.
Verbs as nounsEdit
Any verb can be reused without change as a noun. The noun denotes either an occurrence of the verb's action, or its immediate product:
- Se condui ia es vera xocante. – His behaviour was really shocking.
- La valsa e la samba es dansas. – The waltz and the samba are dances.
- Esta va es un ajunta bela a la ragu. – This will be a fine addition to the stew.
- Me ia prepara du traduis de la testo. – I've prepared two translations of the text.
- "LFN" es un corti de "Lingua Franca Nova". – "LFN" is an abbreviation of "Lingua Franca Nova".
- La universa ia es estrema peti a la momento de se crea. – The universe was extremely small at the moment of its creation.
- La scrive de un bon libro es multe difisil. – The writing of a good book is very difficult. (= Scrive un bon libro es multe difisil)
With a verb such as ajunta, there is little difference between un ajunta and un ajuntada. But la traduida is the original text from which la tradui is produced, and un crea is an act of creating un creada. This follows from the meaning of the objects of the verbs themselves: -da always refers to the object. With crea, the object is also the result of the action; but with tradui, the object and the result are two different things. With a few verbs, such as dansa, where the object and the action are the same thing, we say un dansa, not un dansada.