Print Friendly

Tïjonik 9 E k’i le aj k’ayib’ pa le k’ayb’al! (There are lots of merchants at the market!)
Plurals in K’iche’


In this lesson, we will learn about plural forms to reference to multiple objects or people. There are several ways to pluralize words and sentences.


On Thursdays and Sundays, the center of Nahualá is dominated by the market. Listen to Juan Manuel’s description of what you can find in Nahualá during market days:

Thursday market, Nahuala 8 Thursday market, Nahuala 10 Thursday market, Nahuala 1

Pa wa’ we jun wachb’al ri’ kojkowinik kaqilo le k’ayb’al chi’ pa Nawalja’. E k’i le ajk’ayib’:  E k’o le ajk’ay taq pix, e k’o le ajk’ay taq ichaj, e k’o le ajk’ay taq kaqa q’oq’, e k’o le ajk’ay taq  atz’yaq, e k’o le ajk’ay taq xajab’. Kaqilo chuqe’ cher e k’o ixoqib’, e k’o achijab’, e k’o ak’alab’, e k’o  k’ajolab’ cher are la’ e loq’omanelab’. Pa le k’ay’b’al e k’i le ajchakib’ ma k’i taq uwach le k’ayij. Aretaq katani’ le k’ayb’al, le ajchakib’ kakik’ol le kik’ay pa taq le nimaq taq ja wokotal chunaqaj le uk’u’x tinamit. K’a te k’u ri’, le e tz’i’ kakimajij wa’katem pa le k’ayb’al che utzukuxik kiwa pa taq le k’olb’al mes. K’a te keb’ek aretaq kajosq’itaj le k’ayb’al.

Show/Hide English translation

In this photograph we see the Nahualá market. There are many salespeople: There are tomato vendors; there are watermelon vendors; there are clothes vendors; there are shoe sellers. We can also see that among salespeople there are women, men, children and young people. At the market there are many workers because there are many kinds of goods being sold. When the market closes down, workers put away their merchandise in big houses built near the center of town. Afterwards, dogs start walking around the market, looking for food in the trash. They don’t leave until the whole market is clean.



Plural nouns are marked with the suffix –Vb’, where V = Vowel. If the last vowel of the noun is –i or –e, the plural suffix is –ab’:

1. In ajtij
 “I am a teacher”

Oj ajtijab’
 “We are teachers”

2.Are tijoxel “He/she is a student”

A’re e tijoxelab’ “They are students”

Note that a’re “they” is the plural of are “he/she”. When appearing as predicates of third person subjects, plural nouns require an agreement proclitic e as in e tijoxelab’ “students” in Ex. 2.

If the last vowel of the noun is –a, -o, -u, the plural suffix is –ib’:

3.At ixoq
 “You are a woman”.

Ix ixoqib’
 “You all are women”

4. At ajchak “You are a worker”

Ix ajchakib’ “You all are workers”.

The third person plural agreement proclitic beginning in a vowel is a glottal stop inserted after the first vowel as in a’jchakib’ as in Ex. 4.

There are some exceptions to the vowel rule above. In almost of all of them, however, the meanings of the plural form are somewhat different from the singular:

5.k’ajol “Son of a man”

k’ajolab “Young men, male youth”

6.ak’al “Child”

ak’alab’ “Children”

7.ali “Girl, unmarried young woman”

altomab’ “Girls”

8. ala “Boy, unmarried young man”

alab’om “Boys”

9.achi “Man”

achijab’ “Men”

10.ati’t “Grandmother, female animal”

ati’tab’ “Female animals”

11.ama’ “Grandfather, male animal”

ama’ib’ “Male animals”



Adjectives do not have plural forms except the following (the plural suffix is -aq)’utin / ch’utiq “small”

13. nim / nimaq “big”

14.chom/ chomaq “fat”

15.pim / pimaq “thick”

When the adjective is acting as sentence predicate, number agreement is required: A glottal stop is inserted after the a in –aq.

