Clauses and Sentences HOME   DICTIONARY


A clause consists of one or more noun phrases, optionally joined by conjunctions, and a relational.


A clause can also have clausal modifiers. These appear on the outskirts of the clause, either in initial or final position within the clause. They carry information about the whole clause, including tense and aspect, speaker attitude, manner, and polarity.


Clausal Modifiers

Tense And Aspect

Part of the tense system is expressed on the relational and part with clausal modifiers. The relationals LA and SE have forms for non-past and past tense.

la   s(e)-non-past
te   t(e)-past

All the relationals are inherently non-past and imperfective, except for NI which is inherently perfective. Therefore, the bare relationals LA, PA, and SE express present tense. The relational NI on its own expresses either a present perfect or a simple past tense. The two are conflated in Kēlen.

The clausal modifier luhañen in conjunction with a present tense relational expresses a continuous or progressive aspect. The use of an imperfective clausal modifier with NI makes NI imperfective and present tense.

ñi sapāla luhañen NI N.3p(tears) CLMOD "He is weeping."

There are two past tense clausal modifiers, ōrra, which is perfective, and tiēlen, which is imperfective. The use of ōrra with NI expresses a past-in-past tense. With other relationals, it expresses a perfective past tense. tiēlen always expresses an imperfective past tense, even with NI.

For expressing the future, there are four clausal modifiers: rēha, hēja, hīja, and cēja. Only rēha expresses the future directly. The other three imply future tense when used with a non-past relational. Otherwise they express various modalities.

hēja is an optative marker, expressing a desire for the outcome expressed in the clause. hīja and cēja both express possibility, with cēja further expressing an ability to create the outcome expressed in the clause.

ñi sāen rāmāra rēha NI PN(3sg) N.loc(home) FUT "She will go home."

ñi sāen rāmāra hēja NI PN(3sg) N.loc(home) OPT "She should go home."

ñi sāen rāmāra hīja NI PN(3sg) N.loc(home) POSS "She might go home."

ñi sāen rāmāra cēja NI PN(3sg) N.loc(home) CAN "She can go home."

Speaker Attitude

Kēlen has five clausal modifiers that convey some sort of speaker attitude. Three are concerned with expectation and two with value.

The expectation clausal modifiers are kexien, taxien, and alxien. kexien and taxien both indicate that something was expected to happen. The difference is that, with taxien, it did not happen or has not happened yet. alxien, however, indicates something unexpected that happened. For example:

kexien tele jekīþa to jāo; CLMOD SE.past+1sg.BEN SRC PN "Of course I knew that."

la jatōna sū sahūta taxien; LA PREP N.3p(right) CLMOD "The road is [expected to be] on the right."

ē tere jamārwakie hi alxien ñi riēn rā xō; CONJ SE.past+2sg.BEN CONJ CLMOD NI PN(2sg) PREP PN(there) "It was a surprising sight if you came upon it suddenly."

The two other attitude markers convey whether something is fortunate or not. These are cēxeja "fortunately" and māseja "unfortunately".


The clausal modifiers ī and jē nāra are used to express the manners "additionally" and "completely", respectively. jē nāra used with the negative polarity item has an emphatic meaning.

ē ñi sāen sakū rājanō aþ anniþen ñi sāen matāra ī; CONJ NI PN(3sg) N.3p(hand) N.loc CONJ CLMOD NI PN(3sg) CLMOD "He with his hand went after it and soon he was falling also."

ñi sāen rāmāra jē nāra; NI PN(3sg) N.loc(home) CLMOD "She went [all the way] home."

il talōnti nā il ñi sāen rā sōssirja il antielen wā ñi rū xō jē nāra; CONJ MOD(yesterday) MOD(many) CONJ NI PN(3sg) PREP NAME CONJ NEG NI PREP PN(there) CLMOD "It was many yesterdays ago when he came to Sōssirja, afterwards he never went from it."

Many of the conjunctive phrases formed with il act as clausal modifiers.

The preposition ānen with a stative object also acts as a clausal modifier. For example ānen antānre "quickly" and ānen anrūsa "cyclically"


Positive polarity is not marked. Negative polarity is generally marked with the clausal modifier , but this is optional if there are other negative polarity items in the clause. Other negative polarity items would include the negative conjunction ew, the negative LA relational wa, or the prohibitive mood marker .


The simplest Kēlen sentences consist of a clause and a mood marker, which always appears at the end of the sentence.


Multiple clauses in a sentence can be joined together with conjunctions or relative pronouns.

Mood Markers

Kēlen recognizes six different sentence types, or moods. These are: declarative, which isn't marked; emphatic, marked with ; interrogative, marked with kēñ; commissive or hortatory, marked with ; imperative, marked with ; and prohibitive or negated imperative, marked with . Declarative mood is the default mood.

The interrogative marker kēñ can be modified to specify what exactly is in question. The modifications are listed below:

ma-kēñwho? sū-kēñwhere (at)? il-kēñwhen?
ja-kēñwhat? rā-kēñwhere to? ho-kēñwhat kind?, how?
   rū-kēñwhere from? tō-kēñwhy?

Even modified kēñ has to appear at the end of the clause or sentence.

Some examples:

ōrra ñi jacēla jahūwa lā; PAST NI EMPH "The bowl broke!"

ōrra ñi jacēla jahūwa kēñ; PAST NI Q "The bowl broke?"

ōrra ñi jacēla jahūwa ā makēñ; PAST NI A Q(who) "Who broke the bowl?"

ñanna jacēla jahūwa cī; COMM "Let's break the bowl."

ñarra jacēla jahūwa cī; NI+2sg.A HORT "Go ahead and break the bowl."

ñarra jacēla jahūwa kā; NI+2sg.A IMPER "Break the bowl!"

ñi jacēla jahūwa wē; NI PROH "Don't break the bowl!"

Last modified: June 07, 2019