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  5. "It's a big city."

"It's a big city."

Translation:veng tIn 'oH.

September 3, 2018



Why is there no -'e' on the end here? I'm still trying to grasp quite when the topic marker is and isn't used with the pronoun-as-copula.

I suppose that for one thing, saying "veng tIn 'oH'e'" - if it's even s grammatical sentence - would change the meaning slightly, meaning something more like "As for it [this thing], it's a big city." Is that right?


Let's try starting over again. The -'e' noun topic marker is NOT required in a "pronoun-as-copula" sentence. There is a special case where -'e' is required, but the simple use of a "pronoun-as-copula" is NOT what triggers the special case. When the pronoun is acting as BOTH a copular verb and the subject pronoun, things are pretty clear and simple:
Duj 'oH "It is a ship."
HoD jIH "I am the captain."
yaSpu'wI' chaH "They are my officers."

You can put an -'e' suffix on the objects of these sentences if you want, but it is not required. The pronouns are actually acting like the verbs in these sentences, so you are not allowed to put noun suffixes on them. It is NOT grammatical to say, ??veng tIn 'oH'e'?? - 'oH is pretending to be a verb here and CANNOT take the -'e' noun suffix.

Just for clarity and completeness, making the object noun phrase more complicated does not change any of that:
Duj tIn 'oH "It is a big ship."
tlhIngan HoD jIH "I am a Klingon captain."
yaSpu' vIra'bogh chaH "They are the officers which I command."

In all of the above examples, the pronoun is BOTH the subject and acting like a copular verb. This works great as long as we want a pronoun for the subject. But what happens if we want an explicitly stated noun as the subject. What if we want to say, "My home is a ship"? Duj 'oH already has a subject: 'oH. Where do we put the noun ("my home")? On a normal verb (including both verbs of action and verbs of quality/state) we have the option of putting EITHER a noun OR a pronoun (or neither, but never both). But in this kind of copular sentence, we MUST use the pronoun, so theoretically we cannot also use an explicitly stated noun. That's when we use this very special piece of grammar (which is really sort of an extension of another bit of grammar). You can add the subject noun phrase after the subject/verb pronoun and mark it with the suffix -'e'. Using a pronoun as the copular verb is the ONLY time you can use both a pronoun and an explicit noun. When doing this very special thing, you MUST put the -'e' suffix on the extra noun, even though normally, the -'e' suffix wouldn't allow you to do this.

Now you can have sentences like:
Duj 'oH juHwIj'e' "My home is a ship."
HoD ghaH tlhIngan'e' "A Klingon is the captain.
yaSpu' vIra'bogh chaH tlhInganpu'vam'e' "These Klingons are the officers which I command."

The -'e' is always required when using a "pronoun-as-copula" AND an explicitly stated subject noun. It is never required for a normal verb or a "pronoun-as-copula" that does not have an explicitly stated subject noun.

Does that help?


Yes, that's very helpful, thank you, jdmcowan. I think I am finally beginning to grasp the use of the -'e' suffix, but since I've been having considerable difficulty with it, I have been spending extra time on this subject to be sure I've got it down before I move on. There's no good cognate for this grammatical construction in any Earth language that I know, or at least, not that I've found yet.

I know I ask a lot of questions here; I'm just curious by nature, and very interested in languages. I really appreciate all of your help! :-)


You have to get the point that "to be" sentences are not standard sentences. They follow a formula that you simply have to use.

{noun phrase} {pronoun}

{noun phrase} {third-person pronoun} {topic phrase}'e'

Pick one of those and just plug the pieces you need. That's all there is to it.


The {'oH} is effectively the verb in an it-is sentence, and cannot take a noun suffix. Only when you need to say that something is something else (singular nouns on both sides of the {'oH}), you need the 'e' noun suffix on the noun on the right.

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