Upper Sorbian Grammar

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The Ł-participe

Some Upper Sorbian compound tenses and moods make use of a special verb form called Ł-participe.


The Ł-participe is formed using the infinitive stem of a verb by adding to it the endings shown below. The Ł-participe agrees in number and gender with the subject of a sentence.


Example: pisać pisa impf. to write

non-vir.pisali / pisałe

Non-virile plural

As can be seen from the above tables, the non-virile plural form has two variants. The variant with the -li ending (eg. pisali) coincides with the virile plural form and is neutral in terms of style. Nowadays it is the dominant form in both written literary and colloquial spoken langage. The variant with the -łe ending (ex. pisałe) is stylistically marked as archaic. Currently it is rarily used although it frequently occurs in older written texts.


The Ł-participe is used to make compound past, past perfect and conditional forms.


compound past
sym pisał I wrote / I have written (masc.)
je pisała she wrote / she has written
sće pisali you wrote / you have written (vir. and non-vir. plur.)

past perfect
běch pisał I had been writting (masc.)
bě pisała she had been writting
běšće pisali you had been writting (vir. and non-vir. plur.)

bych pisał I would write (masc.)
by pisała she would write
bysće pisali you would write (vir. and non-vir. plur.)

a || e alteration

In verbs with infinitive stems ending in -e- preceeded by a soft consonant (ex. widźeć to see), the stem-final -e- originates from an earlier -a- that was altered according to a phonetic rule that states that any -a- between two soft consonants turns into -e-. As the infinitive ending is a soft consonant the rule applies to the infinitive form of a verb. But when we replace the infinitive ending with , -ła, -ło or -łe to form a Ł-participe, the a > e change does not take place as ł is a hard consonant. Then again, if we use the plural -li edning the alteration takes place because l is a soft consonant.

Example: widźeć widźi impf. to see

non-vir.widźeli / widźałe

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