|Some determiners||Some quantifiers|
|The "articles" take the form of suffixes. See the following description of their uses. The forms -a, -ak, -ok correspond to the absolutive case; in other cases, -a(r)-, -e-, -o- are used, followed by a case suffix. The negative-polar article, often called the partitive suffix, does not combine with case suffixes. When glossing examples below, these elements are referred to collectively as ART.||The demonstrative stems, like the articles and unlike other nominal elements, show irregular allomorphy between singular and plural and, in the singular, between the absolutive (hau, hori, hura) and other cases (hon-, horr-, har-). The same forms function both as demonstrative determiners and demonstrative pronouns.|
|The articles -a, -ak, -ok, -(r)ik, demonstratives hau, hori, hura and some of the quantifiers follow the noun they determine or quantify.|
|Other determiners and quantifiers, including beste 'other', the interrogatives and numerals above one or two (depending on dialect) precede the noun.|
|A normal noun phrase with a common noun as head must contain either one (and only one) determiner or one (and only one) quantifier, and not both, as in the above examples. However, the numerals may co-occur with a determiner.|
|The items beste 'other' and guzti 'all' do not 'fill' the determiner or quantifier position and therefore require an article, other determiner or quantifier.|
|The article -a, -ak acts as the default determiner, obligatory with a common noun in the absence of another determiner or quantifer (even in citation forms, in popular usage).|
|The article -(r)ik, traditionally called a partitive suffix (cf. French de), replaces -a, -ak in negative-polar contexts, especially with indefinite noun phrases in negative sentences. It is never treated as grammatically plural.|
|A noun phrase with a proper noun or a pronoun as head need not and usually does not contain either a determiner or a quantifier.|
|The absence of any determiner or quantifier from a common-noun-head noun phrase is only possible in certain specific contexts, e.g. in certain types of predicate or in some adverbial expressions.|
|A genitive noun phrase precedes its possessed head to express possessive or similar relationships.|
|The possessed noun phrase retains the same determination and quantification features described above for noun phrases generally.|
|The head noun of a possessed noun phrase may be omitted. In this case the article or other determiner is still retained, now attached to the genitival element.|
|Noun phrases are turned into genitives by the addition of one of two genitive case suffixes, -(r)en or -ko (see below on declension suffixes).|
|The genitive formation of personal pronouns is irregular.|
|-Ko (or -go) can be suffixed to a wide range of other words and phrases, many of them adverbial in function, to form adjectival expressions which behave syntactically just as genitive phrases do.|
|Lexical adjectives, in contrast to adjectival expressions (see above), immediately follow the head noun but precede any article, determiner or quantifier.|
|When adjectives, adjectivals or genitives are used as predicates, they usually take the article (singular -a, plural -ak).|
|Basque has two numbers, singular (unmarked) and plural. Plural markers occur in two parts of Basque grammar: in some pronouns, determiners and quantifiers, and in argument indices on verbs (see Basque verbs). Nouns and adjectives are strictly invariable for number: for example, etxe means indifferently 'house' or 'houses'. Since, however, a noun such as etxe rarely occurs alone and normally appears within a noun phrase containing either a determiner or a quantifier, its number is likely to be indicated by this element:||etxea 'house'||(singular because of -a)|
|etxeak 'houses'||(plural because of -ak)|
|etxe hau 'this house'||(singular because of hau)|
|etxe hauek 'these houses'||(plural because of hauek)|
|etxe bat 'one/a house'||(singular because of bat)|
|etxe batzuk 'some houses'||(plural because of batzuk)|
|hiru etxe 'three houses'||(plural because of hiru)|
|Most determiners, including the article, have distinct singular and plural forms (the latter ending in a k in the absolutive case, cited here). Most quantifiers (except bat versus batzuk) do not show such morphological variation, but many (including the numerals above one, of course) have intrinsically plural lexical meanings.||
|Sometimes the grammatical number of a noun phrase can only be deduced from general context or from verbal indexing,|
|or from the lexical or semantic noun type:|
The personal pronouns differentiate three persons and two numbers. Zu must once have been the second person plural pronoun but is now only found as the polite singular, having partially displaced the original second person singular pronoun hi which is now a markedly familiar form of address. Zuek represents a re-pluralised derivative of zu and is now the only second person plural pronoun.
