Problems in the Analysis of Manipuri Language. P C Thoudam
  Home > Acknowledgement
  Chapter  I
  Chapter  II
  Chapter  III
  Chapter  IV
  Chapter  V


Chapter 3

Grammatical Situation

3.0. The division between morphology and syntax can not be made clearly in the analysis of the language. The affixes i.e. the prefixes and suffixes play the most important role in the analysis of the structure of the language both at the morphological and syntactic level. This is a common phenomenon in most of the Tibeto-Burman Languages because of their agglutinative structure type. Therefore, instead of having a clear-cut demarcation between morphology and syntax, it is preferred that the term grammar be used to cover both morphology and syntax and there may be sub-divisions. Thus Grammar includes mainly, i) Morphology and ii) Syntax over and above morphophonemics. There are several misconceptions, inconsistent, inconsiderate, inconceivable, incomprehensible and incongruous conclusions and statements of the grammar of the language. To add to this whenever there is any kind of complication, which has not been able to clarify, then, some other category or class will be brought in for making confusion.


As mentioned above, this Chapter has been divided into two sections. They are:  i) Morphological, and ii) Syntactical.


3.1. Morphological


3.1.1. ROOTS:


There are free and bound roots in the language. The free roots are pure nouns, pronouns, time adverbials and some numerals, because some numerals can be divided clearly. The bound roots are mostly verb roots although there are a few noun and other roots. Free roots:


Pure nouns:  /mi/ ‘man’; /sA/ ‘animal’; /hi/ ‘boat’; /khoy/ ‘bee’; /s«m/ ‘hair’; /khoN/ ‘leg’, /u/ ‘tree’, /wA/ ‘bamboo’, /l«y/ ‘flower’, /nApi/’grass’, etc.


Pronouns: /«y/ ‘I’, /n«N/ ‘you’,/mA/ ‘he’.


Numerals: /m«ri/ ‘four’, /m«NA/ ‘five’ /t«ruk/ ‘six’, /t«ret/ ‘seven’, /nipAn/ ‘eight’, /mAp«n/ ‘nine’, /t«rA/ ‘ten’, /kun/ ‘twenty’, /yANkh«y/ ‘fifty’.


Time Adverbials: /h«yeN/ ‘tomorrow’, /horen/ ‘after sometime’,  /n«hAn/ ‘day-before-yesterday’, /hAkum/ ‘last year’, /noNm«y/ ‘next year’, etc. The following examples will illustrate that these roots are free. Examples:


mi     «m«  l«y ‘There is a man’

man one  live/is

hi     t«ruk  uy ‘Six boats are seen’

boat  six        see.


«y N«rAN        mi   t«rA kAkhib« theNn«y     ‘Yesterday I met ten person climbing’

I    yesterday  man ten   climb   meet/come across


In the above examples it is shown that /mi/, /«m«/, /hi/, /t«ruk/, /«y/, /t«rA/, have occurred independently without the help of any affix or root. So, they are the free roots in Manipuri.


3.1.2.     Bound Roots:


As mentioned above all the verb roots are bound roots. There are also a few bound noun roots, the interrogative and demonstrative pronoun roots, the roots of the numerals one, two and three. They cannot occur without some particle prefixed or suffixed to it or it has been made a compound by the addition of another root. The verb roots are:


/cA-/‘eat’, /in-/‘push’, /ph«N-/ ‘get/receive’,

/tum-/ ‘sleep’, /khok-/ ‘peel’, etc. 




m«hAk cAk  cA+y ‘He eats rice/He lives on rice’

he       rice eat+infinitive/habitual

    tomb« gAriin+khiTomba push vehicle


Tomba vehicle push+definite

mA tum+mi ‘He is sleeping’

    he sleep+continue

n«N u+h«w+re hAy  ‘Reported that you see it’

you see+begin+realization/complete  say/reporting


From the above it can be observed that the verb roots require some affix or some other root to become an independent form.. There are also a number of verb roots, which have been considered free roots by many. This is not correct. This is a case of elision and is a case of merger of the two similar sounds. In other words it may be termed merged into one. They are: /i/ ‘write’, /l«y/ ‘have/live’, /pi/ ‘give’, /hAy/ ‘say’ etc. These roots are in fact i-+i>i; l«i-+y/i or l«i-+i/y or l«y-+i/y>l«y; pi+i>pi; hAi-+i/y or hAy-+i/y. Considering the meaning they convey whenever they occur independently this analogy seems more appropriate. A large number of such examples are available. Many scholars have certain reservations in this analysis although they are not able to provide another alternative. Therefore, we shall be content with what has been stated here.


