Quechua Lesson 4
Lesson 4 (tawa ñeqen yachay)
Nouns in Quechua.

Nouns in Quechua are treated like in English. There is one great exception, that is that nouns are conjugated when used in what we call a possessive relation.

wasi house
wasi-y* my house
wasi-yku* our excl house
wasi-nchis our incl house
wasiyki* your house
wasi-nkichis** your pl house
wasi-n his/her/its house
wasi-nku their house

*note: the forms wasi-y, wasi-yki and wasi-yku are pronounced with a little prolonged, but almost imperceptable i-y, phonetically: wasee-eeku

** note: these forms with –nchis, also in verbs are often written as –ncheh, -nchik or ncheq. The Cuzco form is spoken as –nchis. For example there is a restaurant in Cuzco called Tupananchis. This means “we will come together,” from the verb tupa-y, to meet, which makes for we (incl) tupa-na-nchis. –na is the infix that in this case points to a future event that has some urgency. So the proper translation might be: we will have to come together.

Simply “We will come together” in Quechua would be tupa-sunchis. Here it is already shown that a little morpheme completely changes the meaning. When you say goodbye in Quechua an idiomatic expression is: tupananchiskama, which translates more or less: till we will (necessarily) meet again. One complex word in Quechua here translates into a whole sentence in English!

As you may have noticed, the suffixes for the conjugation of verbs in present tense are much alike the possessive suffixes.

To compare them:

  poss. verbs
I -y -ni
We exlc -yku -niku or


We incl -nchis -nchis
you -yki -nki
You pl -ykichis -nkichis
He/she/it -n -n
They -nku -nku


  poss. verb
I wasi-y muna-ni
We excl wasi-yku muna-niku or muna-yku
We incl wasi-nchis muna-nchis
you wasi-yki muna-nki
You pl wasi-ykichis muna-nkichis
He/she/it wasi-n muna-n
They wasi-nku muna-nku

Note: the verb muna-y means to love, to like, to want.

As you can see this is very much alike. The differences are printed in bold. You have to learn this by heart. It is sometimes difficult to discern a noun form from a verb form. For instance yachanku from yachay, which has two different meanings as a verb, to know and to live, and as a noun it means knowledge or lesson, might have the meaning: they know or they live. The meaning has to be derived from the context. But, their lesson would be yachay-ni-nku.

Chay wasi-yki-chu? Literally: that house-you (question marker), is that your house?, on which the answer is: Arí, chay-qa wasi-y. yes, that (emphatic particle) house-mine (is, is understood). Or: chay-qa? Chay-qa, mana wasi-y-chu kan. That?, That (emphatic particle), not house-mine (negative marker) is.

Note: -chu can be a question marker and also it is a negative marker.

Negations in Quechua are composed as with ne …. pas in French. In Quechua the construction is mana …… -chu. For example: Llama-chu? Is it a llama? No it is not a llama: mana llama-chu. Note the emphasis! Or: Arí, Llama! Yes it is a llama (is, is understood). Where the negative marker –chu is placed, also stresses the topic of the sentence. For instance: Mana qamwan riyta munasanichu, I don’t want to go with you, also can be stated as: Mana qamwanchu riyta munasani, which then states that it is not with you that I want to go, but with someone else.

Are you from the US? Ustadus Unidus-manta hamu-sa-nkichu? (US-from come-(ing-form)-you. The answer could be: mana, noqa-qa mana Ustadus Unidus-manta hamu-sa-ni-chu, Holanda-manta hamu-sa-ni. No, I am not from the US, I come from Holland.

Note: Ustadus Unidus, US and Ustadus Unidus-manta, from the US.

The verb hamu-y means to come. Hamu-sa-ni means I am coming, US-manta is US-from.

Constructions with prepositions:
wasi-manta from the house
wasi-man to, in the direction of the house
wasi-yuq with the house (possessive)
wasi-wan with the house (instrumental)
wasi-ta to, at the house
wasi-pi in the house
wasi-pa of the house (belongs to)
wasi-paq for the house

All these prepositions can be combined with possessive forms.


Wasi-y-manta From my house
Wasi-nku-ta To, at their house
Wasi-nchis-pi In our house (incl)
Wasi-yki-man To your house (in direction of)
Qan-kuna-pa Of you (pl), yours pl.
Pay-kuna-paq For them



Note that -ta also can be the object marker of a noun. Wasi-y-ta can be to my house of my house as the object of the sentence. Haku wasi-y-ta, let’s go to my house. Munasani wasi-y-ta, I like my house.

Model sentence: Wasi-yki-man ri-sa-ni: I am going to your house. Ri-y is to go. Ri-sa-ni means that I am busy going to (-man) wasi-yki (house-you).

You could say to your wife when somewhere: wasi-nchis-man ri-sun, let’s go home, when nobody hears you. But when you say it in the open, it should be wasi-yku-man ri-sun. let’s go home. The difference is the inclusive or exclusive form for we that is used. Risun, a friendly used imperative form makes no difference for the two forms of we.

It is very important to get to the point of thinking in Quechua in a way that your brain automatically uses the word order as the Quechua language seems fit. There will be a point where it is done almost automatically. For purposes of learning, it can be useful to try to make small sentences in Quechua of everyday events. Don’t use complex constructions at first (as you are used to) but only affirmative or negative statements of no more than four or five words. Look and think like a child. When I speak Quechua, I am like a child: Rima-spa-y runa-simi-ta warma hina ka-sa-ni: (literally, speak-ing. form-I Quechua child like be-ing. form-I). About complex constructions see Lesson 8

When you relate to people ask them to speak slowly: alli-chu! alli-llan-manta rima-ychis! please, good-just-from speak-(command marker)-plural. When you would sound more kind you can use the untranslatable infix -yku, which is a sort of intensifier and mollifier: rima-yku-ychis. -yku is often used. For instance: tapuykuykimanchu? could I ask you? uses this infix: tapu-yku-yki-man-chu (ask-yku-I to you- condicional-Q marker)

The complete sentence could be: Tapu-yku-yki-man-chu? alli-chu! alli-llan-manta rima-y-chis! Rima-spa runa-simi-ta, warma hina ka-sa-ni.

Rima-spa: -spa is the infix for an independent –ing form. Translated literally: speak-ing Quechua (runa-simi (-ta is object marker), I am like a child. My experience is that this really helps people to understand that if they see you as someone who is eager to learn, they will eventually slow down and explain what they are saying in Quechua.

Runa-simi is the Quechua word for the language. Runa means man. Simi means word or mouth. Runa-simi is Quechua. Used with an object marker as in speaking the language, the word becomes runa-simi-ta, which gives a quite different sound change. I cannot stress enough to speak this aloud to get to this very important characteristic of the language and indispensable to understand it when spoken to you or by you!

Go to Quechua Lesson 5