Verbs in Apma are usually preceded by a subject pronoun and by a marker indicating the tense, aspect and mood of the action.
The subject pronouns are as follows:
|1st person singular||na-||"I"|
|2nd person singular||ko-||"you" (singular)|
|3rd person singular||-||"he" / "she" / "it"|
|1st person plural (inclusive)||ta-||"we" (you and I)|
|1st person plural (exclusive)||kaa(ma)-||"we" (others and I)|
|2nd person plural||ka-
(ko...i in Suru Kavian dialect)
|3rd person plural||ra-||"they"|
Apma has five sets of tense/aspect/mood markers:
|Tense / Aspect / Mood||Used for||Marker (full form)||Marker (short form)|
|Imperfective||Actions in the present tense
Temporary or changing states
A 'default' marker when the tense/aspect/mood has already been set
|mwa-, mwe-, mwi-, mwo-, mu-||-m|
|Perfective||Actions in the past tense
Negative phrases in either past or present tense
|Potential||Things that may happen in the future||mwan(e)-
(nee- in northern and archaic Apma)
(replaced with a long vowel in northern and archaic Apma)
|Prospective||Things that are about to happen||nema-||-ma|
|Hypothetical||Things that have not happened and probably won't||bat(e)-||-bat|
The full forms of these markers are used in the 3rd person singular (where there is no subject pronoun):
- mwe leli = he does it
- te leli = he did it
- mwan leli = he will do it
Elswhere, short forms of these markers are suffixed to the subject pronoun:
- nam leli = I do it
- nat leli = I did it
- nan leli = I will do it
The imperfective marker alters to some extent to match the sound of the verb it is attached to. It is usually absent altogether when the verb begins with b or m. (In Suru Kavian dialect, it is absent when the verb begins with any consonant other than r.) For example, in Suru Mwerani:
- mwi sip = he goes down
- mwo rop = he runs
- mu rus = he moves
- --- ban = he goes
Dual (two-person) forms consist of the plural forms with ru (or ri in Suru Kavian) inserted after the tense/aspect/mood marker:
- ram leli = they do it
- ramru leli = the two of them do it
There is a pattern of verb-consonant mutation whereby v at the start of a verb changes to b, and w changes to bw, in certain aspects/moods:
- nat van = I went
- na ban = I am going
- nan ban or nan van = I will go
In northern and archaic varieties of Apma, there is also mutation of k to g, and of t to d.
Negative phrases are indicated with the two-part marker ba...nga "not", or a variant, which encloses the verb and any direct object:
- natba leli nga = I don't do it / I didn't do it
- nanba leli nga = I won't do it
The passive voice can be formed by attaching the suffix -an to the verb:
- te lelian = it was done
In the imperative, verbs are preceded simply by the 2nd person subject pronoun ko or karu "you":
- Ko leli! = Do it! (to one person)
- Karu leli! = Do it! (to two people, or politely to a group)
- Ka leli! = Do it! (plural, considered impolite and usually heard only with children)
Prohibitions are marked with ba...an:
- Koba lelian! = Don't do it!
Other particles that can occur in a verb phrase include:
- a minimizing marker ga(m), "just"
- a partitive marker te, "partly" or "at all"
- an additive marker m(u), "furthermore"
- a completive marker, also te, "already"
The direct object, if one is present, immediately follows the verb. When the object is already known, it need not be stated explicitly:
- nat gita kik = I saw you
- nat gita = I saw
Many verbs in Apma have distinct transitive and intransitive forms. (These distinctions have been lost to some extent in Suru Kavian dialect.) For example, in Suru Mwerani:
|gan "to eat"||gani "to eat something"|
|min "to drink"||-mni "to drink something"|
|rong "to hear"||rongo "to hear something"|
|solsol "to do the sewing"||-slo "to sew something"|
|lehlehvik "to do the washing"||lehvi "to wash something"|
|diptsipmik "to perform a burial"||dipmi "to bury something"|
In Suru Mwerani dialect, and to a lesser extent Suru Rabwanga, vowels have been lost from a number of verb roots, producing 'bound verbs' which begin with a pair of consonants (such as -mni and -slo above). Since clusters of consonants within a syllable are prohibited in Apma, speakers usually cite these verbs with a prefix such as mwa- attached (mwamni, mwaslo), and do not identify them as words when unprefixed.
In addition to verbs denoting actions, Apma has a large number of stative verbs that describe an item. For example, there is a verb "to be red" (meme) and a verb "to be good" (gabis). Apma uses stative verbs in many of the situations where adjectives would be used in English.
Unlike neighbouring Raga language, Apma has a copular verb, (v)i or bi. The phrase tei... meaning "it was..." (tevi... in Suru Kavian) is commonly used to focus attention on something or to set the scene.
Verbs in Apma can be linked together in a variety of serial verb constructions.
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