The bound noun roots are: /-pA/ ‘father’, /-mA/ ‘mother’, /-pu/ ‘grandfather’, /-ben/ ‘grandmother’, etc. These forms cannot occur without the prefix /«-/, /n«-/, /m«-/. Examples: 


/ipA/ ‘my father’, /n«pA/ ‘your father’, /imA/ ‘my mother’, /m«mA/ ‘his mother’, /«bok/ ‘my grandfather’, /ipu/ ‘my grandfather’, /n«pu/ ‘your grandfather’, /m«pubok/ ‘his grandfather’. Etc.


The interrogative pronoun (Noun Substitute) roots :


/k«-/ ‘which’ in  /k«+nA/ ‘which person’ /k«+ri/ ‘which thing’ /k«+yA/ ‘which quantity, etc.


The demonstrative pronoun roots are -  /-chi/ and /-du/. They occur with a prefix /«-/ or /m«-/ in the constructions. They are considered as determiners if they are attached to nominal forms/roots. This also requires careful examination.


The Numeral roots for one, two and three, that is, /-m«/, /-ni/ and /-hum/ cannot occur independently without the prefix /«-/.  Thus we have, /«m«/ ‘one’, /«ni/ ‘two and /«hum/ ‘three’. /-m«/ becomes /-mA/ whenever it occurs in eleven, twenty one, thirty one, and so on.


3.1.2. AFFIXES:


There are a large number of affixes in the language. It has also been stated earlier that the affixes play the major grammatical role in Manipuri language. The affixes can broadly be divided into nominal and verbal affixes. In Manipuri in a Noun Phrase formed with a numeral the nominal suffixes are always attached to the numeral and the noun cannot take the suffixes. Since numerals are considered as adjectives, the position occupied by the numerals in Manipuri may be regarded adjective position. Over and above, the affixes are also attached to the numerals which are considered adjectives the forms which take the suffixes may be considered adjectives in Manipuri. Therefore, it can be concluded that the position of the adjectives in the language is after the nouns.




3.2.1. Word Classes


This is the most important section in the analysis of Manipuri as well as the languages of the family i.e., Tibeto-Burman Language family. Manipuri is an agglutinative language having simulfixes. It is also necessary to understand the changes in the shape of the morphemes in certain situations. Over and above, the knowledge of semantics in a greater detail will be of great help. Some of the so- called homophonous forms can be described in terms of semantic extensions. Linguistics being a discipline in which hypothesis plays an important role, arguments and counter-arguments always has their own merits, I do not like to go deep into this issue further. Whatever the case may be, take it as different homophonous forms or as a single form; there is always a class of forms to which the word belongs. Words in this language are mostly formed through affixation. Therefore, it is necessary to group the set of affixes according to the form classes. In the traditional grammars we have noticed the following word classes. They are Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs, Post-positions, Prepositions, Conjunctions and Interjections, etc. These traditional people who wrote the books of grammar of the language gave examples from Manipuri language. It is unfortunate to understand that they do not have the knowledge of the grammatical descriptions. They thought that the grammars of all the languages are the same i.e., the internal structure and behaviour of all the languages are the same.


 Accordingly, they defined the above classes or parts of speech in the traditional terms. The introduction or imposition of the prepositions and post-positions in Manipuri without any basis and without understanding the logic of the use of these classes in English grammar is another blunder committed by these scholars. They translated the English prepositions in /m«nuNd«/, at /-d«/, etc. and posited the name preposition to them. Their prescriptive grammars were  the grammar of English language in whose grammatical frame they provided Manipuri words as examples. These were considered as the best grammar of Manipuri. Some such grammars prepared under the aegis of Sanskrit grammar also exist. These grammars are prescribed as texts books in the syllabus. Still there are a large number of people who defended such grammars and they are arguing in support of these grammars.


