VII Independent Indicative


Intransitive inanimate verbs (VIIs) use an inanimate third person subject (it or they) and do not take a verb object.

VIIs have inanimate objects for subjects and the subject could alse be an abstract non-animate states of being.

It is red.

It snows.

VIIs come in a variety of ‘shapes and sizes’ so there is no easy way to look at a list of verbs and pick out the VIIs. Context will alert the listener to the inanimate status of the verb.

láawatuw vii it costs + quantifier
conjugates according to vii rules and takes an inanimate subject

láawatuw vai 'he' costs + quantifier
conjugates according to vai rules and takes an animate subject

VIIs conjugate by adding suffixes to the verb stem. So we need to know something about verb stems. A verb stem is made from smaller elements called roots, medials and finals, some of which have recognizable meaning. For a thorough discussion of these components see ‘The Delaware Stem’ by John O’Meara, available online.

verb stem = (root) + (medials) + (final)


Verb stem practical guide:

The VII stem can be easily derived from the form listed in the dictionary, which is the 3rd person singular form:

Consonant ending verbs: the verb stem is the form as listed.

alút vii it rots. Stem = (alut)

Vowel + (w) ending verbs: the verb stem is identified as outlined below.

First one drops the word final (w)

If the vowel = (ii) then the stem is a ‘stable’ stem ending in (ii) = (stem-ii)

páasiiw vii it swells up. Stem = (paasii)

If the vowel = (aa) then the stem is a ‘stable’ stem ending in (aa) = (stem-aa)

wsíhkaaw vii it is sunset. stem = (wsihkaa)

If the vowel = (u) then the stem is an ‘unstable’ stem ending in (ii) = (stem-ii)

kulákuw vii it is (a certain) time. stem = (kulakii)
If the vowel = (ee) then the stem could be either :

(1) a stable stem ending in (ee) or (stem-ee)

ahteew vii it is there. stem = (ahtee)


(2) an unstable stem ending in (aa) or (stem-aa)

maxkihleew. it turned red. stem = (maxkihlaa)

The dictionary listing provides the clue to telling these two apart.

Unstable (aa) verbs use (aa) in the conjunct forms.
Example: maxkíhleew vii it turns red
3rd conj maxkíhlaak

VII or Intransitive Inanimate Verb Stems

Verb ending Stem Stem type Example Meaning
–iiw (stem-ii) vii stable páasiiw swell up
–eew (stem-ee) vii stable áhteew be there
–aaw (stem-aa) vii stable wsíhkaaw be sunset
–uw (stem-ii) vii unstable kulákuw be time
–eew (stem-aa) vii unstable maxkihleew be turned red
–n (stem-n) vii consonant sóokŭlaan rain
–t (stem-t) vii consonant alút rot

Go to VII Practicum I

VII Independent Indicative Conjugation Paradigm

The Indicative order is used for simple direct statements involving a subject and its verb. VIIs also use the independent subordinative mode which conjugates the same way as the independent indicative and they use all the conjunct order modes.

The verb forms used in speech are built from verb stems to which endings and in some cases prefixes are attached. Phonology rules may further modify the end results of the conjugation process.

VII Independent Indicative Mode (Vowel ending stems)

Conjugation paradigm Meaning
(stem)-(w) 3rd sg: it —-
(stem)-(wal) 3rd pl: they —

VII Negative Independent Indicative Mode (Vowel ending stems)

Conjugation paradigm Meaning
mah (stem)-(wi) 3rd sg: it —- not
mah (stem)-(wiiwal) 3rd pl: they — not


It is red.

They are red.

Mah maxkéewi.        
It is not red.

Mah maxkeewíiwal.  
They are not red

Verbs with stable stems simply add the endings to the stem.

Verbs with unstable stems ending in (ii) shift the (ii) to (u) before the indicative mode endings. Negative forms do not shift the vowel and use the actual stem vowel (ii).

(unstable stem-ii)-w => (stem)-uw
(unstable stem-ii)-wi => (stem)-iiwi
It is written crookedly.

Mah paptukeekhaasiiwi. 
It is not written crookedly.

Unstable stems ending in (aa) form both non-negatives and negatives using (ee).

