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

’Adą́ą́dą́ą́’ ná’iiyéláá’ ńt’éé’ ńdasésdo.

Yesterday SUP-1-pick.P past 1-sore.SP
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I picked pinyon yesterday and I got sore (physically) as a result.

’ałdó’

’ałk’idą́ą́’

’ałk’idídą́ą́’

’Ałní’ní’ą́ągo tó háálínídi ’ahéédidiit’ash.

noon-GO spring-at refl-1du-meet.F

’Óshą́ą́’ laanaa’ dichin shi’niiłxį́.

1-eat.O wish hunger 1-3-kill.I

-dóó

-jí

-nah

-ni

-tah, -taa-, -ta-

-zánághah

dadíníilkaad

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

dajííshóó’

pl-3DO-4dpl-brush/comb.it.P

daołhį́į́h

pl-3DO-2dpl-melt.it.(snow).I

Dibé nee hólǫ́, ya’?

sheep 2-with 3-exist.NI Q

diilyį́į́h

3DO-1dpl-melt.it.I

Díí mósí yázhí hooghangóó nááshtééł.

this cat little home-towards 3-1-carry.Prog

Díkwíísh nibeegashii?

how.many-Q 2-cow

Díkwíísh ninááhai?

how.many-Q 2-winter.NI

Doo hazhó’ó ’adiist’a’ da léi’ t’óó shaa daadloh.

NEG good reflex-1.hear.NI NEG since just me.at pl.3.laugh.I
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They really laughed at me since I can hardly hear.

Doo nídahiyoołnaah da.

neg pl-3-2dpl-resuscitate.I neg

Gohwééh t’áá bizhání ’éí doodaii’ ’abe’ bgo daats’í nínízin?

coffee only TOP or milk 3-with-GO perhaps 3-2-want.NI

hadeiilgéésh

pl-3DO-1dpl-cut.it.out.I

haniilchaad

3DO-1dpl-card.it.(as.in.wool).I

Hái da shą’ tsinaa’eeł ’ájiilaa lá?

who DA Q boat 3-4-make.P DISC

Háí lá bił nanilnish?

who Q 3-with 2-work.I

Háágóósh díníyá?

where-to-Q 2-go.I

Jáan naalnishísh?

John 3-work.I-Q

Jáan biʼdizhchínéejįʼ ʼanááhoolzhiizh. Tįʼ bá daʼdiidįį́ł.

John 2-birth-up-to again-area-arrive.P let's.go 3-for pl-2-eat.F
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It is John’s birthday, let’s have a dinner for him.

Mosi ałtsi’si ndi nidaaz.

cat small but 3-heavy.NI

The cat is small but it is heavy.

Mósí yázhí chizhtah yiyah yilwod.

kitten woodpile.among 3-under 3-run.P
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The kitten ran under the woodpile.

Naakaii Bito’gi béégashii bee łá’í ’ídlínígíí bee ’anishtah.

mexican water-at cow 3-with one-unify.P-COMP 3-with 1-among.NI
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I’m a member of the Mexican Springs Cattle Association.

Náás heesháałgo chidí bine’ ’ííyá.

forward 1-step.Prog-GO car 3-behind 1-go.P

Nichidí lá háadi nííníłbą́ą́z?

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

Nichidí háadish nííníłbą́ą́z?

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

Nidlóóhísh ’éí doodago doo daats’í nidlóoh da?

2-cold.X-Q TOP or NEG perhaps 2-cold.X-Q NEG

Nihizaad ’índa bik’i’diishtį́į́h ndi k’ad bee yashtí’ łeh.

1du-language until.now 3-1-understand.I but now 3-by.means.of 1-talk.DI usually

Until now I understand our language, but now I can speak it usually.

nisélá

3DO-1-carry.a.ropelike.thing.around.P

Níwe, doo aghaa’ bee nijinée da!

stop NEG wool 3-with 3-4-play.I NEG
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Stop, one does not play with wool!

Shicheii bighangóó yishááł.

1-grandfather house-toward 1-go.Prog

Shí ’éí t’áá naanishdóó kingóó déyá.

I TOP just work-from town-to 1-go.I

Shį́įgo ’ahbínígo ’ashdladi dóó ’ałníi’go k’adę́ę ha’a’aah łeh.

summer-GO morning-GO five-at and half-GO almost 3-sunrise.I usually
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At five thirty in the summer time the sun is about to come up.

T’ááłáhádi neeznádiin dóó ba’aan táá’

one hundred and 3-beyond three

Tó lą’ígo nidlą́ ’áko bee nitah yá’áh’hoot’ééh dooleeł.

water many 3-2-drink.DI so 3-with 2-among pl-3-good.NI future

Tsxį́įłgo tł'aakał ła’ ’ájóle’.

hurry-GO skirt some 3-4-make.O
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One wishes to quickly make a skirt.

Tł’óodi didíłjeeh.

outside 3-2-start.fire.I

Yiską́ągo łį́į́’ ’ahaniniilkaad dooleeł.

tomorrow-GO horse 1dpl-round.up.P FUT
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We are going to round up the horses tomorrow.

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.

Łį́į́’ hooghangóó nooshkaałgo táá’ shits’ą́ą́ bizánághah góne’ ’ałhaa’eekai.

horse hogan-GO 3-1-herd-Prog-GO 3-1-away-from around areal-in-3 3-run.P.Pl
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I was chasing the horses home when three of them took off around the bend.