Klingon Grammar Addenda

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Spoken by Okrand
Inferred from canon
Accepted usage

1. The Sounds of Klingon

1.1 Consonants

See main article Consonants
  1. Q is pronounced [q_X] (in X-SAMPA phonetic transcription), or basically like an aspirated q, that is, q followed closely by a raspy puff of air. [KLI: M. Shoulson, 2/20/98, Re: Introduction]
  2. Doubled letters are pronounced either as a lengthening of the letter, or with a brief break between the two letters. Some speakers incorrectly pronounce the double letter as a single letter; this is especially true for '' (two glottal stops). [KGT, p.138]

3. Nouns

See main article noun

3.1 Complex nouns

3.2.1 Compound Nouns

  1. Don't assume that any naked verb can be used as a noun, just because some can. [HQ v3n3p11]
  2. Don't try to break compound nouns into parts and use the parts either alone or in other compounds. [KLI: A. Anderson, 4/13/97, Re: SopDaq]
  3. Don't coin new compound words from existing parts. [KLI: D. Trimboli, 11/30/96, Re: KLBC: Re: This message is too long]

3.2.2 Verb plus -wI'

  1. In reference to inanimate objects, this suffix means "thing which does" (joqwI') or "thing which is used for" (nanwI'). [TKD, KGT]
  2. In reference to animate beings, this suffix means "one who does" (baHwI') or "one who is" (pujwI'). [TKD]

3.3 Suffixes

See main article noun suffixes

3.3.1 Augmentative/diminutive

See main article type 1 noun suffixes
These suffixes are not simply equivalent to tIn/mach, but create a new concept, often requiring an entirely different English word to translate, e.g. loD / loDHom "man /boy", bIQ/bIQ'a' "water/ocean". [TKD]

3.3.2 Number

See main article type 2 noun suffixes
The plural of porgh is probably porghmey (and that of lom, lommey); most likely, -Du' is used only for body parts, not the body itself. [ KLI: R. Stewart, 11/16/97, Re: KLBC tlhIngan yot 'ay' cha'DIch; KLI: R. Stewart, 11/26/96; Re: KLBC Plurals]

3.3.4 Possession/specification

See main article type 4 noun suffixes
A "being capable of using language" must be a true living being (not a talking computer, for example) and must have an inherent capacity for speech (which may not be manifested, in the case of infants or someone who has lost the power of speech). [KLI: S. Boozer, 7/12/98, Anecdotal Okrand]

3.3.5 Syntactic markers

See main article type 5 noun suffixes
  1. -Daq and -vo' are strictly locative; they refer only to motion, or location. They can't be used in other situations in which English uses "to", "in" or "from" in a metaphorical sense (e.g. "I translate from English to Klingon"; you can't use -Daq for "to" or -vo' for "from"). [HQ v8n1p7]
  2. Some prepositional concepts in English are verbs in Klingon: e.g. tlhej for "with", both in the sense of "accompanying" and "doing something together with", e.g. Dargh vItlhutlh 'ej mutlhej torgh* "Torg drinks tea with me." [HQ v2n4p18 ].
  3. It seems that a noun with a Type 5 suffix can modify a single noun (as opposed to whole sentences), e.g. ghe''orDaq luSpet "a black hole in the Netherworld". [PK, BOP]
  4. Verbs of motion have different meanings when used with and without -Daq and object prefixes:
    1. X(-Daq) vI-Y "I Y to X" (-Daq is optional);
    2. X-vo' vI-Y "I Y away from X";
    3. X-Daq jI-Y "I Y at/on/in X".*
      [HQ v7n4p8]

3.4 The noun-noun construction

See main article noun noun construction
  1. This construction doesn't just show possession, but is also used as the grammatical Genitive. That is, it forms phrases that are equivalent to English adjectives of origin romuluS HIq, composition peQ chem, or location tlhIngan wo'. [HQ v3n3p6]
  2. Multiple N-N-N(-N...) formations are allowed. e.g. SuvwI' qa' patlh "a warrior's level of spiritual attainment" [S33]
  3. Noun apposition, different from the N-N construction, is allowed, e.g. DuraS be'nI'pu' be'etor lurSa' je "Duras's sisters, Betor and Lursa" [S26; HQ v3n1p5]
  4. Nouns representing locative prepositional concepts, such as retlh, bIng, botlh, etc., when used with pronouns, follow the pronoun in a N-N formation, and the pronoun suffixes are not used, e.g. jIH retlhDaq "alongside me", not retlhwIjDaq [KGT, p. 24]

