A Kēlen sentence consists minimally of a relational and its core argument. There are four relationals, and the object of each relational is its core argument – the noun phrase it expects. This object is also what the sentence is about. The relationals are: LA, NI, SE, and PA.


LA is the relational of existence. It does not require any secondary arguments, and it is never inflected for person. LA is used to express a static state, a location, or equivalence. LA can have one noun phrase or two related noun phrases as its object. The two related noun phrases can express equivalence or a whole - part relationship. The main patterns are as follows:

patternenglish equivalent
LA NPNP exists, there is NP
LA NP LOC (NP)NP is at a location
LA NP (ñe) NPNP is (the same as) NP
LA NP pa NPNP is/has/contains NP


la jacēla; LA "A bowl exists." or "There is a bowl."

la jacēla sū jatēwa; LA PREP "The bowl is on the table."

la jacēla janēla; LA "The bowl is red."

la jacēla ñe janēla; LA ñe "The bowl is the red thing."

la jacēla pa annēla; LA pa "The bowl has redness."

LA can be inflected for tense, aspect, and modality. The forms are as follows:

lapresent generic, present habitual, "is"
tepast (imperfect), "was"
wanegative, "is not"


NI is the relational of change. It is optionally inflected for agent, using the inflections in the table below. When inflected, an agentive phrase using the preposition ā can be used to clarify the volitional instigator of the change. NI also allows an instrumentative phrase using the preposition , used for inanimate or non-volitional instigators of change. When ā is used, NI must be inflected. However, the use of ā is optional, and NI can be inflected without a specifying ā phrase.

agent Null 1sg 1pc.excl 1pl.excl 1pc.incl 1pl.incl 2sg 2pc 2pl 3sg 3pc 3pl
  ñi ñalla ñalna ñalta ñanna ñanta ñarra ñarna ñarta ñamma ñatta ñaxxa

NI is used to express a coming into existence, a change in state (when the noun phrase that is the object of NI has more than one noun in it), or a change in location. NI is not inflected for agent when the agent and the object are the same (as is often the case in change of location) unless the deliberate nature of that change is being emphasized.

patternenglish equivalent
NI NPNP (now) exists, N1 is (now) N2
NI NP ā| NP NP (now) exists, because of volitional|non-volitional NP
NI NP LOC (NP)NP is to/from a location


ñi jacēla jahūwa; NI The bowl's state has changed to "broken". "The bowl is broken" or "The bowl broke."

ñalla jacēla jahūwa; NI.1sg.A I changed the bowl's state to "broken". "I broke the bowl."

ñi sāen rā jamāonre; NI PN(3sg) PREP He changed location from somewhere to the city. "He is/went to the city"

ñi sāen rū jamāonre; NI PN(3sg) PREP He changed location from the city to somewhere. "He is from the city"

ñi sāen matāra; NI PN(3sg) His state changed to "fallen". "He is fallen."

ñamma sāen matāra; NI.3sg.A PN(3sg) He deliberately changed his state to "fallen". "He is fallen." (deliberately)

ñamma anēlki ankehāri ā malō; NI.3sg.A A The sun changed the ice's state to "melted". "The sun melted the ice."

ñi anēlki ankehāri tō ancālli; NI INS Heat changed the ice's state to "melted". "The heat melted the ice."

ñamma anāmāesi anmōmi tō jacāta; NI.3sg.A INS She changed the ants' state to flat using a shoe. 'she flattened ants with a shoe."


SE is the transactional relational. It is optionally inflected for source and for beneficiary. Source can be volitional or non-volitional, though only volitional sources are animate. Source is marked with ke for an animate, volitional source and with to for a non-volitional or inanimate source. When ke is used, SE is inflected for source. Beneficiary is marked with mo, and only triggers inflection when animate. Finally, SE uses the special relative pronoun ien to rename or elaborate upon its object. When used to discuss speech, the object of SE can be null and ien can be used to specify the words spoken.

The inflections are detailed in the table below.

