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Negative verb

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Title: Negative verb  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Finnish profanity, Finnish verb conjugation, Verb types, Akkala Sami language, Komi grammar
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Negative verb

A negative verb or negation verb is a type of auxiliary that is used to form the negative of a main verb. The main verb itself has no personal endings, while the negative verb takes the inflection. The English auxiliary don't/doesn't performs a similar function by acting as a negative verb that indicates whether one or multiple individuals are involved while the verb referring to the negated activity remains uninflected, e.g. "he cares"/"we care" versus "he doesn't care"/"we don't care."


  • English 1
  • Uralic languages 2
    • Finnish 2.1
    • Estonian 2.2
    • Inari Sami 2.3
    • Northern Sami 2.4
    • Hungarian 2.5


In English, ordinary verbs take the auxiliary do when negated by not.
Tense Affirmative Negative
With a negative verb With a negative adverb
Nonpast I go there
he goes there
I don't go there
he doesn't go there
I never go there
he never goes there
Past I went there
he went there
I didn't go there
he didn't go there
I never went there
he never went there

Uralic languages

The negative verb is typical of the Uralic languages. Uralic languages inflect by person, thus one word, the negative verb corresponds to e.g. "I don't" (Finnish en) or "doesn't" (ei).


The negative verb is conjugated in moods and personal forms in Finnish. In the present tense, the form of the main verb is just the stem of the present form without a personal ending, e.g. lähdenen lähde ("I leave" – "I do not leave"), menisitet menisi ("you would go" – "you would not go"), syöneeei syöne ("he/she may eat" – "he/she may not eat"), ottakaammeälkäämme ottako ("let's take" – "let's not take"). In the imperfect tense, the form of the main verb is the past participle, e.g. otinen ottanut ("I took" – "I did not take"), otimmeemme ottaneet ("we took" – "we did not take").

Indicative, conditional, and potential
Person Singular Plural
1. en emme
2. et ette
3. ei eivät
Person Singular Plural
1. - älkäämme
2. älä älkää
3. älköön älkööt


In Estonian, the negative verb is evident only in the imperative mood.

Indicative, conditional, and oblique
Person Singular Plural
1. ei ei
2. ei ei
3. ei ei
Person Singular Plural
1. - ärgem; ärme
2. ära ärge
3. ärgu ärgu

Inari Sami

The negative verb is conjugated in moods and personal forms in Inari Sami:

Indicative, conditional, and potential mood
Person Singular Dual Plural
1. jie´m eän ep
2. jie´h eppee eppeđ
3. ij eä´vá
Person Singular Dual Plural
1. eällum eäl´loon eällup
2. ele ellee elleđ
3. eä´lus eällus eällus

Northern Sami

The negative verb is conjugated in moods and personal forms in Northern Sami.

Indicative, conditional, and potential mood
Person Singular Dual Plural
1. in ean eat
2. it eahppi ehpet
3. ii eaba eai
Person Singular Dual Plural
1. allon allu allot
2. ale alli allet
3. allos alloska alloset


Hungarian has lost most evidence of a negative verb, but the negation particle nem becomes ne before verbs in the jussive/imperative (also sometimes called the conditional mood, or J-mood).

Furthermore, the 3rd person present indicative of the copular verb (lenni) has unique negative forms nincs(en) and nincsenek as opposed to nem van and nem vannak, but only when the particle and verb would occur adjacently. In all other instances the copular verb acts regularly. These forms are also unique in that they have an existential role "there is (not)" and "there are (not)". In the present indicative 3rd person, copular verbs are not used; rather the absence of a verb (with or without a negation particle) implies the copula.

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