VAI Conjunct Basics


Review of conjunct order basics

Some types of speech contain ideas that reference back to something said earlier. We have already discussed clauses which use a special narrative mode called the subordinative mode. Another way verbal clauses relate to one another uses verbs in the conjunct order. In comparison to the subordinative mode, conjunct phrases bear a stronger relationship to the main clause. Conjunct sub-phrases tend to puts a spin or twist to the story. Timing and location information are often involved in conjunct phrases. Explanatory phrases seems to be more the domaine of the subordinative, whereas causative phrases are conjunct territory. The subordinative mode narrates and delivers information to be added on to the existing storyline whereas the conjunct loops back to the main clause with snippets of information that modify the original content.

Subordinative mode:

That’s the place where I waited.

This subordinative phrase tells us more of the story, a descriptive, explanatory matter of fact statement about a place mentioned in the prior part of the narrative.

Conjunct mode:

I waited there because it rained.

The conjunct part of this phrase (because it rained) loops back to the main clause and joins with the idea expressed there in a way that blends the two thoughts together. The two clauses once joined together say something different than if each clause was separate. Subordinative mode style speech simply adds more data to the narrative. Conjunct style speech not only tells ‘more’ of the story, it ‘changes’ the story. Common uses of the conjunct involve things like the relative time frames of the two phrases, cause and effect relationships, or location data.

Preverbs are very often involved in conjunct mode phrases. Preverbs with meanings like “when” or “while” or “everytime” bring the concept of time or the timing of the action between the two clauses and help create a certain kind of relationship between the two clauses such that certain preverbs are always followed by conjunct sub-clauses. For instance location related clauses introduced by the preverb meaning ‘where’ (eenda) almost always use the conjunct, in part because the information about ‘where’ adds a dimension to the first or main clause that goes beyond a continuation of a narrative. Preverbs with meaning related to cause and effect such as ‘because’ also use conjunct secondary phrases.

Conjunct modes

Changed Conjunct

When the time frame of the action in the conjunct sub-phrase is simultaneous to that of the main phrase the “Changed Conjunct Mode” is used.

Changed Subjunctive Conjunct

Action that occurs before the time frame of the main uses the “Changed Subjunctive Conjunct Mode” and this mode adds a suffix (e) to the usual conjunct ending to clearly set it apart.

Conditional or hypothetical ideas are expressed using the “Subjunctive Conjunct Mode” and this mode is how one expresses ideas that in English would start with “if…”.

Lastly there are the participles. These are verbs conjugated using conjunct endings and are used to modify nouns as if adjectives or function in a noun-like manner.

Personal prefixes are not used in any of the four conjunct modes.

A basic set of conjunct endings (described below) is used in all modes. An extra “modal ending” (e) is added in some modes (Changed Subjunctive and Subjunctive) and a shift in the inital vowels called the ‘’Initial Change’‘ is used in all modes except the subjunctive. When a preverb is present, as is most often the case, the initial change will affect the preverb’s initial vowel instead of the verb’s initial vowel. This change only applies if the initial vowel of the verb or preverb is either (a) or (e). This may all sound complex but will be much easier to understand using examples.

Inital Change

(a) => (ee) 
(u) => (ee)

For example: máxksuw he is red méexksiit the red one

Conjunct Order Overview

Conjunct Mode Schema
Changed (initial change)-(conjunct endings)
Changed Subjunctive (initial change)-(conjunct endings)-(e)
Subjunctive (no initial change)-(conjunct endings)-(e)
Participles (initial change)-(conjunct endings)


Conjunct Conjugation Paradigms

VAIs use a set of endings called the an-endings. This set of endings is also used in other verb types such as the VTI conjunct and some sub-modes of the VTA conjunct.

Consonant ending stems will be described first then vowel ending stems will follow.

VAI Conjunct – Consonant stems

Basic paradigm Meaning
(consonant stem)-aan I —
(consonant stem)-an You —
(consonant stem)-uk He or She —
(consonant stem)-eengw We — (exclusive)
(consonant stem)-eengw We — (inclusive)
(consonant stem)-eekw Ye —
(consonant stem)-óhtiit They —
Not attested There is —


eenda-pumaashŭwíhlaan when I swim

1st person plural forms:

We exclusive and we inclusive forms are identical in the conjunct because no prefixes are used, but context can help to distinguish between them.

