Mahican VAI Subordinative


The independent subordinative mode is used for certain types of secondary clauses that have something more about a previously mentioned subject, topic or place. As such, this mode is often used in narratives and story telling. This mode helps to link ideas together, and often provide details of quality, quantity, manner about a subject in a series of clauses all of which refer back to the subject mentioned beforehand.

Preverbs are often used in this mood to help color the nature of these linked ideas.

A preverb in the middle of a sentence with the meaning :

'at the location of _______'  

would naturally set the stage for additional information to be added about the location.

The main clause starts the story and subordinative clause tells “the rest of the story …”

In narratives, the main clause introduces a storyline and the followings sentences often introduced by the word “then” or “subsequently” (nan or yahah) use the subordinative mode to add more snippets of information to the story.

VAIs conjugate in subordinative mode using a set of endings called the ‘’n endings’‘. Vowel ending stems add the endings directly using the stem ending vowel. Unstable stems do not shift vowels in the subordinative mode. Consonant ending stems insert (u) before the n endings.

VAI Subordinative Mode

Vowel stem paradigm Consonant stem paradigm Meaning
nu-(vowel stem)-n nu-(consonant stem)-un I —
ku-(vowel stem)-n ku-(consonant stem)-un You —
wu-(vowel stem)-n wu-(consonant stem)-un He or She —
nu-(vowel stem)-naanah nu-(consonant stem)-unaanah We — (exclusive)
ku-(vowel stem)-naanah ku-(consonant stem)-unaanah We — (inclusive)
ku-(vowel stem)-naanookw ku-(consonant stem)-unaanookw We all — (inclusive)
ku-(vowel stem)-naawah ku-(consonant stem)-unaawah You (pl) —
wu-(vowel stem)-naawah wu-(consonant stem)-unaawah They —
—-(vowel stem)-n —-(consonant stem)-un There is —

VAI Negative Subordinative Mode

Vowel stem paradigm Consonant stem paradigm Meaning
ustah nu-(vowel stem)-wun ustah nu-(consonant stem)-oowun I — not
ustah ku-(vowel stem)-wun ustah ku-(consonant stem)-oowun You — not
ustah wu-(vowel stem)-wun ustah wu-(consonant stem)-oowun He or She — not
ustah nu-(vowel stem)-wunaanah ustah nu-(consonant stem)-oowunaanah We — not (exclusive)
ustah ku-(vowel stem)-wunaanah ustah ku-(consonant stem)-oowunaanah We — not (inclusive)
ustah ku-(vowel stem)-wunaanookw ustah ku-(consonant stem)-oowunaanookw We — not (exclusive)
ustah ku-(vowel stem)-wunaawah ustah ku-(consonant stem)-oowunaaawh You (pl) — not
ustah wu-(vowel stem)-wunaawah ustah wu-(consonant stem)-oowunaawah They — not
ustah —-(vowel stem)-wun ustah —-(consonant stem)-oowun There is not —

VAI Subordinative Examples

The verb anahkaaw ‘he works’

X   anahkaan


ustah ndanahkaawun     
ustah ktanahkaawun 
ustah wtanahkaawun 
ustah ndanahkaawŭnaanah 
ustah ktanahkaawŭnaanah 
ustah ktanahkaawŭnaanookw
ustah ktanahkaawŭnaawah 
ustah wtanahkaawŭnaawah
X ustah anahkaawun

Unstable verbs in subordinative mode

unstable (ąą) verbs use (ąą) + n endings 
unstable (ii) verbs use (ii) + n endings
verbs in (kwii) use (kwii) + n endings


unstable (ąą) verbs use (ąą) + negative n endings 
unstable (ii) verbs use (ii) + negative n endings
verbs in (kwii) use (kwii) + negative n endings
Ustah naakmah paawih. 
He is not coming. (indicative mode)

Nan ustah naakmah pąąwun.  

Subordinative mode usage:

Mild commands

The subordinative when used as the main verb in a non narrative phrase, forms mild commands or suggestions.

Let me go.  

aaw vai-ąą he goes  

These seem to have an unspoken main clause that says:

“Would you please…” + subordinative verb

Kamuk wtąąn.  
Let him go inside.  

Please be nice.  (wunúθuw vai he is nice, good)  

Pąąn wiikuyah.  
Let him come to my house. (paaw vai he comes)  

Kaachih pąąnaawah.  
Let them come now.  

Numíitsiin hamawusih.   
Let me eat slowly.  
(hamawusih pc kind of slowly)  

Let me sleep.  

Let us sleep.  

Let me say.  

Secondary verbal clauses

The subordinative is used in the second clause when a phrases contains two verb clauses. Some of these phrases use the conjunct for the second phrase. The subordinative tends to used instead when the second clause continues the narrative in some way.

Waawihkwat noonaayun. It is known I am good. 

waawihkwat vii be known
Subordinative construct because the second verb explains something related to the first verb.

    Koonamanθih ndan noonamánθih. You are feeling well and I am feeling well.   

Non-subordinative construct. Neither verb says something that is secondary to the other.