(unstable stem-aa)-w => (stem)-eew
(unstable stem-aa)-wi => (stem)-eewi

It is black. 
stem = (nzukihlaa)

Mah nzukihléewi.  
It is not black.

Examples of VIIs

It snows.

Mah wiinéewi.
It snows not.

Msúchee wíineew.
It is snowing hardly at all.

Wíineew ha?
Is it snowing?

Piht eet tóhpu-wíineew.
It might snow alot. [tohpi or tohpu pv lot, lots]

It melts.

Lúngteew ha?
Is it melting?

Mah lungtéewi.
Its not melting

It is swollen up. (vii stable) (paasii)-w

Nii náxkal paasíiwal.
My hands are swollen. (paasii)-wal

It is sunset (vii stable-aa) (wsikaa)-w

Mah wsihkáawi. 
It is not sunset.

It turns red. (maxkihlaa)-w unstable vii with (stem-aa)

Mah maxkihléewi.
It does not turn red.

Kéexu kulákuw?
What time is it? (kulakii)-w (vii unstable ii)

Examples of VIIs with stems ending in unstable (aa) :

mehchihleew vii wear out.
machihleew vii decay, go bad. spoil.
oolihkihleew vii turn blue,
kiishuwíhleew vii get warm,

Unstable verbs are important to know about because the true stem vowel is used in some forms (conjunct forms). VAIs also have stable and unstable stem types.

Go to VII Practicum 2 Vowel Stems

Consonant ending VII stems

These use the same endings as the vowel ending stems, then undergo phonology modifications:

(1) The (w) ending drops off when preceded by a consonant except (k)

(consonant stem)-w => (stem)

(2) Consonant initial endings insert (oo) before the ending.

(3) The 3rd plural ending (oo)-(wal) morph’s to (-ool)

VII Independent Indicative Mode (Consonant ending stems)

Conjugation paradigm Meaning
(stem) 3rd sg: it —-
(stem)-(ool) 3rd pl: they —

VII Negative Independent Indicative Mode (Consonant ending stems)

Conjugation paradigm Meaning
mah (stem)-(oowi) 3rd sg: it —- not
mah (stem)-(oowiiwal) 3rd pl: they — not

Example: the verb wulut vii be nice, good

It is nice.

They are nice.

Mah wulutóowi         
It is not nice.

Mah wulutoowíiwal.  
They is not nice.

More consonant stem examples:

It is rotten.

They are rotten.

Aayáaxkwu-ch alút.
It will be rotten eventually.
aayáaxkwu pc later, eventually
uch pc future

Xwáskwiim piht eet alút.
The corn might be rotten.
3rd sg (w) ending deletes after all consonants except (k)
piht pc maybe
eet pc maybe
piht eet often occur together

Laawéewii-wteehíimal wulútool.
The wild strawberries they (are) good.

Áski-shookulapwáanshal mah wulutoowíiwal.
Raw cookies are not good.
aski- pn raw

Niil máchii-maalaxkwsíital alútool.
Those bad beans they are rotten.

Káta-ha-wíineew waapánge?
Will it snow tomorrow?

They are red
Chíingu maxkéewal.
Some time ago they were red.
chíingu PC some time ago

Péexoot eet sóokŭlaan.
Soon perhaps it rains
Péexoot pc soon, nearly
eet pc maybe

It has frost, it be frost.

Áapwii-tóhpun, kway lúngteew.
There was frost earlier, now it melted.

Tóhpun míhtkwung.
There is frost on the tree
mihtukw + ung locative, weak u drops

It is red.

Niil mahksúnal maaxkéewal.
Those shoes they are red.

Máxkeew nu pakíinjuw, mah ha oolihkéewi.
That plate is red, it is not blue.
(oolihkeew it-blue)

Oolihkéewal yool pakíinjŭwal, mah ha maxkeewíiwal.
These plates they are blue, they are not red.

Shuláash alutóowi.
The lettuce it is not rotten.

Shukw yool màalaxkwsíital mah alutoowíiwal.
But these beans they are not rotten.

