Lesson 4 — Topics, comments and states. Adjectives.

ĵyn-fwa ŋĭn-i twâ-cu.
The book is interesting.

ĉâ jâ-i râm.
The cat is smart.

tĭw-mwĭl mĭ-i dĭ-fwa ŋĭn-i.
The bed is comfortable.

Another simple sentence type in gjâ-zym-byn consists of two postpositional phrases, a topic and a comment, or a topic and a state. Topics can be marked by putting the topic noun or pronoun phrase at the end of the sentence, or more overtly, with the postposition {mĭ-i}. Comments are marked with {ŋĭn-i}, and states with {jâ-i}; in general the topic corresponds to the subject, and the comment or state to the predicate, in such English sentences as are used to translate the gzb sentences above.

What should be considered a "comment" and what a "state"? In practice, they have more to do with the speaker's attitude toward the situation than the inherent nature of the situations. {ŋĭn-i} and {jâ-i} are often interchangeable in the sense that you can describe a situation with either and the resulting sentence will be grammatical and sensible, though one of them might be more appropriate than the other, or one might convey a different nuance of connotation than the other. Here are a few rules of thumb:

{ŋĭn-i} tends to be used for subjective qualities, {jâ-i} for objective.

{ŋĭn-i} tends to be used for more permanent qualities, {jâ-i} for more transient.

A {-van} verb can often substitute for a {jâ-i} or {ŋĭn-i} phrase as well.

The comment or state can be an adjective, as in the examples above, or a noun phrase, for instance:

θuň-lâŋ ŋĭn-i twâ-cu.
The book is a novel.

Remember that if you yourself are the topic of the sentence, or if the topic is the same as the subject of the last sentence, you don't have to mention it; just a comment or state by itself is a complete sentence:

mwĭl-ŝra jâ-i.
I'm sleepy.

We've introduced several adjectives of a couple of different kinds in this lesson. In addition to using them in a comment or state postpositional phrase, you can put them after a noun and use the noun phrase in a larger sentence of any type:

swyŋ θi tyn-van râm mwĭl-ŝra.
The sleepy cat is under the desk.

θuň-lâŋ ĵyn-fwa kâ-i lju-zô.
I am reading an interesting novel.

tĭw-mwĭl dĭ-fwa gǒ.
Whoa, what a comfortable bed!

The word {ĉâ} ("intelligence") used above in a comment phrase is actually a noun. When you have a noun root that refers to a quality or state, you can use it as-is in a comment or state phrase; but if you want to use it as an adjective within a noun phrase, you need to add the suffix {-bô}:

twâ-cu kâ-i lju-zô râm ĉâ-bô.
The smart cat reads a book.

The other types of adjective introduced in this lesson — ones ending with {-fwa} and {-ŝra} — don't require an extra suffix when you use them in another context. See "Suffixes that form modifiers" for more advanced information.

Earlier we introduced several building blocks of postpositions used to show where things are relative to each other or where things are going. Here are some more:

h- behind, in back of
c- to the left of, in the left part of
ĵ- to the right of, in the right part of

kâj-kô hiŋ tyn-van swyŋ.
There is a counter in the back of the store.

rî'mâ cij tyn-van kwě'kyr.
There is an oak tree to the left of the house.


θuň story, narrative
lâŋ long (taking a long time to read, watch, listen to etc.)
θuň-lâŋ novel
flyr flower
kyl-flyr flowerpot
Φĭlm butterfly
ĵyn interest, intellectual pleasure, curiosity
ĵyn-fwa interesting
mwĭl-ŝra sleepy
comfort, unfocused pleasure
dĭ-fwa comfortable (describes clothes, furniture, environments — not people)
dĭ-bô comfortable (experiencing comfort — of people, animals etc.)
prym aesthetic pleasure, appreciation of beauty
prym-fwa beautiful
ĉâ smarts, intelligence
ĉâ-bô smart, intelligent
ðru red, yellow, orange
vrĭm green
hyrŋ blue, purple
-bô suffix that turns a quality-noun into an adjective
ŋĭn a description or comment
topic, subject, theme
mĭ-i Shows the topic part of a sentence.
ŋĭn-i Shows the comment part of a sentence.

Building blocks of of postpositions:

h- behind, in back of
c- to the left of, in the left part of
ĵ- to the right of, in the right part of


Translate into English:

  1. ðru ŋĭn-i râm.
  2. flyr mĭ-i prym-fwa ŋĭn-i.
  3. swyŋ son twâ-cu hyrŋ-bô ĥy-i tyn-zô.
  4. tĭw vrĭm-bô ĵi tyn-van swyŋ hyrŋ-bô.
  5. swyŋ co kyl-flyr ĥy-i tyn-zô.

Translate into gjâ-zym-byn:

  1. The butterfly is interesting.
  2. The book is long.
  3. Put the novel into the red box.
  4. There are flowers to the left of the oak trees.
  5. The blue butterfly flies away from the red flower.

Onward to Lesson 5...

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Last updated November 2015.