Episode 10: Jopara!

In most parts of Paraguay, Spanish and Guaraní are as inseparable as pig fat and ground corn. Sometimes when I ask people if a word is Spanish or Guaraní, they have to think for a minute. They’re so used to just using them together without thinking about where one language ends and the other begins.

Today we’ll talk about how you can use the both languages together. There’s a system for using Spanish verb cars in the Guaraní trains. So if you already know Spanish it’s going to be a big boost. Some Spanish verbs have all but replaced their Guarani counterparts. Although somewhere out there there’s probably a Guaraní word for it, almost no one knows it or uses it.


The first Spanish verb we’ll look at is the word for “to practice”, which is practicar. If you asked someone how to say “to practice” in Guaraní, they’d probably just shrug and say, Practica no más, like, "Just use the Spanish." So let’s say we want to use this word to say in our Guaraní Jopara, "I’m practicing." On the front end, what you’re going to do is simply add the driver car. For I, che, it would be the a, right?

On the back end, you’ll notice that all verbs in Spanish end in an “r.” That “r” is going to be karate chopped off and left to die in the river. So now we have Che apractica. And then you can just add on whatever caboose you want.

"I’m practicing." Che apractica hína.
"I want to practice. Che apracticáse.
Nde repracticátapa. “Are you going to practice?”

Another word used like this is the word vender, which means "to sell". Let’s practice using this to say, "You all sell pizza." Take vender and add the driver car we need, which for you all is pe. Then we’ll karate chop off the r, and we have Pevende pizza. So how would you ask, using piko, "Do you all sell terere?" Peẽ pevende piko terere. How would you say “I sell terere?” Che avende terere. How about “They sell pizza." Ha’ekuéra ovende pizza. And what does this mean: Ñande ñavende y. “We sell water.” There you heard that ña, because vender has an n in it, so it’s considered nasal.

Moving on we got cocinar, "to cook". “I will cook tonight.” Che acocinata ko pyhare. “You all will cook today.” Peẽ pecocinata ko’ára. And what does this mean: Nde recocina ra’e keuhe. “Did you cook yesterday?”

Something you should be doing a lot of is studying. “To study” is estudiar. If the Spanish verb starts with a vowel, it kind of gets eaten up by the Guaraní beginning. So "I study" is Che astudia. "You study" is Nde restudia. “Are you all studying?” is Peẽ pestudia piko.

Another good one is “to change”, which is cambiar. So how would you accusingly say to someone, “You changed.” Nde recambia kuri. How about, “They will change.” Ha’ekuéra ocambiata. And what does this mean: Ore rocambiase. We want to change.

Other commonly mixed Spanish verbs:
English → Spanish → Guaraní

  • to read → leer → lee
  • to eat dinner → cenar → cena

  • to iron → planchar → plancha
to cross → cruzar → cruza
to rent → alquilar → alquila
to invite → invitar → invita
to accompany → to acompañar → acompaña
to pay → pagar → paga

Other ways in which Guaraní and Spanish are mixed:

A lot of times a Guaraní caboose is just latched on to a Spanish word. This happens a lot with question cabooses. You’ll hear, for example, Quépa. Which is the Spanish qué, for "what", and the question caboose, pa, to mean, “What?” Or you’ll hear Quién piko, with the Spanish quién, for “who” and the question caboose piko. *Another good one is sipa? Which is si, "yes" in spanish, and the question caboose -pa. Kind of like Right? Yeah?*

Another thing that is tacked on is that -pe, which means in, to or at. "At school" would be escuelápe, with the Spanish escuela for school. "At the corner" would be Esquinápe, with the Spanish esquina for corner. And here’s where things start to make me crazy. Esquina has an n in it, so you’d think it was nasal and that you would use -me, but people just don’t. They use -pe. That’s all I have in the way of explanation.

Also, you’ll never hear the days of the week in Guaraní. But you will hear that -kue ending, for example, to say, on Saturdays. "On Saturdays I go out." You would take the Spanish word for Saturday, which is sábado, and add the -kue. Sabadokue asẽ. "On Saturdays I go out."

Let’s go over the days of the week and save you a Google search.
Monday is lunes.
Tuesday is martes
Wednesday is miércoles
Thursday is jueves
Friday is viernes
Saturday is sábado
Sunday is domingo.

"On Mondays they work." Monday being lunes, you would say, Luneskue omba’apo. You can use this as well to say something like, "Monday afternoon." That would be Lunes ka’aru. "Thursday night." Jueves pyhare.
Also, when you want to say you’re going to do something during a certain month, you would use the month plus -pe, again -pe whether or not they have an m or n.

Those Spanish months are:
January: enero
February: febrero
March: marzo
April: abril
May: mayo
June: junio

July: julio
August: agosto
September: septiembre

October: octubre

November: noviembre
December: diciembre

So Ahata Brazilpe enerope is “I’m going to Brazil in January.”

One more thing is that you will use Spanish for numbers higher than 5, but we’ll have to go over those another time.

Sometimes the word will be in Spanish, but they’ll just pronounce it with the Guaraní accent. What is that? In Guaraní, words are stressed on the last syllable, unless there’s an accent in another part of the word. For example, the word for table in Spanish is mesa. When you want to Guaraníze the word, it becomes, mes-A (accent on that last a). Another word that is Guaranízed is vaca, which in Spanish is cows. In Guaraní, it’s vaka, and the c turns into a k. This happens a lot in Jopara.

Another letter that changes is the h. In Spanish, you don’t pronounce h’s. The word for "sister" is hermana, and it begins with an invisible h. When this word get’s Guaranízed, it’s ermána, without the h. Because in Guaraní, you pronounce h. So to keep the pronunciation, they take off the h. Also, an accent appears over the middle a, so that it’s not hermanA. The placement of accent marks is about the last thing you need to worry about, but just know that if a word doesn’t end with an emphasis, there’s an accent mark in there somewhere. While we’re on the subject, you should know that the word for "brother" is ermáno. 

