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As for most other dominated languages, whose bilingual speech communities experience great pressure to assimilate, morphology is the most stable structural area. It does, however, also show certain aspects of contact-induced language change.

For practical reasons, we here organize the structural features of Romani into three areas according to traditional morphology, these being: declinable nouns and pronouns, verbs with conjugation, and uninflected particles.

Nouns and Pronouns

Romani has two genders, masculine and feminine, two numbers, singular and plural, and eight cases, which are also found in many other European languages. The case system is therefore typically European. However, the way in which the cases are formed is typically Indian and is another feature that confirms the genetic kinship of Romani to the Indo-Aryan languages.


The double-stage nominal inflexion consists of three primary cases – nominative, oblique and vocative – as well as five secondary cases derived from the oblique: dative, ablative, locative, instrumental/sociative, and genitive.

manuš 'human/man' / khoro 'jug' / rakli 'girl' / jag 'fire'
singular masculine feminine
nominative [accusative] manuš khor-o rakl-i jag
oblique accusative manuš-es khor-es rakľ-a jag-a
dative manuš-es-ke khor-es-ke rakľ-a-ke jag-a-ke
ablative manuš-es-tar khor-es-tar rakľ-a-tar jag-a-tar
locative manuš-es-te khor-es-te rakľ-a-te jag-a-te
instrumental/sociative manuš-es-sa khor-es-sa rakľ-a-sa jag-a-sa
genitive manuš-es-kero khor-es-kero rakľ-a-kero jag-a-kero
vocative manuš-a khor-eja rakľ-ije jag-e
plural masculine feminine
nominative [accusative] manuš-a khor-e rakľ-a jag-a
oblique accusative manuš-en khor-en rakľ-en jag-en
dative manuš-en-ge khor-en-ge rakľ-en-ge jag-en-ge
ablative manuš-en-dar khor-en-dar rakľ-en-dar jag-en-dar
locative manuš-en-de khor-en-de rakľ-en-de jag-en-de
instrumental/sociative manuš-en-ca khor-en-ca rakľ-en-ca jag-en-ca
genitive manuš-en-gero khor-en-gero rakľ-en-gero jag-en-gero
vocative manuš-ale(n) khor-ale(n) rakľ-ale(n) jag-ale(n)

It is most often the same as the nominal form in varieties influenced by contact languages which lack a synthetic vocative.

The oblique functions as accusative with entities that have high referential status. Otherwise, the accusative has the same form as the nominative. Semantically, entities that have high referential status are generally characterised as animate. This has led to the dichotomy of accusative=nominative : accusative=oblique with the semantic feature of [± animate].

Dikhav manušen. 'I see people.'
Dikhav jag. 'I see fire.'

This correlation is not fundamentally wrong, but it does not go far enough, because the independent oblique also has further functions. In possessive construction, for instance, the possessor (= the owner), whether animate or inanimate, is always marked by the oblique, while the possession (= the owned) is expressed by the nominative.

La rakľa si šukar bal. 'The girl has beautiful hair.'
Khoren si jek desto. 'Jars have a handle.'

The oblique forms the basis for the five secondary cases: dative, ablative, locative, instrumental/sociative and genitive. Double suffixation in the formation of these secondary cases, which is a characteristic of New Indo-Aryan languages, is described as an agglutinating feature of Romani. Seen diachronically, these secondary case morphemes are grammaticalised post-positions. There are, among others, variety-specific differences in the realisation of the genitive, which is mainly used as an attribute and thus also distinguishes gender and number.

manuš-es-ker-o/-i//-e : -kor-o/-i//-e : -kr-o/-i//-e- : -k-o/-i//-e

manuš-en-ger-o/-i//-e-: -gor-o/-i//-e : -gr-o/-i//-e : -g-o/-i//-e

Additionally, many varieties have developed analytic case formation, often replacing the locative. The ablative (case of descent and origin) is also affected by this development. In relatively few cases, the same holds for the dative which in Romani primarily functions in the benefactive sense, as well as for the instrumental/sociative. In the course of this development triggered by contact with languages of the Balkans, "old" synthetic forms are replaced by "more recent" analytic formations, mostly of the type preposition + (article) + nominative.