1sg 1pc.excl 1pl.excl 1pc.incl 1pl.incl 2sg 2pc 2pl 3sg 3pc 3pl
se salla salna salta sanna santa sarra sarna sarta samma satta saxxa
Reflexive se seleñ selneñ selteñ senneñ sañañ sereñ sirneñ sirteñ semeñ seteñ sexeñ
1sg sele           serle sirnele sirtele semle setle sexle
1pc.excl selne           serelne sirnelne sirtelne semelne setelne sexelne
1pl.excl selte           serelte sirnelte sirtelte semelte setelte sexelte
1pc.incl senne           serenne sirnenne sirtenne semenne setenne sexenne
1pl.incl saña           seraña sirnaña sirtaña semaña setaña sexaña
2sg sere selre selnere seltere sennere sanre       semre setre sexre
2pc serne selirne selnirne seltirne sennirne sañirne       semirne setirne sexirne
2pl serte selirte selnirte seltirte sennirte sañirte       semirte setirte sexirte
3sg sema selme selneme selteme senneme sañeme serme sirneme sirteme semme setme sexme
3pc sete selete selnete seltete sennete sañete serete sirnete sirtete semete setete sexete
3pl sexe selesse selnesse seltesse sennesse sañesse seresse sirnesse sirtesse semesse setesse sexesse

SE is used to express giving and receiving, with the object given or received as the object of SE and the giver as the source and the receiver as the beneficiary. This pattern is extended to encompass speech and information. SE is also used to express sensing and experiencing of mental states. The senser and the experiencer are the beneficiary, and the thing sensed is the object of SE. Any trigger to the sense or the experience would be the source, if expressed. SE can also be used to explicitly introduce a new topic or a character in a story. SE prefers its object to be singular rather than stative.

patternenglish equivalent
SE(.SRC;BEN) NPSRC gives NP to BEN or BEN receives NP from SRC
SE(.SRC;BEN) NP ke|to NP mo NPSRC gives NP to BEN or BEN receives NP from SRC
SE(.SRC;BEN) NP ien XSRC says or expresses NP or BEN hears NP and NP=X
SE.BEN NPBEN experiences/senses NP
SE NN is introduced.


telme antēnni pē SE.past+1sg.SRC;3sg.BEN MOD(some) "I gave him some money."

temme antēnni pē ke masōwa mo mamōīñ; SE.past+3sg.SRC;3sg.BEN MOD(some) BEN "The father gave some money to the son."

tema antēnni pē to masōwa mo mamōīñ; SE.past+3sg.BEN MOD(some) SRC BEN "The father involuntarily gave some money to the son." or "The son took money from the father."

selre jalāsa; SE+1sg.SRC;2sg.BEN "From me to you, greeting." or "I give you greeting." or "I greet you."

temme ien ... SE.past+3sg.SRC;3sg.BEN QUOT ... "She said to her..."

temme ien ñi rūjapēxa cī; SE.past+3sg.SRC;3sg.BEN QUOT NI N.loc(away) CI "She said to her "Go away!""

temme ansōri ien ñi rūjapēxa cī; SE.past+3sg.SRC;3sg.BEN QUOT NI N.loc(away) CI "She said the words to her: "Go away!""

sere xō jaxīra mo risāra kēñ; SE+2sg.BEN MOD(that) BEN N.2p(ears) Q "Do you hear that noise?"

tele sāen mo lerōña il talōnte; SE.past+1sg.BEN PN(3sg) BEN N.1p(eyes) MOD(yesterday) "I saw her yesterday."

sema jakelōren to anwīþþēñi pē; SE+3sg.BEN SRC N.CO(wine) MOD(some) "He regrets some wine."

se mūrāna masīrien; se malō; SE SE "The north wind. The sun."

SE also inflects for tense in a similar manner as LA. The tense/aspect/modality inflections are the same as with LA, except that there is no negative. Instead the clausal modifier along with the present is used.

s(e)-present generic, present habitual
t(e)-past (imperfect)


PA is the most recent relational. In many ways it expresses the same thing as LA NP pa NP. PA takes two core arguments: a whole and its part or a set and a member of that set. PA does not inflect for person or for tense. Generally, this construction is used when one of the noun phrases is stative. When the second noun phrase is stative, the stative noun is clearly an attribute of the first noun phrase. When the first noun phrase is stative, it generally refers to an abstraction or a feeling and the second noun phrase is considered to be either an innate characteristic or an overwhelming force.

patternenglish equivalent
PA NP1 NP2NP1 is/has NP2

pa jatōna anhēkēl; PA "The road is well-made."

pa jacēla annēla; PA "The bowl has redness."

pa anlōrāl sāen; PA PN(3sg) "She is grieving." (Lit: "Grief has her.")

PA is not inflected for either person or tense.

Last modified: August 05, 2011