Examples of subordinative constructs:

Aąyąąnkwat nŭmáwih-kawiin.  
It is necessary for me to go to sleep.  

Aąyąąnkwat koonaayun.  
It is necessary for you to be nice.  

Ustah Aąyąąnkwatoowih nsiin.  
It is not necessary for me to say.  

Subordinative use with preverbs

Certain preverbs (and related verb roots) are especially geared toward use in subordinative clauses. Preverbs related to the quality, the location, the aspect, or the quantity of an idea tend to be followed by a verb in the subordinative mode.
A preverb that introduces the idea of ‘somewhere’ for example may associated with a verb about working. That verb would be in the subordinative because the idea of working somewhere would be part of the preceding dialogue and makes sense in the context of the dialogue.

Locative nouns or numbers are examples of qualifiers that are connected to a verb but do not cause the verb to be in the subordinative mode.

Preverb anih

The preverb (anih-) sets up a verb so it can provide information with the meaning of ‘thereto’ or the ‘in the direction or manner of’ with reference to a place or time. The idea of ‘direction’ toward a destination extends to non literal places such as ideas and times. It can be used to express concepts such as ‘how’ or ‘thusly’ or ‘in what way’ or ‘in what timeframe’. By providing an explanation of the manner or direction of an action toward reaching a destination or a result, it may assume a variety of translations in English such as how, thus, thusly, the way that, the manner which, to the time of, to the place of, and other such ideas. It provides an explanation of a result or end point so sometimes translates as ‘because’.

It forms a contrast with the preverb wchih- which means ‘therefrom’ or ‘the reason, purpose or cause from which’ with the idea of movement from a place of departure, a starting point, or a beginning.

anih- pv thereto, how, so, in thus manner, in thus way, in relation to

Beginning pattern 
(nu)-(anih) => ndunih-   
(ku)-(anih) => ktunih-  
(wu)-(anih) => wtunih-  

Reduplicated form is (ayúnih- ) ; with prefix: (ndayunih- ktayunih- wtayunih-)  

Reduplicated forms add emphasis, rhythm and cuteness, similar to words like ‘razzle dazzle’ or ‘fancy schmancy.’

(anih-) may also be used in non subordinative phrases to provide emphasis or direct statements based on ‘how’ something happens.

It is important to keep in mind in interpreting phrases using (anih-) that the subordinative clause functions as an add on that tells the rest of the story.


Ndanumúθih wtúnih-mawih-kawíin.  
I left when he went to sleep.   I left, the end result (destination) of him going to sleep. 

anúmθuw vai he leaves  

Mbaaθih wtúnih-anúmθiin.  
I waited until he left.  
(paaθuw vai wait)  
(I waited - to the time he was on his way - his leaving)  

Ndan wtúnih- wiikwáhmuk -piichiikwθiin.  
And -  into the house to there he crawled inside.  Then he crawled into the house. 
    [piichiikwθuw vai crawl inside]  

Kamuk ndúnih-pah.  
I am coming over there.   Over there is to where I come. 

Ootaanaak ndúnih-pumúθih.   
I am walking to town.  To town is to where I walk. 
(non-subordinative direct statement using of (anih-), single verb phrase)  

Nun ndayúnih-mąąchiin.  
This is the way I went home.   (the direction or manner thereto)
Nun refers to something said earlier, so this phrase is subordinate. 


Wchih- is a preverb that connects phrases with the idea of ‘’therefrom’ or ‘from where’ or ‘the reason, purpose or cause from which’. A reason, cause or explanation represents an ideational departure point, hence the frequent use for ideas such as ‘because’ or ‘why’.

When the quantifier (the word or phrase that spells out the idea or place the preverb is pointing to) is a noun in locative form, the one verb in the phrase does not need to be in the subordinative mode. Phrases with two verbs use the subordinative. When a pronoun such as “this” or “that” or “there” serves as a pointer back to something else said earlier, the subordinative is used, even though it may be the only verb in that sentence.

Wchih- also may be used as a prenoun, attached to a locative noun, indicating ‘from or at’ that location.

Kiisih- ąąm -  nąątamun xaskwiim wchih-wiikwahmuk?
Can you get the corn from the house?  (prenoun)

Wiikwahmuk wchih-pumuθuw.  
He walked from the house. (preverb)

Paaw oochih-miitsiin.   
He came so he could eat.   (from the idea that)

Nun oochih-apíin.   
That's why he is there.  (the purpose from which)

Nun oochih-apiinaawah niimaanaak.   
That's the reason why the men are there. 

Ngawih noochih-wunamanúθiin.  
I slept so I would feel good.   

Nun nooch-ąąptóonaan.  
That's the reason why I was speaking.  

Wchih can be used as a particle with meaning of ‘from’ and ‘reason, purpose’

Kaakway wchih?   
Why? What is the reason?  

Paníiw ąąn wchih kukuk.   
Go away from your mother's place.   

Subordinative constructs using other preverbs

Other preverbs are used in subordinative mode phrases. Preverbs may be integrated into the verb as part of the ‘root’ of the verb in which case the effect is similar to using the preverb.