gavestar : katar gav 'from a village'
gaveste : ande gav 'in a village'

As illustrated in the following, nouns of pre-European origin differ from European loans in their declension. In the case of masculine loans from European languages, the vowel in the oblique singular is assimilated to the nominal ending: -es- > -os-/-us-/-is-. Feminine nouns of European origin differ from pre-European feminines in their nominal endings: sg. -i/ pl. -a as opposed to sg. -a / pl. -i.

nom sg nom pl obl sg obl pl Etymology
pre-European "zero" Masc. kher kher-a kher-es- kher-en- < inc. ghara 'house'
Masc. in -o šer-o šer-e šer-es- šer-en- < inc. śiras 'head'
Masc. in -i pan-i paň-a paň-es- paň-en- < inc. pānīya 'water'
Abstracts čačipen čačipen-a čačipen-as- čačipen-en- < inc. satya 'truth'
"zero"-Fem. phen pheň-a pheň-a- pheň-en- < inc. bhaginī 'sister'
Fem. in -i kun-i kuň-a kuň-a- kuň-en- < inc. koṇā 'elbow'
European Masc. in -o sokr-o(s) sokr-i sokr-os- sokr-en- < ron. socru 'father-in-law'
Masc. in -u pap-u(s) pap-i pap-us- pap-en- < grc. pappoús 'grandfather'
Masc. in -i polgar-i polgar-a polgar-is- polgar-en- < hun. polgár 'citizen'
Fem. in -a vil-a vil-i vil-a- vil-en- < sla. vile 'fork'

The declension of articles and adjectives is characterised by the dichotomy of nominative : oblique. The noun phrase is always governed by the head noun.

o lačho raklo 'the good boy'
le lačhe raklesa 'with the good boy'
i terni džuvli 'the young woman'
la terna džuvľatar 'from the young woman'
e tikne čhave 'the little sons'
le tikne čhavenge 'for the little sons'

In the case of a noun phrase with a genitive functioning as attribute, government deviates from this rule: here, the article correlates with the attribute, which in turn correlates with the head noun.

le vurdon-es-ker-i rota 'the wagon's wheel'
le vurdon-es-ker-e rot-a-ke 'for the wagon's wheel '


The forms of the definite article show variety-specific variation. The article forms used in the above examples are marked in the following illustration. Generally, however, a tendency of reduction and coincidence of forms is observed primarily for the oblique. Only the differentiation between nominative singular masculine and nominative singular feminine shows some stability.

sg masc sg fem pl
nom o i / e e / le / o
obl le / e la / le / e le / e


This tendency of formal reduction also affects adjective endings. Frequently, there are three distinct forms for six functions, with a fourth form for the oblique feminine singular in cases where gender is obvious or stressed.

baro 'big'
sg masc sg fem pl
nom bar-o bar-i bar-e
obl bar-e bar-e / -a bar-e

There are only a few indeclinable adjectives, e.g. šukar 'beautiful,' godžar 'intelligent'.

Comparison of adjectives is variety-specific. Besides the inherited suffix - eder, borrowed particles and affixes are used to form both comparative and superlative.

Burgenland-R.: baro : bar-eder : lek bar-eder lek < hun
šukar : šukar-eder : lek šukar-eder
Bugurdži-R.: baro : po-baro : naj baro po-, naj < sla
šukar . po-šukar : naj šukar
Kalderaš-R.: baro : maj baro : maj baro maj < ron
šukar : maj šukar : maj šukar

Adjectives of European origin are characterised by an even smaller stock of forms than those of pre-European origin, or else are indeclinable, as in the case of Burgenland Romani (Bgld. R.)

