Quechua Language

Runasimi – Qhichwa

Quechua Language

The Quechua Language is spoken by roughly 8 million people in several Andean countries, making it the most widely spoken native American language today. The language is highly dialectalized, some dialects maybe be mutually unintelligible. The present work is based on Cuzco Quechua, considered the closest thing to a standard language.

Quechua is an agglutinative, SOV, AN language with pospositions. Nominalized phrases correspond to relative clauses. No definite article.


Quechua has only three basic vowels, like Classical Arabic: a, i and u. They may be realized differently in certain conditions and depending on the dialect, i often turns to /e/ and u to /o/. Certain nonstandard spellings reflect this.

The phoneme represented by ‘q’ sounds like it does in Arabic, an alveolar stop, but in certain areas may be pronounced as /kh/ ou /g/. After ‘q’, the vowel ‘u’ is pronounced /o/.

‘Ch’ stands for /tsh/. Stress normally falls on the penultimate syllable, when it falls on the last syllable, it is marked by an acute accent.


The possessive suffixes change their initial ‘i’ to ‘y’ when the noun ends in a vowel: wasi (house) > wasiy (my house). Personal possessive constructions are often a double possessive, with the possessive pronoun (formed by -pa) followed by the genitive of the noun: qanpa llaqtayki (of you your city).

The independent personal pronouns are made by subject pronoun plus suffix -q.

The noun plural marker -kuna follows possessive suffixes: wasiy (my house) > wasiykuna (my houses).

Question words

ima – what

pi – who

piq – whose

may – where

mayqin – mayqin

hayk’a – how much, how many

imayna – how

hayk’aq – when

imarayku – why

imanaqtin – why

imanasqa – why

The demonstratives are below. They precede their noun.

kay/ ankay – this, these

chay/anchay – that, those (close to speaker)

chaqay/haqay – this, those (far from speaker)

kay wampu.qa Punu.man.mi ri.sha.n

this boat-TOP Punu-to-ASSERTIVE go-ing-3p

Chaqay wampu.kuna huch’uy.mi

that boat.PLURAL small-ASSERT

Postpositions and general nominal suffixes

ta – suffix denoting the direct object of a verb or the aim of a movement

qa – suffix of topic, usually used in nouns already mentioned that are being repeated and that are the topic of the conversation

hpa, hpata – of, possessive form (h drops in words ending in consonant)

pi – in

wan – with

paq – for

manta – from

man – to, toward

pura – among

rayku – because of

kama – until

mana...-yuq – without


llahta - city

llahtapi - in the city

llahtamanta - from the city

With the personal possessive suffixes, the order is noun + personal possessive + posposition:

llahtaypi - in my city (llahta + y + pi)

llahtaykumanta - from your city (llahta + yku + manta)

The possessive -pa is usually accompanied by a noun with a a reduntant 3rd person possessive suffix, rendering sentences like ‘the door of the house’ as ‘of the house its door’ (wasipa punkun).

The notion of "to have" is expressed by a "be with":

ñuqa wasiyuq kani

I am with house (wasi = house; -yuq = with, kani = I am)

Or by "of you your house exists"

qanpata wasiyki kan (qan = you + pata = genitive; wasi = house + yki 2p poss; kan = 3p of 'be')

you have a house

Conjunctions, Adverbs

but – ichaqa

or – icha, utaq

because – -rayku

also – -pis, -pas

even then – chaypasapas

however – chaypuwanpas

instead – aswan, aswanpas

therefore – chayrayku, nispaqa, chaymi

finally – tukunapaqtaq

firstly – ñawpaq, ñawpaqta

yes – arí

no – mana

please – allichu

thank you – sulpayki

good bye – ratukama

Nouns and adjectives

There are no genders or noun classes. Nouns may optionally pluralized by -kuna if quantity is not indicated by other means. Adjectives precede their nouns, and remain uninflected for case and number.

There are no articles though huq (one) may be used as an indefinite article.

Noun qualification is achieved by juxtaposition in the English order (possessor + possessed or qualified + main noun): unu qucha (water well).


The infintive ends invariably with -y. Below the verb rimay (to speak).