|Reconstructed proto-system||Attested present-day system|
| hi 'you (singular)'|
zu 'you (plural)'
hi 'you (familiar singular)'|
zu 'you (polite singular)'
zu-ek 'you (plural)'
The function of third person personal pronouns may be filled by any of the demonstrative pronouns or their emphatic counterparts in ber-.
| ni 'I/me'|
hi 'you (very familiar)'
zu 'you (polite or neutral)'
hau, hori, hura, bera 'he/him, she/her, it'
hauek, horiek, haiek, bera(ie)k, eurak... 'they/them'
|Ordinary|| hau 'this'|
hori 'that (near hearer, general)'
hura 'that (in the distance, not present)'
horiek 'those (near hearer, general)'
haiek 'those (in the distance, not present)'
|Intensive|| berau 'this'|
berori 'that (near hearer, general)'
bera 'that (in the distance, not present)'
beroriek 'those (near hearer, general)'
beraiek 'those (in the distance, not present)'
It has often been noted that in traditional usage (but less so among modern speakers), there is often an explicit correlation between the three degrees of proximity in these demonstrative forms and the three grammatical persons, such that hau is made to correspond to ni, hori to hi/zu and so on. One manifestation of this (others lie beyond the scope of this sketch) is the now old-fashioned mode of addressing persons in social positions commanding special respect (such as a priest, for example) using third-person verb forms and, for the personal pronoun, the second-degree intensive demonstrative berori (see the above table).
|Pronouns||Place adverbs||Manner adverbs||Time adverbs|
|Negative polarity|| ||
Except in the absolutive or zero case, characterised (in the singular at least) by the lack of a case ending, Basque noun phrases are followed by a case suffix which specifies the relation between the noun phrase and the clause it is in (i.e. playing roughly the role of prepositions in English). The most basic cases are shown here, for convenience divided into three main groups: nuclear, local (or locative) and others.
Case suffixes are attached to whatever element (noun, adjective, determiner...) comes last in the noun phrase according to the rules already given. The different forms or "declensions" of each case suffix given in the following tables are selected in accordance with the nature of the nominal element to which the case ending is attached, as will be explained below.
|Absolutive||intransitive subject; direct object||-a||-ak||—|
|Dative||recipient or affected: 'to', 'for', 'from'||-ari||-ei||-(r)i|
|Inessive||place where/time when: 'in', 'at', 'on'||-(e)an||-etan||-(e)tan||-(e)n|
|Allative||where to: 'to'||-(e)ra||-etara||-(e)tara||-(r)a|
|Ablative||where from/through: 'from', 'since', 'through'||-(e)tik||-etatik||-(e)tatik||-tik/-dik|
|Local Genitive||pertaining to where/when: 'of'||-(e)ko||-etako||-(e)tako||-ko/-go|
|Possessive Genitive||possessive/genitive: 'of', '-'s'||-aren||-en||-(r)en|
|Instrumental||means or topic: 'by', 'of', 'about'||-az||-ez||-(e)z, -(e)taz|
|Comitative||accompaniment or means: 'with'||-arekin||-ekin||-(r)ekin|
|cause, reason or value: 'because of', '(in exchange) for'||-a(ren)gatik||-engatik||-(r)engatik|
The four sets of forms labelled 1 to 4 in the preceding tables have the following uses and characteristics:
|1||SINGULAR ARTICLE||Represent the combination of the singular article -a with the case suffixes. Notice the formal absence of any trace of the -a- morpheme in the local cases, however. The -(e)- in the local cases occurs after consonants.|| |
|2||PLURAL ARTICLE||Represent the combination of the plural article -ak with the case suffixes. Notice the pre-suffixal plural article allomorphs -eta- (in local cases) and -e- (elsewhere).|| |
|3||NO ARTICLE||Used in the absence of an article, i.e. when another determiner or quantifier is employed (e.g. zein menditan? 'on which mountain?', zuhaitz askori 'to many trees') or occasionally when there is none at all (cf. oinez and sutan above). The -(e)- and -(r)- shown with some suffixes appear following consonants and vowels respectively. Notice also the pre-suffix -(e)ta- in the local case suffixes for this set.|| |
|4||PROPER NAMES||Used with proper names. These are identical to set 3 except in the local cases. This set contains the most basic form of each case suffix. The local forms -dik and -go are used after a voiced consonant except r.|| |
From the above it may be deduced that the essential formal characteristics of the Basque cases are as shown in the following table:
For the most part, the application of these suffixes to any word in the language is highly regular. In this section, we shall note the main exceptions.
