Quechua Lesson 8

Lesson 8 (pusaq ñiqin yachay)


Complex sentences

As we grew up, more and more complex became the language we used. Till now in this course very little complex sentences have been used. But also in Quecha complex sentences may be built.

In this lesson I will cover the construction: if (when) ………then, ..... in different forms.

In Quechua the basic construction depends on the following traits:

  1. the subjects of both parts of the complex sentence.
  2. the cause-effect relation, or concurrence in time.

The primary forms are –pti, -spa and –stin.

I. -pti is used when the subject is different and there is a cause-effect relation. If (when) you want, I will come back here: munaptiyki, kutimusaq. Kuti-y is to come back and –mu gives the meaning “to here”. The form –pti is always used with a personal suffix. Kuti-mu-pti-nku ri-saq, means: I will go when they come back here. The form with –pti comes first in the sentence. So, there is the condition up front and the consequence or effect of the condition behind. I earlier used as a model sentence: utkayta rimaptiyki, mana hapiyta yachanichu, means: When you speak fast, I cannot understand. So –pti can also be understood as an –ing form: you “speaking” fast, et cetera.

Another example: rimaptiyku runasimita, Cuscopi runakuna kusikunku, people in Cusco are glad when we speak Quechua, (litt. Speak-ing-we(excl), Cusco-in men glad-self-they).

Waqa-sa-pti-n llaki-ku-rqa-ni, I became sad, when she/he was weeping. Waqa-y means to weep and waqe is a tear. Llaki-ku-y means to be sad. –ku, meaning self, making the verb reflexive. 

Wañu-pti-y, pitaq waqanqa? Who will weep when I die? Wañu-y is to die and waqa-y is to weep. (So litt. die-ing-I, who weep-future form-he?)


II. -spa is used when the subject of both sentences is the same. Because of that a personal suffix is optional. One of the sentences already indicates the subject.  Rimaspa(y) runasimita kusikuni: I am glad when I speak Quechua. Or: Runasimita yachaspa(yki), imatataq ruwanki? , what will you do (for a living) when you know Quechua? Note that ruwanki is the present tense, but also the future tense.


III. -stin expresses the concurrence in time of the actions in both sentences expressed, without any cause-effect relation. For instance: puristin takisani, I am walking while singing. With –stin no personal suffix is used. Because of the simultaneousness, the infix –sa, the ing form, is often used. Waqastin mikusarqaniku, while weeping we were eating.


IV. Of these forms also exist a more complex form explicitly expressing a condition for the cause-effect relation: In case you want, I will do (it): qam munapti-yki-qa, ruwasaq.     -qa, giving the meaning of the condition. Runasimita yachakusqa tukuspaqa, imatataq ruwasaq, What will I do, when I have learned Quechua? Tuku-y means to have ended, so when something is done. (lit. Quechua learned done-ing, what-and do-will-I).


V. Combined with –m or –mi, the form gets the meaning of because: ni-pti-n-mi, ruwasaq, because he/she said (it), I will do it. Ni-y is to say. Or: Ni-spa-m ruwa-nqa, because he says so, he will do it. Ni-pti-n-mi mana-chu ruwa-nki-man?, would you not do it, because he says (it)? (lit. say-ing form-he, not (rhetorical) do-you-would?


VI. Combined with –pas, the form gets the meaning of although: ni-pti-y-pas, mana ruwa-nki-chu, although I say (it), you will not do (it), or ni-spa-pas, ruwa-nqa, although he says it, he will do it.


There are some other forms to build complex sentences:


VII. The form –na-personal suffix-kama has the same meaning as –stin, so at the same time. Taki-ku-saq sama-na-n-kama I will sing while he is resting.


VII. This form can also mean: until. Taki-ku-sa-n-kama tia-ku-saq, means: until he sings, I will sit here.


VIII. The form –na-personal suffix-rayku means to express the purpose. This is expressed with verbs that have motion incorporated in itself: ashka yacha-ku-na-n-rayku Lima-ta ri-rqa, to learn much, he went to Lima.

Hamu-ra-ni willa-wa-na-yki-rayku: I have come so you can inform me. Willay is to inform –wa to me, lit: come-did-I inform-to me-(na=untranslatable)you-because.


IX. With other verbs the form to express the purpose is: –na-persnal suffix-paq.

Rima-sa-nku taki-na-nku-paq: they are talking (about) what they will sing.

Taki-sa-ni kawsa-na-y-paq: I sing to live. (I sing so I have a living). I am a singer.

Yacha-ku-sa-ni rima-na-y-paq runa-simi-ta: I am studying so (with the purpose) I will be able to speak Quechua.

Llamkasani yachanaykipaq runasimita: I am working so that you can learn Quechua.

Mana llamkasanichu samanaykipaq punchawnintin: I do not work so you can be lazy (to rest) all day long.

Asisani kusikunaykipaq: I am laughing so that you will be glad.


