A Grammar of Vabungula

Part 2.6 - Parts of Speech - Verbs


Verbs in Vabungula have no conjugation:

     so agula  I speak
     ka agula  you speak
     de agula  he speaks


Verbs may be classified as transitive, intransitive, and auxiliary. Many verbs are a combination of the above.

           džûdot  hang (intr.)
     Albi džûdot va ûndoka.
     The picture is hanging on the wall.

           džudot  hang (tr.)
     De mala džudot ke va ûndoka.
     He hung it on the wall.

           frana    must (aux.)
     Ka frana falê ke.
     You must do it.

           enad     want (tr. and aux.)
     So enad karal ke. 
     I want to eat it.
     So enad ke.
     I want it.

           agula    speak (tr. and intr.)
     De agula lese rêmgeke. 
     He speaks very loudly.
     De agula inglyšgula.
     He speaks English.


Vabungula has three main tenses: present, past, and future. Less common are the past continuous, past future, and future past.


There is no distinction between simple present and present continuous as in English.

   De mêta va mêtakamo.  
   He sits on the chair.
Or He is sitting on the chair.

It should be noted that the verb "to be" has no form in the present tense.

      De džûmnil.   
      He is a teacher.

      Ke lese do.        
      That is very good.


The past tense is formed by putting the word mala before the verb.

     De mala masa la lag.   
     He went there.

The past tense of the verb "to be", however, is expressed by the word malaš (was/were).

     De malaš pla umalarêm.
     He was here yesterday.


The future tense is formed by putting the word mulu before the verb.

     De mulu masa la lag.
     He will go there.

The future tense of the verb "to be", however, is expressed by the word muluš

     De muluš pla kiralarêm.
     He will be here tomorrow.

Past Continuous

The past continuous is formed by putting the verb malaš (was/were) before the verb.

     De malaš agula ke ofûmna so mala lomafe. 
     He was saying it when I came in.

Note, however, that this form is seldom used, and therefore has more of an emphatic nature than its English counterpart.

Past Habitual

The past habitual is formed by putting the verb majûla before the verb.

     De šalg mislarêm majûla masa la sikaradwûn i mafu ana majle. 
     Every morning he used to go to the beach and run three miles.

Past Future

This tense is formed by doubling mala and mulu before the verb.

     De gaske mala mulu falê ke.
     He actually was going to do it.

Future Past

This tense is formed by doubling mulu and mala before the verb.

     Lagnu kiralarêm mislarêm de mulu mala falê ke.
     By tomorrow morning he will have done it.


Verbs are negated by putting the word fwil before the verb.

     So fwil alega alagê.
     I don’t see anything.

     Del fwil dal dareto ke.
     They can’t lift it.

     So fwil mulu džuas ke.
     I won’t buy it.

     De fwil mala enad falê ke.
     He didn’t want to do it.


Verbs may be made passive by the adjectival suffix -ke. The passive is expressed by the verb mulun (to become). The subject of the passive verb is indicated by the preposition onudž (by means of).

     So mala karal ke.   
     I ate it.

     De famu sisekûlo.
     He is writing a book.

     Ka mulu agula ke.
     You will say it.

     Ke mala mulun karalke onudž so.
     It was eaten by me.

     Sisekûlo mulun famuke onudž de.
     The book is being written by him.

     Ke mulu mulun agulake onudž ka.
     It will be said by you.


Subjunctives or conditionals are expressed by the particle cu preceding the verb:

     Buna so cu dal cabuda ke, ketudž so cu aguglu ke la ka.
     If I could understand it, I would tell you so.

The verb "to be" has a special form for the present conditional: cuš.

     Buna de cuš pla, ketudž de cu celas sol.
     If he were here, he would visit us.

Note the words buna and ketudž. Buna introduces the "if" clause (protasis) of the sentence, and ketudž introduces the main clause (apodosis). Ketudž may be translated as "then", which in English is usually omitted. In Vabungula, however, the use of ketudž in this construction is obligatory.


Participles are used only in the formal written language, and are extremely rare in spoken Vabungula. They are formed by suffixing the verb with -se. Past and future participles have the prefixes mal- and mul- respectively. Participles may be made into nouns by adding a final -l.