(verbs are made of roots, medials and finals)


Tanih connects phrases with the idea of ‘where, a place’ (in the same way that anih- connects phrases with the idea of ‘’how’‘). The ‘qualifier’ for tanih will be a location of some kind or ‘somewhere’ or a ‘place’. The subordinative mode is used with (tanih) when the clause it introduces is a secondary clause.

tan- (as verb root) there, in a certain place, that is where…

tanahkaaw   he works (somewhere)  

Beginning pattern irregularity:

    (u) is inserted between the prefix and (tan-)  

    (nu)-(-u-)(tanahkaaw) =>  


Ootaanaak ndutanahkah. 
I work in town.   
(locative nouns in a direct statement, indicative mode)  

Noh nan ndutanahkaan. 
That is where I work  
(subordinative mode because this phrase is a secondary clause to a narrative)  

Mostly [tanih] is used as a particle (standalone word).

When used with a verb as a preverb (tanih-) takes the form (atanih-).

Noh wtútanih-pumuθiin.   
That's where he walked.  

Noh wtútanih-ąąn. That's where he went.
Noh wtútanih-ąąnaawah. That's where they went.   

Noh wtútanih-anahkaan. This is where he used to work   

Indicative mode examples, using a non verbal qualifier.

Apuw tanih mbíik.   
He is there in the water.  
Pxąąn noh tanih.   
It is snowing here.   

Nuyah nŭmáwih-pumúθih ąąnaak tanih.   
I went walking on the road.    


θáhkih- is a preverb that connects phrases with the idea of ‘the length, the extent, the amount of something’

Its qualifiers could be a number in which case there is only one clause which is a non-subordinative clause but if a verb is used then then the first verb will be in the indicative mode and the secondary verb phrase will be in the subordinative mode.


θahkooxaaw vai-s go a certain way, distance

Tąąn wθahkooxaan?  How far is he going?  
Tąąn nθahkooxaan?  How far am I going?  
Ustah nuwaawiitaawun tąąn nθahkooxaan.  
Mbúmθih nθáhkih-wiinamanθiin. I walked so far I was sick.  

θáhksuw vai be a certain length

    Thah wθáhksiin nah áxkook?  
    How long is the snake?   
    What is the extent- of the length of the snake  

Example without use of subordinative:

θahkąąwθuw vai live a certain length of time (sahkąąwsuw)
M sahkaawsuw vai live a certain length of time.
ind 1st sg nθahkąąwθih
conj 3rd sg θahkąąwθiit
imp θahkąąwθih
ptcpl θahkąąwθiit

Tąąn nsahkąąwuθih. So long as I live. (s93) (s130)

θahkąąwθuw vai live a certain length of time

Niisah kiisoox θahkąąwθuw.  He lived for two months.  
Tąąn θahkąąwθuw? How long has he lived?  

θahkih– as a preverb:

Naawah kíisoox wθáhkih-paasiin.   
Four months is how long he waited. (He waited for four months.)   

Nun kθáhkih-pumúθiin.   
That is how long I walked.  

Use as particle

Tąąn sáhkih ndaniitahah, 'nuya=ch nŭmáwih-míitθih'. After awhile I told myself, 'I'll go eat'.  (non subordinative construction) 


Storytelling and the subordinative

Story telling words like yahah, kniimah, knih, nih ‘then’ or ‘and then’ may introduce a subordinate clause. It is as if each new sentence tells more of the story, and the whole story forms a string of interconnected sub-phrases, all in the subordinative mode.

yahah pc then, subsequently + subordinative

kniimah pc then, after that + subordinative

knih pc then

nih pc that inanimate, emphatic

When these particles are used with a verb to make direct statements, then the indicative mode is used. When the particle and verb refer back to something or someplace previously mentioned, subordinative is preferred.

Nih ndanumúθiin.   
Then I went away (from there).  

Knih ustah ndąąwun.   
Then I didn't go (there).  

Kniimah ustah ngátaaw-ąąwun.   
Then I didn't want to go (there).  

Yahah ndaniitahah, "Nuyah ąąm ndąąn."
Then I thought, 'I should go (there).  

nih :

This word may be used to refer back to something or someone from the main narrative and will trigger the subordinative mode if coupled with a verb.

Nih wmun nah niimaanaaw.   
That's where that man comes from.  

Nih pxaanum wsiin.   
That's what the woman said.  

Verbs of motion

Certain verbs of motion are used in subordinative mode, especially when the motion is defined, without vagueness.

He comes.   i.e. he comes somewhere, or somehow or sometime  (vague)

Nih pąąn.  
He came to this (place).  (precise)

paaw  vai-ąą come

Naakmah nahah pąąn, nguk uwah "kátaaw-míitθih?"  He came, and my mother said  "Do you want to eat?''  (precise)

The subordinative may be useful to shift the focus or emphasis of a phrase :

Nah nuyah ndapiin. 
That was me who was there.

Plural and obviative endings on verbs in subordinative mode normally are omitted :

Niichąąnak noh wtápiin wtapíinayuk.  
My daughters are there in their beds.   

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