Personal pronouns and demonstratives display some irregularities in declension. The personal pronouns ni, hi, gu, zu form their possessive genitive by adding -re rather than -ren: nire, hire, gure, zure. These are the pronominal possessives:
| nire 'my'|
hire 'your (very familiar)'
zure 'your (polite or neutral)'
haren, beraren 'his, her, its'
bere 'his, her, its (reflexive)'
haien, beraien 'their'
beren 'their (reflexive)'
As we have already seen, the demonstratives each have three stems: one for the absolutive singular (hau, hori, hura), another for all other singular cases (hon-, horr-, har-), and one for the plural, all cases (haue-, horie-, haie-). In the plural they take a -k suffix in the absolutive, as does batzuk 'some').
|Singular absolutive||Singular other||Plural absolutive||Plural other|
| hau 'this'|
hura 'that (distant)'
bat 'one, a'
honek, honi, honetan...|
horrek, horri, horretan...
hark, hari, hartan...
batek, bati, batean...
| hauek |
hauek, hauei, hauetan...|
horiek, horiei, horietan...
haiek, haiei, haietan...
batzuek, batzuei, batzuetan...
As a rule, the local case suffixes given above are not used directly with noun phrases that refer to a person or an animal (called animate noun phrases). An inessive, allative or ablative relation affecting such noun phrases may be expressed by using the suffixes inessive -gan, allative -gana, and ablative -gandik, affixed to either the possessive genitive or the absolutive, e.g. nigan 'in me', irakaslearengana 'to(wards) the teacher' (irakasle 'teacher'), zaldiengandik 'from the horses' (zaldi 'horse'), haur horrengandik 'from that child', Koldorengana 'to(wards) Koldo'.
In addition to the basic case forms given above, further forms are found that are derived from these through the addition of further suffixes or extensions. Some of these additional forms provide for the expression of more nuanced relations; others have the same or similar meanings to the basic forms, with which they merely contrast stylistically or dialectally. Some examples follow:
|Basic case||Compound cases|
|ALLATIVE: -ra 'to'|
|ABLATIVE: -tik 'from'|
|COMITATIVE: -ekin 'with'|
|BENEFACTIVE: -entzat 'for'|
The -ko suffix (see above) may be added to some case forms to make their syntactic function adjectival.
|Case||Primary use||Adjectival use|
Any such adjectivalised forms may be used without an overt head noun, and in this case is likely to appear with a suffixed article, e.g. haurrentzakoa '(the) one for (the) children' [child-for.PLURAL.ART-ko-ART], haurrentzakoak '(the) ones for (the) children' [child-for.PLURAL.ART-ko-PLURAL.ART]. Such nominalised adjectival forms may further take case suffixes of their own, e.g. haurrentzakoarekin 'with the one for children' [child-for.PLURAL.ART-ko-with.ART], euskarazkoentzat 'for the ones in Basque' [Basque-INSTRUMENTAL-ko-for.PLURAL.ART], etc. While the potential to generate and understand (in a reasonable context) such complex forms is built into Basque grammar and perfectly intelligible to speakers, in practice the use of very complex constructions of this type is not too common.