lungo < ron. lung 'long' / dlgo < srb. dial. dlgo 'long' / brauni < deu. dial. 'brown'
Kalderaš-R. Bugurdži-R. Bgld.-R.
sg pl
nom lungo lunga dlgo brauni
obl lungone dlgone


The following table presents an overview of the personal and possessive pronouns of Romani with variations specific to individual varieties:

personal pronouns possessive pronouns
nominative oblique
1st singular me man- mindřo / mindro / mundřo / mundro /
miřo / miro / muřo / muro / mřo / mro
1st plural amen / ame amen- amaro 'we'
2nd singular tu tut- tiro / tro 'you'
2nd plural tumen / tume tumen- tumaro 'you'
3rd sg. masc. ov / vov / jov les- leskero / leskro / lesko 'he'
3rd sg. fem. oj / voj / joj la- lakero / lakro / lako 'she'
3rd plural on / von / jon / ol len- lengero / lengro / lengo 'they'

Most Romani varieties have clitic personal pronouns for the third person in anaphoric function. These are the regular nominal forms of the oblique forms of the personal pronouns listed above.

baro si lo 'he is tall'
khamni si li 'she is pregnant '
phure si le 'they are old'

As a rule, Romani has four demonstrative pronouns, from which articles and personal pronouns of the third person are also derived. Along with relative distance [± near], the demonstratives also encode specificity [± specific]. This makes it possible to choose an intended referent from a group of possible referents: the feature of [± specific] thus serves to disambiguate or explicitly contrast.1

nom sg mask nom sg fem nom pl
[+ near] [– specific] adava adaja adala 'this' ...
[+ near] [+ specific] akava akaja akala 'this specific' ...
[– near] [– specific] odova odoja odola 'that' ...
[– near] [+ specific] okova okoja okola 'that specific' ...
pronoun 3rd person ov oj ol 'he/she//they'
article o (< ov) i (< oj) o (< ol) 'the'

The interrogative pronouns so 'what', and ko(n) 'who' are pronominal nouns and thus decline in the same way as nouns

nom acc dat abl ...
ko / kon kas / kones kaske kastar ...
so so soske sostar ...

while savo 'which (one), that' is a pronominal adjective and thus shows the adjectival declension:

sg mask sg fem pl
nom savo savi save
obl saves sava saven

The inherited negative pronouns khoni(k) 'nobody,' and khanči 'nothing' are among others conserved in Vlax varieties. Many other dialects have replaced them by more recent loans, such as the Slavic ništa, 'nothing.' The same is true for indefinite pronouns, which also for the most part originate from European contact languages and display a great range of variation.


As with the nouns, a morphological distinction between elements of pre-European and European origin can also be observed with Romani verbs. Unlike the pre-European verb stems, the verbs that have been more recently adopted from European languages are characterised by morphemes of adaptation and integration.2

pre-European European
Kalderaš-R. Bugurdži-R. Sepečides-R. Burgenland-R.
ker-< inc. karoti
'to make/do'
gind-isar-< ron. a gîndi
'to think'
izbir-iz-< sla. izbirati
'to choose'
jazd-in-< tur. yazmak
'to write'
pis-in-< sla. pisati
'to write'
phen-< inc. bhanati
'to say'
traj-isar-< ron. a trăi
'to live'
trešt-iz-< sla. treštati
'to tremble'
anlat-în-< tur. anlatmak
'to explain'
gondol-in-< hun. gondol
'to think'

The verb stem, with or without an added integration marker, functions as the imperative, for example: phen! 'say!', pisin! 'write!'.

