Mahican VTA Subordinative

The VTA Subordinative mode uses n endings.

VTAs in subordinative mode do not mark for obviation, and plural objects use the same forms as the singular.

Subordinative modes forms exist for direct mode, inverse mode, passives (indefinite subject) and local forms (You-Me and Me-You forms).

VTA Direct Mode Subordinative

These use the direct theme sign (ąą) with n endings

(prefix) (verb stem) (ąą) (n ending)

Paradigm Meaning
nu-(stem)-ąąn I — him
ku-(stem)-ąąn You — him
wu-(stem)-ąąn He — him (obviative)
nu-(stem)-ąąnaanah We — him (exclusive)
ku-(stem)-ąąnaanah We — him (inclusive)
ku-(stem)-ąąnaanookw We all — him (inclusive)
ku-(stem)-ąąnaawah You (pl) — him
wu-(stem)-ąąnaawah They — him (obviative)
—-(stem)-ąąn He was —

VTA Negative Subordinative Mode

Paradigm Meaning
ustah nu-(stem)-ąąwun I — him not
ustah ku-(stem)-ąąwun You — him not
ustah wu-(stem)-ąąwun He — him not (obviative)
ustah nu-(stem)-ąąwunaanah We — him not (exclusive)
ustah ku-(stem)-ąąwunaanah We — him not (inclusive)
ustah ku-(stem)-ąąwunaanookw We all — him not (inclusive)
ustah ku-(stem)-ąąwunaawah You (pl) — him not
ustah wu-(vowel stem)-ąąwunaawah They — him not (obviative)
ustah —-(vowel stem)-ąąwun He was not —
Nan nuyah naawąąn  
Then I saw him.  

Nan ustah nuyah naawąąwun.   
Then I saw him not.   

VTA Inverse Subordinative Mode

These use the inverse theme sign (ukw) with n endings

(prefix) (verb stem) (ukw) (n ending)

This set is identical to the forms used for objective inverse forms for an inanimate subject.

Paradigm Meaning
nu-(stem)-ukwun he — me
ku-(stem)-ukwun he — you
wu-(stem)-ukwun he — him / her
nu-(stem)-ukwunaanah he — us (exclusive)
ku-(stem)-ukwunaanah he — us (inclusive)
ku-(stem)-ukwunaanookw he — us all (inclusive)
ku-(stem)-ukwunaawah he — you (pl)
wu-(stem)-ukwunaawah he — them

Nan wŭnaawkwun.   
Then he saw me.  

Nan ustah wunaawkóowun.   
Then he saw me not.   

VTA Indefinite Subject Inverse Subordinative Mode (Passives)

These use the modified inverse theme sign (ukaa) with n endings, except the 3rd person forms which use the direct X subject forms (ąą) + n ending

(prefix) (verb stem) (ukaa) (n ending)

Paradigm Meaning
nu-(stem)-ukaan I was —-
ku-(stem)-ukaan you were —-
—-(stem)-ąąn He / She was —-
nu-(stem)-ukaanaanah we were —- (excl)
ku-(stem)-ukaanaanah we were —– (incl)
ku-(stem)-ukaanaanookw we all were —– (incl)
ku-(stem)-ukaanaawah you (pl) were —–
—-(stem)-ąąnaawah They were —–

Nan kŭnaawkaan.   
Then you were seen.  

Nan ustah kunaawkaawun.   
Then you were not seen.   

Nan naawąąn.   
Then he was seen.  
(3p uses the x form of the indicative mode)  

Nan ustah naawąąwun.   
Then he was not seen.  

Nan naawąąnaawah. 
Then they were seen.  

VTA Subordinative You-Me Forms

VTA Subordinative Local Forms use the (ii) and (un) direction markers with n endings

Participants Paradigm
You —- me ku-(stem)-iin
You (pl) —- me ku-(stem)-íinaawah
You —- us ku-(stem)-íinaanah
You (pl) —- us ku-(stem)-íinaanah
Nan kŭnaawiin.   
Then you saw me.  

VTA Subordinative Negative You-Me Forms

Participants Paradigm
You -— me ustah ku-(stem)-unoowiin
You (pl) -— me ustah ku-(stem)-unoowíinaawah
You -— us ustah ku-(stem)-unoowíinaanah
You (pl) -— us ustah ku-(stem)-unoowíinaanah
Nan ustah kŭnaawíiwun. Then you saw me not.

VTA Subordinative Me-You Forms

Participants Paradigm
Me, I —- you ku-(stem)-un-un
Me, I —- you (pl) ku-(stem)-un-unaawah
We —- you ku-(stem)-un-unaanah
We —- you (pl) ku-(stem)-un-unaanah
Nan kŭnaawŭnun.   
Then I saw you.  