Compound forms exist, a past habitual is formed by the active participle + present or past of "kay" (rimaq kani / rimaq karqani = I used to speak), the past participle + personal possessive suffixes renders a relative form (rima.sqa.y = what I speak), which can also be achieved by the nominalizer suffix -na (rima.na.y = what I speak). The plusquamperfect can be formed by the past participe with the personal subject suffixes (rim.asqa.ni = I had spoken). The conditional is formed by adding -man to the present tense, except that in the 2nd person the suffix waq can be added instead of both the -man and the 2p suffix. The future form followed by the unchanging past stem of "kay" (be) indicates the future perfect (I will have done): rimasaq karqa (I will have spoken).

A 1p object can be expressed in verbs by the suffix -wa, then the verbs appear in a reduced set of temporal differentiations

uyariy (to hear)

uyariway (to hear me)

uyariwanki (you hear me, you heard me < uyari = hear + wa = 1p obj + nki = 2p subject)

uyariwarqa (he heard me < uyari = hear + wa = 1p obj + rqa = past + zero = 3p subj)

The 1p plural object can be expressed by adding the suffix -yku (for exclusive) and -nchis (for inclusive) to the singular construction, in final position, ort eliminating the 2 person subject suffix:

uyariwayku (you hear us < uyari = hear + wa = 1p object + zero = 2/3 person subject + -yku = 1p plural object)

The 2 person can be expressed by the suffix -su and -yku (for the plural, add -chis/cheh), once again triggering the deletion of competing subject suffixes. confusing tenses and creating subject ambiguity.

uyariyki = I hear(d) you / we hear(d) you

uyarisunki = he hear(d) you

uyarisuq kani = I used to hear you

The reflexive is formed by -ku after the root:

uyariy = to hear

uyarikuy = to hear oneself

mayllay = to wash

mayllakuy = to wash oneself

Continuous tense is made by the suffix -sha- (certain dialects have -chka)between stem and personal ending: rimashani (I am speaking). Narrative past is made by suffix -sqa- (rimasqan = he had spoken or it is said that he spoke). The suffixes -pa- and -q- indicated reiterated action, -raya- indicates continued action, and -ru- indicates sudden action.

pay runasimi.ta runa.sha.n

he quechua-ACC speak-ing-3p

The 1st person plural inclusive of the future also covers the “let’s” form: rimasunchis = let’s speak.

Verb chains are made with the infinitive preceding the helping verb and taking the accusative suffix -ta:

nuqayku p’acha.ta ranti.y.ta muna.yku

1plex clothes.ACC buy.INF.ACC like.1plexPRES

“we clothes to buy like”

We like buying clothes

Questions are made by the suffix -chu attached to any prominent, usually the first, word in a sentence:

Quchapampa.ta.chu ri.sha.nki?

Cochabamba.ACC.Q go.ing.2p

Are you going to Cochabamba?

Kasaru.chu kanki?

married.Q be.2p

Are you married?

To Be and To Have

The verb kay corresponds to “be”, whose present is: kani, kanki, kan, kanchis, etc. Other tenses are also formed regularly.

The third person kan is also used to indicate existence, as ‘there is’.

The construction kan plus possessed noun corresponds to the verb ‘to have’.

Kan wawayki

there is child-your

You have a child

Another way to express ‘have’ is noun + yuq (‘with’) + verb kay agreeing with subject.

Wasiyuqmi kani

house-with-ASSERT be.1pPRES

‘with house I am’

I have a house

Llama.yuq ka.nki

llama.with you are

You have a llama


stem+na+personal suffix = obligation

mikhuy = to eat > mikhunay = I have to eat

The present continuous of kay (to be) also expresses obligation:

The 'na' suffix is a nominalizer (mikhuna = food, thing to eat, restaurant)

‘Can’ or ‘be able’ is expressed by verb atiy:

tusu.y.ta ati.ni

dance.INF.ACC can-1pPRES

I can dance

To negate a verb, add mana before it and chu at the end of the sentence.

Mana.n runasimi.ta rimani.chu

not.ASSERT Quechua.ACC I speak NEG

I don’t speak Quechua

Negative commands are made by ama + chu at end of sentence.