The fourth set of local case suffixes (etymologically the primary forms) are incorporated into the place adverbs, giving the following (partly irregular) forms:
|'here'||'there (near)'||'there (distant)'|
|Inessive||'here, there, where?'||hemen||hor||han||non|
|Allative||'to here, to there, where to?'||hona||horra||hara||nora|
|Ablative||'from here/there, where from?', 'this/that way, which way?'||hemendik||hortik||handik||nondik|
|Genitive||'pertaining to here/there/where?'||hemengo||horko||hango||nongo|
Many other adverbs may be adjectivalised with -ko. Some may take certain other case suffixes (usually from set 4), particularly ablative -tik/-dik, e.g. atzotik 'since yesterday', urrundik 'from far away'.
Basque postpositions are items of sufficient lexical substance and grammatical autonomy to be treated as separate words (unlike the case suffixes) and which specify relations. They are so called because they follow the word or phrase whose relation they express (compare prepositions which precede a word or phrase; but Basque does not have prepositions).
|Most Basque postpositions require the complement after which they are placed to adopt a particular case form (such postpositions are sometimes said to govern a certain case). Postpositions in Basque furthermore often take a case suffix (or may take several different case suffixes) themselves. To understand this, we may consider the analogy of an English compound preposition such as on top of, where of is comparable to the case taken by a Basque noun preceding a postposition (in this case it would be the genitive) and on is like the case suffix (inessive in this case) taken by the postposition (to which top corresponds). The examples on the right show how Basque expresses on top of and a few other postpositional notions.|
The most typical Basque postpositions are built on nominal structures; for example, -aren gainean 'on top of' centres around the word gain 'top'. But not all postpositional nuclei consist of nouns that can be used independently of the postpositional construction(s) in which they participate.
One subset of postpositions that express spatial relationships (again exemplified by gainean) have a lexical stem whose syntactic behaviour is roughly noun-like but limited to a much narrower range of possible patterns (in the grammars of some non-European languages such elements are called relational nouns or relationals). Some Basque relationals are:
|Typical Basque relationals can enter into two possible relations with the preceding (governed) complement: (1) the complement is a noun phrase in a possessive genitive relation, e.g.|
|(2) the complement is an unsuffixed noun (not a noun phrase) in a relation resembling a lexical compound, e.g.|
|In these examples, the relational (e.g. gain-) takes the set 1 (singular) inessive case suffix (-(e)an), as in mendiaren gainean and these further examples,|
|but other local case suffixes (glossed in capitals) may occur instead of the inessive as sense or usage conventions require, e.g.|
|These relationals are often used in an adverbial function without a preceding complement (thus not as postpositions), e.g.|
There are a few relationals, such as kanpo- 'outside', goi- 'up' and behe- 'down', that cannot be preceded by a complement of the kind described but have an adverbial uses resembling these, e.g. Kanpora noa 'I'm going outside', Goian dago 'It is above', etc. The irregular allative of goi is gora 'up(wards)'.
In English, the comparative and superlative of many adjectives and adverbs are formed by adding the suffixes -er and -est respectively (from big, for example, bigger and biggest are formed). Basque adjectives and adverbs similarly take such suffixes, except that in Basque there are three morphologically derived degrees of comparison, e.g. from handi 'big' we can form handiago 'bigger', handien(a) '(the) biggest' (where -a is the article) and handiegi 'too big':
Comparative, superlative and excessive adjectives may be used in the same syntactic frames as adjectives in the positive (basic) degree, e.g. compare mendi altuak 'high mountains' [mountain high.PLURAL.ART] and mendi altuagoak 'higher mountains' [mountain higher.PLURAL.ART]. But the noun preceding a superlative often takes the partitive suffix -(r)ik, thus either mendi altuenak or mendirik altuenak 'the highest mountains'.
Occasionally such suffixes may be added to other word forms, e.g. from gora 'up' (irregular allative of the relational goi-, hence literally 'to above') we may form gorago (for gora + -ago), 'more up', i.e. 'higher'. Just as English has a few irregular forms of comparison such as better and best (from good or well), so does Basque, e.g. on 'good' but hobe 'better'. Other ways of comparing quality or manner, in both Basque and English, involve using a separate word, such as hain handi 'so big'.
