LessonHOne [ 5
group togetheri̅to fornl words. Consequently, the burden of groupi ng the syllables i nto words
words falls entirely on the reader, and it is very common for begi nners to misgroup the
syllables and create horrendous tanslations, for example, by misdividi ng the phurase "the
teacher's beautifuli̅glass-es" as theteach ersbeau ti fugass es This i s one of the m ost
di fficult features of literary Tibetan for begi nners, and the followi ng chapters are
designed to help you develop the skill of correctly groupi ngi̅syllables into words by
stressi ng not only basic recurri ng vocabulary itemi̅sbut also important grammatical clues.
Ultimately, however, only time aund experience will reduce the frequency of such
"groupi ng" errors.
From thispoint on, Tibetan words shou [ d be memorized. Note that
Co[oquia p ronunciations wi[ be u se d thuroughout the book.
l.9 Se ntence a nd verb types i ntroducti on
i̅There are four basic types of verbs i n Tibetan (active, i nvoluntaury, li nki ng,
existential) . Each defi nes a type of sentence and clause. "Active" verbs (and

constructi ons) express acti on done by actors, e. g., i̅" He hit th e ball." They are, therefore,
roughly equivalent to transi tive sentences i n English. " Involu ntaury" verbs (and
constructi ons) expressi̅uni ntenti onal, nonpuurnosive acti on or states, e.g., " Igot sick." or
" Isaw it." They are similar to i nt ansitive verbconstructions in English. Thus, i n the
sentence " Iook e d there a nd saw j oh n, " "look ed" is an activei̅verb si nce the actor
puurnosely di d the looki ng, a nd "saw" is an i nvoluntary verb si nce it represents a non
purposive state, the image appearing i n the subject"s vision.
i̅Whereas Engli sh uses the copula (the verb " be") both for sentences that li nk the
subject to an object, e.g., "He is a boy , " and for sentences that express existence, e. g.,
" He is here, "Tibetan requires two sepa ate verb classes------the ornler requires a li nki ng
verb and the latter aun exi stential verb.
Simpl e li nking constructions will be discussed i n this lesson. Exi stential i̅
constructi ons will be i ntroduced i n Lesson Two, and active and i nvoluntaury constructions
i n Lessons Three and Five.
l. 10 Li nki ng verbs and sentences
As i ndicated above, Tibetan uses different verbs to express the ideas that we
express i n English by means of the verb "to be."
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