16.Le nimaqa taq ja “The big houses”

17.Nima’q le ja “The houses are big”

18. Nima’q taq le ja “The houses are big”



Plural nouns are marked with the proclitic taq.

21.Le nimaq taq ja “The big houses”

b) In existential and stative sentences: When the predicate is a plural noun phrase taq replaces the article. The reader should be aware that in K’iche’ predicates precede subjects unlike Spanish or English, for example, where sentential subjects generally precede predicates.

22.Saq taq le ja. “The houses are white”

In Ex. 22 the predicate saq “white” precedes the subject taq le ja “The houses”.

24. Rax taq le kotz’i’j. “The flowers are green”

Requested file could not be found (error code 404). Verify the file URL specified in the shortcode.
25.  E k’a’n taq le tz’i’. “The dogs are fierce”

When referencing animate nouns the agreement marker e before the predicate is preferred as in Ex. 25.

26.E k’a’n le tz’i. “The dogs are fierce”

In Ex. 26 the proclitic e is the sole plural marker as the proclitic taq does not appear preceding the subject le tz’i’ “the dogs”.

27.U’tz le winaq. “The people are good”

In Ex. 27 the glotal stop agreement proclitic following the first vowel on the predicate utz is the sole plural marker as well.

Requested file could not be found (error code 404). Verify the file URL specified in the shortcode.
28.E nima’q le altomab’ “The girls are big”

In Ex. 28 both the predicate nima’q and the subject altomab’ bear plural markers.

29.A’re wa’ le ewal. “These here are my kids (spoken by a woman)”

The agreement proclitic e precedes wal “my kids”. Note the plural marking on the pronoun a’re “they”.

30. A’re wa’ le enuchikop “These here are my animals”.

Requested file could not be found (error code 404). Verify the file URL specified in the shortcode.
31.Etijoxelab’ le a’chijab’ “The men are students”.

Note the agreement proclitics (e and glottal stop) on both plural nouns in the predicate etijoxelab’ and in the subject le a’chijab’.

32.A’jtijab’ le achijab’ “The men are teachers”.

In contrast to Ex. 31, the subject achijab’ does not show an agreement proclitic in Ex. 32.

33.E’laqomab’ taq le achijab’ “The men are thieves”.

34.E k’o kajib’ uk’ajol le tat Wel “Don Manuel has four sons”

35.Jawi e k’o wi le awal? “Where are your sons? (Addressed to a woman)”

In existential sentences the agreement proclitic e optionally precedes the existential k’o as in Ex. 34. The cardinal number kajib’ “four” marks the subject as plural. Possessed nouns such as as uk’ajol “his children” are not pluralized.


Finally, there is an additional plural proclitic with a diminutive, affective connotation: staq, as in Ex. 36 below. Do not confuse with taq, which is a distributive/diminutive as well (Ex. 37).

Requested file could not be found (error code 404). Verify the file URL specified in the shortcode.
36.Kewar le staq imul “The cute/little rabbits are sleeping”.

37.Kewar le taq imul “The cute/little rabbits are sleeping”

K’AK’A TAQ TZIJVocabulary
jun one
keb’ two
oxib’ three
kajib’ four
jo’ob’ five
waqib’ six
wuqub’ seven
wajxaqib’ eight
b’elejeb’ nine
lajuj ten
pix tomato
ichaj herbs
kaqaq’oq’ watermelon
q’an (inkine’y, prut) banana
saqwach  potato
saqmo’l egg
kinaq’ bean

Transform the following sentences into plural. Then translate them into English:

  1. K’o jun ajk’ay prut pa le k’ayb’al.
  2. K’o jun tz’i’ pa le b’e.
  3. La k’o le awuj? Je’, k’o nuwuj.
  4. Ajk’ay pix le wachi’il.
  5. K’o jun achi pa le k’ayb’al.