Stative and inchoative

Stative verbs can be derived from nouns and adjectives by merely adding the infinitive suffix -y:

ñawsa = blind

ñawsay = be blind

Inchoative is achieved by the suffix -ya:

ñawsayay = become blind

Causative by suffix -chi

ñawsayachiy = to blind, to make blind

From a nominal stem: t'uru (mud) > t'uruyay (get muddy, become mud), and further: t'uruyapuy (become covered in mud)

From verbs: yachay (to know) > yachachiy (to teach); wañuy (to die) > wañuchiy (to kill) > wañuchichiy (to make someone kill)

Relative Clauses

Relative clauses are formed through nominalization, usually a verbal participle is used, created by suffixing the verb with ‘-q’ (for unspecified aspect), ‘-sqa’ (completed action) or ‘-na’ (future action).

hamu.q runa.ta riqsini

come.ACTPART man.ACC I know

‘the coming man I know/I know the coming man’

I know the man who is coming

rumi urmananta ancha atun kanqa

stone fall-FUTREL big very will be

The stone which will fall will be big

qarita presisachkani llaqtaqta

man.ACC I am needing work.REL.ACC

I need a man who works

The nominal character of such constructions is observable in that the relative phrase verb does not inflect for tense:

yaku haypa.q runakuna

water receive.AP people

‘the people receiving water’

The people who receive/have received water

Sometimes the double personal possessive is used:

nuqa.pa ri.sqa.y llaqta

I.GEN go.PASTPART.1p.possessive city

‘my going city/the city of my going’

The city I go to

Adriyan warmacha “Adrián the boy”

Huk siñuras huk warmta iywasqa wasimpi yanapanampaq, Adriyan sutiyuqta. Siñuraqa kamachiq llapa imata chay warmachata. Warmachañataq mana imatapas ruwaqchu allintaqa. Sapa triguta akllaspan, kutaspan, wakiwakillanta akllaykuq kutaykuq wakinntañataq maraypa ladun quchaman wischuykuq. Mikhuykunatapas wischuykariq wakillanta mikuspan warmaqa pukllaylla pukllakuq sapa punchaw mana kasukuspan. Qullqitawan pulkanakunata suwakamun bisinun wasikunamanta, hinaspan maray qipapi pakan sapa patruna lluqsiptin pukllanampaq

Huk siñuras huk warmta iywasqa wasimpi yanapanampaq

A lady.HEARSAY a boy take care.NARR house.3p.LOC help.NOMP.3p.BENEFACTIVE

huk siñuras (a lady, here with hearsay suffix ‘-s’, ‘it is said that a lady’); huk warm (a boy), accusative of huk warm. Iywasqa is the narrative past of iyway (to take care); wasimpi (in her house) < wasi (house) + m (3p possessive, variation of ‘-n’ before ‘p’) + pi (locative suffix). Yanapay (to help) + na (non-realized event) + m (3p marker) + paq (benefactive suffix, i.e. ‘for’). So literally we have ‘it is said a lady took care that a boy was to help her in her house’ thus ‘it is said that a lady had a body to help her in her house’.

Adriyan sutiyuqta

Adrian suti(name) + yuq (associative/possesive suffix) + ta (accusative) = Adrian was his name.

Siñuraqa kamachiq llapa imata chay warmachata

siñura + qa (topic suffix); kamachiy (order) + q (iterative suffix); llapa (everything) imata (ima = which + ta = accusative); chay (this) warmachata (warm(a) = boy + cha = diminutive suffix + acc.). ‘the woman ordered the boy to everything’

Warmachañataq mana imatapas ruwaqchu allintaqa

warmacha + ñataq (illative enclitic connector) imatapas (which+acc+pas = also); ruway (to do) + q (iterative) + chu (negative); allintaqa (allin=well, good + ta = accusative or adverb marker) + qa (topic). ‘The boy never did anything well’

Sapa triguta akllaspan, kutaspan, wakiwakillanta akllaykuq

Sapa (always) triguta (wheat + acc) akllaspan (aklla = choose + spa = relative simultaneous marker + n = 3p); kutaspan (kutay = grind); wakiwaki (part part) + llan (only) + ta (acc); akllayuq (choose + intensifier + iterative). ‘Whenever the boy chose and ground the wheat, he only chose and ground a small part’