4. Verbs

4.1 Pronominal prefixes

4.1.1. Basic prefixes

The prefix trick: When a verb has a first or second person indirect object (marked with -vaD), and a third-person object or no object, the indirect object can be shown by using a verb prefix whose object is the appropriate person: e.g. SoHvaD paq vInob = paq qanob "I give you a book"; HInob "Give it to me!" [MSN, 6/97]

4.2. Verb suffixes

4.2.1 Oneself/One another

Imperatives with stative verbs require the extra suffixes -'eghmoH, e.g. yItuj'eghmoH "Warm yourself!" [KGT p. 117]

4.2.4. Cause

When adding -moH to transitives, you can use -vaD to indicate the noun compelled to act, e.g. ghaHvaD quHDaj qawmoH (Ha'quj) "His sash reminds him of his heritage" (literally "The sash causes-to-remember his-heritage to-him" [S20]


4.2.5. Indefinite subject/ability

The verb prefix lu- when used with the indefinite suffix -lu' and with plural objects is often omitted, especially in equivalents to English "There is/are" sentences, although this is somewhat ungrammatical, e.g. naDev tlhInganpu' tu'lu' "There are Klingons here". [KGT p. 171; HQ v7n3p4]

4.2.7. Aspect

The perfective suffixes -pu'/-ta' do not indicate Tense. Klingon has no tenses. They indicate action completed in the time context of the rest of the discourse. The time context may be present, past or future. [CK; HQ v2n1p10; HQ v2n4p11]

4.2.9. Syntactic markers

  1. The placement of verbs with -jaj in the sentence depends on the type of sentence: with formal toasts, the order of the sentence is O-S-V, e.g. 'IwlIj jachjaj "May your blood scream" , but in regular sentences, it is the usual O-V-S, e.g. jejjaj tajlIj "May your knife be sharp." [KGT. p.25]
  2. Verbs with -jaj may take Type 7 aspect suffixes (contra TKD), e.g. wo' DevtaHjaj ghawran [KGT, p. 25]
  3. Verbs with -ghach are very rare and highly marked. These nominalized verbs are not generally the equivalent of simple nouns, but of abstracts and process nouns (those in English with suffixes like -ness, -tion), so most examples require another verb suffix in addition to -ghach, such as -taH. These nominalized verbs never take subject/object prefixes. [HQ v3n3p10]


4.4. Adjectives

  1. When a noun has more than one adjective, one of the following forms is used: SuD Dargh 'ej wov or SuDbogh Dargh 'ej wovbogh. [KGT p.82]
  2. Descriptive verbs used adjectivally (i.e. after the noun) we have seen take only the suffixes -qu' (tInqu'), -Ha' (ngaDHa') and -be' (lo'laHbe'). [TKD, KGT, p 150]


5. Other kinds of words

5.2 Numbers

  1. Most quantity words appear to behave like numbers and come before the noun: Hoch X (Note: Hoch X plus singular noun = "each X"; plus plural noun = "all the Xs") [HQ v5n2p11], 'op X "some Xs" [S7], latlh X "(an)other X/Xs" [S31], bID X "half an X, a half X" [BOP]


  1. When Hoch follows the noun, it appears to refer to the entirety of the noun, e.g. nIn Hoch natlhlu'pu' "All the fuel is used up" [KGT p. 155]
  2. The quantity word HochHom appears to come after the noun [S15]


  1. Number phrases with vatlhvI' are considered numbers and come before the noun, e.g. cha'maH vagh vatlhvI' Hong "One quarter impulse power". [ ST5; KLI: S. Boozer, 5/21/99, Re: vatlhvI']
  2. Type 5 noun suffixes come after a noun + ordinal number or noun + number label phrase: Duj wejDIchDaq "In the third ship"; Duj wejDaq "in Ship No. 3" [HQ v5n1p17]