 The problem with this group of scholars is a hard task for the language scholars (Linguists). They are the best intellectual of Manipuri literature and of course language to the common people. The general public has a great regard and they have a high opinion about them and what they said are considered correct. They are regarded as the great scholars for Manipuri Language and the authority of the grammar of the language.

   The affixes play an important role in the case of word formation in the language. Again some of the morphemes have grammatical functions. In Manipuri, it will be difficult to have a clear-cut demarcation between Morphology and Syntax. As such in my analysis of the language the term grammar is employed to cover morphology and syntax together.

   A vast majority of the roots are bound in this language. Again the same   root can take the nominal and verbal suffixes, and sometimes it can take both together. As for example – the root {cA-} ‘eat’ can take the verbal completive aspect suffix {–re} and we have /cAre/ ‘completed eating’. But it can also take the nominalizing suffix {-b«} and becomes cAb« ‘something known/call eat’.  cf.   Boro {-nAy} in /zAnAy/ and Rabha  {-kAy} in /sAkAy/ which carries similar meaning as in Manipuri. It is necessary to explain why the meaning is given as something known/call eat? Once the suffix {-b«} is added to the root, or base or stem it no longer remains as verb, because it cannot occupy the verbal position in the sentence (rather another verb is needed to make the sentence complete) nor it can take any of the verb suffixes. Since the gloss has been creating a problem, the meaning is given in such a way that it does not convey any verbal sense. This results to further explanation in derivation.


3.2.2.      First of all, the word classes in the language are discussed here. It is claimed that Manipuri has Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs, Numerals, Conjunctions and Interjections. These form classes, traditionally classified as parts of speech, although they are noticed in the language, shall be examined carefully and critically; so as to enable to understand how far they function independently of each other.


3.2.3.      In Manipuri words are formed in the three processes. They are affixation, derivation and compounding.  The majority of the roots found in the language are bound and the affixes are the determining factor of the class of the words in the language. The three processes of word formation in Manipuri are discussed below. Affixation - In Manipuri there are a large number of suffixes and a comparatively small number of prefixes. More than one suffix can be added to the root or base or stem. As mentioned earlier, the same root can take different shades of suffixes. These suffixes can be grouped according to the shades i.e. the class of forms with which it can attach. Thus, they can be grouped as nominal suffixes, verbal suffixes and modifying suffixes. To make things clear, it is necessary to list them separately. Nominal suffixes  - The suffixes, which are found attached to the nouns, derived nouns, in

the adjectives in noun phrases including numerals, the case markers and the bound coordinators are termed nominal suffixes. Accordingly, the nominal


suffixes are –


           {-gi ~ -ki} ‘possessive/genetive marker’ (case)

           {-d« ~ -t«} ‘locative’ (case)

           {-n«}          nominative’ (case)

           {-bu ~ -pu} ‘accusative’ (case}

           {-siN}          many

           {-yAm}        many


           {-khoy ~ -hoy} ‘many (inclusive)/collectivity’

           {-m«k}        in person/personification’

           {-rA ~ -lA ~ -r« ~ -l«}   question/interrogative

           {-d«N ~ -t«N} ‘exclusive/isolating

           {-ni} ‘copula (functioning as main verb)’    

           {-su} ‘also

           {-ko} ‘suggestive

           {-ne} ‘seeking for confirmation/question’

           {-g« ~ -k«} ‘with

           {-di ~ -ti} ‘particularization


 The occurrence of the suffixes listed above are illustrated below:


 momongi lAyrik tAreMomon’s book fell down’.

tompokki phurit sureTompok’s shirt wash(complete).

iboton imphAld« c«tkhiIboton go(definite) to Imphal’.

ito ph«kt« ph«mmi ‘Ito sits on the mat’.

imon« ibobi phure ‘Imo beats Ibobi’.

ibetonn« m«nibu k«wwiIbeton calls Mani’.

mAypAkpu tombin« inkhiTombi pushes Maipak’. uceksiN ud« l«y ‘The bird(many) lives on the tree’. khAwyAm «m« pire ‘Many bags are given.’

itokhoy lAkle ‘Many including Ito has come’.

ibotonkhoy N«rAN c«tkhi ‘Many including Iboton left yesterday’.

 maimum«k tAkhikoMaimu himself heard of it’.

 n«N m«nir« ‘Are you Mani?’

  m«si turell« ‘Is it a riv


  ibetond«N lAkkhi ‘Only Ibeton has come’.

   phuritt«N pukho ‘Take only the shirt.’

   m«hAk ibotonni ‘He is Iboton.’

   ibetombisu lAk.iIbetombi also come.’

   tAmoko ‘Brother (please agree with me)’

   imuNne “This is the house (inside)’

   imAg« c«tk«ni ‘(I) will go with my mother.’