     Sum osokam falê ke…  The person who does (is doing) that…
     Sum, falêse ke…
     Falêsel ke…

     Sum osokam mala falê ke… The person who did that…
     Sum, malfalêse ke…
     Malfalêsel ke…

     Sum osokam mulu falê ke… The person who will do that…
     Sum, mulfalêse ke…
     Mulfalêsel ke…

Negative participles are formed by adding the prefix fwi-:

     Sum osokam fwil falê ke…  The person who does not (is not doing) that…
     Sum, fwifalêse ke…
     Fwifalêsel ke…

     Sum osokam fwil mala falê ke… The person who did not do that…
     Sum, fwimalfalêse ke…
     Fwimalfalêsel ke…

     Sum osokam fwil mulu falê ke… The person who will not do that…
     Sum, fwimulfalêse ke…
     Fwimulfalêsel ke…

Adverbial participles are formed by suffixing -te to the verb:

     Nifate da ke, so mala esa. 
     Thinking about that, I left.
     Masate lal simulakam, de mala njal samela.
     Walking along the fence he noticed a mouse. 

The above adverbial participles, which denote an action concurrent with the main verb of the sentence, are commonly used in spoken Vabungula. Less common and more formal are adverbial participles with the prefix mal-, denoting an action prior to the time of the main verb.

     Malagulate ke, de mala esa.
     Having said that, she left. 

Sometimes the above form is replaced by the participle ending in -se:

     Malagulase ke, de mala esa. 

The only difference in meaning to be observed between these two forms is that -te strongly focuses upon the continuous action of the verb, whereas the -se form merely states a fact of succession of two events. Note however, that this usage of -se is increasingly regarded as improper, and its use is discouraged.


A verb may be made into a gerund noun by adding a final -n; e.g., masan from masa. This noun describes the action or process of the verb itself, as opposed to nouns formed from verbs by appending -l, which usually have a more concrete or derived meaning.

Compare the following:

     masa    go, walk, travel
     masan   the act or process of going, walking, traveling
     masal   journey

     džûmni  teach
     džûmnin the act or process of teaching

     džûmnil teacher


There is no special form for the imperative:

     Falê ke! 
     Do it!

     Masa aga!
     Go away!

Suggestions in the first person may be expressed by the auxiliary maž:

     Maž masa.
     Let’s go.

     Maž agula Vabungula. 
     Let’s speak Vabungula.

Maž is less common in the third person:

     Maž de nifa da ke.
     Let him think about that. (May he think about that).


The optative is expressed by the auxiliary kêm:

     Kêm ke fwil mulun!
     May it not happen!


The prefix o- on a verb makes it impersonal, giving it a meaning which is generally conveyed in English by the phrase "they ...", or "it is ...ed", or in German by the word "man".  Note that the impersonal form for agula is ogula.

     they say; it is said

     it is considered (to be)

     it is done, they do

Grammar of Vabungula | Alphabet | Nouns | Pronouns | Adjectives | Prepositions | Conjunctions | Verbs | Interrogatives | Word Order | Word Formation | Roots | Prefixes and Suffixes | Miscellaneous | Numbers | Word Studies | Miscellaneous Discussions | Basic Vocabulary | DICTIONARY | English Index | Vabungula in Cyrillic | Gospel of John | Gospel of Mark | Book of Revelation | Babel Text | Story of Peter Rabbit | Grammar Notes | Vocabulary | Three Little Pigs | Vocabulary | Jack and the Beanstalk | Three Bears | Old Woman and Pig | Frog Prince | Poppy Seed Cakes | Jolly Tailor | Little Prince | Boris Sergunenkov | Relativity | Jokes | Vabungula Main Page | Languages | Bill Price Home Page

Page last modified on December 29, 2009
Vabungula is an artificial language invented by Bill Price in 1965.
Vabungula co nûsk mugola famêlêtke onudž Bill Price larla alara idekuzorekol.
Copyright © 1999 by Bill Price
graphic.gif (2326 bytes)