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:

listenloadingplaying

(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:

listenloadingplaying

(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:

listenloadingplaying

(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.

listenloadingplaying

(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:

listenloadingplaying

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

listenloadingplaying

(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:

listenloadingplaying

(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:

listenloadingplaying

(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

’Ashiiké yázhí nináádaa’né.

boys young pl-3-play.R
listenloadingplaying

The boys are playing again.

’Ałah ’aleehgóó deesháál nínízinísh doodago béésh nitsíkeesí daats’í bee nidoonááł ’éí doodago t’áá hooghanídi daats’í KTNN yídíiłts’iił?

meeting-to 1-go-F 3-2 want.NI-Q or computer possibly 2-watch.F or just home-at possibly KTNN 3-2-listen.F

’Ałk’idą́ą́’ ’ayóo nahałtin ńt’éé’.

long.ago very areal-rain.I past

’Áádóó háajigo dah diníyá?

and.then which.way-GO start.off 2-go.I

’Áshįįh Bii’ Tóodi níyáago dził bąąh hanáádeesh’nah.

Salt.Lake.City-at 1-go.P-GO mountain 3-on again-1-climb.R
listenloadingplaying

When I go to Salt Lake, I will climb mountains again.

’Áłtsé biba’ dooleeł ’áko shį́į́ ’índa nihił dah adidoolwoł.

first 3.for will until then only 1.with start 3-drive.F
listenloadingplaying

We’ll wait for them, only then will we start to drive away.

-ąąh

-ch’ijí

-kéé’

-naashii

-t’ah

-tah, -taa-, -ta-

Bee ’atiní ’éí doo ’ashohodoobéézhgóó bee ’azk’az.

freezer TOP extremely 3-with 3-cold.SPN

bik’ídadeediz

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

Bíla’ashdla’ii wolyéii bił dah nahaz’ą́ą́góó t’áá ’ał’ąą bizaad dahólǫ́.

3-fingers-five-NOM 3-be.called-NOM 3-with static areal-3-govern.P-toward just separate 3-language pl

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

car 1-away mud 3-into 3-go.P-GO just fail in.vain 3-1-act.P

Chidíísh bee hólǫ́ doodaii’ ni daats’í chidí nee hólǫ́?

car-Q 3-with 4-exist.NI or 2 maybe car 2-with 4-exist.NI

Chizh ła’ ’ahidíłkaał ’áko ’índa nich’į’ n’deeshłééł.

firewood some 2-chop CONJ 2-to 1-pay.F
listenloadingplaying

I’ll pay you when you chop some wood (and not before).

daooshóó’

pl-3DO-2dpl-brush/comb.it.P

didiiljeeh

3DO-1dpl-start.fire.I

Díí ’abíní dibé tóógóó neeshkał.

this morning sheep water-to 3-1-herd.Prog

Díí chizh shá ’ałk’íniishóósh.

this firewood 1-for 3-2-split.I

listenloadingplayingSpeaker: Natalie DesideriolistenloadingplayingSpeaker: Sharon Nelson

Split these pieces of wood for me.

Doo ’ííłta’go biniinaa t’áá ’ałtsojį’ t’áá shídin hazlį́į́’.

neg 1-go.to.school.P-GO 3-because every-up.to just 1-without 1-become.P
listenloadingplaying

I got left out on everything because I did not go to school.

Doo yéé shaa yánłti’go ndiséts’ą́’į́.

NEG fear 1-to 2-talk.DI-GO 2-1-hear.P

díníilkaad

3DO-1dpl-start.to.herd.them.(animals).I

ha’naa (Ib. tsé’naa)

Haa néelą́ą́’ nidá’ák’eh?

how 3-much.N 2-cornfield

haahláyéé

hadajishgizh

pl-3DO-4dpl-cut.it.out.P

hadéélbįįd

3DO-1dpl-fill.something.up.with.it.P

haidínóołchał

3DO-3-card.it.(as.in.wool).F

Háágóóshą díníyá?

where-to.Q 2-go.F

joodlą́ą́’

3DO-4-drink.it.P

k’adę́ę

K’idadeelyáá nit’éé’ t’óó daazgan, háálá doo nahałtin da.

1pl-plant.P past just 3pl-dry.SPN, because NEG 3-rain.CI NEG

Kin Łánídiísh ’éí doodago Bee’eldííldahsinildi daats’í naniná?

Flagstaff-at-Q TOP or Albuquerque-at perhaps 2-go.around.CI

lágo

listenloadingplaying

negative particle used with the optative mode

ndi --- doo

Níléígóó díní’į́į́’ shidíiniidgo ’áádóó ’áajigo déé’į́į́’.

over.there-toward 2-look.I 1-3-say.P-GO and.then that.way-toward 1-look.P
listenloadingplaying

I was told to look that way and then I looked that way.

Ńléí ’asdzą́ą́ sáníshą’ háí ’át’į́?

there woman old-Q what 3-be.N

Shimá dóó shizhé’é bił dibé dóó tł’ízí ta’nda’díígish nt’éé’.

1-mom and 1-dad 3-with sheep and goats 3-pl.shear.I past

Shimá dóó shizhé’é Yootóodi ’ółta’ ńt’éé’.

1-mother and 1-father Santa.Fe-at 3-go.to.school.NI past

Shimá sitsilí bibéésh bee hane’í bits’ą́ą́’ náádii’ą́.

1-mother 1-little.brother 3-cellphone 3-away.from 3-3-return.P

T’áadoo hooyání łį́į́’ shidáagi ch’éltáál.

suddenly horse 1-front-at 3-bolt.P
listenloadingplaying

All of a sudden the horse ran right in front of me.

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

three maybe 1-year.P-GO Fort.Sumner areal-be.called-toward 1-with start.off 3-migrate.P 3-say.NI-GO
listenloadingplaying

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

Tsékooh biniit’aají łįį’hoł sizį́į́go binísá.

canyon 3-barring.to.a.point horse 4-with 3-stand.SPN.GO 3-1-caught-up.P
listenloadingplaying

I caught up with him sitting on his horse at the canyon.

yiidą́ą́’

3DO-1dpl-eat.it.P

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

Ła’ nídeezid yę́ędą́ą́’ ’áajigo niséyá.

one month past that-way-GO 1.go.P