Serial verb

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A serial verb (or serial) (Toaq: jeotoachue) is created when two or more verbs are placed together. This process is called serialization.


Serial verbs are a powerful construct in Toaq grammar.

Any verb with a “property” or “event” slot at the end can essentially act as an auxiliary verb.

Here is a list of examples to demonstrate the sort of thing serial verbs let you express in Toaq.

Serial verb examples
deq koı can walk
sheo fıeq regret inventing
leo kuaq try expressing
guaı kaı work on writing
tua cuaı make wet
jaq chuı very early
joe suaq be skilled at singing
taq loı self- hate

Merging definitions

When joining two verbs together into a serial, their definitions are merged according to the serialization algorithm.

Verbs that are treated the same in this algorithm are said to belong to the same “serial frame”.

All of the behaviors in the table above arise from a handful of rules:

Property slot: “merge-away”
leo ___ tries to satisfy property ___
baı ___ builds ___
leo baı ___ tries to build ___
Event slot: “merge-into”
le it is probable that ___
guq ___ is underneath ___
le guq ___ is probably underneath ___

Long serials

For more than two verbs, this merging process is right-grouping:

sheo (leo kuaq)
regret (trying to express)

le (taoshao (ceo guaı))
probably (intend to (start working))


The result can be used as a verb by saying each word in falling tone:

Ma deq koı súq?
Are you able to walk?

Bujuı suaomıu jí ní da.
I barely care about that.

Sheo leo ruo huaq caq jí nháo da.
I regret trying to act more strong than them.

Only the first word is conjugated for tone, and everything else stays in falling tone.

táq loı
the self-hater

jâq de
very beautifully