VTA Subordinative Negative Me-You Forms

Participants Paradigm
Me, I -— you ustah ku-(stem)-unoowun
Me, I -— you (pl) ustah ku-(stem)-unoowunaawah
We -— you ustah ku-(stem)-unoowunaanah
We -— you (pl) ustah ku-(stem)-unoowunaanah
Nan ustah kunaawunóowun. Then I saw you not.
Nan ustah kunaawŭnóowun.
Then I saw you not.

Examples of uses:

Polite commands

The subordinative used alone forms polite commands or suggestions.

Let me tell her.  
Go with her.  

Wpaasuwąąn niih pataatθah..   
Let him eat those potatoes.  

Mbaasuwąąn niik pataatθak.   
Let me bring those potatoes.  

Let us believe him.  

Chih kpaahiin.
Don't wait for me. 
(negative commands do not use negative conjugation paradigms)

Chiin ktahnąąn, nih noonakw. Don’t put it here, but over there. (s124)

akunahumawaaw vta serve s.o. (s124)
Chih ktakunahumawąąn. Don’t serve him. (s124)

Simple verbal complements

A verb in a secondary clause providing complementary information to the verb in the primary clause will usually be in the subordinative. When used this way the second verb is stylistically set apart and provides a certain nuance of meaning compared to verb pairings without subordinative use.

anaanmaaw vta let s.o., allow s.o. to do something (P mlh37)(HA55)
(anaanŭmaaw) (Sw51)

Ndunaanmąąw mbaasookwun.   
I let him bring me.   

Ndunaanmukw mbaasuwąąn.  
He lets me bring him.  

ąąyąątamaaw vii be necessary (s102)

Aąyąątamaaw kunąąthąąn.  
It is necessary for you to fetch him. 

Aąyąątamaaw kunąąthiin.  
It is necessary for you to fetch me. 

Aąyąątamaaw kunąąthoonun.  
It is necessary for me to fetch you. 

Subordinative Use with Preverbs

Certain preverbs (and related verb roots) combine with a verb in a subordinative clause and provide a bridge of sorts between two phrases, one in the main clause and the other in the subordinative clause. Preverbs color the interaction between the two verbs in a particular way.

Some preverbs, particles and other parts of speech refer to something vague like “in a certain place” or “in a certain way” or “a certain amount.” A “qualifier” or a “quantifier” provided afterwards will help resolve that vagueness. If the qualifier is a sub-clause containing a verb, then odds are that it will be in the subordinative mode. Non verbal qualifiers such a locative nouns, particles or numbers are not subordinative constructs, and the verb in such phrases will not be in the subordinative.

The ‘go to’ preverb

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 for (anih-): (nu)-(anih) => ndunih- (ku)-(anih) => ktunih- (wu)-(anih) => wtunih-

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

anih- may also be used in non-subordinative phrases to provide emphasis or to provide an explanation based on ‘to, toward’ or ‘the manner by which.’

anih- also is used in non-subordinative phrases to mark completed past action.

The key to interpreting sub-phrases using anih- is to remember that the main clause takes the main focus, and the subordinative clause is the part which tells more of the story.


Mbaahąąw ndúnih-naawąąn.  
I waited for him until I saw him.  
(I waited for him... to the time when I saw him.)  
paahaaw wait for s.o.

anihaaw vta make s.o. do s.t. + subordinative  

Wtunihąąn ndunih-nąąthookwun.  
He made him fetch me. I made him - in the manner of - him fetching me. 

Phrases with only one verb may use anih- with a verb in the indicative mode, as long as the phrase does not have a secondary relationship to another part of the discourse.

paaxwiiwih pc close, up close.

Paaxwiiwih ndunih-naawąąw.   
Up close was how I looked at him.  

Ootaanaak ndunih-paasuwąąw.   
Into town is where I brought him.  

The ‘go from’ preverb

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 is a noun in locative form, there is only one verb in the phrase and it does not need to be in the subordinative mode. Phrases with two verbs use the subordinative.

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

Nih koochih-ahnąąn, noh kpaasuwąąn.  
Then you fetched him , and then you brought him here.

Wchih-ootaanaak wiichaawąąn.  
He went with her from town.  
(not in subordinative mode)  

Nih anih oochih-paahąąn.  
That's why he waited for her.  