    These suffixes can occur together as in





    iboton+khoy+rom+d«+gi+di+ne; etc.


   The demonstrative pronoun roots /-du ~ -tu/ and /-si/ also occur with the nouns and nominal roots. Since they have regarded pronominal roots they are not included in the list of suffixes. The prefixes are also not    included in the list.


Verbal suffixes: Those suffixes after whose affixation the verb roots can stand and function as verbs in larger constructions are considered verb suffixes.


      Here it must be noted that the derivative suffix {-b« ~ -p«} shall not be confused with complements, etc.  This will be discussed in detail later. The verb suffixes are listed below:


    {-i ~ -li}                                         habitual/infinitive

  {-li ~ -ri ~ -pi ~ -mi ~ -wi ~ -Ni}  continue/realize

  {-le~-re~-pe~-me~-Ne~-e}   completive/realization


  {-khi ~ -kh«-}                                    definitive

  {-te ~ -de ~ -t«- ~ -d«-}                   negative

  {-ke ~ -ge ~ -k«- ~ -g«-}                   non-realization


   unknown start

  {-l«k-~-r«k-~-p«k-~-m«k-~-N«k-}   continue known


  {-si}                                                   start (together)

     {-s«-}                                                  accept/wish

  {-s«n-}                                                               inward

     {-loy~-roy}                                       dissent

  {-u ~-w~-lu~-pu~-mu~-Nu}               command

     {-lu~-ru~-pu~-mu~-Nu}          command but action


   {-lo~-ro~-po~-mo~-No}     command instant/force

   {-lo~ -ro~ -po~-mo~-No}                  come for the act

      {-ko}                           desiderative/suggestive/solicit

   {-n«-}                                     reciprocative/purposive

   {-ne}                                                     together with

   {-ne}                                                   declarative

   {-nu}                                                    let/wish

   {-nu}                                                    prohibitive

   {-min-}                                                 together

   {-dAy}                                                             performing

   {-se}                                                    intentive

   {-ye}                                     participation/indulgence

   {-h«n-}                                                 causation

   {-c«- ~ -j«-}                                       polite

   {-c«- ~ -j«-}                                        reflexive

   {-boy ~ -poy}                                   uncertain/hardly



The occurrence of the verb suffixes listed above are illustrated below:


tomb« cak ca+yTomba eat rice’

Tomba rice eat+infinitive/habitual

tomb« cAk  cA+riTomba continue eat rice’

Tomba rice eat+continue

tomb« cAk   cA+reTomba complete eat rice’

Tomba rice eat+complete

tomb« cAk   cA+khiTomba definite eat rice’

Tomba rice eat+definite

tomb« cAk   cA+deTomba not eat rice’

Tomba rice eat+negative

«y cAk cA+ge ‘I want eat rice’

I   rice  eat+non-realization (not perform)

noN tA+r«m+mi It’s raining’

rainfall+unknown start time+realization/continue

noN tA+r«k+le ‘It has started raining’

rain fall+start known+realization(complete start)

   m«hAk cA+h«w+re ‘He start eating’

   he        eat+start+realization

t«w+ge t«w+s«+nu ‘Do whatever they like’

do+non-realize do+intentive+let

   m«+nuN+d« in+sil+lu  ‘Push inside’

distal+in+locative push+inside+command

mA cA+g«+nu hAy+yu ‘Tell him not to eat’

he eat+non realize+prohibit say+command

n«N c«t+lu ‘You go’

you go+command

t«w+ro yeN+N«+ge ‘Start, want to see’

do+command see+realize+nonrealize

n«N N«rAN lAk+khi+ko‘You came yesterday. Isn’t’