5.4 Adverbials

  1. One can use -Ha' to form the opposite of some adverbs, e.g. Do'Ha' [HQ v4n4p11; KGT, p. 148]
  2. Time stamps simply come at the head of the sentence, and require no special marking. They can be combined to convey more precise times, e.g. DISvam "this ear", wej Hu' "3 days ago", DaHjaj po "this morning" [MSN, 6/30/97]
  3. Duration stamps must be rendered by verb phrases, e.g. qaStaHvIS wej rep "for three hours", nI'taHvIS poH "for a long time" [KLI: D. Trimboli, 11/5/98, Re: KLBC yu'wI'; KLI: M. Shoulson, 7/28/97, Re: KLBC + And now, the news]
  4. Ordinals may be used as a kind of time stamp indicating number of distinct events, e.g. wa'DIch tlhIngan Dujmey luleghlu'pu'bogh... "Klingon ships seen for the first time..." [S15]


5.6 Names and address

  1. Names can be stated in a couple of ways: X-vaD Y ponglu' "X is called Y" [S27]; and X 'oH pongwIj'e' "X is my name" [FAQ] - Commentary
  2. The full form of address for a Klingon is worIv, mogh puqloD, martaq tuq "Worf, son of Mog, of the House of Martok". Except in the most formal circumstances, it is proper to address a Klingon by the first name only. [KGT p. 197; MSN, 9/8/97]
  3. Titles follow names, e.g. tlha'a HoD "Captain Klaa" [KGT p. 5]
  4. Geographical regions seem to follow this same formula, e.g. Sa'Qej Sep "Sakrej Region" [KGT, p. 16]

6. Syntax

6.1. Basic Sentences

  1. Some complex sentences in English will be rendered as two or more simpler sentences in Klingon
    [HQ v3n1p3; HQ v4n2p5]
  2. Impersonal sentences ("It" sentences, where "it" doesn't refer to anything specific) seem to be allowed, e.g. SIS "It's raining" [KLI: S. Boozer, 7/12/98, Anecdotal Okrand]

6.2. Complex sentences

6.2.1. Compound sentences

  1. The conjunction 'ej merely indicates the (simultaneous?) occurence of two events; there is no time sequence implied, e.g. mabom 'ej matlhutlh "We sing and we drink", not *"We sing and then drink" [MSN, 3/20/98]
  2. Sequence seems to be indicated by the lack of a conjunction, e.g. bogh tlhInganpu', SuvwI'pu' moj, Hegh "Klingons are born, become warriors, then die."; beyHom bey bey'a' jachtaH "They are letting out an ever-louder howl." [TKW, p5; S31]
  3. The "sentence" conjunctions can be used with verbal phrases as well as complete sentences, e.g. SuvmeH 'ej charghmeH bogh tlhInganpu' [TKW, p 5, et al.]

6.2.3. Relative clauses

  1. You can mark the head noun of a relative phrase (subject or object of the -bogh verb) with -'e': HoD'e' qIpta'bogh yaS vIlegh "I see the captain who was hit by the officer" (not "I see the officer who hit the captain"). [HQ v1n3p4]
  2. You may be able to use any Type 5 suffix to mark the head noun of a relative phrase: meQtaHbogh qachDaq Suv qoH neH "Only a fool fights in a burning house". [TKW, p.111; S99] Commentary
  3. Headless relatives (i.e., relative -bogh words with no expressed subject or object, e.g. SuHeghbogh "You who are dying") are probably not allowed. [FAQ; HQ v1n3p5]

6.2.4. Purpose clauses

  1. Verbs with -meH can modify nouns as well as verbs, e.g. pe'meH taj "cutting knife". They are able to take actual subjects and/or objects. [HQ v7n3p6; HQ v7n2p14; KGT, p.63] Commentary
  1. Such verbs can be used to express Sentences as Subjects, e.g. nargh qaSuchmeH 'eb "the opportunity to visit you has passed". [HQ v7n2p14 Commentary
  2. Verbs with -meH must take verb prefixes, if only the 3-rd person zero-prefix, when appropriate. [HQ v8n2p12] Commentary

