To Be: Present Tense

Bot to be is perhaps the most important verb in Cumbraek and also one of the most complex. Its conjugation is irregular, formed on several different stems, and it has several tenses not used with other verbs. In addition, the present tense has a number of special forms not present in other verbs and with no direct English equivalent. These will be dealt with here.

The first and second person forms of bot are relatively straightforward and are as follows:

oov  I am
oot  you are (sg)
imm  we are
ich  you are (pl)

The third person forms are more complex. In the singular we have iw, is, ema, ais and essidh, and in the plural int and emant. The use of all these verbs is explained further below.

The Copula

The copula is the form of the verb to be which is used to join a noun or pronoun subject to an adjective or another noun that describes it. For example, in the sentences John is tall and Stephanie was a teacher, both is and was are functioning as the copula and tall and a teacher are descriptions known as the complement.

Cumbraek has two copula verbs in the 3rd singular present tense: is and iw.

Iw is used in the usual copula sentence order, with complement + iw + subject, e.g. Tewooll iw er cait The wood is darkCerdhidh iw-hi She is an artist. 

Iw may also be used at the start of the sentence, preceded by Edh, e.g. Edh iw er cait tewooll The wood is dark. This order is more common when the subject of the sentence is a pronoun, e.g. Edh iw hen He/she/it is old.

Is is used at the start of a sentence, followed by the complementent then the subject, e.g. Is hir Yowann John is tallIs deskodur Stefani Stephanie is a teacher.

The 3rd person plural form of the copula is int they are, used in exactly the same way as iw, e.g. edh int Yidhewik or Yidhewik int They are Jewish.

Note: as with all Cumbraek verbs, the 3rd person singular is used with all noun subjects, singular or plural.

The copula is made negative by placing ned before the first element of the sentence, whether it is the predicate or iw, e.g. ned hir iw Yowann John is not tallNed int Yidhewik They are not Jewish.


Locative Ema

Beside the copula, which is used to describe what a thing is, Cumbraek has a locative verb which is mainly used to describe where a thing is. The forms for the locative verb are as follows:

edh oov  I am
edh oot  you are (sg.)
ema  he/she/it is or there is
edh imm we are
edh ich  you are (pl.)
emant  they are

Note that in the first and second persons they are identical to the copula, but here they are always preceded by the particle edh. The 3rd person plural emant is only used when the subject is the pronoun ‘they’.

The locative verb is specifically used whenever:

  1. A noun or pronoun subject is described with a prepositional phrase (e.g. Ema ti war er vre There is a house on the hillIn er skol edh oov I am in the school).
  2. In the possessive idiom, translating English have (e.g. Ema cath geniv I have a cat).
  3. In the progressive idiom, translating English is …ing (e.g. Ema’r gur in cerdhet cuhit er stret The man is walking along the street).
  4. In interrogatives with cu(d) where  (e.g. Cud edh oot? Where are you?, Cud ema’r clavdy? Where is the hospital?).
  5. Meaning there is/there are with an indefinite subject (e.g. Ema lios pobul eman There are many people hereEma gur a’th gar There is a man who loves you).

Ema is not permitted to occur with other verbal particles and is replaced by ais in the following circumstances:

ned ais  there is not
od ais  if there is
a ais  is there?

Relative Essidh

Besides the locative verb and the copula, Cumbraek also has a special relative form of the verb to beessidh meaning which is, who is, that is. It replaces both iw and ema when they would normally follow a relative pronoun, e.g. Er gur essidh de dat  The man who is your fatherEr cathot essidh in er ti The cats which are in the house.

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