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Tïjonïk 39 Na weta’m taj (I don’t know)


The perfect is used in a variety of ways in K’iche’. It mainly denotes that an action was begun in the past, but it also has other uses, which we will study in this unit.


Our ajtij Xwan tells a story: pay attention to the uses of the perfect in it, and review after studying the grammatical explanation in the Kem chi’ section.

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A verb in this aspect indicates that the action was begun in the past; the action or its effects continue up into the present.  Intransitive and transitive verb stems may be presented in the perfect using different suffixes.

This aspect is only marked by a suffix and carries no prefixed aspect marker.  Pronoun use is exactly as in a finite verb from, i.e. transitive constructions take Set A (ergative) and Set B (absolutive) pronouns in the same order as in finite verbs; intransitive perfects are marked by Set B pronouns only.


Perfect aspect in K’iche’

Intransitive stems

For intransitive verb roots, passive II, and antipassive stems the perfect is formed with the suffix –(i)naq.  Perfect from positionals are formed with –(i)naq from the adjective/stative stem ending in –Vl/Vn. The subject is marked with absolutive agreement:

  1. In warnaq.
    I have slept.
  2. Uj kosnaq.
    We are tired.
  3. Tak’alnaq.
    It stopped (a car, bus).
  4. In kunatajnaq.
    I have been cured.
  5. At to’tajnaq.
    You have been helped
  6. In kunannaq.
    I have cured.
  7. In in ch’ayowinaq.
    I myself have hit.
  8. In chakunaq kuk’.
    I have worked with them.
  9. Jachin chiwe uj ilowinaq?
    Which one of you has seen us?


Transitive verb stems (CVC and non-CVC):
In active and passive I voice (passive II see above), the perfect suffix is –om; when root vowel is –u- the suffix is –um. In word final position the vowel of the perfect suffix lengthens (usually not represented in writing). Roots that end in a glottal stop, only add –m.



CVC transitive

  1. At wilom.
    I have seen you.
  2. Wilom.
    I have seen him/her/it.
  3. Uj kilom.
    They have seen us.

Non-CVC transitive

  1. At nutzukum.
    I have looked for you.
  2. In itzukum.
    You all have searched for me.
  3. At qato’m.
    We have helped you.


PASSIVE VOICE: for the perfect passive the root does not lengthen.  These forms are distinguished from their active counterparts by the use of Set B pronouns only.

CVC transitive

  1. In ilom.
    I have been seen
  2. Wilom.
    I have seen.
  1. Uj ilom.
    We have been seen.
  2. Qilom.
    We have seen.
  1. I’lom.
    They have been seen.
  2. Kilom.
    They have seen.

Non-CVC transitive

  1. In tzukum.
    I have been searched for.
  2. Nutzukum.
    I have searched.
  1. E tzukum.
    They have been searched for.
  2. Tzukum alaq.
    You all (formal) have been searched for.
  3. At to’m.
    You have been helped.
  4. Uj to’m.
    We have been helped.

Pay close attention to the person marker closest to the verb: if ergative, it is the agent of a transitive construction; if absolutive, the verb form is intransitive, and the pronoun indicates the subject.

  1. Nuterne’em.
    I have followed him.
  2. In terne’em.
    I have been followed.



Perfect aspect expresses the idea of an action that began in past time and continued into the present. This form can be translated into English as an –ing form.

  1. Warnaq le ak’al.
    The child is sleeping.
  2. We ne petnaq ri achi chanim.
    Maybe the man is coming now.
  3. Jachin eqanaq la’ le si’?
    Who is packing/carrying that firewood there?
  4. At qiye’m chanim.
    We are waiting for you.



Verbal adjective
The verb in the perfect aspect is used as an adjective:

  1. kaminaq tz’i
    dead dog
  2. sachinaq achi
    lost man


Pluperfect Aspect

The perfect aspect is translated as the pluperfect (had) when it is used with chik. Often it appears in  a sentence accompanied by a second verb phrase whose verb is in the completed aspect.

  1. Kaminaq chi ri achi are taq xujopan pa ro’ch.
    The man had already died when we arrived at his house.
  2. Uj ch’ajanaq chik are taq xujiwil pa b’e.
    We had already bathed when you saw us on the road.


Future Perfect Aspect

The perfect aspect is translated as the future perfect (will have) when it is used with chik and in a sentence accompanied by a second verb phrase whose verb is in the incomplete aspect.

  1. O’kinaq chi le ixoqib’ pa k’ayb’al are taq kujopan chweq.
    The woman will have entered already the market when we arrive tomorrow.
  2. Rajawaxik ix ulinaq chik are taq kujb’e oj.
    It is necessary that you will have already arrived when we go.
  3. We ne majim chi le chomal aretaq kujopanik.
    Maybe the meeting will have already begun when we arrive


Note: the verb eta’maj
Not only is the perfect stem a little irregular (eta’m), in the perfect aspect the meaning of eta’maj “learn” changes to “know”

  1. Weta’am.
    I know.
  2. Reta’am.
    He knows.
  3. Eta’m alaq.
    You all (formal) know.
K’AK’A TAQ TZIJVocabulary
torb’al / lawe key
q’aq’ fire
ch’ich’ car
muqum buried
kami’x shirt
sach(o) to lose, to make a mistake, to disappear
q’atuj (vtr)  to visit

Translate the following phrases to English:

  1. Eleq’am ri nuch’ich’.
  2. La awilom le nulawe/nutorb’al?
  3. Xa nuloq’om ri kami’x ri’ aretaq xinsacho.
  4. Aretaq b’anom ri si’, kaqatzij le nuq’aq’.
  5. La taqom le wuj le nutz’ib’am chawe?
  6. La asik’im uwach ri wuj ri’?
  7. Na inwarnaq taj, rumal ri’ k’o sib’alaj nuwaram.
  8. Muqum ri kaminaq achi chuxe jun nimalaj che’.
  9. Keb’ q’ij chi k’ayinaq ri ixoq ri’ maj jun jastaq xuk’ayij.
  10. Na oj kowinaq taj qaq’atum.

Translate the following phrases to K’iche’:

  1. You had not arrived (there) when we left.
  2. Xwan had made moonshine for the party.
  3. She says that the book you lost has been found.
  4. She says that her father has found the book you lost.
  5. You won’t find it if you haven’t looked for it.
  6. My neighbor has not been seen for three days.
  7. I think he has been working in town.
  8. Have these clothes been washed?
  9. They didn’t invite us because their house had not been cleaned.
  10. They have been married for eight years.