And here are two words that are just Spanish Spanish, mixed in. The first one is for "but", like “I wanted to eat ice cream, but my stupid brother ate it all.” This kind of but is just pero in Spanish. I wanted to eat ice cream, pero my stupid brother ate it all. Let’s say in Guaraní, “Julie says yes, but Marcos says no”. Julie he’i héẽ, pero Marcos he’i nahániri. How about, “I want to eat sushi, but you want to eat pizza”. Che ha’use sushi, pero nde re’use pizza. And what does this mean: Añe’ẽse Oscarpe pero ohoma. “I want to talk to Oscar but he went already.”

Another good one is the word for “because,” which is porque. Why are you going to the kitchen? Porque ha'use pizza. "Because I want to eat pizza."

Another word you will use is the word for "the". In Spanish, this can be feminine, la, or masculine, el. In Guaraní, you just use the feminine la borrowed from Spanish. You’ve said this before in Mba’e la pórte. La pórte is "The situation". So Mba’e la pórte is “What’s the situation?” or “What’s up?”

There aren’t strict rules about it, but I think you can just hear when you should put in the. Like if you were planning on cooking a pizza and you wanted to ask, "Did you cook the pizza?", you would use it. Nde recocinama la pizza.

But continuing the the "Me Tarzan, you Jane" kind of sound, you can use the la or many times just leave it out.

There’s this other set of words that are almost like Spanish, but I think they were Guaranízed farther back. It’s not just one letter that’s changed, but it’s almost like someone who speaks Guaraní trying to speak in Spanish. 

Here’s an example. The word for "shoe" in Spanish is zapato. The word for shoe in Guaraní is sapatu. I doubt the Guaraní people were saying sapatu for shoe before the Spanish Conquistadors came, but now it’s considered part of the language. “I want to use your shoes” would be Che aiporuse nde sapatu. You’ll notice they don’t put a plural on this for shoes, shoe or shoes is sapatu. “I have one shoe” would be Che areko peteĩ sapatu. What would be, “Where are my shoes,” using piko as the question word. Moõ piko oime che sapatu.

Another is the Spanish word queso, which means "cheese", and is kesu in Guaraní. "I want to eat cheese" would be Ha’use kesu. "Do you want to eat cheese" would be Nde re’use piko kesu. How about, "My cheese is all gone?" Opa che kesu. 

For one last word, let’s talk about how they say Paraguay in Guaraní. When you want to say the country of Paraguay, it’s Paraguai, and you change the ending y to an i. They do use that spelling with the y, but it’s the name for the capital city, Asunción. And since it ends in y, it’s pronounced Paraguay (with the ug). To say, "in Asunción", it’s Paraguaýpe. "I’m going to go to Asunción" is Ahata Paraguaýpe. "They will come to Asunción tomorrow." is Ha’ekuéra outa Paraguaýpe ko’ẽrõ. What would be, “We go to Asunción on Saturdays,” using the ore form? Ore roho Paraguaýpe sábadokue.

Ok, let’s practice.

1. I practice Guarani on Mondays.

Che apractica Guarani luneskue. 

2. I want to change my shoes.

Acambiase che sapatu.

3. He knows how to make cheese.

Ha’e ojapokuaa kesu.

4. I’m going out with my sister Saturday. 

Asẽta che ermánandi sábadope.

5. Just us are going to study on Mondays. 

Ore roestudiata luneskue. 

6. Pecocinakuaa piko?

Do you all know how to cook? 

7. Ore rojapo pizza vierneskue. 

We make pizza on Fridays.

8. Revendetapa nde vaka enerope?

Will you sell your cow in january?

9. Mba’épa acocinata ko viernes pyhare?

What will I cook this friday night?

10. Moo piko jahata Paraguaýpe?
Where will we go in Asuncion?

Here's a conversation:

Mba’éichapa Oscar.

Iporã. Ha nde. Mba’éichapa reiko.

Aiko porã. Mba’e rejapo. 

Ahata amba’apo. 

Ha upéi? Mba’e rejapota ko ka’aru. 

Aterereta, ha upéi amopotĩta. Ahatama.
Jaterereta ko ka’aru. 


That was:
“How are you doing Oscar?”

“I’m good, and you?”

“I’m good. What are you up to?”

“I’m going to work.”

“And then? What are you going to do this afternoon?”

“I’m going to drink terere, then I’m going to clean. I’m going now, see ya!”

“See ya. We’ll terere this afternoon.” 


Episode 9: Irregular Verbs, Bleh

Mba’éichapa. This is Guaranime. Podcasting, in English, from the Glory Land of Guarani, here in Yataity, Paraguay, this is Paulita.

I just wanted to let you all know that I have quasi-fixed the problem of seeing how words are spelled. If you have an MP3 player that has a video screen, such as an ipod, you can look at the screen during the podcast, and the words will pop up. In between I just put in some pretty pictures of Paraguay. If you push the little center button on an ipod three times, they’ll be nice and big.

Ugh, today we’re talking a irregular verbs. It’s not fun, but you’ll use them a lot, so it’s important. Irregular verbs don’t really follow a pattern, those little poo-faces. The irregular verbs are these: to come, to go, to say, to eat or drink, to fall, to swim, and to drink water, which has its own special verb on top of just saying, “I drink water.” Today we’re just going to look at to come, to go, to say and to eat or drink, and save those others for another time.

The only way to do this is to get out a pen and paper. Make a little chart. Down the left side of the paper put all the pronouns, che, nde, ha’e, peẽ, ñande, ore, and ha’ekuéra. Then across the top, write as the column titles: to come, to go, to eat or drink, to say. If you want to do this in an Excel spreadsheet, I support that. Or if you’re too lazy, you can just look up the one I put below. I support that too.

Let’s go through them one at a time, and as we do, you can fill in the chart. What you’ll notice is that all these verbs almost have a pattern, but a few of the little rascals ruin it. With each word, we’ll talk about the pattern that’s almost there, and which ones spoil it for everyone. It might seem overwhelming at first, but just listen now and then you can break it up into chunks for memorization later.

