Episode 3: Humble Beginnings


Mba’e la porte. Che Paulita and this is Guaraníme. Today we’re going to talk more about what your mean old grammar teacher called personal pronouns. These are those stand-in words we use so we don’t have to keep repeating names over and over: I, he, she, them, us. We’ll also talk about the verb beginnings for each pronoun.

As we already learned, we use the word Che when referring to ourselves. Remember how to say “I make?”, as in “I’m making pizza... che ajapo pizza. When the action is going on right now, you can choose to use that hina verb ending or leave it off. Today we’re going to leave it off, for simplicity’s sake. We’re going to use japo throughout the episode, as we talk about the verb beginnings, those driver cars, that go with every pronoun, such as the a beginning that goes with the che. Che ajapo pizza.

So, I am che. Who are you? To say you in Guaraní is nde. The word begins with n-d, but you barely hear that n and it’s practically all d. You actually already learned this in Episode 1, when saying Ha nde. To break that down, ha means “and” and nde is "you". Ha nde. I could go for a delicious cocktail. Ha nde?

Let’s see how that sentence “I make pizza”, Che ajapo pizza changes when we want to say “You make pizza.” Instead of the Che we’re going to use nde. The verb, japo, is going to stay the same, but we’re going to change the “ah” sound on the front. Instead of the “ah” that you use for first person, you’re going to put re-. That’s the verb beginning, the driver car, for the second person, for you. So then how are we going to say “You make pizza.”? Nde rejapo pizza. Now in some areas of Paraguay, they leave off the r when pronouncing words, and you’ll just hear like ejapo. So just be aware of that. Like in Episode 2 when my buddy didn’t really pronounce the v in avei. It’s kind of like that.

In Guaraní, there’s also a “you all,” or “ya’ll” where I come from. This would be the Spanish equivalent of ustedes. In Guaraní, it’s Peẽ. Peẽ is spelled like pee, as in, I drank terere for an hour and now I have to pee. The last e has a tilde on it, which kind of makes it sound like you’re holding your nose while you say it, and with all the latrines in Paraguay, you may very well be. We’ll talk more about accents and tildes later.

Just like we did for Nde, we’re going to change the verb beginning for peẽ. This beginning for peẽ gives us a nice little shortcut. Yes, we love shortcuts. The verb beginning is just pe-. You just cut off that nasal “e” and you got yourself a verb beginning. So then what would be “Ya’ll make pizza.” Peẽ pejapo pizza.

To say “him” or “her” you’re going to say Ha’e, which is another one of those words with the apostrophe right smack in the middle. This verb is not gender specific, so people who speak Guaraní don’t have to worry about the whole awkward post-sex-change “him” or “her” choice.

The verb beginning when it is him or her doing the action, is going to be an o-. And it takes that same sound “oh”. So, then, “He makes pizza” is Ha’e ojapo pizza.

If one person, him or her, is ha’e, then multiple people, lots of hims and hers, aka “them” is just going to be the plural form of ha’e. That makes sense. How do you make words plural in Guaraní? Whereas in English we ususally put just an S on the end, in Guaraní you put a big long kuera caboose. This doesn’t apply for all words, but we’ll go with it for now and I’ll explain more when we get into detail later. So if "he" is ha’e, then them will be ha’ekuéra.

For the verb beginning of “them,” we have another wonderful shortcut. The verb beginning is the same as for him or her. It’s just an o-! Oh happy day. So, then, “They make pizza” is going to be.... Ha’ekuéra ojapo pizza.

Perhaps one of the most unusual things about Guaraní is how they break apart the we. Let me explain. Have you ever been walking with a hottie, maybe lookin’ to make out and you come across a friend on the street. You say, “We’re going to the beach.” And they say, “The beach! What a great idea, I’ll get my suit.” And you’re like, Whompty whomp. Will not be making out any time soon. Well, the Paraguayans have come up with an ingenious way to never have their make-out plans foiled again.

They break up the concept of “we” into the inclusive and exclusive. Inclusive is when you want to include everyone. The word they use is ñande. This is inclusive because it includes everyone who is present. Then there is the exclusive, which is ore, which excludes the listener and refers to a smaller group that makes up the “we.” How I remember this is that ore is spelled like core, without the c, so I think of it as the core group, cuttin’ the fat. If you used ore as the "we" in “we are going to the beach,” the person you are speaking to would know that, in this case, three’s a crowd. But if you used ñande, it would be like an invite, because using the ñande form is kind of a way to say, “Let’s!” So it would kind of be like “Let’s go to the beach!”

These are not hard and fast rules. A lot of times people just go for the inclusive ñande, even when they’re talking about just a few people.

So, if you want to invite someone, you would use the inclusive. The verb beginning of the pronoun ñande is ja- (OK, so this can change, in ways I’ll explain later. But I don’t want to scare away those three subscribers still clinging on.) For now, just focus on the ja-. How are we going to say, “We all make pizza.” Nande jajapo pizza.

Now, if you have the date situation. You and the hottie are going to make some pizza, You’re going to use the ore form, so that no one invites themselves along. The verb beginning you’re going to use is ro-. It’s like ore turned backwards without the e. How are you going to say, “We are going to make pizza.” (Hint: Don’t forget to add on that -ta for the future to the verb.) Ore rojapota pizza.

Oh sweet lord, you’ve had a long day.


I think we’ve had some good practice already. But I’m also going to start something at the end of every episode, which I’ll call Putting it all together. Maybe I’ll even find a little theme song for the segment. Anyway, we’re going to practice, drawing on words we’ve already gone over throughout the podcast. I don’t want anything from way back getting dusty in your brain. We don’t have a whole lot to work with just yet, but as time goes one, we will. Ok, let’s go. For the first five, you’re going to get English first, then respond in Guaraní. For the next five, it will be Guaraní first, then the translation in English.

Putting it all together.

1. You make sushi too.
Nde rejapo sushi avei.

2. I’m going to go to Paraguay.
Che ahata Paraguaype.

3. I ate already.
Che ha’uma.

4. They’re making sushi.
Ha’ekuéra ojapohina sushi.

5. You all make sushi well.
Peẽ pejapo porã sushi.

6. Che aha avei.
I’m going too.

7. Ore rojapoma sushi.
We (just us) already made sushi.

8. Che ajuhina.
I’m coming.

9. Ha’e ojapo sushi Japanpe.
He makes sushi in Japan. (We’re just going to use the English word for “Japan” for this one.)

10. Ñande jajapota sushi!
We’re all going to make sushi!



10ish Vocabies for Today!

  1. ha: and
  2. nde: you, your
  3. re-: v.b. for you
  4. peẽ: you all
  5. pe-: v.b. for you all
  6. ha’e: him or her
  7. ha’ekuéra: them
  8. o-: v.b. for him, her or them
  9. ñande: we all (inclusive)
  10. ja-: v.b. for we all
  11. ore: just us
  12. ro-: v.b. for just us

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