Verbs: Aspects and Modes (Tense)

Mode or Tense: WHEN the action happens

Definition: In Athabascan languages, mode is roughly the same as the English concept of tense. There are four possible modes in Dena'ina of which the first three: imperfect, perfect, and future are the most common.

Aspect: HOW the action happens

Verb Stems occur in categories called aspect, which convey information about how the action happens. For example if the action is happening at a moment in time the momentaneous aspect is used. If the action is something that has happened over a long period of time the durative aspect is used.

Dena'ina stem aspect categories (adapted from Kari 1990 and Tenenbaum 1978):

Aspect Definition
conclusive indicates closure of conclusion of an action
continuative a series of punctual actions
customary actions which are done regularly over a span of time
distributive a series of actions performed one at a time and separated by a period of time (he lifted them up one at a time)
durative actions over a prolonged period of time
metamorphic-reversative signifies the transfer of something into another state or stage
momentaneous actions occurring at a single moment of time
neuter refers to adjective-like qualities such as color
onomatopoetic refers to animal-like actions
perambulative Movement with no particular purpose; “here and there”
persistive actions that persist over time
progressive motion which is continuous or non-directional
repetitive unanalyzable repeated actions
semelfactive a single act out of a possible series
serative discrete actions performed in a series
stative signifies the object is at rest in a particular place
transitional verbs expressing transition into a certain condition ( for example “becoming beautiful”)