top of page

9- The Modal Verbs

Modal verbs may be used in Kunaka by simply adding the modal verb suffix at the end of the verb root. Please see and try to understand how and where the following modal verbs are used in the construction.


Positive Sentence :


Subject Prefix + Verb Root + Modal Verb Suffix


Example: A-dia-cha na Kiatna. ( I can answer this question. ) 


Negative Sentence:


Neg.Status.Indicator  Subject Prefix + Verb Root + Modal Verb Suffix


Example: In Naa-dia-ka’ah na Kiatna. ( You may not answer this question. )


Question Sentence:


1- Yes/No Questions


Cae, Subject Prefix + Verb Root + Modal Verb Suffix ?


  Example:   Cae, te-pa-cha chu?   ( Can we swim here? )

                  Yes, you (pl) can swim here. ( Naeh, saa-pa-cha chu. )

                  No, you (pl) can not swim here. (Ik’naeh, in saa-pa-cha chu. )


2- Using Interrogative Words


Interrogative Word  Subject Prefix + Verb Root + Modal Verb Suffix ?


   Example: Choi  wa-shau-za arra. (What should he/she do now? )



i) CAN /  TO BE ABLE TO :  “-cha”   

Apo kunaka : I speak kunaka

Apo-cha kunaka: I can speak kunaka

Apo-cha-le kunaka : I could / was able to speak kunaka

Apo-cha-ta kunaka: I will be able to speak kunaka


Naamo  oa  qua … = You tell me that …

Naamo-cha   oa  qua … = You can tell me that …

Naamo-cha-le    oa  qua … = You could / were able to tell me that …

Naamo-cha-ta    oa   qua … = You will be able to tell me that …

in  naaamo-cha   oa    qua  … = You can not tell me that …


! As you can see in the above examples tense indicator suffixes are attached at the end of the modal verbs suffixes.


ii) MUST / HAVE TO / SHOULD:  “-za”

Apo-za kunaka : I must speak kunaka

Apo-za-le kunaka : I had to speak kunaka

Apo-za-ta kunaka: I will have to speak kunaka


in wa-lo-za = he must not fly

in wa-lo-za-ta = he will not have to fly



iii)       MAY : “-ka’ah”


Alee qua leetna. (I read that book)

Aleeka’ah qua leetna. (I may read that book)

In aleeka’ah qua leetna.  (I may not read that book. )

Cae, aleeka’ah qua leetna ?   (May I read that book? )

Cho aleeka’ah qua leetna ? (How may I read that book ?)



The Modal Verbs Table is given in the Appendix-8. Please check it carefully.



  Chapter Test - 9


Please write down the correct translations of the following sentences.


1- We were not able to buy that expensive car, because we did not have enough money.

2- You are sick, you must go to hospital.

3- May I enter ?

4- I do not know what to do. Can you help me please?

5-They have to check in to hotel room then they can go to their rooms.

6- Do we really have to finish this to see the movie?

7- How can we pass there?

8- May I speak to the manager please?

9- Who do we need to talk to here?

10- May I switch the seats?

bottom of page