Derivation and Valency

The synthetic coding of valency in Romani is identifiable as an Indo-Aryan inheritance. Stem-forming or stem-extending suffixes that express the characteristic [± transitive] are practically non-existent in other European languages. While the intransitive forms are formally uniform and display only functional variation, transitive inflexions vary both formally and functionally:

bar-o 'big' > bar-ar- 'to raise, to make big ' [factitive]
dand 'tooth' > dand-ar- 'to bite' [factitive]
ač- 'to stay' > ač-av- 'to stop sb./sth.' [causative]
ker- 'to make/do' > ker-av- 'to cause to make/do' [causative]

Intransitiveness is expressed by means of the suffix {ov}, which is often accompanied by palatalization of the stem's terminal consonant:

bar-o 'big' > bar-ov- 'to grow, to become tall' [inchoative]
rat 'night' > rať-ov- 'to dawn, to become night' [inchoative]
dikh- 'to see' > dikhľ-ov- 'to appear' [intransitive]
ker- 'to make/do' > kerď-ov- 'to be made / done' [passive]


Verb conjugation is based on the present stem, which is identical with the verb stem: ker- 'make/do-', phuč- 'ask (a question)', pisin- 'write-' trajisar- 'live-', dandar- 'bite-'. The so-called perfective stem is formed by extending the present stem with a perfective marker – ker-d- 'make/do-PFV-', phuč-l- 'ask(a question)-PFV-', pisin-č- 'write-PFV-', trajisar-d- 'live-PFV-', dandar-d- 'bite-PFV-'.3 The intransitive verbs usually use the suffix {/il/in/}, with the addition of the same gender-specific forms used with the adjectives in the third person singular:

bar-il-o / bar-il-i 'he / she grew'
ačh-il-o / ačh-il-i 'he / she stayed'

The use of different present and perfective stems corresponds to the aspectual differentiation [± perfective]. States and actions that are completed from the perspective of the speaker are [+ perfective]; states and actions that are not completed, or whose state of completion or non-completion the speaker does not intend to specify, are marked [– perfective]. Similarly, the categories of number (singular, plural) and person (first, second, third) are also expressed by two different morpheme sets:

1sg 2sg 3sg 1pl 2pl 3pl
[– perfective] -av/-au/-ap -es/-eh/-e -el -as/-ah/-a -en -en
[+ perfective] -om/-um/-em -an/-al -as/-a -am -en/-an -e

The morpheme sets exhibit variety-specific variation. The non-perfective endings additionally vary within varieties with respect to their vocalism: when the verb stem ends in a vowel, the vowel of the ending is assimilated to it.

ker-el 'he makes/does' Kalderaš-Romani
paćas < *paća-es 'you believe' Kalderaš-Romani
trajiv < *traji-av 'I live'4 Kalderaš-Romani

The morpheme {/as/ahi/a/e/ys/s/} expresses remoteness in time and thus it functions as a tense marker in the form of the characteristic [± remote]:

ker-av, ker-es, etc. [– perfective] [– remote]
ker-av-as, ker-es-as, etc. [– perfective] [+ remote]
kerd-om, kerd-an, etc. [+ perfective] [– remote]
kerd-om-as, kerd-an-as, etc. [+ perfective] [+ remote]

The [– perfective] [– remote] forms have so-called long forms; these are the short forms extended by the morpheme {a}:

ker-av, ker-es, etc. short forms
ker-av-a, ker-es-a, etc. long forms

The functions of the short and long forms are variety-specific: in Kalderaš Romani the short form is used as the present indicative, the long form for the subjunctive. In Arlije and Bugurdži Romani, the long forms are generally used for the present indicative, and the short forms are used for the subjunctive or as alternative present indicative forms. In Burgenland Romani the short forms are used for the present and the long forms for the future. In contrast, the Balkan varieties form the future analytically, by combining the particle {/ka/kam/kama/}, derived from the verb kamel 'love, want, wish' and the present:

ka ker-av 'I will make'

This is a contact phenomenon: analytic future formation is a regional characteristic of the Balkan languages.