You yesterday come+definite+desiderative


Prefix:  As already mentioned there are a few prefixes in Manipuri. These prefixes are mostly attached to the verb roots. They can also be attached to the derived nouns and bound noun roots. There are also a few prefixes derived from the personal pronouns. The prefixes are:


            {«-}                           proximal

            {«-}                           numeral prefix

            {«-}                              derivative prefix

            {m«-}                        distal

            {khut-}                    manner

            {«- ~ i-}                   1st Personal pronoun

            {n«-}                         2nd Personal Pronoun

            {mA-}                         3rd Personal Pronoun In Manipuri there are cases of derivation of nouns from verbs by the addition of the derivative suffix {-b« ~  -p«} to the verb root directly or in the verb stem. Once this suffix is added to the verb root or to the verb stem or form nor more verb suffixes can be added to it and cannot occupy the position occupied by the verb in the sentence. Rather it requires another verb to complete the sentence. The following examples will illustrate the derivation:


   tomb«   cAk cA+yTomba eats rice’

Tomba rice eat+habitual/infinitive

   m«hAk tum+khi ‘He sleep definitely’

he        sleep+definite

   cAwb«      cel+liChaoba is running’

   Chaoba  run+ continue


In the examples above, cay, tumkhi, celli are verbs. If we added the   {-b«} either to their root or the forms wherever applicable, they no longer remain as verb. They cannot any of the verb suffixes, nor can occupy the position occupied by the verbs in sentences rather they can take the nominal suffixes and also require another verb for completing the sentence or the copula -ni as in the case of nouns. Illustration:


*tomb« cAk cA+b«

*m«hAk tum+b« or tum+khi+b« 

*cAwb« cel+b« or  cel+li+b«


These are not complete sentences and they require another verb or the copula {-ni} to make the sentence complete. This can be seen in the following:


tomb« cAk cA+b« c«tkhiTomba went to take meal’

Tomba rice/meal eat(N) go+definite.

m«hAk tum+b« kuyre or m«hAk tum+khi+b« kuyre

he        sleep (N) long time/he sleep+definite(N) longtime./

cAwb« cel+b«+ni or  cAwb« cel+li+b«+ni

Chaoba run(N)+copula/Chaoba run+continue(N)+copula


In the above examples we have seen that after adding the suffix {-} the sentences are not complete and for the purpose of making the sentence complete another verb or the copula    {-ni} is added. This is the case of nouns derived from verbs through suffixation. Further these forms can no longer the verbal suffixes although it can take the noun suffixes.


    The other process of derivation in which prefixes are involved are Illustrated below. Illustrations:


khut+kA                            ‘manner /way of climbing’

khut+cA                            ‘manner/way of eating’

m«+th«w                            ‘duty/his duty’

   «+N«m-«+th«w                 ‘nobleman’

«+N«mb«                            ‘nobleman/high official’

   «+th«wb«                         ‘brave man/high official’

«+mub«                                          ‘something called black’

«+N«wb«                            ‘something called white’

«+N«w-«+rAk                    ‘white or else’


These are cases of derivation with the help of prefixes. Here also the derivation is from verb roots. In the case of «+N«mb« «+th«wb« «+N«wb« «+mub«  these can be considered derivations. However considering «N«m-«th«w; «N«w-«rAk etc. it can be treated in the other way round as well.  Compounding: Compounding is another process of Word formation in Manipuri. There are word plus word as well as root plus root compounds. They are:


   mi+lAN > mirAN   ‘cobweb’

   yen+m«rum > yerum ‘egg’

   k«bo+k«N > k«bok«N  ‘water hyancint

   m«yt«y+l«ybAk > m«ytr«bAk ‘Manipur’

   yuN+kom > yuNgom ‘urinal (pit)’

  khut+niN > khuniN ‘elbow’

  ciN+cAw > ciNjAw  ‘mountain’

  thAN+cAw > thANj«w ‘dagger (big)’

  l«md«+sib« > l«msi  ‘ died away from home’ 

  ceN+m«hi > c«Nhi  ‘rice water (uncooked)’

  n«hA+«h«n  ‘old and young’

  ipA+imA  ‘parent/people like my parents’

  lAy-guru ‘elder people’


  There are several compounds in which more than two roots or words are     involved. They are:




   lAyrik+t«m+ph«m+s«N )


