A prefix is a syllable that cannot stand alone but is attached to the front of a verb, used to identify subject and object(1).

In the Klingon language only verbs are allowed to have prefixes. The only exception where a noun might have a prefix is when it is actually a verb modified by a type 9 verb suffix (i.e. it has been nominalized).

Pronominal prefixes

subject none me you him/her/it us you(pl) them
I jI- DONE qa- vI- ALERT! Sa- vI-
you bI- cho- DONE Da- ju- ALERT! Da-
he/she/it (none) mu- Du- (none) nu- lI- (none)
we ma- ALERT! pI- wI- DONE re- DI-
you(pl) Su- tu- ALERT! bo- che- DONE bo-
they (none) mu- nI- lu- nu- lI- (none)

Imperative prefixes

There is also a set of verb prefixes for imperative (command) statements. It is only possible in Klingon to command you (single or plural), as HIqIp (you) Hit me! or peQong (you all) Sleep!. It is not possible to say Let's go! as a command to us using an imperative verb prefix.

subject none me you him/her/it us you(pl) them
you yI- HI- DONE yI- gho- ALERT! tI-
you(pl) pe- HI- ALERT! yI- gho- DONE tI-

  • Cells marked with ALERT! are subject-object combinations which cannot be expressed with the verb prefix system. For example, it is not possible to say I see us simply by adding a prefix to legh.
  • Cells marked with DONE can use a Type 1 verb suffix to indicate a reflexive action. For example, jIlegh'egh I see myself or yIHoH'egh Kill yourself!. Note that the "no object" prefix is used in these cases.

Note that prefixes do not adhere to the CVC rule, as they only have 2 characters and therefore build words that cannot cleanly be split at Consonant-Vowel-Consonant intervals.
This actually makes it easy to recognize them - any time you see a word where the first three letters are not a CVC construct, chances are good it's a verb(!) with a prefix.

EVERY VERB has a prefix, if you don't see it, it's the "zero prefix", indicating third person subject/object or no object.

See also


1 : The Klingon Dictionary 4.1.1. p. 32

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