Let’s start with “to come”. We already know “I come”, which is Che aju, so if you want to write it out you can fill in the first box with aju. For most of the “to come,” forms, you could just treat it as the verb is ju and add the beginnings we already know. So, “You come” is Nde reju. It’s with the he or she form that we run into trouble. Inexplicably, to say “he comes” or “she comes”, it’s Ha’e ou. As with all the other verbs, the ha’e and the ha’ekuéra verb forms are going to be the same. So for they come, he comes or she comes, you use the ou.

You’ll hear this a lot with hína. Ou hína Karen is “Karen’s coming”. Something else you’ll hear this combined with a lot is “to come” and that future -ta and then the question caboose -pa. You’ll use this to ask if someone is coming later. To say, “Is Shola going to come?” is Shola outapa. “Will you come” is Rejutapa.

Continuing on, we have the pattern just using the ju and the regular beginnings. “You all come” would be what? Peẽ peju. How about, “Will you all come?” Peẽ pejutapa. Then, “We all come.” Ñande jaju. “Just us come.” Ore roju.

Moving on to “to go.” We know this for the first person, which is Che aha. And in this case, the first person is the brat, along with the ñande form. We already know that form, jaha, as well, which means “let’s go” or “we all go.” Ok, well all the others are going to follow a pattern with a root of ho, like hi-ho Silver. So you go is Nde reho. "He or she goes" is Ha’e oho. "You all go" is Pee peho. What would be “Just us go”? Ore roho. "They go?" Ha’ekuera oho.

One of the things you will hear all the time is Ohoma. Like if someone’s asking if Suzy’s around, but Suzy already left, they’ll say, Ohoma Suzy. Or you might hear it with that question caboose iko. Ohomaiko Suzy? Héẽ, ohoma.

The next word is “to eat and to drink”, the root of which is just an ‘u, kind of weird. And, unfortunately, these are all weird. “I eat or drink” is Che ha’u, as we already know. "You eat" is re’u, which is not all that surprising. ***You might also hear he'u instead of re'u, although technically that is the command: eat. But you might hear, Mba'e he'uta: "What are you going to eat?"He eats" gets a little weird because it’s got an h on the front, and is ho’u. "You all eat" is Peẽ pe’u. “We all eat” is Ñande ja’u. This Ja’u is also that form which means let’s eat. “Just us eat,” Ore ro’u. “They eat” is Ha’ekuéra ho’u.

Lastly we have “to say”, the root of which is an ‘e. “I say” is Che ha’e. "You say" is a weirdo, as
"you say" is Nde ere. My Guarani tutor uses this all the time, to ask me, "What will you say?", for an example. She says Mba’e ereta. "He said or she said", you will hear all the time in conversations, it’s Ha’e he’i. ***You will also hear all the time: Mba'e he'i: "What did he/she say?"*** How about “You all say.” Out of absolutely nowhere, this has a j in it. Peẽ peje. To say “we all say” is Ñande ja’e. "Just us say" is Ore ro’e. "They say" is ha’ekuéra he’i.

Here’s a little side note on the word: he’i, and how you can use it to mean “What does that mean.” The literal translation is a little weird. Let’s say you want to know what the word kuehe means. What would ask is, Mba’épa he’ise 'kuehe.' Literally, this translate to, “What does kuehe want to say,” right? But in use it translates to “What does kuehe mean?” And to answer, the person would say, “Kuehe he’ise 'yesterday.'” Kuehe wants to say yesterday, kuehe means yesterday. End of side note.

Basically, these irregular verbs are just 28 words that you have to memorize separately. But there are some tricks to help you.

What are some patterns we can pick out here, horizontally across our chart? Well, the we’s, ñande and ore, give us something. For the ñande form words, they all start with ja-. And for all the ore words, they all start with ro-. Same thing with the Peẽ form, they all start with pe-.

This will help you guess in conversation, which is basically just what you need to do. When you want to use one of these, but you’re not sure exactly what it is, just guess. If you’re wrong, people will correct you and that will help you learn. You’ll say, Suzy he’e and people will say, he’i and it will go like that until you’ve got them down. Also, listen for these in conversation.

Another good tactic is to make flashcards of each word and put all the forms on the other side. If you can get the rhythm of reciting all of them, that might help you come up with the right one when you need it.

Or you might want to break it up into little goals. Learn all of the forms of one word, then go onto the next.

Just don’t get all overwhelmed and fry things, like I did.

Ok, now we’re going to review like nobody’s business. I made the mistake of not getting these down pat for a really long time, and I think it will be best if you just rock these out.

I’m going to break the review into 4 sections. You might just want to practice a section a day, because it’s probably too much to do in one day. The point is that it will drive you crazy if you just kind of know these, so you want to know them well.

Part 1. We’re going to review them in order of the word, starting with the English.
Part 2. We’re going to review them in order of the word, going from Guarani to English
Part 3 I’m going to mix up the order and ask them in English
Part 4, We’re just going to do 10 sentences like the usually review.

Ok, jaha.

Part 1.

To come:
I come: Che aju
You come: Nde reju
He or she comes: Ha’e ou
You all come: Pee peju
We all come: Ñande jaju
Just us come: Ore roju
They come: Ha’ekuéra ou
Command to come: Eju

To go:
I go: Che aha
You go: Nde reho
He or She goes: Ha’e oho
You all go: Pee peho
We all go: Ñande jaha
Just us go: Ore roho
They go: Ha’ekuéra oho

To eat or drink:
I eat: Che ha’u
You eat: Nde re’u
He or she eats: Ha’e ho’u
You all eat: Pee pe’u
We all eat: Ñande ja’u
Just us eat: Ore ro’u
They eat: Ha’ekuéra ho’u
Command form to eat: He’u

To say:
I say: Che ha’e
You say: Nde ere
He or she says: Ha’e he’i
You all say: Pee peje
We all say: Ñande ja’e
Just us say: Ore ro’e
They say: Ha’ekuéra he’i

Part 2. We’re going to review them in order of the word, now going from Guarani to English
To come:
Che aju: I come
Nde reju: You come
Ha’e ou: He or she comes
Pee peju: You all come
Ñande jaju: We all come
Ore roju: Just us come
Ha’ekuéra ou: They come

To go:
I go: Che aha
You go: Nde reho
Ha’e oho: He or She goes
Pee peho: You all go
Ñande jaha: We all go
Ore roho: Just us go
Ha’ekuéra oho: They go

