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Tïjonïk 21 Matzaqik! (Don’t fall!): Negative Imperatives (Vetatives)


We have studied the imperative forms. In this unit we will look at the negative imperatives: commands that tell someone  to not do something.


A common expression upon seeing someone on the road in Nahualá is a negated imperative: When someone says “Mattzaqik” (Don’t fall!) they are wishing the person to whom they are speaking that nothing happens to them as they walk. After reading the grammatical description, can you pick out if there are any more of them in the video?


Negative imperatives in K’iche’ are inflected as indicative verbs but take m(a)- as aspect marker instead. Negative imperatives, therefore, neither take imperative suffixes (-a/-oq; -v(‘)), nor the imperative ch- prefix. They do take, however, the same phrase final markers as incompletive transitive/intransitive verbs.

Negated imperatives can also be formed in passive and antipassive constructions, as we will see later on.


Let me get drunk!

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Let me not get drunk!


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Let us hit it.

Let’s not hit it!


Let him steal it!

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Let him not steal it!

4. Chaloq’o jun tara’s!
Buy a peach!

Maloq le tara’s!
Don’t buy the peach!

5. Mab’isonik
Don’t be sad!


K’AK’A TAQ TZIJVocabulary
nikaj chik the rest of, half, remainder
chanim now
ixim corn
chajinel guard; police
jab’ rain
q’oyi'(k) (vit) to lie down
b’in(ik) (vit) to walk
ch’aw(ik) (vit) to talk
b’insaj (vtr) to walk something; to make something walk (as in walking a dog)
mub’a (vtr) to soak
koj(o) (vtr) to use; to believe
ta'(o) (vtr) to listen
esaj (vtr) to take out
tara’s peach

Translate the following sentences into English:

  1. Mib’an ix jas kakib’an le e nik’aj chik winaq
  2. Mita ix jas kakib’ij le e nik’aj chik winaq
  3. Mamu’b’a le ixim!
  4. Minril le chajinel.
  5. Match’awik!
  6. Mojb’e chuxe le jab’
  7. Mitij le iwa.
  8. Miniwiye’j!
  9. Matq’oyi’ pa le ch’at
  10. Mamu’b’a awib’ cho le jab’.Translate and rewrite the following phrases with negated imperatives:
  11. Wara’ alaq pa le ja kamik.
  12. Qakojo le k’ak’ atz’yaq.
  13. Chiya’a le nik’aj chi rikil pa le t’u’y.
  14. Chatija le awa chanim.
  15. Chinto’o la che le chak.
  16. Katchakuna pa wulew chwe’q.

Translate the following phrases into K’iche’:

  1. Don’t take the cookie out of the cookie jar
  2. Let him not walk the dog!
  3. Let her not walk around at night.
  4. Why don’t you let me read the book
  5. You all, don’t get drunk.
  6. Don’t put your stuff in my car. Put it in your car.
  7. Don’t eat my food. Eat your food!
  8. Let them not help him. He needs to fend for himself (to’ –ib’)
  9. Don’t fall! (very common phrase used for leave-taking)