 The problems so far encountered in this chapter are:

a)    The suffix {-b«~-p«} has been mistakenly treated by the scholars. As already mentioned, its addition changes the verb root or the verb stem or the verb form to a noun. In other words it can be termed nominalizing suffix.


b)    In the case of compounding, it is necessary to make the constituents of the compounds very clear as far as practicable. For example:


mi+lAN > mirAN ‘cobweb’ shall not be written migi+lAN

        yuN+kom > yuNgom ‘urinal (pit)’ shall not be   written yuNgi+kom et


c)     The confusion of instituting the terms right headed and left headed compounds. There are cases like  mirAN ‘cobweb’ where the emphasis shall always remain with the web only and questions can be put with it only. What about the cases like potcAw ‘big load’, l«yn«w ‘new earth/ newly filled earth’,  upAk ‘plank’.  Here the units of the compound are pot+cAw; l«y+n«w; u+pAk. In these cases they are coordinating compounds because one can question which {cAw} ‘big’ or which {pot} ‘load/thing’. In the same manner in l«y ‘earth’; n«w new’; u ‘tree/wood’; pAk ‘breadth’ also can be questioned. Since the two units can be given equal importance it shall be treated as co-ordinating compounds. The question of classifying the compounds as right headed requires rethinking because this is a question of Head and attribute. Hence this is also considered as problem.


d)    Another problem is the gloss. Since the completive aspect has been presumed as past tense, the analysis based on such information (data) can never be correct.


e)     Apart from giving inappropriate meanings the institution of the terms like: perfective, complement, etc., and the misinterpretation of copula /-ni/, which can occur and function like any other main verb further creates several problems. Examples:


       m«hAk cAk cA+y ‘He eats rice’

      he       rice   eat+habitual/infinitive

      m«hAk cAk cA+b«+ni

      he       rice eat+nominalizer+copula


     The examination of the above sentences show that the occurrence of copula {-ni} has nothing to do with the equational or other types of sentences. There is no question of perfective in these sentences. They are related to realization, i.e. realize or know or seeing of the action. Again, byexamining the following examples it can be seen that the copula {-ni} is not a ‘be’ verb. Examples:


       m«hAk ojA+ni ‘ He is a teacher’

       he        teacher+is

       m«hAk ojA         oy ‘He is a teacher’

  he       teacher is


    It has been made clear that {-ni} functions like

    any other main verb.




3.3.1. It is very important for the languages of the Tibeto-Burman Family particularly Manipuri, to classify the words properly. There are several instances where the words belonging to some other class or category occupies the position of some other category and also function according to the position they occupy in the sentences. This is an area which many scholars have over looked or have never thought of and therefore, several problems cannot be solved. It may be noted that the root of the colour words (which everyone will claim adjectives) are verbs.  The root of the red colour is /NAN/ and for white is /N«w/ and for black is /mu/. In the sentence /l«y «du NANNi/ ‘the/that flower is red’, /phi «du NANh«lle/ ‘the/that cloth has been reddened’. If we add the suffix /-b«/ in these roots they become nouns. Thus in the sentence /phi «du mub«rA?/ ‘Is the cloth black?’ /mub«/ is not like the English adjective black. It is ‘something known as black’ here. It is worth mentioning here about the words /«mub«/, /«NANb«/ and /«N«wb«/, etc. which has been considered as adjectives by most of the scholars. These forms are not purely adjectives. They are nouns. Because of such problems I have grouped Nouns, Derived nouns, Modifiers (Adjectives and Adverbs) and even numerals under the cover term Substantives. Confusions are also there in the treatment of expressions, like - l«y «NANb«ni and «NANb« l«yni. Both sentences give the same meaning ‘It is red flower’. Again, if we want someone to ‘Bring the red flower’ we can use either of the two constructions given below: 


l«y      «NANb«du pur«k-u

flower red+that    bring+command

«NANb« l«ydu           pur«k-u

red        flower+that bring+command


In both the cases the person who has been given the task will bring the red flower only and will not bring flowers of other colour. It may also be noted that the suffix {-du} is attached to «NANb« and l«y whenever they occur in the second position. As numerals are the best example of adjectives in any language we can decide the adjective position in the language from the position of the numerals in noun phrases. In Manipuri noun phrases the numerals occur after the noun and it also takes the nominal   suffixes.  The  noun  does  not  accept   the

affixes. e.g.


