Introduction to Conjunctions

This lexicon illustrates various conjunctions, words like dóó (and), doodaii (or), ndi (but), háálá (because), and others. Conjunctions combine two or more sentences or phrases into a single sentence or phrase. Each conjunction has its own meaning.

This lexicon is mainly focused on coordination, but it includes other expressions that can connect two sentences (like yę́ędą́ą́’). It is sometimes difficult to distinguish conjunctions from adverbs, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish coordination from subordination.

Sometimes adverbs appear with conjunctions, and they influence the meaning of the conjunction.

Coordination is a kind of syntactic structure that allows two similar constituents to act as one. For example, Joe and Louise are conjoined in the sentence below:

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(1)
Joe dóó Louise hataał.
Joe and Louise 3-sing.CI
Joe and Louise are singing.

The verb hataał is intransitive, meaning that it can have only one argument:

(2)
Joe hataał.
Joe 3-sing.CI
Joe is singing.
(3)
*Joe Louise hataał.
Joe Louise 3-sing.CI
Joe Louise is singing.

Example (3) is only grammatical if Joe Louise is the name of a particular person. If we take the two names to refer to two different people, the sentence does not make sense because the verb is intransitive. Coordination, used in (1), allows two or more phrases to act as one.

In Navajo, more than two phrases can be conjoined, but the verb will need to have a plural marker in it when three or more actors are involved in the event being described:

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(4)
Joe dóó Louise dóó Kii dahataał.
Joe and Louise and Kii pl-3-sing.CI
Joe, Louise, and Kii are singing.

The examples above include conjunctions of noun phrases. Other phrases can be conjoined in the same way. Here are examples with postpositional enclitic phrases:

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(5)
Tsé’áándę́ę́’ dóó tsédáajį’ ninish’na’.
cave-from and cliff-to 1-crawl.P
I crawled out of the cave and to the edge of the cliff.

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(6)
Na’ná’á biyaa góne’ dóó báhátis ’adiłt’oh.
bridge 3-under below and 3-across 3-3-shoot.P
S/he shot them (e.g., arrows) over the bridge and under it.

Sentences can also be coordinated, and several different conjunctions can be used:

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(7)
Kin Łánídi naashnish háálá ’áadi shaghan.
Flagstaff 1-work.I because there 1-live.NI
I work in Flagstaff because I live there.

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(8)
Kin bighą́ą́’dę́ę́’ hadah ’adzííłhaal ndi t’áadoo ’ádadénih da.
house 3-to-from down 1-tumble.P but NEG RFLX-1-hurt.P NEG
I tumbled off the housetop but I didn’t get hurt.

The table below shows the expressions in this lexicon, except that the complementizer -go is listed in the Adverbs lexicon [link].

Navajo English Is the expression a coordinating conjunction? categories that can be conjoined
dóó ‘and’/‘and then’ yes clause, NP, PP, EP
’áádóó ‘and then’ yes clause
’áko ‘so, so that, so then’ yes clause
’áko ’índa ‘when, then’ yes clause
’áko ndi ‘even so, even then’ yes clause
’áko shį́į́ ‘then maybe/ then probably’ yes clause
’áko shį́į́ ’índa ‘then only’ yes clause
doodago ‘or’ yes clause, NP, PP, EP?
doodaii’ ‘or’ yes clause, NP, PP, EP?
-go no clause, NP
háálá ‘for, because’ yes clause
-ii’ ‘and, and thereupon’ yes clause
’índa ‘and only then’ no clause
léi’ ‘because’, ‘inasmuch as’ or ‘in view of the fact that’ yes clause
ndi ‘but’ yes clause
’azhą́…ndi ‘even though, despite the fact that, notwithstanding’ yes (or else ’azhą́ is an adverb and ndi is a conjunction) clause
ńt’éé’ past maybe clause
yę́ędą́ą́’ past no clause
NP
noun phrase
PP
postpositional phrase
EP
postpositional enclitic phrase

Subordination is a different way that two sentences can be combined into one. The enclitic -go attached to the first sentence subordinates it to the second:

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(9)
Shilééchąą’í bił na’nishkaadgo jooł bá ’abíńjíshhałgo yikéé’ náádiilwo’.
1-dog 3-with 1-herd.CI ball 3-for 3-1-bat.R-GO 3-after 3-run.R
When I’m out herding with my dog I bat fly balls for him and he chases them.