To eat or drink:
Che ha’u: I eat
Nde re’u: You eat
Ha’e ho’u: He or she eats
Pee pe’u: You all eat
Ñande ja’u: We all eat
Ore ro’u: Just us eat
Ha’ekuéra ho’u: They eat

To say:
Che ha’e: I say
Nde ere: You say
Ha’e he’i: He or she says
Pee peje: You all say
Ñande ja’e: We all say
Ore ro’e: Just us say
Ha’ekuéra he’i: They say

Part 3
Ok, now the big mix-up in English first:
We all come: Ñande jaju
Just us go: Ore roho
They say: Ha’ekuéra he’i
He or she eats: Ha’e ho’u
Just us say: Ore ro’e
They go: Ha’ekuéra oho
You all come: Pee peju
You eat: Nde re’u
You all say: Pee peje
They eat: Ha’ekuéra ho’u
You go: Nde reho
You say: Nde ere
We all eat: Ñande ja’u
We all say: Ñande ja’e
He or She goes: Ha’e oho
You come: Nde reju
He or she says: Ha’e he’i
You all go: Pee peho
I eat: Che ha’u
He or she comes: Ha’e ou
I go: Che aha
Just us come: Ore roju
Just us eat: Ore ro’u
I come: Che aju
You all eat: Pee pe’u
We all go: Ñande jaha
I say: Che ha’e
They come: Ha’ekuéra ou
Part 4: Sentences

1. Do you all want to eat pizza?
Peẽ pe’use piko pizza

2. Are you going to go tomorrow?
Nde rehotapa ko’ẽrõ

3. What did you say to Sasha?
Mba’e ere ra’e Sashape.

4. We want to eat pizza this afternoon.
Ore ro’use pizza ko ka’aru.

5. Is Oscar going to go tonight?
Oscar ohotapa ko pyhare

6. Máva piko ho’u ra’e che pizza.
Who ate my pizza?

7. Ohoma Justin.
Did Justin go already?

8. Moõ piko peho kuehe.
Where did you all go yesterday?

9. Araka’e piko ja’uta sushi.
When are we all going to eat sushi?

10. Obama outa Paraguaipe.
Obama’s coming to Paraguay.

Episode 8: Question Words

Mba’éichapa. How are things? Good, I hope. I have a little tweak on something we talked about last week, using oiko to mean something works. Like food that’s just ok, oiko, it’s work, it’ll do the trick. And then I said that Oiko porã means that it works well. Well apparently, there is a third level I was previously unaware of, the top level of "That really works very well," would be Oikoite. This is a combo we’ll learn about later, but just so you know, if you want to say that anything works really well, it’s oikoite. If someone asks about the food they made you, Oiko? The best thing you can say about it is Oikoite.

Ok, now on to today’s lessons: Questions!

For the most part, when a stranger comes up to in Paraguay and just starts jabblin’ in Guaraní, they’re probably asking you some kind of question. Who are you? What’s your name? Where’s the nearest liquor store? Today we’re going to figure out what those question are and how to answer. First we’ll look at how questions are formed in Guarani, then we’ll learn how to use those question words, such as who, what, when and where.

As a mostly oral language, Guaraní doesn’t have question marks. Instead, they have little cabooses that show they’re asking a question. Let’s start looking at these while using our old buddy mba’e as an example. You’ll remember that mba’e means “what”.

One of the cabooses you will hear to show that someone is asking “What?” is Like, "whaaaat?" Sometimes you’ll also hear someone just say piko. Mba’e piko.piko. I picture this like in a cartoon when a question mark just pops over someone’s head. Or I guess you could translate it as like, “really?”

You’ll hear piko a lot with that word , which mean to be, as in, Oĩ pizza, “There’s pizza.” So to ask, “Is there pizza?”, you’d say Oĩ piko pizza. How would you say “Is there sushi?” Oĩ piko sushi?

Sometimes you will hear this shortened to just iko. In my host family, when the mom calls one of the kids, they always respond with Mba’eiko! Like, “Suzy!” “Whaaaaaat?” Mba’eiko! That sounds familiar, right? The two words kind of meld together. It’s not Mba’e...iko. It’s Mba’eiko.

Another of these endings that will form a question is -pa. You’ll hear this thrown in to the sentence wherever to show that the sentence is a question. Mba’epa is another way to say “What?” You’ll also hear Chepa, to mean, me? Like, “Go milk the cows." Chepa.

Also, sometimes when the siblings in my host family are fighting, one says, Mba’epa nde? And that is Mba’e + pa + nde, the word for “you”. It’s kind of like, “What’s your deal?” “What do you want?” Mba’pa nde?

Another one that is invented and not in the Guaraní books is pio. My expert on the down and dirty street language laughed when I tried to find this in the books. He said it’s invented but also the one they use most. Mba’epio, you might hear. Or, you might just hear it shortened even more to just io. Using pio, how would you ask, “You?” Ndépio. How about “You’re going to speak?” Ndépio reñe’ẽta. How about “I’m going to speak?” Chepio añe’ẽta. How about “You’re going to speak in Guarani?” Ndepio reñe’ẽta Guaranime.

In that example, you could put the question caboose, pio, after then noun, nde, or the verb, reñe’ẽ. Or some people just throw them on the back of the sentence as if they really were question marks. I think it depends on what you’re question emphasizes. For example, this one is “You are going to speak in Guaraní," with the emphasis on you. If someone were going to say, “You’re going to skydive?,” the pio would probably come after the skydive. Think of which word sounds like it might be written in italics.

We also need to go over one more tidbit. It’s kind of like -kuri’s twin brother, that steps in once it’s question. This is the caboose -ra’e. You’re going to attach -ra’e to the back of verbs, as in questions about the recent past, such as, “Did you clean?” Ndépa remopotĩra’e. “Did they go out?” Ha’ekuérapio osẽra’e. Just like -kuri, ra’e is optional. You’re going to use it when it makes things clearer. But you can leave it off when it’s obvious that you’re asking about the past. If I say, “Did you clean yesterday,” I could phrase it as Kuehe remopotĩ piko. And because I started out with the word for yesterday, it’s obvious that I’m talking about the past tense.

