Introduction to Basque: Lesson 3

Let’s have a short summary before. We now have two important words: to be - izan with the forms ni naiz, zu zara, hura da and we have to have - ukan with the forms nik dut, nik duzu, hark du. Now why these words are important is they help us use verbs and thus construct other sentences in Basque. You know that the word izan is the word to be and the word ukan is the word to have (just like dauzka) and it also requires the-have-transformation.

I want you to look at these words izan and ukan as two gates: the to be izan gate and the to have ukan gate. Each Basque verb must go through one of these gates to be used. Which gate does a verb go through? Well, that depends on whether a verb can have an object or not. In other words:

If the question what? can be asked for that verb, then it goes through the ukan gate. If it cannot be asked then it goes through the izan gate.

A way to remember that is that the word ukan means have and you can most definitely ask what do you have?.

Let’s have a couple of examples of verbs and see which gate they go through...

For example... the word to arrive. Can we ask what do you arrive? - not really. Thus it goes through the izan to be gate. Then the word to do. Can we ask what do you do? - sure thing. Thus we use the ukan gate.

Which gate would the word to go out go through:

1 translation: to go out goes through the gate called...

You do not ask what do you go out?. It has no object. Thus izan.

So the summary of this is:

You can ask what - ukan, you cannot ask what izan.

Alright, so let’s take actual words now and try to use them.

Basque for to arrive is iritsi.

Think we have arrived to Ireland to remember that to arrive is iritsi.

Now these two gates: both izan and ukan are magical. They are not only gates through space, they actually take you through time! Let me illustrate this.

We can send plain iritsi (to arrive) through its gate (izan in this case) but here is what happens:

If we send the verb plain (without changing it in any way... thus without any protection) through any gate then we send it by default to the past!

So if we simply send to arrive iritsi through the izan gate, we get arrived.

Let’s do that. Let’s send iritsi without protection through the izan gate.

First, we can use izan to say he is.

2 translation: He is.

Now let’s send to arrive iritsi through the izan gate... You will be saying he arrive is and because you have not changed iritsi in any way (you are sending it without protection) it arrives in the past. Say:

3 translation: He arrived.

Awesome! Let’s have another one:

Basque for to see is ikusi.

It is partly English: ikusi. Think I see your IQ test results... = I IQ-see you to remember that ikusi is to see.

Think whether you can ask what do you see and answer which gate - izan or ukan - it goes through:

4 translation: ikusi goes through the gate called

Alright. How would you say with ukan-have (and don’t forget to do the have-transformation because it is have):

5 translation: I have.

Now send ikusi through the same gate. You are again sending it without any protection so it goes by default to the past. How would you say (leaving out the it once again):

6 translation: I saw it.

Yes! Let’s have one final word in this lesson (one that we will become very good friends with):

Basque for to do is egin.

Remember this word because you will need it. Answer the question:

7 translation: egin goes through the gate called

Yes. How do you say with ukan:

8 translation: You have.

Now send egin again without protection through this gate:

9 translation: You did it.

Now we have been talking about this time machine and how you send these words to the past by default if they don’t have protection... Well, let’s add some protection shall we.

Adding ko to the end of the word makes the gate send it to the future instead!

For example, we had ikusi meaning to see and going through the ukan gate. If we add protection ko to ikusi it becomes ikusiko and the gate sends it to the future instead.

How would you say (skipping that it again):

10 translation: I will see it.

Our word for to arrive was iritsi (arriving to Ireland). First remember which gate it goes through and then add protection to send it to the future and figure out how you would say:

11 translation: I will arrive.

Last word we had was to do. Do you still remember it:

12 translation: to do

We could add protection ko to it as well to send if to the future but... do you remember how if we added the from koa to words ending in n like Iran or non we had k in koa change to g and thus we ended up adding goa instead of koa.

Well the same thing happens to ko if we add it to a word ending in n and evidently to do egin is one of those words. Thus we get egingo if we add the protection to egin.

How would you say (skipping it once again):

13 translation: I will do it.

If you still remember, if we are talking about many things dauka changes to dauzka and dut changes to ditut. How would you say (skipping them because it is inferred):

14 translation: I will do them.

We are done! Wow, that was a lot to cover. In this lesson you have learnt how the Basque time machines izan and ukan work and we have learned to send words to the past and to the future. In the next lesson we will learn how to use these machines to send words to the present instead!

Answers to Lesson 3

1 answer: izan
2 answer: Hura da.
3 answer: Hura iritsi da.
4 answer: ukan
5 answer: Nik dut.
6 answer: Nik ikusi dut.
7 answer: ukan
8 answer: Zuk duzu.
9 answer: Zuk egin duzu.
10 answer: Nik ikusiko dut.
11 answer: Ni iritsiko naiz.
12 answer: egin
13 answer: Nik egingo dut.
14 answer: Nik egingo ditut.