There are several moments when you want to express a thing negatively. Is your latte not as good as expected? Perhaps, you are not hungry? Maybe, you don’t want to go to that restaurant today. Of course, you can always say “Well, this latte is really bad” but maybe, you want to conjugate the verb itself to denote the state. What do you do? In English, it is simple. You add “not” and call it a day. “This latte is notgood”. However, things are not so simple in Nepali.
You see, Nepali is one of those strange languages that like to use conjugations rather than auxiliaries to denote a negative verb. A few lessons ago, we learnt how to conjugate every verb in the positive aspect. Now, we’ll look over how we can do it in the negative aspect. The process of conjugating a verb in the negative aspect, so that it negates the action, is known as negative verb conjugation.
This might seem arbitrary at first, but the most important word that you’ll be using here is “न” (na). Now, न (na) itself has no primary meaning (it’s particle usage is different), so please don’t be tempted to translate it into “not”, but when you combine it with verbs, you get a negative verb. How do you do it? Well, that answer is not so simple as well. You see, some many eon ago, when our Nepali speaking ancestors were settling down, they all decided to ditch the simple auxiliary style and favour the more “let them eat cake” style of seemingly randomly assigning this न (na) to verb conjugations. While this part may not be necessarily true, there is a method behind where you add न (na) so the conjugate is negated.
AT THE BEGINNING
This is the simplest of them all. You do this to the following aspects/moods/forms:
- The 3 Irrealis moods (Possibilitative, Imperative, Optative)
- Participles that are made from verbs
Sadly, that’s about it, because we like some challenge in making negatives. How do you do this? It’s fairly simple. You take your verb (e.g. रोक्नु (roknu), which is an infinitive) and the add न (na) at the beginning. So, you get:
न (na) + रोक्नु (roknu)
= नरोक्नु (naroknu) [to not stop]
Here’s one for an imperative:
न (na) + खा (khā) [2nd person low respect]
= नखा (nakhā) [don’t eat (low respect)]
As for participles, we will look into them later but rest assured, they work exactly the same and are no big deal.
One note is that if you want to conjugate the negative infinitive by treating it as a normal verb, the short answer is that you can’t. The new conjugate is not a new verb by itself, but rather the negative of the original, positive verb. So, if negation is required anywhere else other than as an infinitive or the three moods itself, you need express negation by placing the “na” elsewhere, which we shall now be looking at. Since this one is so simple, I shall not discuss this further elsewhere, unlike what is coming up, which shall be written in their own designated chapters.
AT THE MIDDLE
Now, things are getting a bit crazier. There are two aspects where we use this:
- Past Unknown Tense
- Past Habitual Tense
I’ll be discussing this in the chapter Negative Verb Conjugation: Past Tense. For now, remember that these two will be taking their na’s in the middle of their word form.
AT THE END
This is the worst of all, as the rules that govern this are frankly arbitrary. However, one thing that remains constant is that you will find either na or something that looks vaguely like it (conjugates of “to be” that rely on this) at the end of the conjugate. The aspects that use this are:
- Indefinite Aspect (Past, Present, Future)
- Progressive Aspect (Past, Present, Future)
- Perfect Aspect (Past, Present, Future)
You can find more about these three here:
- Negative Verb Conjugation: Past Tense
- Negative Verb Conjugation: Present Tense
- Negative Verb Conjugation: Future Tense
- The process of conjugating a verb in the negative aspect, so that it negates the action, is known as negative verb conjugation.
- The way you negate verbs in Nepali is by adding न (na) in either the beginning, the middle, or the end of the conjugate.
- The infinitive and the 3 irrealis moods take up न (na) at the beginning.
- The Past Unknown Tense and the Past Habitual Tense take up न (na) at the middle.
- The Indefinite, Progressive and the Perfect aspects of Past, Present and Future tenses take up न (na) at the end.
A. CONVERT THE FOLLOWING INTO NEGATIVE CONJUGATES
1. जा (jā)
2. आउनु (āunu)
3. सिकोस् (sikos)
4. गर्नुहोओस् (garnuho’os)
5. टिप्नु (ṭipnu)
6. टोकौँला (ṭokaum̐lā)
B. FIND THE TRANSLATION AND ASPECTS/MOODS OF THE VERB FORMS IN A.
A.1. नजा (najā)
A.2. नआउनु (naāunu)
A.3. नसिकोस् (nasikos)
A.4. नगर्नुहोओस् (nagarnuho’os)
A.5. नटिप्नु (naṭipnu)
A.6. नटोकौँला (naṭokaum̐lā)
B.(A.1.). go! | Imperative 2nd Person (low respect) singular/plural
B.(A.2.). to come | Infinitive
B.(A.3.). learn | Optative 3rd Person (medium respect) singular
B.(A.4.). do | Optative 2nd/3rd Person (high respect) singular/plural
B.(A.5.). to pick | Infinitive
B.(A.6.). bite | Possibilitative 1st Person singular