       l«y     «m«one flower/a flower’

       flower one

        mi    «humthree men’

       man three


From the examples it is clear that the numerals follow the noun. Thus it has been considered that the adjectives follow the nouns in this language. It may also be noted that as the numerals do the modifiers i.e. the adjectives, which follows the noun take the affixes. This can be supplemented by the following examples in which the suffixes are taken by the adjectives (numerals):


       l«y «m«+du ‘that(one) flower’

       flower one+particular

       mi «hum+gi ‘of three men’

      man three+genitive/possessive

       ucek m«NA+n« ‘by five birds’

       bird   five+nominative


Therefore, in the previous examples l«y «NANb«du pur«k-u and  «NANb« l«ydu pur«k-u, we found that «NANb«du and l«ydu are occurring in the adjectival position in the two phrases and at the same time they are taking the suffixes as it was done by the numerals which have been generally accepted as adjectives. From this it is seen that the noun l«y ‘flower’ is occupying the adjectival position and functions as adjective in such constructions.


These and several such instances have made the classification of words extremely difficult. How can one  claim  - mi ‘man’, l«y ‘flower’, ucek ‘bir are adjectives. It may be noted here that these nouns in certain constructions qualify the verbal nouns and function as adjectives. To avoid such complications it is desired that the Manipuri words are shown in a Table:





Pure Nouns, Derived Nouns, Adjectives and Adverbs are grouped under the category substantives taking into account their relationship in the structure of Manipuri Language. Except the pure nouns the derived nouns, adjectives and adverbs are derived from the verb roots. They are formed either through prefixation or suffixation or both. Further they have functional relationship as well. By classifying the words as shown above several problems could be solved. The problem of adjective position in sentences: As already discussed there was a problem of adjective position in the sentence. It was claimed by all the scholars that adjectives in Manipuri occur either before or after the noun. But this is not a correct or true proposition. The adjectives occur after the nouns and the position occupied by the numerals in Noun Phrases is the adjective position in the language. Although it has been explained earlier it is presented here again. In the case of «NANb« l«y and  l«y «NANb« both meaning ‘red flower’ it has been contended that l«y in the NP «NANb« l«y and «NANb« in the NP l«y «NANb« are adjectives respectively. The reason is in the NPs the suffixes are attached to the adjectives as it is done by the numerals.  In Boro and Rabha also the numerals occur after the nouns in NPs while there is no difference between the change of position of the adjective and noun,e.g. Boro {måzAn mAnsi} and  {mAnsi måzAn} having the same meaning ‘good man’ and Rabha  {chuA kAy} and  {kAy chuA} having similar meaning ‘tall man’. This is to be examined further but because of certain limitations it can not be illustrated here. The distinction between Verbs and Derived Nouns:  There is a problem with the Derived Nouns. The reason is most of the scholars have treated the noun forming suffix i.e. nominalizing suffix {-b« ~ -p«} as infinitive suffix and they give the meaning of the verb forms suffixed with it as ‘to …’. But this is not correct. As already mentioned, once this suffix is added to the verb root or to the verb form no more verbal affixes can be added to it and it cannot occupy the verbal position in sentences. Thus the words /cA+b«/, /c«t+p«/, /tum+b«/, /kA+b«/, /k«k+p«/, etc. have been given the meaning as ‘to eat’, ‘to go’, ‘to climb’, ‘to cut’, etc. respectively. This is not correct. These items became metaphysical entities. This is found in most of the Tibeto-Burman Languages. Examples of Boro and Rabha have already been given. Illustrations:


 «y cA+b« pAmmi ‘I am fond of eating

 (I want something called eat)’

  I    eat+ Nominalizer like+infinitive

  m«hAk c«t+khi+b« kuy+re ‘He leave long time ago’  