Niil wiikwáhmal amangéewal.
Those houses they are big.
[amangéewal vii mostly used in plural form

Go to VII Practicum 3


More on verb stems

(1) Stable Stems

Some stems ending in vowels (stem-ee) (stem-aa) (stem-ii) do not change vowels before the (w) or (wal) endings or before any other endings. These stems are called stable stems.

It is there.

(2) Unstable Stems

Other vowel ending stems shift the stem ending vowel in some conjugated forms (indicative mode forms for VIIs) but do not shift that vowel in other conjugated forms. Because of this shifting vowel, these stems are called unstable.

The pattern of vowel shifting is slightly different for unstable stems ending in (aa) versus those ending in (ii).

Unstable (stem-aa) shifts to (stem-ee) before indicative mode (w) or (wal) endings
and the (aa) also shifts to (ee) before negative indicative mode endings.

It turned red.

But VII conjunct order endings are added without a shift in vowel :

The one that turned red.

Unstable (stem-ii) shifts to (stem-u) before indicative mode (w) or (wal) endings but all other endings retain the (ii) and do not shift to (u).
i.e. negative indicative mode and conjunct order forms add endings to (stem-ii)

Láawatuw vii have a certain value, cost a certain amount,

Kéexu láawatuw nu áhpapoon?
How much does that chair cost?

Mah laawatíiwu nu áhpapoon.
That chair has no value.

Its old.
(xuwíiyayii) + (w)  => uw

They are old.

Nu paxkshíikan mah xuwiiyayíiwi.
That knife, it is not old

Niil paxkshíikanal mah xuwiiyayiiwíiwal.
Those knives they are not old.

(3) Stems in (kwii)

Some unstable -ii stems end in (-kwii)

(-kwii) + (w) morph’s to (-kuw)
(-kwii) + (wal) morph’s to (-kuwal)
Removing the (w) and adding other endings causes the stem to revert back to (-kwii)

In indicative mode this shift back to (-kwii) is relevant to negative forms only.

Examples of stems in (kwii) :

Msúchee móhkuw.
Hardly it bleeds.

Mah nzheetóonal mohkwiiwíiwal.
My lips are not bleeding

Níhkaat tóhpu-móhkuw.
My leg is bleeding heavily.

Some stems ending in (kuw) have stems that do not end in (kwii)

It cannot leak.
(wunjiikii) + (w) ii + w => uw
aalu pv unable to do something

Mah wunjiikíiwi.
No it leaks not.
(wunjiikii) + (wi)

(5) Stem in (pwii)

Only one VII has an unstable stem in (-pwii)

askatúpuw vii be undercooked

(-pwii) + (w) 3rd sg => shifts to (-puw)
(-pwii) + (wal) 3rd pl => shifts to (-puwal)
Other endings added to (-pwii) do not shift
i.e. negative forms and conjunct forms use (pwii)

Askatúpuw wúyoos.
The meat is under-cooked.

Askatupwíiwi wúyoos.
The meat is not undercooked

(6) Stems in (mwii)

Some unstable -ii stems end in (-mwii)

(-mwii) + (w) 3rd sg morph’s to (-muw)
(-mwii) + (wal) 3rd pl morph’s to (-muwal)
Removing the (w) and adding other endings causes the stem to revert back to (-mwii)

In indicative mode the shift back to (-mwii) is relevant to negative forms only

It is sticking out.

Mahtá ktamwíiwu.                         
It is not sticking out.

Mamshámuw ha?                                
Is it heaped up?

Mah mamshamwíiwu.                        
It is not heaped up.

They are stuck together,

It fits.

Naxk téepamuw wándung.                
My hand fits the glove.


VIIs have 2 forms in indicative mode
singular and plural
singular adds -w (optionally omitted)
plural adds -wal
plural for consonant final stems adds -ool
negative sg adds -(oo)wi
negative pl adds -(oo)wiiwal

Unstable ii stems

ii+w => uw
ii+wal => uwal
ii+wi => iiwi
ii+wiiwal => iiwiiwal

Stems in kwii

kw + uw => kuw
kw + uwal => kuwal
(kw drops to k before uw and uwal)

Stems in pwii

pw + uw => puw
pw + uwal => puwal
(pw drops to p before uw and uwal)

Go to VII Practicum 4

(Paradigms – Reference Ives Goddard Delaware Verbal Morphology)

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