University of Nevada, Reno

Basque Center

Tutorial Ph D
Course Syllabi

   Lesson 1
   Lesson 2
   Lesson 3
   Lesson 4

Lesson lau · laugarren ikasgaia

Command forms in Basque can be very simple and extraordinarily useful. The verb forms listed here are also past participles! Used in this form, with no auxiliary verb, however, they are commands.

Eseri! · sit down!
Jaiki! · stand up! Get up!
Etorri! · come!
Joan! · go!
Jan! · eat!
Edan! · drink!
Hitz egin! · speak!
Ireki atea! · open the door!
Itxi leihoa! · close the window!
Piztu argia! · turn on the light!
Itzali telebista! · turn off the t.v.!
Atera liburuak! · take out your books!
Hartu klariona! · take the chalk!
Sartu liburuak motxilan! · Put the books in the backpack!
Isildu! · shut up!
Esnatu! · wake up!
Idatzi gutuna! · write a letter!
Irakurri egunkaria! · read the newspaper!

Negative commands
In order to make the commands negative, use EZ + command form:

Ez eseri! · Don’t sit down!
Ez joan! · Don’t go!
Ez ireki atea! · Don’t open the door!
Ez piztu argia! · Don’t turn on the light!

Auxiliary Verb UKAN
The forms of UKAN are vital to your ability to speak Basque. Learn them thoroughly, and review them often. UKAN means “to have”.

nik dut · I have (it)
zuk duzu · you have (it)
guk dugu · we have (it)
zuek duzue · you (all) have (it)
berak du · he/she has (it)
haiek dute · they have (it)

Notice that the English translation includes a parenthetical “it”. This pronoun may be expressed in the sentence and it may not, but it is always there, even when it is “invisible”. Thus, in Basque you can say:

Nik liburua dut. · I have the book.
Nik dut. · I have it.

Nik ez dut liburua. · I don’t have the book.
Nik ez dut. · I don’t have it.

We can think of the du part of the auxiliary as containing the meaning “it”. The rest of the verb form can be called the “ending”. The “nik” ending is “-t”, the “zuk” ending is “-zu”, and so on. Notice that the “berak” form (he/she/it) has no ending!

But often you have more than one thing. What happens then? Well, in English, not much. But in Basque, you have to express the plurality of your object within the auxiliary verb. So instead of “du” use “ditu” to express a plural object. The forms of the auxiliary verb now become:

nik ditut · I have (them)
zuk dituzu · you have (them)
guk ditugu · we have (them)
zuek dituzue · you (all) have (them)
berak ditu · he/she/it has (them)
haiek dituzte · they have (them)

Recent Past
Every language has its own way of expressing the speaker’s relationship to time. In Basque, the past is viewed as recent and distant. The recent past is generally considered to be from the time you woke up this morning to the present moment. The distant past is reserved for events that transpired before you woke up this morning, such as yesterday, last week, last year, or a hundred years ago.

The recent past is the first form we will learn. It consists of a past participle and the present tense of the verb UKAN, the auxiliary verb. The past participle in Basque just happens to be the same form as the simple command form.

The auxiliary verb UKAN means “to have”. Some speakers use it to express simple possession (as in “I have a book”) but many others use it primarily as an auxiliary verb. We will also use it as an auxiliary verb. Soon we will learn a different verb to express simple possession, but for now, you may use UKAN for that purpose as well.

Practice your verb forms!

Review previous lessons:
Lesson One
Lesson Two
Lesson Three


Copyright © 2000 the Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno. All rights reserved. Updated 13 June 2000. E-mail: