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

’Ach’íí’ ła’ deeshį́į́ł.

rolled.intestine some 1-eat.F
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I will eat rolled intestines now and then.

’Ahbínídą́ą́’ ch’ééh niba’ hasht’e’ ’ádííníszin.

morning-Past in.vain 2-wait ready REFL-1-keep.CI

’Ahwééh yishdlį́į́h ’áádóó naanishgóó yishááh.

coffee 3-1-drink.U and.then work-toward 3-1-go.U

’Ałk’idą́ą́’ Diné bikéyah bikáa’gi łį́į́’ bichąą bíighahgo tł’oh deíl’áá ńt’éé’ jiní.

long.ago Navajo.land 3-upon-at horse 3-belly sufficient-GO Pl-3-extend.out.of.sight.SNP hearsay

-dóó

-ísh

bik’ídiidis

3DO-1dpl-wrap.it.around.it.I

Da’ ’ałní’ní’ą́ąjį’ tł’óo’di nishínílnish?

Q noon-until outside-at 2-work.P

Deenásts’aa’ sh naaldloosh ńt’éé’ shimá siiłtsą́, yiniinaa násineestsxas.

ram 1-with 3-trot.CI past 1-mother 1-3-see.P 3-because 1-3-whip.P

deigo

Dibé yázhí bitsį’ bíchą́ yídéeshni’.

lamb 3-meat 3-crave 3-addicted.NP

Dichin nínízin ya’?

hungry 2-want.NI Q

diidííłjéé’

3DO-3-start.fire.P

Díí dziłígíí shádi’ááh bich’ijígo ’ałkéé’ ’adíítąąd.

this mountain-Comp southward 3-toward-GO one-behind-another 3Pl-scatter.NP
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These mountains are strung out, one behind the other toward the south.

Díkwíísh ninááhai?

how.many-Q 2-winter.NI

Dlǫ́ǫ́’ ba’áán góne’ yahadeeshnii’go dlǫ́’áyázhí shishhash.

prairie.dog 3-hole into down1-3.to.reach.out.hand prairie.dog-little 1-bite.P

doołhį́į́’

3DO-2dpl-melt.it.P

dííłbish

3DO-2-boil.it.F

Ha’át’éegoshą’ t’áadoo díníyáa da?

why-Q neg 2-go.sg.P NEG

Ha’át’íí biniiyé shą́ą́h ńdídááh?

what 3-because 1-passing.by 2-go.I

hadeneeshchaad

pl-3DO-3dpl-card.it.(as.in.wool).P

hadíníilchał

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

hayííłgizh

3DO-3-cut.it.out.P

Háágóó lá Bíl doogááł nízin Jáan?

where-toward Q Bill 3-go.sg.F 3-want.CI John

Háísh yiską́ągo ’adoogis?

who-Q tomorrow 3-wash.F
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Who will do the laundry tomorrow?

Háágóósh díníyá?

where-to-Q 2-go.I

Jake ’ólta’ b bóhoneedzą́.

Jake education 3-with 3-possible.NI

Kinaaldáágóó jidóya’ t’óó ’ílį́.

puberty.ceremony-to 4-go.O hope just think
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I wish I could go to the puberty ceremony, just thinking.

Kingóó ’anááda’iisdee’.

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

Mósí yázhí chizhtah yiyah yílwod.

kitten woodpile.among 3-under 3-run.P

Naakidi tsin sitą́ądi daats’í kinaaldá b ’ahééniijéé’.

two mile 3-run.pl.P-at maybe purberty.ceremony 3-with RECIP-1dpl-run.pl.P

Nahółtą́ą́’ laanaa t’óó daniidzin.

rain hope just pl-3pl-want.O
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We wish it would rain.

Nizhé’é ha’át’íísh nahideeshnih nízin.

2-father-Q what 3-1-buy.F 3-want.NI

N bééhózinísh ’éí doodaii’ nicheii daats’í b bééhózin?

2-with 3-know.CI-Q TOP or 2-grandfather perhaps 3-with 3-know.CI

Shich’ah tsékooh góyaa ’adah b ’ííyol.

1-hat gorge areal-down downward 3-with 3-blow.P

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.

Shiye’ éí naaki béeso yideená chidí yésį́.

1-son TOP two money 3-exchange.for car 3-stand.SPN
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My son is standing, guarding the car for two dollars.

Shizhé’é nihwiiłdlaadgo bikéé’ naad’ ’adaashjaah łeh.

1-father 3-3-plow.I-GO 3-behind corn 3Pl-1-drop.I Cust.
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As my father plows it is my custom to follow along behind and drop the corn kernels.

T’óó tá’ádeesgizii’ ’ííyą́ą́’.

just 3-reflex-wash.P-CONJ 3-eat.P

Tooh ńlínígíí ha’naa shił ’adeezbą́ą́z ńt’éé’ tsinaabąąs nihits’ą́ą́’ k’é’éłtǫ’.

water river areal-across 1-with 3-drive.P past wagon 2dpl-away 3-break.P
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I started to ride across the river (by wagon) but it broke down on us.

Tó dílchxoshí sits’ą́ą́’ wóódlą́ą́’ lágo.

soda 1-from 3-1-drink.O don’t
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I hope you don’t drink my soda.

Ts’aa’ wolyéhę́ę k’ad t’áá ’íiyisíí bídin hóyéé’.

basket 3-call.NI-past now really 3-without HO-lack.NI
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There’s a real scarcity of traditional baskets now.

Tsékooh góyaa tł’óół bee ’adanásh’nah.

canyon areal-down 3-with 1-climb.down.R

Tó ńlį́įgo ha’naa niníyáá ńt’éé’ kohgo tó bínéés’ąąd.

water 3-be.N-GO area-across 1-walk.P past here water 3-rise.P
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When I waded across the river the water came up to here.

Tł’éédą́ą́ łééchąą’í léi’ nihił ’yaííyá’ii’ neeztį́.

last.night dog strange 1dpl-with 3-come.inside.P-and lie.down.SNP

Tł’éédą́ą́’ shį́į́ nida’a’nééhgóó nidadziskai.

last.night perhaps game-to pl-3-3-go.pl.P
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Perhaps they attended the game last night.

wooshjį́į́h

Optative Mode: 1-become.black.O
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I hope to become black, get sunburned

yishtł’ó

3DO-1-weave.it.I

Yiską́ągo nighandi naadeeshááł.

tomorrow 2-home-at 2-to-1-go.F