The present-tense forms have three stems: -a (third-person singular only), -aiz (with first and second-person singular prefixes), and -ara (in first and second person plural forms}.
- (intransitive) to be
- Hau nire emaztea da. ― This is my wife.
- Gizakiak gara. ― We are people.
- Synonym: egon
- auxiliary used with intransitive (nor) verbs
- Zer gertatu da? ― What happened?
|Mood / Tense||NOR (Absolutive)|
|1st sg||2nd sg informal||3rd sg||1st pl||2nd sg formal||2nd pl||3rd pl|
Southern Basque (like Spanish) has two different verbs that are usually translated to English as “to be”; izan and egon. Izan is used to express a quality of something, while egon is used to express a state (e.g. location). For example:
- Mahaia handia da. — The table is big. (using izan because this is an inherent quality of the table)
- Mahaia zikina dago. — The table is dirty. (using egon because this is a temporary state that the table is in)
- Iñaki Donostiakoa da. — Iñaki is from San Sebastián. (using izan because it is an immutable quality of Iñaki)
- Iñaki Donostian dago. — Iñaki is in San Sebastián. (using egon because it is describing Iñaki's location)
Northern Basque does not have this distinction, so "to be" is translated as izan in almost all contexts.
- izan in Etymological Dictionary of Basque by R. L. Trask, sussex.ac.uk
The stem -(t)zai- occurs in the indicative forms. The potential and imperative forms have the suppletive stem -ki-. Forms with plural nor agreement throughout the paradigm have the suffix -zki- immediately attached the stem and preceding the nori agreement suffixes.
- (intransitive, with dative agreement) auxiliary used with intransitive verbs with dative arguments (nor nori verbs)
- Txapela erori zaio. ― His hat fell off.
- Etorri zitzaigun. ― He came to us.
- Atea itxi zaio. ― The door closed on him.
- Erruki zakizkio. ― Take pity on him.
The stem -(d)u- forms the basis of the indicative forms. This stem also appears in the dialectical participle eduki. A verbal noun edutzea is attested from the fifteenth century, derived from either eduki or *edun. The potential and imperative forms are built on the stem -za- which becomes -tza- after a prefix ending in n.
- (transitive) to have
- auxiliary used with transitive (nor nork) verbs
- Ikusi nahi zintudan ― I wanted to see you.
- Irakurri zuen ― He read it.
- Synonym: ukan
- Elurra egin du. ― It's snowed.
- Lo egiten dute. ― They're sleeping.
Northern dialects use the participle ukan for these forms instead izan. Gipuzkoan, Lapurdian, and High Navarrese use the participle eduki for this verb in the sense "have". Basque grammarians usually treat this, along with the nor nori nork auxiliary, as separative verb from the intransitive forms of izan, referring to it in this context by the northern citation form ukan or by the reconstructed participle form *edun.
|Dialect||to be||Intransitive auxiliary||Transitive auxiliary||to have|
I wanted to see the dog.
(Northern) Txakurra ikusi nahi ukan dut.
(Southern) Txakurra ikusi nahi izan dut.
He will have a lot of money.
(Northern) Diru asko ukango du.
(Southern) Diru asko edukiko du.
- *edun in Etymological Dictionary of Basque by R. L. Trask, sussex.ac.uk
- A Brief Grammar of Euskara, p. 89, Itziar Laka, 1996, Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea
The stem is -i- in the indicative, and -ieza- in the potential and imperative. As in the nor-nori izan paradigm, forms with plural nor (absolutive) agreeement are suffixed with -zki-. This marker is attatched directly to the stem and precedes other agreement suffixes.
- (transitive, with dative agreement) auxiliary verb used with transitive verbs that take a dative argument (nor nori nork verbs)
- Eman nion. ― I gave it to her.
- Eman nizkon. ― I gave them to her.
- Irakurri zidan. ― He read it to me.
- Synonym: ukan
The dative argument frequently corresponds to an indirect object in English, but often indicates the possessor of the object (nor argument) of the verb, usually expressed as a possessive in English. Basque verbs of this class can only take third person objects (nor, or absolutive, arguments).