With these forms one can build most complex sentences.


Ending (simikuna tukunaypaq)

This is my version of a simplified course in Quechua. I stated before that this course is by no means complete, but with the accompanying exercises, I believe that in one month and one hour a day, you should get on your feet in this language. Thereafter it is up to you to either take classes or buy some books.

This course will be updated and improved in time. So you might visit my site again to see where improvements are made.

To end I will give a list of some useful books, along with my commentary.


Introduction to Quechua, Language of the Andes, by Judith Noble and Jaime Lacasa; Passport Books, Lincolnwood (Illinois), 1999.

Comment: This is the first book that I got to learn Quechua. The section on grammar is insufficient, but the model sentences are, when learned by heart, for a beginner a great help. I recorded this book into my iPod to listen to it whenever I could and wherever I was. The book comes with 1 cassette that is useful for proper pronunciation. My critique afterwards is that it contains much "spanquech". It mixes Spanish and Quechua in a way that is not always helpful for learning the language proper. (The book is written in 5-vowel)


Quechua, manual de enseñanza, Clodoaldo Soto Ruiz, 3era ed. Lima IEP, 2006. (Lengua y Sociedad 4).

Comment: The book is in Spanish and comes with 2 MP3 discs of in total about 10 hours of spoken texts and exercises. The grammar is presented rather casual. The book is mainly practical. My critique is also that the spoken texts and exercises are spoken too fast for a beginner. The rather poor sound quality does not help either. The big advantage of this book are its endless exercises, boring in the beginning, very rewarding in the end! (The book is written in 3-vowel)

PS: the problem of the CD's that the language is spoken to fast can be cured by downloading from the internet an audiobook maker program. with such a program one may listen to the exercises (on the same pitch) but they are played slower.

Rimaykullayki. Unterrichtsmaterialien zum Quechua Ayacuchano, Sabine Dedenback-Salazar Sáenz. Utta von Gleich, Roswith Hartmann, Peter Masson, Clodoaldo Soto Ruiz, Dietrich Reimer Verlag Berlin, 4e Aflage 2002.

Comment: This book is in German. It is essentially the same as the book of Ruiz mentioned before, but with one big and important exception: It is very structured and has some exercises in it. To learn the language properly if you want the material in a structured way, this is the book. An English translation would be very welcome! (The book is written in 5-vowel). Compared with the Manual de Enseñanza, the latter is the better book because of the exercises and the first is the better book because of the explanation of the grammar.  


Curso de Quechua, 40 lecciones, Mario Mejía Huamán, Universidad Ricardo Palma, Lima 2007, 2e.ed.

Commentary: This book is in Spanish and comes with a CD. Mixed parts of grammar and exercises. Good perhaps for beginners, but in the end just too little for full understanding. (The book is written 5-vowel)


Lonely Planet, Quechua Phrasebook, the language of the Andes, Serafin. M. Coronel-Molina, Lonely Planet Publications, Footscray Victoria 3011, Australia, 2002

Commentary: Small, handy phrasebook with some grammar notes and lots of model sentences that often are not translated literally. This book is for travelling, not for study. All Quechua sentences are phonetically transcribed, which I find very annoying. If you cannot obtain the dictionary mentioned next, you could make use of this book as a handy dictionary as well. But do not expect to learn the language proper from this book.

In a new edition of this book the 3-vowel method of writing Quechua is used.


Diccionario Trilingüe Quechua de Cusco, Esteban Hornberger S, Nancy H. Hornberger, Centro Bartolomé de Las Casas, CBC, Cusco, 2008.

Commentary: Dictionary Quechua > English and Spanish, English > Quechua and Spanish > Quechua. Very handy book. Not complete, but good enough for the mentioned first level and far beyond. But the book has a lousy binding! This book uses also the 3 vowel method of writing Quechua. (The book is written 3-vowel)

Interesting Links:

The site www.quechua.org.uk.co is edited by the English linguist Paul Haggarty and holds very interesting information on the language, the debate on 3- or 5-vowel writing and lots of other Quechua related topics. 


Tukuspa (ending)

Everybody has his/her own approach to learning a language. My approach is that when the material is offered in a highly structured way, like in Rimaykullayki, my results improve. But for learning to talk and for pronunciation the Introduction to Quechua is good enough to begin with and later on Quechua manual de Enseñanza is indispensable for practice.

Note: all books that I mentioned put little effort in proper pronunciation. It is taken for granted that once told this is enough. Westerners are not used to the Quechua way of pronunciation, i.e. that one word through the glued infixes and suffixes is pronounced differently, so that it is very easy, unless you are in class, to miss that point altogether.


Although I did my very best to put together a faultless text, by no means I will state that there will be no flaws, errors or/and omissions. I you feel that something is wrong or should be added or changed, please mail me. I will not take offence. It can only lead to improvement.

This is the end of this course.