Subordinative constructs using other preverbs

Other preverbs are used in subordinative mode phrases. When a verb includes the basic word structure of the preverb in its ‘root’ the effect is similar to using the preverb.
(verbs are made of roots, medials and finals)
(Reference John O’Meara The Delaware Stem)


This word may be built into the verb as a root (tan-) root or may be used as a stand alone word (tanih). Tanih connects phrases with the idea of ‘where, a place’ (in the same way that anih- connects 2 phrases with the idea of ‘’how’‘). The ‘qualifier’ will be a location of some kind in these phrases. Absence of a qualifier makes it mean ‘somewhere’. The subordinative mode is used with tanih when there is a secondary clause situation or for storytelling, but simple phrases using a location word or locative noun does not use the subordinative.

tan- (as verb root) there, in a certain place, that is where…
ndutanih- ktutanih- wtutanih- (beginning pattern)
reduplicated form: ąąyutanih-
variant: atan-

tanatawąąpamaaw vta see s.o. in a certain place

Ootaanaak ndutanatawąąpamąąw.
In town -  that's where I saw him  
(Qualifier is a locative noun, subordinative is not required)  

Nahah ndutanatawąąpamúkwun.  
That's where he saw me.  
(This type of phrase uses the subordinative because the phrase adds a clause to preceding dialogue.)  

Nhah ktutanatawąąpamąąn.  
Here... that's where you saw him  

wut- built into the root of a word connects phrases with the idea of ‘from someplace’

wtakwih pc place, location, direction
wtuθtawāw vta hear s.o. somewhere

Tąąn wtakwih kpaasuwąąn?  
From what direction did you bring him?  

Mtukwihtook nootθutawąąw. I heard him in the forest. (non subordinative)
Mtukwihkook ngwiinawąąw ndan nanoh nootθutawąąn. I looked for him in the forest and then I heard him there. (subordinative)


Θahkih- is a preverb that connects phrases with the idea of ‘the length of which is ’
Θahk- built into the root of a word connects phrases with the idea of ‘some length’ or ‘so long’

θahk- (verb root) so long
θahkih- pv a certain length (of time, measurement)

Naawah kíisoox wθáhkih-wiichaawąąn.  
Four months is how long he went with her.  
(He went with her for four months.)  

Nun kθahkih-naawunun.  
That is how long I looked at you.  

Θahkih-tpohkwiik mbaahąąw.   
I waited for him until nightfall.  
(non subordinative construction)  

Tąąn θahkih nduniitahah, nuya=ch numawih-muskawąąw.  
After awhile I told myself, 'I'll go find him'.  
(non subordinative construction)  

Mbaahąąw θahkih- naawah txah-aawur.   
I waited for him until four o'clock.   

Storytelling and the subordinative

Wtunooxanąąnaawah They led him off. (P mlh33)

Story telling words like nan, nanoh, nanih, nun, nih, ndan, yahah, knih 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 in the subordinative mode.

Nan pc then, subsequently + subordinative

Nanoh pc then here, ‘this is where …+ subordinative
(when nah is used as a destination => subordinative is optional)

Nanih pc then there, ‘that is where …+ subordinative

Nah pc that animate, emphatic

Nih pc that (inanimate)
Nun pr that inanimate emphatic
Uwah or wah pn this one (animate)
Ndan pc and then, this here ()
Yahah pc then
Knih then

When used as an emphatic to give more focus to a noun or a phrase, the indicative mode is used. In storytelling situations, the subordinative is used because the continuation of the narrative refers back to preceding clauses.

wiinwamaaw vta ask s.o.

Nan nuwiinwamąąn.   
Then I asked her.  

Ndan ustah nuwiichaawąąwun.  
Then I didn't go with him.  

Ndan ustah ngátaaw-wiichaawąąwun.  
Then I didn't want to go with him. 

Yahah ngiisih-nąąn.  
Then I was able to tell him.   

Certain verbs of motion may be used in subordinative mode. One may think of it in terms of adding ‘there’ to the sentence.

However single verb clauses using a locative noun do not use the subordinative.

awatiisihaaw vta drive, hunt, chase s.o. out.

 Nih wtawatiisihąąn.  
 He chased him there.   

Use for focus and emphasis

The subordinative may be useful to make sure the main focus or emphasis of the narrative is apparent to the listener.

Naakmah nah pxaanum ktahwąąnąąn.  
She is the woman you love.  
(focus is on the woman)  

Kuyah ktahwąąnąąw pxaanum.  
He loves the woman.   
(focus is on him)  

Peripheral endings and the subordinative mode

Subordinative forms normally use no peripheral endings (endings on verbs that match plural or obviative status of the verb object) but some speakers do use them some of the time.

I gave it to them.  
I gave it to him, them.  

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