Special words are used to compare quantities (how much or how many of something): here we may mention in particular gehiago 'more', gehien(a) '(the) most', gehiegi 'too much, too many' which follow the noun quantified, e.g. liburu gehiago 'more books', gatz gehiegi 'too much salt', and hainbeste 'so much, so many' which precedes the noun, e.g. hainbeste diru 'so much money'. All of these can also be used adverbially (comparing the extent to which something occurs or is the case), e.g. Ez pentsatu hainbeste! 'Don't think so much!'.
Comparisons may involve reference to a standard (of comparison): compare English is easier (no standard mentioned: we don't specify easier than what) to English is easier than Basque (where Basque is referred to as the standard of comparison). Here English puts the word than in front of the standard. In Fish is as expensive as meat, meat is the standard, indicated here by the second as (compare Fish is as expensive or Fish is so expensive, where no standard is mentioned). Comparisons of the as...as type are called equative. With superlatives, as in Donostia is the prettiest city in the Basque Country, on the other hand, the Basque Country is not really a standard but a domain or range within which the superlative applies. The structures used in such comparisons in Basque are as follows (the second table shows examples); the word orders shown are the most common and considered basic, although certain variations are also possible.
|Comparative||STANDARD baino COMPARATIVE||ADJ/ADV-er than STANDARD||STANDARD baino NOUN gehiago||more NOUN(s) than STANDARD|
|Superlative||DOMAIN-(e)ko NOUN-(r)ik SUPERLATIVE-a||the ADJ/ADV-est NOUN in the DOMAIN||DOMAIN-(e)ko NOUN-(r)ik gehienak||most NOUNs in the DOMAIN|
|Equative||STANDARD bezain ADJ/ADV||as ADJ/ADV as STANDARD||STANDARD adina NOUN||as much/many NOUN(s) as STANDARD|
|Comparative||Qualitative||Ingelesa euskara baino errazagoa da.||'English is easier than Basque.'|
|Quantitative||Zuk nik baino diru gehiago daukazu.||'You've got more money than me.'|
|Superlative||Qualitative||Donostia Euskal Herriko hiririk politena da.||'Donostia is the prettiest city in the Basque Country.'|
|Quantitative||Arabako lanposturik gehienak Gasteizen daude.||'Most of the jobs in Araba are in Gasteiz.'|
|Equative||Qualitative||Arraina haragia bezain garestia da.||'Fish is as expensive as meat.'|
|Quantitative||Zuk nik adina lagun dituzu.||'You have as many friends as I (do).'|
Although several verbal categories are expressed morphologically, periphrastic tense formations predominate. Up to three arguments (subject, direct object and indirect object) can be indexed morphologically on single verb forms, and further sets of synthetic allocutive forms make for an even more complex morphology. The verb is also an area of the language subject to a fair amount of dialectal variation. Given the complexity of this subject and its traditional centrality in descriptions of Basque grammar, it is the subject of a separate Wikipedia article.
Basque word order is largely determined by the notions of focus and topic which are employed to decide how to "package" or structure the propositional content (information) in utterances. Focus is a feature that attaches to a part of a sentence considered to contain the most important information, the "point" of the utterance. Thus in different discourse contexts the same (basic) sentence can take the focus on different parts, giving rise (in a language like Basque) to different grammatical forms. Topic, on the other hand, refers to a part of a sentence that serves to put the information it contains into context, i.e. to establish "what we are talking about". Basque word order involves in a very basic way two rules, the "focus rule" and the "topic rule", as follows:
Compare, for example:
TXAKURREK hezurrak jaten dituzte.|
'Dogs eat bones.'
HEZURRAK txakurrek jaten dituzte. |
'Dogs eat bones,' 'Bones are eaten by dogs,' 'It is dogs who eat bones.'