The next table presents an overview of the conjugation and the verbal suffixes of Romani:

formation present stem perfective stem
aspect [– perfective] [+ perfective]
tense [– remote] [+ remote] [– remote] [+ remote]
function present / future imperfect perfect pluperfect
1st singular ker-av ker-av-a ker-av-as kerd-om kerd-om-as
2nd singular ker-es ker-es-a ker-es-as kerd-an kerd-an-as
3rd singular ker-el ker-el-a ker-el-as kerd-a(s) kerd-as-as
1st plural ker-as ker-as-a ker-as-as kerd-am kerd-am-as
2nd plural ker-en ker-en-a ker-en-as kerd-an kerd-an-as
3rd plural ker-en ker-en-a ker-en-as kerd-e kerd-an-as


The traditional description of the verb system of an Indo-European language is centred around the category of tense. The subcategories used in this type of scheme are listed in the row "function" in table above. Usually, the main differentiation is between present and past, with imperfect, perfect and pluperfect being grouped under the general heading of "past". However, in Romani verbs are organised primarily by aspectual differentiation, something which has generated a good deal of discussion and controversy. This was resolved by Matras (2002: 151ff.), who provided a cogent explanation in terms of the TMA system (TMA = Tense, Modality, Aspect). The next table and the notes appended to it summarize the functional arrangement of the TMS categories in Romani, which can then also be discerned in the following table:

[– perfective] [+ perfective] [+ intentional]
[– remote] present / future perfect subjunctive
[+ remote] imperfect pluperfect
  • Aspect is represented by the characteristic [± perfective]: the perfective aspect, which signals the completeness of an action at a time before the reference time or at the reference time, is expressed by means of a perfective marker, which is suffixed to the verb stem. ker-d-om 'I made/did' = completed action = perfective ≈ past, in contrast to ker-av(-a) 'I make/do' = non-completed action = non-perfective ≈ present or future.
  • Tense is represented by the characteristic [± remote], which is expressed by the suffix {/as/ahi/a/e/ys/s/}. ker-d-om-as 'I had made/done' = [+ remote] [+ perfective] = action completed before a reference time in the past ≈ pluperfect; ker -av-as 'I was doing' = [+ remote] [– perfective] = action not completed at a reference time in the past ≈ imperfect.
  • It does not appear justified to postulate a true category of modality in Romani (which would be represented by [± intentional]), because the only non-indicative form inherited from pre-European varieties is the unmarked subjunctive ker-el in Early Romani, which contrasts with the present indicative/future ker-el-a. In many varieties, this distinction can no longer be found. Non-indicative mood is usually expressed by means of a particle te, which means not-factual/conditional/subjunctive, and simultaneously has the role of a subordinating conjunction: te kerdomas ... 'if I had made/done...'.

Mood as an Analytical Category

The modal categories of 'being able', 'needing (to)' and 'wanting (to)' are generally formed analytically and are partly variety-specific.

'Wanting (to)' is the most conservative and consistent modal expression in Romani and is usually expressed using the verb kamel 'he/she wants (to)'. In the Balkans, kamel is often replaced by the verb mangel 'he/she desires/asks for'.

kamav te džal 'I want to go'
mangav te xal 'I want to eat'

The modal particle š aj 'be allowed to' expresses permission and thus has a middle position between 'wanting (to)' and 'being able'. Its negative counterpart na š tig 'cannot' serves as the negation both of being allowed (to) and of being able.

šaj khelas 'we are allowed to dance'
naštig lades 'you are not allowed/not able to drive'

The positive sense of being able can be expressed by verbs such as d ž anel 'can/be able' < 'know' or, as in Sinti Romani, hajevel 'can/be able' < 'understand'.

džanas te khelel 'we can dance'
hajevel te gijevel 'he/she can sing' Sinti-Romani

'Needing (to)' is expressed in several varieties by a particle that has developed from si te 'it is, that' by lexicalisation.

iste džav 'I have to go' Burgenland-Romani
hunte džanau 'I have to know' Sinti-Romani

In many other varieties, 'needing (to)' is expressed by more recent loans – including fully inflected verbs, impersonal verbs and modal particles – and sometimes also by functional extension of inherited verbs:

mora < sla. mora / Mora te džanav. 'I must know' Arlije-Romani
trubul < sla. trebuje / Trubul te džas. 'You must go' Gurbet-Romani
mostula < deu. müssen 'he/she must' Finnisches Romani
kamla pe < kamela 'to love' 'it is necessary' Sofia Erli Romani

