The preterite tense is a way to talk of something in the past that has been completed.
It was there. It happened. It snowed.
The present tense also specifies information that the past action occurred in a more distant past than another past action. It is almost always found in questions in Mahican texts with rare exceptions (P mlh29).
What had been there? What had been frozen?
In phrases without reference to another past event, the present tense may refer to a past event with ongoing or present time relevance. (HA23)(HA58)
How has it been working? Since when has it been snowing?
This tense can also be used for a hypothetic or conditional expression in the past. (P mlh29)
If it had never happened.
Preterite forms are constructed using by first building the verb form using the appropriate ending, then adding the preterite ending -pan. Plural endings follow the preterite ending and use preterite specific forms. If no additional endings follow, the the preterite ending -pan is shortened to -p.
Ahtāāp. It was there.
Ahtāāpanih. They were there.
Note the preterite inanimate plural ending ih which is also used in the present when a plural ending is required.
When added to a form that has the ending -uw a contraction occurs which preserves the oo sound resulting in uw + -upan => -oopan. This shortens to -oop when no further endings follow the preterite suffix.
Thaθoop. It was cold.
Vowel stem verbs in the 3rd person forms add the preterite suffix -upan to the final w and the sequences āāw-upan and ąąw-upan contract to āāp and ąąp respectively for the sg forms. Plural 3rd person forms contract to āāpaniik and ąąpaniik.
Ahtāāp. It was there. Ahtāāpanih. They were there.
Consonant stem verbs simply add -upan directly.
Sooknąąnup. It rained. Wunutpanih. They were good.
Preterite Conjunct Order
The preterite suffix is added to the conjunct endings as -upan and as in other settings, -upan simplifies to -up.
ahtāākup It was there Iiyunookwihkw noochih-ahkuyiikup. Since there was an earth. (HA58)
Examples with modal ending (-ah) which becomes -āā- before the preterite suffix:
ahtāākāāp When it was there
The three ways to indicate completed action:
1. Use of anih-
Anih-ahtāāw. I was there.
2. Use of pakachih pc already
Pakachih ahtāāw. It already was there.
3. Use of preterite:
Ahtāāp. It was there.
Inflection patterns are similar to those used with the preterite suffix. The present suffix -θan shortens to -θah when no additional endings follow.
aniixun vii lie there, consist (HA27) (Matt7.13) Tąąn aniixunāāθah? What had it consisted of? (HA27) Ahtāāθah. It has been there. Ahtāāθanih. They have been there.
Note the plural ending ih which is also used in the preterite when an inanimate plural ending is required.
Vowel stem verbs in the 3rd person forms add the preterite suffix -uθan to the final w and the sequences āāw-uθan and ąąw-uθan contract to āāθah and ąąθah respectively for the sg forms. Plural 3rd person forms contract to āāθanih and ąąθanih.
When added to a form that has the ending -uw a contraction occurs which preserves the oo sound resulting in uw + -uθan => -ooθan. This shortens to -ooθah when no further endings follow the present suffix.
Thaθooθah. It had been cold. (s127)
Consonant stem verbs simply add -uθan directly.
Wunutθah. It had been good.
Present Tense in the Conjunct Order
The present suffix is added to the conjunct endings as -uθan and as in other settings, -uθan simplifies to -uθah when no endings follow
Wāānihkuθah It has been good.