Tibetan Grammar - verbs - notes

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The approach to explain Tibetan verbs will be changed to that of the "three thematic relations: Theme, Location, and Agent" 31.Aug.12 - there will be discrepancies to the other grammar section until they are matched with it

the grammar articles are being edited for wiki publication. During editing, the content might be incomplete, out of sequence or even misleading. - (particular this sections is still in change - the introduction sections are all new - since the 'collection of points on Tibetan grammar' are now available outside of a class room context the background information to some of their points need to be written down, and this is still a work in progress)

Articles on Tibetan Grammar
1. Introduction
2. Formation of the Tibetan Syllable
3. Formation of the Tibetan Word
4. First case: ming tsam
5. La don particles
6. La don particles—Notes
7. Originative case
8. Verbs
9. Verbs—Notes
10. Syntactic particles

by Stefan J. E.


The approach to explain the way Tibetan verb function will be that of the "three thematic relations: Theme, Location, and Agent " by Scott DeLancey as explained in his "Figure and Ground in Argument Structure" (LSA Summer Institute, UC Santa Barbara, 2001, Lecture 3). Unfortunately I only came across this work recently when reading through different articles trying to find a nice way to treat the troublesome "verbs with la don".

How the categories of 'transitive' and 'intransitive' are used here

In order to categorize Tibetan verbs according to their grammar the categories of 'transitive' and 'intransitive' will be used. The way it will be determined if a verb should be labeled 'transitive' or 'intransitive' will not entirely match the general rule for these categories.


  • Intransitive: Not passing over to an object; expressing an action or state that is limited to the agent or subject.
  • Transitive: Passing over to an object; expressing an action which is not limited to the agent or subject.
This section contains Tibetan script. Without proper Tibetan rendering support configured, you may see other symbols instead of Tibetan script.

The categorization will be in regard to the presence of an agent in the agentive case. In a number of cases this will lead to differences in regard to their English counterparts.