The first clause modifies the second by describing its reference time. A range of interpretations for -go is possible. In the following example, the -go clause is understood as describing the cause for the main clause:

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(10)
’Ádihodideesht’ih sha’shin nisingo t’áadoo ’atah haasdzíi’ da.
Joe dóó Louise dóó Kii dahataał.
I didn’t say anything because I thought I might get myself into trouble.

Examples of clauses subordinated using -go can be found in the Adverbs lexicon [link].

Some observations

Our understanding is that -go is a complementizer, sometimes called subordinating conjunction in traditional grammar (we follow Schauber 1975 [link] in concluding this).

When clauses are coordinated, a conjunction appears in place of -go. Ńt’éé’ can also take the place of -go. We take it that it can be either a conjunction or a complementizer. (Occasionally, it can appear along with -go, suggesting that it could be an adverb as well!)

Some of the expressions in this lexicon can only appear when -go appears on the first clause. These expressions are likely to be adverbs.

Concerning ’azhą́…ndi, we have already concluded that ndi is a conjunction. We could analyze ’azhą́ as an adverb, or we could consider ’azhą́…ndi to be a two-part conjunction, similar to either…or.

An example search has returned 50 entries

’Aghaa’ hooghan góne’ shijool.

wool house inside 3-lie.NCM.SPN

’Ashkii yázhí ’ayóo hwe’ádílááh.

little boy very 3-mischief
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The little boy is very mischievous.

’Ałk’idą́ą́’ Naayéé’ Neizghání ha’a’aahjigo ’atsiniltł’ish bił dah yizdéél jiní.

long.ago Monster Slayer east-to lightning 3-with up 3-move.SFO.P 4-say

’Ííyą́ą́dóó bik’ijį’ tsinyaagi nétį́į́ dóó ’iiłhaazh.

1-eat.P and 3-after tree-under-at.spec 1-lie.down.P and 1-sleep.P
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I ate and afterwards I lay down under the tree and slept.

-k’i

Béésh ’áłts’ózí bee ’atsidí bee ’aháníłne’.

wire hammer 3-with 3-1-beat.P
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I beat the wire in two with a hammer.

bik’ídadidiidis

pl-3DO-1dpl-wrap.it.around.it.F

Chidí bąąh dah sitání bąąh dah shishtįįh ńt’éé’ ’ił adaagizí doo ’éí da lá.

car license plate 3-1-put. I SSO past Sup-with screw neg that neg Disc.
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I started to put the license plate on my car when I found out I had the wrong kind of nut and bolt (or screws).

Chidí bik’ee heesh’ááł.

car 3-tire 3-1-move.SRO.Prog

Chidí nahideeshnih ndi shibéeso ’ádin.

car 3-1-buy.F but 1-money 3-none.NI

Chidí sits’ą́ą́’ hashtł’ish yiih yilwodgo t’áá ch’į́į́góó ch’ééh ’ííł’įįd.

car 1-from mud 3-into 3-go.P-GO failure in.vain 1-act.P

deidíníłkaad

pl-3DO-3dpl-start.to.herd.them.(animals).I

deiilyį́į́’

pl-3DO-1dpl-melt.it.(snow).P

didadoołjéé’

pl-3DO-2dpl-start.fire.P

Doo hanii ni ’ałdó’ nilį́į́’ bik’i dah ’íníił da.

NEG contrary 2 also 2-horse 3-on up saddle 3-2-put.PlO.I NEG

Díí séí dóó tsé yázhí ’ałtahígíí łeezh bikáa’gi naasaas ’áko shį́į́ doo hashtł’ish da doołeeł.

this sand and stone little mixed.together-NOM dirt 3-on-at 3-1-sprinkle.Prog then maybe NEG mud NEG future

Haa’í lá neezgai?

where Q 3-hurt.N

Haa’íshą’ neezgai?

where-Q 3-hurt.N

Hak’az ’ayóo bich’į’ sidziil.

cold really 3-towards 1-strength

Hastiin dóó ’at’ééd ha’át’íí ’áyiilaa?

man and girl what 3-3-make.P
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What did the man and the girl make?

Hastóíí dóó sáanii k’inááda’didlé.

3-men and 3-women planting.again.PL.R
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The men and women are planting again.