Now let’s figure out what those strangers might be mumbling to us in Guaraní. We can use that old reporter’s guide, the Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

Number one, who? “Who used my ipod?” The word for “who” is spelled máva, but I have never heard anyone pronounce the v in this word, so it comes out ma-a. So let’s use piko on this one. “Who used my ipod?” How would we start with “Who” as a question. Máva piko then we’ll continue on, using the third person with that aireal verb "to use", which is poru. So now we have Máva piko oiporu, and then my ipod, che ipod. Máva piko oiporu che ipod.

How about, "Who’s going to clean?" Máva piko omopotĩta. What does this mean: Máva piko ojapo ko sushi. "Who made this sushi?"

(***When someone says, "Did you hear that Stacy made out with that crazy guy?" And you want to say, "Stacy who?", in Guaraní you put the "who" before Stacy. So you'd say, "Máva Stacy?"***)

Something else you might hear with máva is the caboose, ndi, with means “with”. Mávandi is “with whom,” With whom am I rollin’ to the party? I’m going with Rebecca would be Aha Rebeccandi. How about, “I will work with Liam.” Amba’apota Liamndi. How about, “With whom will I speak?” using pa as the question word. Mávandipa añe’ẽta.

Ok, so we got the who, now on to the what. You already know the word for what, which is mba’e. One of the questions you’ll hear a lot with this is Mba’e rejapo, which means “What are you doing?” Kind of like, “What’s up?” Mba’e rejapo doesn’t have a pa or a piko, right, so how will the other person know it’s a question? Well, would it make more sense for me to say, “Hey, what are you doing?” Or “Hey, what you do"? That’s just another lesson in the spirit of Guaraní, that if we know what you’re saying, no worries. So you’ll hear some questions without a question caboose, if it’s obvious that it’s a question.

Another phrase you’ll hear with mba’e as a question is mba’epe, that pe which means “in, to or at.” In this case, mba’epe, it’s mostly used as “in what.” If I say Ahata Brazilpe, “I’m going to Brazil,” someone might say, Mba’epe, In what. As in, am I going in a bus or in a plane.

Something else you’ll hear with mba’e is Mba’e reipota. What does that mean? It means “What do you want.” Whoa, easy, a little rude, right? Not really in Guaraní, think of it as "May I help you?"

How would you ask, “What are you going to do today?”, putting the -pa ending on the mba’e. Mba’epa rejapota ko’ara. How about “What are you making?”, again using -pa. Mba’epa rejapo hína.

FYI, mba’e can also mean, "which"? As in "which one"? You also might hear this combined that word oiko, mba’e piko oiko, to mean, “What happened?”

How about “when”? When is, akara’e. But this is more of a when in a general sense. If you’re asking when today, like what time, people are more likely to use, Mba’e óra, which is “what hour”, with the Guaraní “what” and Spanish hora, (Guaranize to be spelled óra,) which is hour. You can also use mba’e día, which is “what day,” with the Spanish día for day. Akara’e is more for time in general. “When will I go” would be Araka’e piko ahata. What time are we cleaning today would be Mba’e óra ñamopotĩta ko’ara. How about "When will you use my ipod?," using the -pa ending after araka’e. Araka’epa reiporuta che ipod.

Ok, now how about where. Where is moõ, like cows moõ. To remember this I thought, Where are the cows? Moõ. Or that’s where. Moõ I hear a lot with piko. Free beer! Moõ piko. Or you might use this a lot with that ime verb we learned in the last podcast. To say "where is", like where is my sushi? Moõ oime che sushi. A question you’ll hear all the time is Moõ reho. Where are you going? Moõ reho. Reho is the you form of "to go", wheras aha is the first person. We’ll get to irregular verbs in the next episode, although I really don’t want to because they suck. Anyway, Moõ reho. So how would you say, "Where’s my sushi?" Using -piko. Moõ piko oime che sushi. And what does this mean? Moõ reho Suzyndi. “Where are you going with Suzy?”

The idea of “why” is kind of broken into two parts. One is used more for the past tense. “Why did you punch your brother in face?” That one is mba’ére. This is why. The other one is more “for what, why?” And that is ma’erã. (Also spelled marã) In Spanish, this is “para que.” I can’t help but think of that because my host mom always yells it at me when I spend money. Para que did you buy another pair of shoes.

I guess you could say the mba’ére is more about the past, about causes. Like if I said, I think my dog is sick, someone would say, Mba’ére? Why? Ma’erã is more about the future. For what. Ma’erã reipota y. “For what do you want water?" I think in a lot of cases you could use either one.

How is mba’éicha. You’ll use this alot with pa. And now you realize that you’ve been walking around saying Mba’éichapa, which is just “How,” like a cartoon indian. When you’re not using it as a greeting, mostly you’ll use Mba’éichapa with oiko, to mean what’s the deal with something or how does something work. Oiko comes from iko, that word that you’ll remember means to work or function. Mba’éichapa oiko the stock market. Mba’éichapa oiko quantum physics. You can also use it more literally, like, “How did you make this sushi?” Mba’éichapa rejapora’e ko sushi.