6.2.5. Sentences as Objects

  1. Adverbs with 'e' come after the object sentence and before the 'e', e.g. paw Duj wej 'e' vIlegh "I haven't seen the ship arrive yet". [HQ v1n2p11]
  2. The object pronoun 'e' can refer to an entire previous sentence: 'e' neHbe' vavwI' "That (i.e., some previous sentence) isn't what my father wanted" [ST6].
  3. The verb jatlh can take an object, but only a noun describing a language (e.g. tlhIngan Hol) or speech event (e.g. SoQ). For reported speech, the quotation is not the object of jatlh, and jatlh will take the "no object" verb prefixes, e.g. jIghung jIjatlh "I say I am hungry" (literally "I am hungry. I say (that)").[MSN, 6/30/97]
  4. The only true verbs of speech are jatlh and ja'. English allows many verbs to be used as verbs of speech, but in Klingon, these would be multiple sentences, e.g. jIjach. jIjatlh yImev "I shouted 'Stop'!" (literally "I shout. I speak. 'Stop!'"). [HQ v7n4p4]

6.4. Questions

  1. We have no indirect question/relative adverbs and thus no way to directly express Questions as Objects, and must recast them. [HQ v6n4p12; KLI: S. Boozer, 7/12/98, Anecdotal Okrand] Commentary
  2. We have no word for the question word "which" and must recast the sentence, e.g. nuH DaneHbogh yIngu' "Which weapon do you want?" (literally "Identify the weapon which you want!"). [KGT, p105; KLI: K. Traft, 12/15/96, Dr. Okrand Speaks -- lengthy]

6.6. Comparatives and superlatives

What can fill the slots of the A Q law'/B Q puS construction:
  1. A and B can be any noun or noun phrase, e.g. targhwIj yab tIn law' no'lI' Hoch yabDu' tIn puS. [PK]
  2. Noun and verb phrases can precede the entire construction, e.g. reH latlh qabDaq qul tuj law', Hoch tuj puS; tlhutlhmeH HIq ngeb qaq law' bIQ qaq puS [PK; HQ v2n2p3; TKW p75 ]
  3. *A* and B can be pronouns [HQ v4n2p3]
  4. Other contrastive pairs can replace law'/puS, e.g. HoS/puj. [KGT p.178]
  5. Only descriptive verbs can fill the Q slot, and then only in a predicate fashion, so you must use some other formula for other types of comparisions, such as sentences with nIv or -qu', e.g. bortaS nIvqu' 'oH bortaS'e' "Revenge is the best revenge"; jach yaS 'ach jachqu' HoD "The captain shouts louder than the officer." [HQ v4n3p15; TKW, p 121, et al].

Appendix: A Selected List of Useful Klingon Expressions

  1. Telling time: Hours are expressed in 24-hour time. Generally, you can "ask" the time with the phrase rep yIper "Label the hour!" . You answer with a time label: rep wej "three A.M."; rep cha'maH "20 hours (i.e. 8 P.M.)"; rep loS wejmaH "4:30 A.M." You can also use the phrase 'arlogh Qoylu'pu'*"How many times has it (a signal bell, maybe) been heard?". This can be augmented with other elements, e.g., *mamejDI' 'arlogh Qoylu'pu' "What time do we leave?" You answer with the number of times: cha'logh "two o'clock". [SK, 2/3/99]Commentary
  2. Similes are expressed by a phrase with an adjective and a following metaphorical phrase, e.g. puj SuvwI'vetlh; bIQ rur "That warrior is as weak as water". [KGT, p.127]
  3. Color terms can be made more specific by additional adjectives or by the simile method shown above, e.g. SuD 'ej wov "yellow"; Doq 'ej Qaj wuS rur "Kraj-lip red" or "brown"; Doqqu' "deep red". [KGT p.82; HQ v8n1p7]
  4. Age is expressed by the formula # ben jIboghpu' "I am # years old" (literally "I was born # years ago"); as a question, it is ben 'ar bIboghpu' [SK, 12/15/96]
  5. The verbs Sum/Hop generally refer to location in relation to the speaker, ex., Sum raS "The table is near to me". To change the referent of the verb, you can use -Daq, e.g., yaSDaq Sum raS "The table is near the officer". [HQ v7n4p10]
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