Hádą́ą́’sh Mary ’ólta’dę́ę́’ nádzá?

when-past-Q Mary school-from 3-return.P

Háidíígíísh neidiyoołnih nínízin?

which.one-ÍGÍÍ-Q 3-3-buy.F 2-think.NI

Kingóó ’anááda’iisdee’.

town-to again-pl-3-go.R
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Everyone went to town again.

Mary ha’át’íí lá yinízin?

Mary what Q 3-3-want.NI

Mósí dóó łeechą́ą́’ii’ baniłts’ood’ii’, bił hózhǫ́.

cat dog 3-1-feed.P-and 3-with 3-happy.NI

Mósí yázhí bimá yits’ą́ą́’ yóó’ííyá.

kitten 2-mother 3-from away-3-go.P

Na’azhǫǫshgi díkwíí shį́į́ shaa woobįįh?

hoop.and.pole.game-at how.much 1-to pass-win.I
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How much will I lose at the hoop and pole game?

Na’nízhoozhígóósh díníyá?

Gallup-to-Q 2-go.SP

Nichidí háadish nííníłbą́ą́z?

2-car where-at-Q 3-2-park.P

Nidlóóhísh doodaii’ doo daats’í nidlóoh da?

2-cold.I-Q or neg perhaps 2-cold.I neg

Nimá sání bich’į́’ ch’iyáán ła’ dijááh.

2-grandmother 2-to food some start-3-2.take.F.PlO2

Ronísh saad neiiłkaah?

Ron-Q word 3-3-investigate.I

Shá bíighah tsiyaa sédáago, shinááł nida’jiłkǫ́ǫ́’.

sun proportionate tree-under 1-sit.SPN-GO 1-watch.CI pl-4-swim.P

Shi’dizhchį́į́ yęędą́ą́’ ’éí tsinaabąąs dahólǫ́ nt’éé.

1-pass-born.P past TOP wagon 3-with pl-3-drive.I pl-be.NI past
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Wagons were around during the time I was born.

Shibéézh bik’í’óshch’iid le’ ’éé’ bitahgi yóó’ ’eelts’id.

1-knife 1-find.it.O clothes 3-among 3-move.P

Shicheii bighangóó yishááł.

1-grandfather house-toward 1-go.Prog

Shikee’ ’ániidígo biniinaa shikee’ bąąh tó’diisool.

1-shoe recently because 1-foot 3-on 3-blister.form.P
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Because my shoes are new, they made a water blister on my foot.

Shį́į́hgo, doo haigo sin hadidii’ááł da.

summer-GO, NEG winter-GO song start-2.sing.F NEG

shéłbéézh

3DO-1-boil.it.P

Sitsóí ’ólta’góó dah diigháahgo ła’ béeso baa yish’ááh.

1-grandchild school-toward up 3-start.to.go.I-GO some money 3-to 3-1-give.SRO.U

Táá’ daats’í shinááhaigo Hwéeldi hoolyéégóó sh dah ’adiiná níigo halne’ łeh shicheii.

three maybe 1-year.P-GO Fort.Sumner-at areal-be.called-toward 1-with start.off 3-migrate.P 3-say.NI-GO 4-tell. usually 1-grandfather

As my grandfather tells it, he was about three years old when he started off with the family on the move to Fort Sumner.

Tó tsíídkáá’ didíkaah.

water charcoal-on start-3-2-put.I.OC

Yadiizíní bigháníshgéésh.

can 3-through-1-cut.open.I

yidiłhį́į́h

3DO-3-melt.it.I

yiłbéézh

3DO-3-boil.it.I

Yooch’ííd wolyéii doo bił bééhózin da.

lie 3-be.called.NI NEG 3-with 3-about.be.known.CI NEG
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He is incapable of lying, he does not know what it means to lie.

Ła’ damóo yę́ędą́ą́’ dah ’iyétł’ónée, k’ad ’ałníí’góó ’eeshtł’óół.

one Sunday past up 3-1-set.P-past now middle-toward 1-weave.Prog

Łah shicheii nahałáago bá ’asmaz ńt’éé’.

once 1-grandpa 3-perform.ceremony.CI-GO 3-for 3-1-twirl.CI past

Łį́į́ b níníłjooł.

Horse for it T 2-NCM.I

Give the horse some hay.