Infinite Forms

The "inherited" infinitive of Romani has probably been lost under the strong influence of Byzantine Greek in which use of infinitives had almost died out by the time they came into contact and of the reduction of infinitives in the southern Slavic languages. The forms that are referred to as "new" infinitive5 in Romani linguistics are versions of the present paradigm which are used in analytic formation of modal verbs by adding the non-factitive particle, without inflexion for person or number.

kamen te xal 'They want to eat.'
džanav te khelel 'I can dance.'

The examples show the commonest form, which is the third person singular of the short forms. In other varieties, the second/third person plural occurs in the same function.

kamav te khelen 'I want to dance.'

Participles in Romani are a [+ perfective] participle and a gerund, which functions as its [- perfective] counterpart.

Verbs of pre-European origin form the perfective participle with the perfective stem and the adjective endings -o / -i // -e. The perfective marker is usually unmodified, that is, neither palatalised nor affricated.

ker-d-o / -i // -e 'made/done'
phuč-l-o / -i // -e 'asked'
beš-t-o / -i // -e 'sat'

In contrast, the perfective participles of loan verbs from European languages are formed using the suffix {/ime(n)/ome(n)/ame(n)/}, which is either indeclinable or declines in the same way as the adjectives:6

hram-ime < grc. gramma 'written' Kalderaš-Romani
pis-im-o / -i // -e < sla. pisati 'written' Burgenland-Romani

The counterpart of the perfective participle is a [– perfective] gerund that appears in two forms, both of which are formed using the morpheme {/nd/ind/}. The declinable forms also add the adjective endings and may have an attributive function, as in the following example from Burgenland Romani:

rovl-ind-i džuvli 'a crying woman'
rovl-ind-e fačuvča 'crying children'

The indeclinable gerund is usually formed with the ending {/indoj/indos/indes/} and acts as a converb, as in the following example from Bugurdži Romani:

gele bašal-indoj 'They walked while playing.'


As already indicated above with k erď-ov- 'be made/done', the intransitive derivation is also used to construct a synthetic passive, in the form perfective stem + {ov}. Varieties with unproductive intransitive derivation mostly have only a few lexicalized forms – e.g. maťojav 'I am drunk' in Burgenland Romani – and form the passive analytically by using the perfective participle with the verb 'become': av- or ov-

marď-ov-el 'he/she is beaten' synthetic
mardo ovel / avel 'he is beaten' analytic
mardi ovel / avel 'she is beaten' analytic

Another possible way of making the passive is to use reflexive forms. For example, Kalderaš does this, with recent loans:

obzervir-il pe 'he/she is observed' reflexive/passive

Special Formations

Special formations of verbs are common enough in Indo-European languages, and Romani is no exception in this respect. There are a number of irregular constructions and suppletive forms such as, for example, the verb 'to go'. The verb stem, which ends on a vowel, dža- 'go-' assimilates the vowel of the ending. On the other hand, the perfective stem is a suppletive formation, gel- 'go-PFV-', and takes the gender-specific adjective endings in the third person singular, as is usual for the intransitive verbs.

džav < *dža+av 'I go'
džal < *dža+el 'he/she goes'
gel-om 'I went'
gel-o / gel-i 'he/she went'

Other special formations cannot be discussed in detail here, because they exhibit a lot of variety-specific variations.