Next we have mboy, which means how much or how many. You’ll use this in the store. Sometimes someone will pick up and item and just look at the cashier and say, Mboy. You can also use this with that verb sẽ, which means to go out but also means to cost. If you want to ask how much something costs, you can just hold it up and say Mboýpa osẽ. How would you say, “How many are there?” Mboýpa oĩ.

piko, pio, io: ?, really?
pa: ?
máva: who
ndi: with
araka’e: when
moõ: where
mba’ére: why
ma’erã: for what
mboy: how much
ra’e: ? in past tense

1. When will I know? (use pa)
Araka’epa aikuaata?

2. How much does this sushi cost? (use piko)
Mboy piko osẽ ko sushi.

3. Who will make pizza tonight? (use piko)
Máva piko ojapota pizza ko pyhare.

4. What time do you all want to terere today?
Mba’e órapa petererese ko’ara.

5. Where is my sushi? (pio)
Moõ pio che sushi.

6. Mba’ere oiporura’e che y.
Why did they use my water?

7. Ma’erãpio remopotĩta mandi’o.
For what are you going to clean the mandioca?

8. Mavandi ahata Brazilpe.
With whom am I going to Brazil?

9. Mba’éichapa peiko.
How ya’ll doin?

10. Nde ikatu remopotĩ ko’ara
Can you clean today?

Episode 7: Good Stuff and Aireals

Good Stuff was invented by my friend Mateo. Every so often he calls me and says I got some good stuff for ya, only he doesn’t use the word stuff. This means that he’s figured out how to say something really useful and just has to tell me. I grab a pen and he gives me a random list. Today for the first half of the episode I just got some Good Stuff for you. It’s just a random list of words that I looked at and I was like, “Ah! We haven’t gone over that yet.” Then in the second half of this episode my Good Stuff will ever so smoothly segue into talking about a kind of verb called Aireals.


Ok, beginning with Good Stuff:

The first one is just good times. This word is Cháke! It begins with a Ch, which should have an s-h sound, but people usually pronounce it just like it has an H. Cháke che ra’a! you might say when someone is tripping. It can also be like when someone’s dancing all crazy, possibly doing the shimmy. Cháke, Cháke! If someone starts doing the robot, you can just go straight for the nahániri.

The next word I know I’ve mentioned, and everyone who’s in Paraguay knows what it is. But I don’t want to forget those of you who haven’t come to Paraguay yet. That word is terere. Terere is a delicious iced drink made of crushed yerba leaves. It’s also a custom that is so important, sitting around drinking terere. It might just be more important than mandi’o, but that’s a pretty tough call. We’ll have a whole terere lesson in the future, but for now I just want you to know what it is. It’s a noun, but you can also use it as a verb. To say, “Let’s drink terere,” you can just say, Jaterere. To say, “I’m drinking terere”, it’s Aterere hína. What would be, “Just us are going to drink terere.” Ore roterereta.

The next word is your friend. This word is ikatu. It means “can”, as in “Can Jimmy come out and play?” Or “to be able to.” To say, “I can go” is Che ikatu aha. The most beautiful thing about ikatu is that, like any strong woman, it doesn’t change for anybody. Che ikatu, nde ikatu, ha’e ikatu... (fade)

The ikatu is always before the other verb in a question, and we’ll learn how to ask questions in the next episode. But sometimes, in a statement, it will be tacked on like a caboose, but without the i. ***In this case, it means then, as in Jahakatu, "Let´s go then."***

Ikatu also means “maybe” or “possibly.” Like, “Will you make me sushi tomorrow?” Eh, ikatu. Just a warning, though, about the cultural use of this word. Paraguayans don’t like to say “no” directly, so a lot of times they say, “maybe,” which is “no.” So if someone asks them a question, like, “Will you come to my grandmother’s 90th birthday?”, they’ll just respond with ikatu, which means “could be” and which means “no.” Once someone asked me if we’d do something later, and I said ikatu because I really did mean “maybe”. But he was mad because he thought I’d said “no.”

The next verb is the only other one in Guaraní that I know of that also doesn’t change for anybody. This is ha’e. Wait, you say, ha’e means “him or her”. I know. Ha’e suffers from multiple personality disorder. It could be “him or her,” and now I’m going to tell you that it is “to be” as well. And there will be one more definition coming down the line a little later.

“To be” is one big idea in English, right? You can be fat or be angry or be American or be in your house. “To be” encompasses a lot of things, from the temporary location where you are for five minutes to your origin that you will keep for your whole life. It can be an emotion that will pass or a physical trait that will never change.

That’s not how it is in Guaraní. Guaraní follows that patterns of “to be” that Spanish follows. I’m going to use Spanish just as a reference for those of you who are familiar with it. If you don’t know Spanish, don’t worry about it.

The first kind of “to be” is the big kind of “to be”. In Spanish, this word is ser. In Guaraní, ha’e is this kind of “to be.” The work ser is derived from the same Latin root from which we derive “essence” in English, or so that’s what this here book says. I don’t usually go around throwing out knowledge of Latin roots. Anyway, with this kind of “to be,” we can think about everything that is more about the essence of a person, an inherent quality or characteristic. This is for big stuff like your origin. I am American. Che ha’e Americana. Or your physical characteristics. I am blond. Che ha’e rubia. Your profession. I am a volunteer. Che ha’e voluntaria. Think of things that won’t change, just like the verb ha’e doesn’t change.

The thing about this ha’e is that people don’t use it all that often. Usually, in Guaraní, it’s more of like a “Me Tarzan, you Jane” kind of sound. “I am American” could be Che Americana. I am a volunteer, Che voluntaria. My Guaraní tutor said that because ha’e means so many things, people just leave it out.

The other kind of “to be” is kind that can change. This is the equivalent of estar in Spanish, and, says my book, estar is derived from the same Latin root as “state.” So then, this kind of “to be” is for temporary states or conditions. In Guaraní, this word is ime.

So to say, “I am,” we’re going to say Che, then add the a like usual, then the verb, ime. Che aime. I am.

Now, I am what? With this you’re going to use those temporary things, such as where you are. “I am in Paraguay” is going to be Che aime Paraguaipe. “You are in Paraguay.” Nde reime Paraguaipe. What would be “Paulita is in Yataity.” Paulita oime Yataitype.

There’s another Guaraní word for estar, to be, which is iko. Iko is more of that state, like “How are you?” “How are things going?” “How la living Biggie Smalls? That kind of how are you. Sometimes in a greeting, someone asks, Mba’echapa reiko?, which is like, “How is it going?”, people will answer, Aiko porã. Kind of like, “I’m living good.”

Oiko kind of means to work, as in to function. Paraguayans also use it as kind of like an, "eh, it works." Like if you throw a meal together from what you have, and it’s not the most delicious. You taste it and your buddy asks, “Is it good?” You’d could say, Oiko. It’ll do the trick. If it is actually good, you might say, Oiko porã.

***Oiko can also mean "to happen". Mba´e oiko is "What happened?"***

There is also another way to describe states, such as being tired, but we’ll have to save that for another episode.