Basque is sometimes called an SOV (i.e. subject-object-verb) language, but as we can see the order of elements in the Basque sentence is not rigidly determined by grammatical roles (such as subject and object) and has to do with other criteria (such as focus and topic). In Basque the SOV is more common and less marked than the OSV order, although each is appropriate in different contexts (as are other word orders). That is to say, it is more common and less marked (other things being equal) for the subject to be topic and for the object to be in focus than vice-versa. This may be explained by intrinsic qualities of the concepts "subject" and "object". It is compatible with the cross-linguistic tendency for topichood to be a characteristic feature of prototypical subjects, for example.
A possibility seemingly not taken into account by the above focus rule, which states that the focused element precedes the verb, is the circumstance wherein the verb itself is in focus. One situation in which this occurs is a clause with no (or no focused) non-verbal constituents, only perhaps a topic-subject, as in 'He knows' or 'John is coming' (in contexts where 'he' or 'John' are not focused). Of course there my be other constituents, as long as none of them are focused, e.g. 'She has money' (where the point of the utterance is not to tell us what she has, but whether or not she has it). This type of sentence is sometimes described as one in which what is in focus is not so much the verb as the affirmation of the predicate; i.e. 'She has money' does not really stand in contrast to, say, 'She eats money', but only to 'She doesn't have money'. For the present practical purpose this distinction may be ignored and the term "verbal focus" will be applied to such cases.
The most notable verb-focusing strategy in Basque grammar is use of the affirmative prefix ba-. Attached to a synthetically conjugated finite verb, this has the effect of putting that verb (or its affirmation, if one prefers) in focus, thereby implying that whatever (if anything) precedes the verb is not in focus. Thus the use of ba- looks as if it blocks application of the general focus rule which assigns focus to an element in pre-verbal position.
Berak daki. [he.ERGATIVE (he).knows.(it)]|
'He knows,' 'He's the one who know.'
BERAK badaki. (or: Badaki BERAK.)
'(As for) him, he knows,' 'He knows, (he does).'
The affirmative use of ba- (not to confused with the homophonous subordinating prefix meaning 'if') is normally used with synthetic finite forms, thus also John badator or Badator John 'John is coming' (as opposed to John dator 'John is coming'), Badu dirua (or in western Basque Badauka dirua) 'She has money'. In most varieties of Basque, affirmative ba- is not so used with compound tenses or compound verbs, however.
To place a compound verb form (or its affirmation) in focus, it may be enough to place the main sentence stress (which normally goes on the focused item) on the first component of the verbal compound expression. Here it seems that the auxiliary part of the expression is treated as representing the "verb" in the general focus rule, thereby predictably throwing the focus onto the preceding component, which is now the main verb. In western dialects an alternative procedure used to emphasise the placement of focus on the verb is to make this a complement of the verb egin 'do'.
Bérak ikusi du. |
'He has seen it,' 'He's the one who has seen it.'
Ikúsi du. |
'He has seen it (he has indeed!).'
BERAK ikúsi du. (or: Ikúsi du BERAK.)|
'(As for) him, he has (indeed) seen it.'
Western Basque alternative:
(Berak) ikusi egin du.
There are certain exceptions to the general focus rule:
|"Heavy" constituents may be placed after an unfocused verb even when they are (pragmatically) focused.||Atzo ikusi nuen asto bat betaurrekoekin. 'Yesterday I saw a donkey with (i.e. wearing) glasses.'|
|Imperative verbs often precede other constituents (except for topics).|
|Some subordinate clauses are exempt from certain rules. For example, an unfocused verb is allowed to occur without any focused clause constituent in such clauses.|
Systematic exceptions apart, focus assignment (as defined in the preceding sections) is an obligatory feature of Basque clauses. Because it is obligatory and automatic, such focus assignment need not be pragmatically marked and does not necessarily signify emphatic focusing or foregrounding. This observation is particularly applicable when focus is assigned in accordance with predictable or prototypical patterns, such as when the direct object takes the focus position in a transitive clause, or when the verb is formally focused in an intransitive clause.