Similar rules apply to the special form and functions of the verb 'to be'. Some of the variety-specific present tense forms and their Sanskrit equivalents are listed in the following table:

Bgld. = Burgenland; Kald. = Kalderaš; Bug. = Bugurdži; Sep. = Sepečides
Sinti-R. Bgld.-R. Kald.-R. Bug.-R. Sep.-R. Sanskrit
1sg hom som sîm s(i)jom isinom asmi 'I am'
2sg hal sal san sjan isinan asi 'you are'
3sg hi hi si isi asti 'he/she is'
1pl ham sam sam sjam isinam smas(i) 'we are'
2pl han san san sjen isinen stha 'you are'
3pl hi hi si isi santi 'they are'

With regard to synthetic forms, the verb 'to be', which also acts as a copula

o kher sî baro 'the house is big'

only has a present and past form which formally correspond to perfect and pluperfect:

som : somahi 'I am' : 'I was' Burgenland-Romani
sam : samas 'we are' : 'we were' Kalderaš-Romani

As a suppletive form for the future tense and/or conjunctive, the verbs ovel 'to become' and avel 'to come' are used depending on the variety. Balkan varieties form the future analytically, as shown above.


In this section we will describe the core set of particles that is conserved in most Romani varieties. However, a complete treatment of all adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and other non-inflected words in Romani cannot be undertaken in this article because of the high incidence of variety-specific variation. Some particles are explained in the section on syntax.


Adverbs can be subdivided into the derived modal adverbs on the one hand, and "inherited" or loaned adverbs of time and place on the other.

Modal adverbs are derived from adjectives by adding the morpheme {/es/eh/e/} as a suffix:

bar-es < bar-o 'big'
šukar-es < šukar 'beautiful'

The large majority of the adverbs of place belong to the Indo-Aryan core vocabulary.

The deictics of place 'here' and 'there', like the demonstrative pronouns, have a set of forms that express the permutations of the characteristics [± near] and [± specific]:

[+ near] [– specific] adaj 'here'
[+ near] [+ specific] akaj 'exactly here'
[– near] [– specific] odoj 'there'
[– near] [+ specific] okoj 'exactly there'

At least three of these four basic forms were documented by Sampson (1926) in Welsh Romani, which has probably since died out:

odoj : okoj 'there' : 'over there'
akaj 'here'

A fuller range of forms, but without their original functionality, has survived in Latvian Romani. As well as the forms ending in - aj, there are locative forms ending in -te , often with aphesis:

adaj, adate, date : kadaj, kate 'here'
odoj, odote, dote : kote 'there'

In several varieties, including Burgenland Romani, only the non-specific forms remain:

adaj 'here'
odoj 'there'

In the Romani varieties spoken in the Balkans, often only the locative versions of the specific forms have survived, but they no longer have their original specifying function, and also exhibit wide variation:

akate, kate, katka, ... 'here'
okote, kote kotka, ... 'there'

Many varieties have ablative forms as well as locative forms:

adaj, akate, ... : adatar, akatar, ... 'here' : 'from here'
odoj, okote, ... : odotar, okotar, ... 'there' : 'from there'

Similar locative-ablative pairs are also found with other adverbs of place. In contrast to the deictics of place, these have ancient locative and ablative suffixes inherited from Old Indo-Aryan:

angl-e : angl-al 'ahead' : 'from ahead'
maškar-e : maškar-al 'in the middle' : 'from the middle'
tel-e : tel-al 'below' : 'from below'
upr-e : upr-al 'above' : 'from above'

These adverbs of place often also serve as prepositions. If the preposition ends in a vowel and is followed by a definite article, they are fused:

telo bař < *tele o bar 'underneath the stone'
upri bar < *upre i bar 'on the fence'

If the particle ends in a consonant, it can act as a preposition without changing:

maškar i len 'in the middle of the river'

Romani has preserved only a few adverbs of time from the Indo-Aryan. Some adverbs of time have arisen endogenously in Romani, but the majority are loans from European languages:

akana/akan … < inc. kṣaṇa- 'now'
idž, iź, ič, … < inc. hyas 'yesterday'
tehara, taha, tasja,… < grc. tachiá 'tomorrow'
čirla < grc. kairós 'a long time ago' Arlije-Romani
dumu(l)t < ron. demult 'a long time ago' Kalderaš-Romani
mindig < hun. mindig 'always' Burgenland-Romani
artîk < tur. artık 'now, immediately' Sepečides-Romani
araći, arati, … < adava rat 'yesterday' < 'this night'
avdive, avdzis, adi, ... < adava dives 'today' < 'this day'