When you change the driver car for ime or iko, then, they’re going to have an ai, which makes this a dirty fakeout of another kind of verb, which is called an Aireal. It’s no big deal, so don’t panic. With Aireal verbs, all you’re going to do is add an i after the normal verb beginning driver cars. That’s it. Just think these as a little kid on the train that says, “I want to ride up front.” So “i” is just riding up front, in the driver car. Hence, when these verbs are in the first person, they start with a ai, with second person rei and so on. So you might think when you hear aime that it’s an Aireal, but it’s not. When we get to more complicated conjugations, it will be important to know the difference.

How about the rest of the aireals? How are you going to spot them? Well, mostly they are those that begin with k, p, n or s. But some begin with t. Over time as well, you’ll just here them and get used to the sound with the i in there.

Let’s look at the aireal kuaa, which means “to know” or “to understand.” Let’s practice the beginnings. Basically it’s just more of an “i” sound on the end. I know is Che aikuaa. You know. Nde reikuaa. She knows. Ha’e oikuaa. You all know. Peẽ peikuaa. Just us know. Ore roikuaa. We all know. Ñande jaikuaa. They know. Ha’ekuéra oikuaa. The ñande beginning will change to ñai when the aireal verb is nasal.

So how about “I know Suzy.” Here we’re going to revisit that caboose -pe. When you have an action and someone is, excuse me, the direct object, meaning they receive the action directly, then you’re going to add a -pe to the end of their name. These are called direct objects and we’ll talk more about them later. “I punch Suzy” is going to be “I punch Suzype”. When you have animals, you can either use it or leave it off. -Pe is going to have a few more uses as we go along.

So let’s go back to “I know Suzy.” We’re going to say, Che aikuaa Suzype. How about, “He knows Joan.” Ha’e oikuaa Joanpe. How would you say, “They know Tessa”? Ha’ekuéra oikuaa Tessape.

Side note: You’re going to use kuaa as a verb like this when you want to say you know a place or you know someone, but you’re going to use kuaa as a caboose when you want to say you know how to do something. "I know how to speak" would be, Che añe’ẽkua. So what would be, “I know how to speak in Guaraní”? Che añe’ẽkuaa Guaraníme. ***Sometimes kuaa as a caboose like this can also mean "to be able to". Remba'apokuaa ko'ãga can mean, "Can you work now?"*** End of side note.

Another real aireal is pota, which means “to want.” “I want water” would be, Che aipota y. How about “She wants mandioca”? Ha’e oipota mandi’o.

And here we have another side note, because, much like kuaa, pota is going “to be”, this is not a thing, but a verb. I’m not going to use pota for this kind of want, when I want to do a verb. When I want to do something, I’m going to use a caboose, which is -se. So I want to be in Paraguay will be Che aimese Paraguaype. “He wants to work” would be Ha’e omba’apose. How about “They want to know”? Ha’ekuéra oikuaase. End of side note. Back to aireals.

Another good one is poru. I use this a lot with the caboose -se, to say things like, “I want to use your scissors.” This sounds like weird phrasing in English, but aiporuse is a common thing to hear in Guaraní.

Now let’s review

Your 10 new vocab words:
  1. terere: yerba drink
  2. ikatu: can, am able to
  3. ha’e: am, is, are
  4. ime: to be, location
  5. iko: live, go
  6. kuaa: to know
  7. ...kuaa: v.e. to know how
  8. pota: to want
  9. ...se: v.e. to want to
  10. poru: to use

1. I want to drink terere now
Che atererese ko’ãga.

2. You can use my mandioca.
Nde ikatu reiporu che mandi’o.

3. They are Paraguayans.
Ha’ekuéra ha’e Paraguayos.

4. Jesus is in Brazil
Jesus oime Brazilpe.

5. We all want water.
Ñande jaipota y.

Now with the Guaraní first.

6. Che aikuaa Carlospe.
I know Carlos.

7. Ha’ekuéra omba’apokuaa.
They know how to work

8. Fernando ha’e Paraguayo.
Fernando is Paraguayan.

9. Ha’e oipuruse che camara ko’ẽrõ.
He wants to use my camera tomorrow.

10. Ha’e omopotĩse kuri kuehe.
She wanted to clean yesterday.

Extra credit:
More aireal verbs:
kotevẽ: to need
kytĩ: to cut
nupã: to hit, to beat (someone)
piro: to peel
poka: to twist, to wring
pytyvõ: to help, to cooperate
su’u: to bite or chew
typei: to sweep

More aireal dirty fake-outs:
ike: enter
imo’ã: to think
ity: to throw

Episode 6: Time

Hello! How are things? Today we are going to be talking about time, but before we do I have a few announcements.

1. It’s come to my attention that on the last episode I used a word in the review that I had taken out of the vocab list for that episode and hence never explained. I ask that you please just remember that I am grossly underpaid. However, I apologize.

That word was guereko. This means “to have”. So “I have” is Che aguereko. This verb also has a shorter version, which is reko, which is what all the cool kids use, or at least I do. They’re interchangeable. I once heard a woman use one and then the other two sentences later. There will be a few instances of this, so let’s just establish now that when we have a review where you have to answer with the Guaraní, we’ll use the longer version of the word. But when it comes to listening and replying in English, you may hear one of the two forms. “I got mandioca” could be Che aguereko mandi’o or Che areko mandi’o.

2. Here’s another point on the shorter version theme. We’re going to change it up a little and you might hear on the review some of those personal pronouns, like che or ha’e, go missing. Because the verbs are specific to people in Guaraní, sometimes they just leave off the pronoun if it’s obvious. So “I got mandioca” could just be Areko mandi’o. We’ll keep using pronouns when you have to answer in Guaraní, but in listening, you’ll start to hear some of the sentences without pronouns and you’ll have to infer from which verb beginning is used who we’re talking about. So from Jareko mandi’o you can tell from the ja- beginning that it’s going to be, “We got mandioca.”

3. Want to thank those who sent me e-mails and wish them good luck in your studies of esoteric indiginous languages of South America. As for the rest of you, I’d love to hear from you at guaranime@gmail.com for questions or rave reviews of the podcast. Please keep all complaints to yourself.

