Type 7 verb suffixes

Type 7 verb suffixes add aspect(1) and can only be attached to verbs. Beginners tend to confuse aspect with tense. There are four of those suffixes, which can be grouped in two sorts: one indicates an accomplished, ended action, the other shows an ongoing action:

Sort Suffix Meaning Aspect
A -pu' perfective action is complete
A -ta' accomplished, done action is complete with intent
B -taH continuous continuous action
B -lI' in progress with a known end continuous action toward an expected completion

-taH can be considered the ongoing version of -pu'
-lI' can be considered the ongoing version of -ta'

Please note the elaborated page about ➞ aspect.


The Klingon Dictionary says "The absence of a Type 7 suffix usually means that the action is not completed and is not continuous".(2) There is disagreement in the Klingon speaking community whether the word "usually" is present only because of exceptions required by the grammar or because it is possible to leave aspect suffixes off when the aspect is not an important part of what is being expressed. What is agreed on, however, is the importance of whether the particular action you're describing is completed as it happens at that point in the sentence.

For instance, wa'Hu' pItSa' vISop Yesterday, I ate pizza says that pizza-eating happened yesterday, but in that sentence pizza-eating was NOT completed. It is a statement of general truth. General truths are not completed; the FACT of my eating pizza was not completed. Pizza-eating happened yesterday.

But then there's wa'Hu' pItSa' vISoppu' Yesterday, I ate pizza. English usually makes no distinction, but it means something different in Klingon: Yesterday there was pizza-eating, and I'm telling you that I ate and finished eating it. This is not a general truth; this is describing a specific event. Yesterday, pizza-eating happened and completed.

The former version might be an answer to the question wa'Hu' nuq DaSop What did you eat yesterday? The latter to the question wa'Hu' nuq Data'pu' What did you do yesterday?

When one past event is being compared to another past event, a verb with -pu' may be translated with the English past perfect wa'Hu' 'awje' vItlhutlhpa' pItSa' vISoppu' Yesterday, before I drank root beer, I had eaten my pizza. Similarly, a sentence set in the future may be translated with the future perfect: wa'leS pItSa' vISoppu' Tomorrow I will have eaten pizza.


Completed action

  • The suffix -pu' indicates that an action is completed.
  • The suffix -ta' indicates that the activity was "deliberately undertaken", that means that someone has planned it and in fact did it.

It is not defined in TKD if it must be the subject's decision to do the action, or whether someone else could have done it. As a fact, all the (few) canon examples found in TKD, TKW and Monopoly have the subject which is intentionally doing something, even in the example So'wI' chu'lu'ta' the subject is an indefinite subject. Until further clarification, it is not clear if it is correct to say pawta' Duj The ship has arrived (as planned) or pumta' nagh The stone fell down (intentionally).

pItSa' vISopta'. I have eaten the pizza.

bIHeghvIpchugh bIHeghpu'
If you are afraid to die, you have already died. (The Klingon Way, p. 72)

Soppu'mo' Qong vavwI', 'ach vIvemmoHta'be'mo' QongtaH ghaH.
My father sleeps because he has finished eaten. But because I did not wake him up, he ist still sleeping.

Ongoing action

  • The suffix -taH indicates that an action is going on continuously, whether done intentionally or not.
  • The suffix -lI' indicates that the activity is going on with a known goal or end.

Using -lI' instead of -taH is optional, whenever the ideas behind -lI' apply. You can always use -taH for any kind of ongoing action(3). So if I can say De' vIlI'lI' I am transmitting data, I can also say De' vIlI'taH.

Although TKD explains that it is "possible" to consider -lI' as the continuous counterpart to the suffix -ta' (just as -taH is to -pu')(4), most Klingonists agree that the suffix -lI' is not related to the intention of the subject. One would accept HeghlI' "He is dying", because even without dying intentionally, the goal is known. pumlI' nagh The stone is falling certainly makes sense, because anything that falls usually hits the ground.

TKD gives the example chollI' "it [e.g. the torpedo] is getting closer", "when it is known that the missile has been aimed at that target."(5) This does confirm that the thing itself does not have the intention to do what it does, a torpedoe does not "think" or "intend" to do what it does. The speaker also does not "intend" what is happening, nor can he even know whether that torpedo has been fired intentionally; it might have been an accident. He is neutral as describing what is going on. chollI' peng is just a description of what the torpedo is doing: approaching an obvious target it is going to hit.

If it not clear what the missile's target is, then using -taH "would be more appropriate". (6)

to be with -taH

Observation has shown that in combination with to be pronouns, -taH is usually used with mobile things and omitted on stationary things:
  • pa'Daq ghaHtaH He/she is in the room - he/she could be traveling
  • nuqDaq 'oH puchpa''e' Where is the bathroom? - it's fixed at a building

At qep'a' of 2019 Jeremy Cowan had a hallway conversation with Marc Okrand where he discussed the use of the -taH suffix on pronouns as "to be". Okrand responded (with confidence and without time for consideration) that it was not a rule, but a tendency. It is not wrong to leave -taH off when talking about mobile objects or to add it on when talking about immobile objects, but that Maltz indeed seemed to follow the tendencies which had been pointed out. (7)

See also

Type Sort Suffixes
1 Oneself/one another -chuq, -'egh
2 Volition/predisposition -nIS, -qang, -rup, -beH, -vIp
3 Change -choH, -qa'
4 Cause -moH
5 Indefinite subject/ability -lu', -laH
6 Qualification -chu', -bej, -ba', -law'
7 Aspect -pu', -ta', -taH, -lI'
8 Honorific -neS
9 Syntactic markers -DI', -chugh, -pa', -vIS, -mo', -bogh, -meH, -'a', -jaj, -wI', -ghach
R Rovers -Ha', -Qo', -be', -qu'


1 , 2 : The Klingon Dictionary p. 40

3 , 4 : The Klingon Dictionary p. 43

5 , 6 : The Klingon Dictionary p. 42

7 : reported in a message to the KLI mailing list on Feb 11 2020

Category: Grammar    Latest edit: 08 Feb 2022, by DougHenning    Created: 11 Apr 2014 by RejutkaLupex
History: r21 < r20 < r19 < r18 - View wiki text
The Klingon Language Wiki is a private fan project to promote the Klingon language. See Copyright notice for details.