Grammar overview

From The Toaq Wiki

This page offers a point-by-point overview of Toaq's grammar. It can be used as a lightweight learning material, a cheat sheet, or a sort of guided tour through the language.

Before we start

  • Make sure you've read about the phonology first.
  • Keep Toadua handy to look up words.
  • If you have any questions or suggestions, tell Laqme / ly2n on Discord.

Sentence structure

Toaq word order is "verb, subject, object".

Verbs are in the falling tone falling tone. Pronouns are in the rising tone rising tone.

Guaı jí.
I work.

Dua jí hóq.
I know it.

Verbs can be preceded by tense, aspect, and polarity (negation) words.

Bu suao hóq.
It's not important.

Pu guaı jí.
I was about to work.


You can start a subclause by saying certain particles in the glottal tone glottal tone. There's ꝡä "that", "whether", tïo "to what degree" and more.

Dua jí, ꝡä guaı súq.
I know that you work.

Bu dua jí, mä meo súq.
I don't know whether you're sad.

Pu dua jí, tïo foı súq.
I knew how bored you were.

You can also use these particles in the falling tone falling tone in the main clause. Ꝡa doesn't change the meaning, but ma and tıo are how you ask questions.

Ꝡa guaı jí.
I work.

Ma meo súq?
Are you sad? (Whether you're sad?)

Tıo foı súq?
How bored are you?

Verbs and determiners

In Toaq, nouns and verbs and adjectives are all the same part of speech, called verbs.

Kato jí.
I am-a-cat.

Jara jí.
I run.

Nuı jí.
I am-small.

We can make noun phrases by combining a determiner (particle in rising tone) with a verb. Determiners are words like: the, a, each, some…

sá kato
some that are-cats, i.e. some cat(s)

tú jara
each that runs, i.e. each runner

báq nuı
kind that is-small, i.e. small things (in general)

This always binds a "variable" that can be accessed by repeating the verb itself in the rising tone rising tone.

Dua tú poq, ꝡä suao póq.
Each person knows that they are important.

Saying "the"

You can put a verb in rising tone even when there was not a "binding" earlier in the sentence. This acts like saying "the" in English. The "binding" lives in the shared context or knowledge of the speaker and the listener.

Luaı póq.
The person is funny.

The determiner means "the/that", too, but explicitly means we're referring to something mentioned earlier.

Luaı hú poq.
That person (you or I mentioned) is funny.

The determiner means "the/this/that" when we're referring to something definite but not mentioned earlier.

Luaı ké poq.
(There's) this person (who) is funny.

and raı

We can ask questions using the determiner , which means "which?"

Chum chuq súq hí haq?
Which food are you eating?

The verb raı means "to be anything". To say "something, everything, what", use sá raı, tú raı, hí raı.

Chum chuq súq hí raı?
What are you eating? (Which anything are you eating?)

Gı tú raı.
Everything is good.

Names and quotes

To refer to words, use shú word or many words teo.

Cho jí shú ‹soaq›.
I like the-word "garden."

Kúq jí mó « foı jí » teo.
I say the-words "I'm bored" (end).

To refer to people and things by their name, use word or mímo many words teo.

Pu geq jí mí Sara.
I met Sara.

Pu noaq jí mímo Ké Nuru Bao teo.
I read The White Snake.


To make an adverb out of a verb, say it in the rising-falling tone hiatus tone and put it at the end.

Taocıa hóq.
It's unintentional.

Dem jí cíoq.
I press the button.

Dem jí cíoq tâocıa.
I press the button unintentionally.

This means: I press the button, and me pressing the button is unintentional.

If the verb can't describe an event, the adverb says something about the subject instead:

Dem jí cíoq fôı.
I press the button boredly.

Events can't be bored, so this means: I press the button, and I'm bored while doing so.


If a verb is transitive, its adverb form (the hiatus tone form) takes an object. This acts just like a preposition:

Nıe hóq kúa.
It's inside the room.

Dem jí cíoq nîe kúa.
I press the button inside the room.

I press the button, and me pressing the button happens inside the room.

And again, if the verb can't describe an event, the preposition phrase says something about the subject.

Sı jí kíqtoq.
I focus on the screen.

Dem jí cíoq sî kíqtoq.
I press the button focusing-on the screen.

Events can't focus on things, so this means: I press the button, and I'm focusing on the screen while doing so.

Speech acts

Particle Meaning
da statement
explanatory statement
móq question
môq rhetorical question
nha promise
ba wish, command
ka "hereby..."
doa giving permission
ꝡo warning

Sentences can be statements, questions, promises, warnings, commands…

A Toaq sentence can end with a speech act particle to indicate which it is.

Guaı jí nha.
I work [I promise]. / I'll work.

Sea súq doa.
You rest [I permit it]. / Feel free to rest.

If there's no such particle at the end of a sentence, the rule is:

  • If there are any question words (ma or tıo or ) in the main clause, it's a question (móq).
  • Otherwise, it's a statement (da).

"To" and serial verbs

To make to-clauses, like "to speak Toaq" or "to create art", use and .

Zudeq jí Tóaqzu.
I speak Toaq.

Chıe jí, lä zudeq já Tóaqzu.
I learn to speak Toaq.

This is another subclause-starting word like ꝡä, meaning to.

There isn't really an English equivalent of . You can think of it as a "hole" — it corresponds to the lack of a subject in English to-clauses. Instead of omitting the subject, in Toaq you say .

Fıeq nháo báq lea.
She creates art.

Taoshao nháo, lä fıeq já báq lea.
She intends to create art.

We can actually make serial verbs, like "learn to speak" or "intend to create", to say the same things without or .

V₁ S, lä V₂ já O
V₁ V₂ S O

Chıe zudeq jí Tóaqzu.
I learn-to-speak Toaq.

Taoshao fıeq nháo báq lea.
She intends-to-create art.

Another serial verb pattern is as follows:

V₁ S₁, ꝡä V₂ S₂ O
V₁ V₂ S₁ S₂ O

Shoe jí, ꝡä chuq súq báq keıke.
Shoe chuq jí súq báq keıke.

I allow you to eat cake.

See property and serial verb for more information.