In some varieties or styles of Basque, e.g. in poetic diction, one may achieve more emphatic focus (even on an object) by inverting the usual verb-auxiliary order: Txakurrek hezurrak dituzte jaten. In ordinary colloquial usage many speakers do not allow this, but some allow other such "inversions", e.g. with compound verbs (light-verb constructions), e.g. normal Irakaslearekin hitz egingo dut 'I'll speak to the teacher' (ordinary focus on irakaslearekin) versus more marked Irakaslearekin egingo dut hitz (emphatic focus on irakaslearekin).
A topic may be backgrounded (although arguably still remaining a topic) by placement at the end of a sentence rather than at the beginning, e.g. Hezurrak jaten dituzte txakurrek, roughly 'They eat bones, dogs'; so also Ez dakit, nik 'I don't know', where nik is no doubt a topic of sorts since if it weren't there would be no need to mention it at all (unmarked: Ez dakit).
Although the following restrictions on the placement of verbs within the clause are the outcome of the various rules already given, it may be useful to summarise those restrictions here.
|A finite verb form (a synthetically conjugative verb or auxiliary) cannot stand in absolute clause-initial position unless: (1) it is preceded by affirmative (verb-focusing) ba-...||Badakit. 'I know.'|
|(2) it is preceded by negative ez (see below)...||Ez dauka dirurik. 'She hasn't got any money.'|
|(3) it is imperative (or optative)...|
|(4) certain subordinate clauses...||datorren astean 'next week'|
|A compound verb form (a verb in a compound tense or a compound verb construction) may be clause-initial in cases of verbal focus:|
|Negation is expressed by ez preceding the finite verb form.|
|If there is no finite verb in the clause, such as when the participle on its own is used as an imperative or in non-finite subordinate clauses, ez may precede a non-finite verb. (VN stands for verbal noun here.)|
|There is a strong tendency for other sentence constituents to follow a negated finite verb, except when topicalised. Thus the general focus rule (see above) does not apply with negated finite verb forms (in the same way as it doesn't apply with verbs with the affirmative ba- prefix, see also above).|
|Compound tense forms of verbs, and also compound verbs, are negated by placing ez in front of the finite auxiliary (or light verb); the other components of the verbal construction are normally placed after the negated finite form.|
|In this construction the postposed verb component(s) may be separated from the finite auxiliary or light verb. Focused constituents, unless somewhat heavy, will be placed between the two.|
|An indefinite subject of an intransitive verb, or an indefinite direct object of a transitive verb, usually take the negative polarity article -(r)ik instead of the normal article -a, -ak in negative (or other negative-polar) sentences.|
|There are no true negative pronouns (or adverbs, etc.) as such. The negative-polar pronouns etc. are used in negative contexts (and other negative-polarity contexts too). All such words may be combined directly with ez (or gabe 'without', which also has an intrinsically negative meaning). Some speakers do accept uses of negative-polar words in isolation, with ez implicit.|
|Yes-no questions either take the same form as the corresponding statement, or incorporate a question marker.|
There are two question markers: al for straightforward yes-no questions, and ote for tentative questions of any kind (yes-no or not). Both al and ote are placed immediately in front of the finite verb form. The question marker al is not used pan-dialectally. In some dialects the same function is performed by a suffix -a attached to the finite verb form (thus the equivalents of the above examples are John ikusi duzu(i)a? and Badakia?). Still other dialects lack either interrogative al or interrogative -a.
|See Negation above concerning the use of negative polarity items; these may occur in yes-no questions.|
|In choice questions, 'or' is either ala or edo, although the former is often taught as more correct.|
Word order in wh-questions (i.e. those with question words) is fully accounted for by the general rules of Basque word order, granted a further rule for Basque (shared by many other languages) which states that interrogative words and phrases (e.g. nor 'who?', zein etxe zuritan? 'in which white house?', zenbat diru 'how much money?', etc.) are obligatorily focused.
|Therefore, wh-expressions must immediately precede the verb, and none of the verb-focusing constructions are possible (since these would result in moving the focus away from the wh-expression).|
|The interrogative phrase is often placed first, but as in other sentences, topics may be foregrounded through fronting and so precede the wh-expression; such constructions are fairly common in Basque.|