Note on indefinite subject forms:

No indefinite subject forms (X) are attested for VAIs ending in consonants

However stems which end in vowels do have documented indefinite subject forms (see below).

Special Cases:

(1) Stems with nasalized endings
When the final consonant is (n) or (m) the 3rd person ending merges with the stem to form a nasal sound cluster.

Stems ending in (-m) add (k) directly => (mk) which then nasalizes to (ng)

Stems ending in (-n) add (k) directly -> (nk) which then nasalizes to (ng)


(2) Stems ending in (-xiin)
These may be conjugated in two different ways for the 3rd person sg:

    (1) with retention of the final (n)  => (n)(k)  => shungíixiing  
              i.e. conjugates like a consonant ending stem  

    (2) with omission of the final (n) => (ii)(t)       => shungíixiit  
             i.e. conjugates like a vowel ending stem   

(3) Some speakers add (aw) before (aan) (an) (eengw) (eekw) :

Éendawan  instead of Éendan. 
How you are.  

(from the verb (und) 'be so' )  

VAI Conjunct – Consonant stems – Special cases

Form (stem-m) (stem-n) (stem-xiin) (consonant stem)
1st sg (stem-m)-aan (stem-n)-aan (stem-xiin)-aan (consonant stem)-awaan
2nd sg (stem-m)-an (stem-n)-an (stem-xiin)-an (consonant stem)-awan
3rd sg (stem)-ng (stem)-ng (stem-xiing) or (stem-xiit) (consonant stem)-uk
1st pl (stem-m)-eengw (stem-n)-eengw (stem-xiin)-eengw (consonant stem)-aweengw
2nd pl (stem-m)-eekw (stem-n)-eekw (stem-xiin)-eekw (consonant stem)-aweekw
3rd pl (stem-m)-óhtiit (stem-n)-óhtiit (stem-xiin)-óhtiit (consonant stem)-óhtiit

The relevant forms to the discussion above are in bold type.


Examples to illustrate each stem type:

(1) Stem ending in (-xiin): shungíixiin lie down

éenda-shungíixiing or eenda-shungíixiit  

(2) Stem ending in (m): wum come from


(3) Stem ending in (consonant) : lpakw cry



Go to VAI Practicum 12 Conjunct Basics I

Vowel ending VAI stems

VAI verb stems ending in a vowel use a different 3rd sg ending : (t)
whereas consonant ending stems use (uk)

To prevent adjacent vowels from running together when adding conjunct endings, a (y) gets intercalated before the vowel initial conjunct endings

=> -y-aan -y-an -y-eengw -y-eekw  

Each stem type shifts its stem ending vowel when followed by the inserted (y) :

Stems ending in (ii) become stems ending in (uy)  
(stem-uy)  -(aan) -(an) -(eengw) -(eekw)  

Stems ending in (aa) become stems ending in (ay)  
(stem-ay) -(aan) -(an) -(eengw) -(eekw)  

Stems ending in (ee) become stems ending in (ay)  
(stem-ay) -(aan) -(an) -(eengw) -(eekw)  

All other conjunct endings are added directly to the verb stem

=> (stem) - (t)  
=> (stem) - (htiit)  
=> (stem) - (ng) for the X subject


VAI Conjunct – Vowel stems

The paradigm below illustrates a VAI with a stem ending in (ee).

Basic paradigm Meaning
(stem)-ay-aan I —
(stem)-ay-an You —
(stem)-ee-t He or She —
(stem)-ay-eengw We — (exclusive)
(stem)-ay-eengw We — (inclusive)
(stem)-ay-eekw Ye —
(stem)-ee-htiit They —
(stem)-ee-ng There is —


VAI Conjunct – Vowel stems

The paradigm below illustrates a VAI with a stem ending in (aa).

Basic paradigm Meaning
(stem)-ay-aan I —
(stem)-ay-an You —
(stem)-aa-t He or She —
(stem)-ay-eengw We — (exclusive)
(stem)-ay-eengw We — (inclusive)
(stem)-ay-eekw Ye —
(stem)-aa-htiit They —
(stem)-aa-ng There is —



VAI Conjunct – Vowel stems

The paradigm below illustrates a VAI with a stem ending in (ii).