The negative particles na(< inc. na) and ma(< inc. ), which are inherited from Indo-Aryan, have different functions based on the characteristic [± indicative]:

na kerava 'I do not do' [+ indicative]
ma te keres 'you should not do' [– indicative]
ma ker! 'don't do!' [– indicative]

In several varieties, including Kalderaš Romani, this functional separation is fundamentally modified by the loan či(< rom. nici):

či džanav 'I don't know' [+ indicative]
te na kheles 'you shall not dance' [– indicative]
ma av! 'don't come!' [– indicative]

In other varieties, e.g. in Burgenland Romani, ma is only used as an imperative negation:

na džav 'I don't go' [+ indicative]
ma ač! 'don't stay!' [– indicative]

An additional particle of negation inherited from Indo-Aryan is the prefix bi- (< inc. vi-), which is found in almost all varieties:

bibaxt : baxt 'misfortune' : 'fortune'
bilačho : lačho 'bad' : 'good'
bilondo : londo 'unsalted' : 'salty'

In many varieties, bi is also used as a preposition with the genitive:

bi khereskero 'without a house'


The general coordinating conjunctions are thaj 'and' (< inc. tathāpi) and vaj (< inc. va) 'or':

kalo thaj parno 'black and white'
kalo vaj lolo 'black or red'

The subordinating conjunctions kaj(< inc. kasmin) and te< inc. tad) are also inherited from Indo-Aryan. They differ in the characteristic [± factual]:

Džanav, kaj aves baxtalo. 'I know that you will be lucky.' [+ factual]
Kamav, te aves baxtalo. 'I wish that you will be lucky.' [– factual]

Other Particles

The particles kaj and te are of particular interest because of their multifunctional use. Due to its semantic character as [– factitive], te is used in several varieties such as Burgenland Romani not only as a conjunction, but also as a subjunctive and infinitive particle.

te kerel : kerel '(if) he/she made/did' : 'he/she makes/does'
kinen ... te hal 'they buy ... to eat'

The additional uses of the particle kaj are as an adverb of place and an interrogative particle in the sense of 'where':

Kaj si amaro phral? 'Where is our brother?'

Additional functions of kaj include, e.g. in Gurbet Romani, use as a relative pronoun 'that, which' and as a preposition 'to, at'.

Another multifunctional particle is kana < inc. kṣaṇa) 'when', which is in general use as an interrogative and a conjunction:

Kana aves? 'When do you come?'

Equally ubiquitous are the modal particles šaj 'can/be able' and its negation naštig, which, when combined with the particle te, express permission or possibility:

Šaj te ačhav. 'I can stay.'
'It is possible that I stay.'
Naštig te ačhes. 'You cannot stay.'
'It is impossible that you stay.'

As mentioned above, beyond these more or less generally used examples, there are also quite different variety-specific sets of particles based on loans from the different contact languages; in a general survey such as this we can only mention their existence, but cannot attempt to describe their diversity and functions.

1. ^ In this context see also Matras (1998) and Matras (2002: 106-112).

2. ^ According to Boretzky/Igla (1991), these morphemes are derived from Greek. Bakker (1997) describes the entire integration morphology of Romani as being borrowed from Greek.

3. ^ Perfective markers are often palatalised – ď, ľ– or affricatised – dz, dž, č. A third basic marker - t- now only occurs in the formation of participles: beš-t-o 'sat', but beš-l-om 'I sat'.

4. ^ The stem traji- is the short form of the stem trajisar-. This verb occurs in Vlax varieties as a loan from Romanian a trăi 'to live'.

5. ^ See Boretzky (1996) and Matras (2002: 161f.).

6. ^ The morpheme {Vme(n)} corresponds to the Greek participle suffix {Vmen}.