He go+definite+nomimalizer long time +complete /realize


One can ask n«N k«ri pAmmi ’what you want?’ The reply will be /cAb«/ ‘eat’. This means that what I want is a metaphysical entity called ‘eat’, i.e ‘something called/known as eat’. In the same way one can question k«rino kuyrib«du ‘what is the long time/ago’? The reply will be c«tkhib« means ‘the going away i.e. the something known as going away/left’. Adjectives in the language are derived from the verb roots:  It is important to state that all the adjectives are derived from verb roots. Here it is also said b y some scholars that the adjectives are derived from the derived nouns.  This is true in the case of those adjectives formed with prefixation to the derived nouns or inseparable pair of words, but not to those adjectives, which do not have a prefix. Illustrations:


            m«kAk mu+y ‘He is black’

            He   black+habitual/infinitive

           tomb« N«w+wiTomba is white’

           Tomba white+habitual/infinitive

              tombi ph«+j«+yTombi is beautiful’

           Tombi beauty+reflexive+infinitive/habitual


In the above examples, mu+y, N«w+wi, ph«+j«+y are verbs because the suffixes -y, -wi, -y are verb suffixes. . In case the suffix {-b«} is added to them instead of the verb suffixes they can no longer remain as verbs. They become derived nouns.




          mu+b«                 ‘something known as black’

         N«w+b«                 ‘something known as white’

         ph«+j«+b«         ‘something beautiful(reflex)’


These nominal forms can take the prefix {«-} but in this it has become personified. The prefix {«-} which is considered as adjective forming prefix by some can be added only to the derived nouns formed by adding {-b«} directly to the root. This controversy can be settled by adopting the Substantive theory. Some of the instances where this prefix is added are given below. Examples:


              «+mub«                                                 ‘black’

              «+N«wb«                                                 ‘white’



It must be kept in mind that pure nouns also function as adjectives in certain constructions in which they occur after the derived nouns. Except the time adverbials all other adverbs are also derived from verb roots: The time adverbials are:

              h«wjik       now

              N«sAi         before awhile’

              N«si           to-day

              horen         after awhile’

              h«yeN         tomorrow

              noNm«y       next year’

              hAkum         last year’ , etc.


The other adverbs which are also adjectives like –


              k«nn«                  strongly/fast

              yANn«                  quickly/fast

              thun«                   quickly/fast

              t«pn«                   slowly

                 lApn«                 distant/far


are all derived from the verb roots - k«n-, yAN-, thu-, t«p-, lAp-.


They are grouped under the category substantives. Their sub-class is determined by the position they occupy and the function they have in the sentences.


3.3.2.     PRONOUNS:  In Manipuri there are the Personal Pronouns and the wh-type of pronouns. The personal pronouns are - «y ‘I’, n«N ‘you’. mAhe’. They have secondary forms which are found attached to forms

              which are inalienable to the possessor. In

            other words it has also relevance to distal

           and proximal as well. Personal Pronouns: The personal pronouns are:


                       First Person                   «y    ‘I’

                       Second Person            n«N  ‘you’

                       Third Person                  mA    ‘he’


There is a suffix {-khoy ~ -hoy} which is considered as plural of the above three persons whenever they are added to the forms. This cannot be accepted as plural because this suffix can go with the proper names, like tomb«Tomba’, cAwb«Chaoba’, etc. and also there is no inflection in the verb.


There is also another personal pronoun /mi/. This may mean the first person ‘my’ or the third person ‘man/someone’. For example:


/migi phurit l«wkh«re/ may mean either ‘my shirt has been taken away’ or ‘someone’s shirt has been taken away’.


The secondary forms of the three personal pronouns are  i-, n«-, and m«-for the first , second and third person respectively.


The personal pronouns occur in alienable and inalienable possessions. In the case of kin terms and immediate and intimate possessions, etc. the secondary forms of the personal pronouns are inalienable to the possessor. The following examples will illustrate:


                        «ygi imA                           my mother’

                        «ygi iyum                        my house’

                        «ygi ikok                        my head’

                        «ygi iphurit                 my shirt’

                        n«Ngi n«mA                      your mother’

                           n«Ngi n«yum                   your house’

                        n«Ngi n«kok                   your head’

                           n«Ngi n«phurit            your shirt’mAgi m«mA                       his mother’

                         mAgi m«yum                     his house’

                         mAgi m«kok                     his head’

                         mAgi m«phurit his shirt’


It must be noted here that in these languages one cannot say */n«Ngi imA/ or */mA