Basic paradigm Meaning
(stem)-uy-aan I —
(stem)-uy-an You —
(stem)-ii-t He or She —
(stem)-uy-eengw We — (exclusive)
(stem)-uy-eengw We — (inclusive)
(stem)-uy-eekw Ye —
(stem)-ii-htiit They —
(stem)-ii-ng There is —

Examples to illustrate each stem type:

(1) Stem ending in (ii): míitsuw eat


(2) Stem ending in (aa): kundkeew dance


(3) Stem ending in (ee): alóhkeew work


Stems ending in (-pwii), (-kwii) or (-mwii) do not drop the (w) before (u) as they do in 3rd person indicative mode forms.

katóopuw vai be full (from eating)  

Nii ngatóopwi.  
I am full.  
indicative mode
Neeka katóopuw.   
He is full.             
indicative mode
When I am full  

When he is full  
(proof - see dictionary entry for the verb akuw)  
(John O'Meara Munsee Delaware Dictionary)

VOTI stems and the conjunct

(1) VOTI1a and VOTI1b Stems

These stems end in (am) and (um) conjugate like a consonant stem ending in (m)
See consonant ending paradigm chart.

(2) VOTI2 Stems

These stems end in (oo).
The (oo) shifts to (aw) before all conjunct endings, except for the the 3rd person plural form (-htiit) and all the conjunct negative forms which retain the (-oo-)

The 3rd sg form is constructed as (aw)-uk but is subsequently reworked phonologically to (aakw)

VOTI2 Conjunct

Basic paradigm Meaning
(stem)-aw-aan I —
(stem)-aw-an You —
(stem)-aakw He or She —
(stem)-aw-eengw We — (exclusive)
(stem)-aw-eengw We — (inclusive)
(stem)-aw-eekw Ye —
(stem)-oo-htiit They —
(stem)-aw-ung There is —

Class 2 VTI and VOTI stems ending in (oo) shift the (oo) to (aw) in the conjunct
except for 3rd p plural and all conjunct negative forms

akaawíhlatoow voti2 hurry, hurry up

éenda-akkawíhlataakw **

** Note that (aw)(k) => (aakw) due to a phonology rule


Go to VAI Practicum 13 Conjunct Basics II


Negatives are formed in the regular way, (w) is intercalated between the stem and the endings. Vowel ending stems use the stem vowel before (w), consonant ending stems insert (oo) before (w).

Speakers sometimes use non-negative conjunct forms after mah or mahta.

VAI Negative Conjunct Mode

Vowel stem paradigm Consonant stem paradigm Meaning
mah (vowel stem)-waan mah (consonant stem)-oowaan I — not
mah (vowel stem)-wan mah (consonant stem)-oowan You — not
mah (vowel stem)-kw mah (consonant stem)-ookw He or She — not
mah (vowel stem)-weengw mah (consonant stem)-ooweengw We — not (exclusive)
mah (vowel stem)-weengw mah (consonant stem)-ooweengw We — not (inclusive)
mah (vowel stem)-weekw mah (consonant stem)-ooweekw Ye — not
mah (vowel stem)-htiikw mah wu-(consonant stem)-óhtiikw They — not
mah —-(vowel stem)-wung** mah —-(consonant stem)-oowung** There is not —

** ref. Ives Goddard; Linguistic Variation in a Small Speech Community: The Personal Dialects of Moraviantown Delaware; Anthropological Linguistics;Volume 52, Number 1, Spring 2010;pp. 1-48

VOTI2 stems ending in (oo) do not shift to (aw) before negative endings

míitsuw vai he eats

Mah éenda-miitsíiwaan
Mah éenda-miitsíiwan
Mah éenda-míitsiikw
Mah éenda-miitsíiweengw
Mah éenda-miitsíiweekw
Mah éenda-miitsíhtiikw


und via he is a certain way

Mah éenda-undóowaan
Mah éenda-undóowan
Mah éenda-úndookw
Mah éenda-undóoweengw
Mah éenda-undóoweekw
Mah éenda-undóhtiikw


Go to VAI Practicum 14 Conjunct Basics III
Conjugation paradigms and many other details adapted from Delaware Verbal Morphology by Ives Goddard

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