4. You may have noticed that the podcast descriptions in iTunes have been looking a little funktified. All these tildes and accents are messing things up. So I will be going about the apparently quite complicated process of cleaning this up. When this is ready, if you’re listening to the podcast on an ipod, you can press the center button four times to see a word list as we go through.

Ok, party time. Wait, we don’t know how to say party time yet, so instead of party it will have to be work. Let’s pretend that I am working day and night, saving up for a teat lift for my pig I work in the morning. I work in the afternoon. I work at night. How do we say these things? Morning, noon, night?

Let’s start with the morning and look at how would we say, “I work during the morning.”

You already know, “I work”. Che amba’apo. Now we need to know how to say, “during the morning.” Well, the word for morning is pyhareve.

Now the word you’re going to use that kind of means “during” is going to be a caboose that you latch on to whatever time you’re talking about. That caboose is ...kue. So, “during the morning” is pyharevekue. And “I work during the morning” is Che amba’apo pyharevekue.

What would be “We all work in the morning?” And remember that mba’apo is a nasal verb. Ñande ñamba’apo phyharevekue.

Side note: There are a few times when you’re not going to use the ...kue. For example, when something already happened, people usually use the ...pe. We’ll learn how to use past tense in a minute. You can also use ...pe when it’s just a momentary thing, more like “in the morning” instead of “during the morning”. Also, sometimes people just leave it off. “I’ll see ya in the morning” could just be Jajotopata pyhareve. And, as usually, people are really pretty loose with the rules on this. Also, I have found that the answer largely depends on who you ask.

After the morning you have the early afternoon, mid-day, when you should be eating lunch then napping in the hammock. They call it “siesta” in Spanish. In Guaraní that is asaje. So how would you say, “during siesta.” asajekue. How would you say, “Let’s go during siesta”? Jaha asajekue.

A little later you have the afternoon. This is kind of weird to Americans, because we don’t break up the afternoon into two parts. But this is the later of the two, when you’ve woken up from the nap and are drinking terere. That’s going to be called ka’aru. That’s a chopped word with an apostrophe right in the middle. Ka’aru. So “during the afternoon” is ka’arukue. How would you say, “I will come during the afternoon?” Che ajuta ka’arukue.

Next you naturally have night time. This is weird and confusing because the word for night sounds almost exactly like the morning. Night is pyhare. How I remember the difference is that “ve” means “see” in Spanish. And since the word for morning has that “ve” on the end of it, I think, you see in the morning but not at night. Pyhareve, morning. Pyhare, night.

There are other ways to describe when you do something, such as “I’m working right now.” The word for “now” is ko’ãga. Something that you’ll see a few different places is that ko. Ko means “this”. So you could kind of break this down to think, this second, now. How would you say, using hína as well for the -ing ending, “I’m working right now.” Che amba’apo hina ko’ãga.

Another example of ko meaning “this” is the word for “today”, ko’ára. Ko meaning “this” and ára meaning “day”. This day, today. How would you say, “Today we will all work”? Ko’ára ñande ñamba’apota.

Side bar tip: You can also use ko with pyhareve to mean “this morning”, ko pyhareve. Or with asaje or ka’aru or pyhare. “Tonight” would then be what? “Ko pyhare.”

To say yesterday you say kuehe. Kuehe, all my troubles seemed so far away. And well, if we’re talking about yesterday we’re going to need to know how to use the past tense. Guaraní has an interesting system for using the past tense. There are a few different cabooses you could use, depending on if you’re talking about yesterday or back in your Nam days. Today we’ll just talk about the most common one. This is the caboose ...kuri. “I worked yesterday” is going to be Che amba’apo kuri kuehe.

Here’s a little tip on that one. If you mention the time frame before the verb, let’s say “Yesterday I worked.” If you’ve already said yesterday, you don’t have to add the ...kuri. Many things are like this in Guaraní. It’s like, if we get what you’re saying, you don’t have to worry about grammatical points. So “Yesterday I worked” could be Kuehe amba’apo kuri or just Kuehe amba’apo. We would never in English say “Yesterday I work”, but it flies in Guaraní.

And let’s round out the vocab with the word for tomorrow, which is ko’ẽrõ . So in looking this up, it breaks down really interestingly. Ko’e is the verb which means “to wake up”, and is the conditional, kind of like, if I wake up...then there will be tomorrow. We’ll learn about those words later, so don’t worry about remembering them now, I just love the way words are made up in Guaraní. Let’s practice with, “Tomorrow you all will work”. Ko’ẽrõ peẽ pemba’apota.

You already know another time-oriented phrase, which is Ha upéi? This literally means “and then?” People use it as a greeting, like “What’s up?” But you can also use it when people are telling a story. So I was met this hottie... “Ha upéi?” Or you can just use it when talking. “Amba’apokuri pyharevekue ha upéi asẽ.” What does that mean? “I worked in the morning and then I went out.”

Now let’s practice.

1. I’ll do it tonight.
Che ajapota ko pyharekue.

2. They did it yesterday.
Ha’ekuéra ojapo kuri kuehe.

3. Auxi cleaned during the morning.
Auxi omopotĩ kuri pyharevekue.

4. Let’s go now.
Jaha ko’ãga.

5. I will speak to Rossana tomorrow.
Che añe’ẽta Rossanape ko’ẽrõ.

Now switching to Guaraní first.

6. Jajotopata ko pyhare.
We’ll see each other tonight.

7. Ajuta asajekue.
I’ll come during siesta.

8. Ha’ekuéra osẽta ko pyhare.
They’re going to go out tonight.

9. Che ha’u y ko pyhareve.
I drank water this morning.

10. Oĩkuri mandi’o.
There was mandioca.

1.pyhareve: morning
2. asaje: siesta
3. ka’aru: afternoon
4. pyhare: night
5. ...kue: during
6. ...kuri: past tense
7. ko’ãga: now
8. ko’ára: today
9. ko’ẽrõ: tomorrow
10. kuehe: yesterday
*guereko: to have
*reko: to have