by Roland Siang Nawl, M. Div.

Lai verb has a broader definition than English in that it covers a wider denotation in addition to action, state of being, and occurrence. In Lai, a verb is a word that describes action, occurrence, state of being, existence, condition, feeling, color, ownership, and quality.

(a) Action

  1. Mangbawi cusianginn a kai.
    MB TOPIC school 3 go
    Mangbawi goes to school.
  2. Thilpipa cu teimaak tein ṭuan a hau.
    Thing+big TOPIC effort MOD pp work 3 need
    Great things need great efforts.
  3. Tsunami tilet atho i mi tampi an thi.
    Tsunami wave 3 rise and people many 3Pl die
    A tsunami occurred and many people were killed in it.

(b) State of being

  1. Ngaihthiamnak cu milianngan hna thil asi.
    Forgive+NOM TOPIC human+great Pl thing 3 be
    Forgiveness is the thing of the great.
  2. Pu Thai Cawn cuLai pasal ṭha a raksi.
    Mr Thai Cawn TOPIC Chin man good 3 PAST be
    Pu Thai Cawn was a man of masculinity.
  3. Kan vokthau cu cuai 40 ati.
    1Pl pig+fat TOPIC scale 40 3 be
    Our fat pig weighs 40 kilograms.

(c) Existence

  1. Lairam ah minung sing nga hrawng khua an sa.
    Chin+land LOC people lakh five about life 3Pl build
    There are about five hundred thousand people living in Chinland.
  2. Lairam cu fing le tlaang lawngte in a khat.
    Chinland TOPIC moor and hill only pp 3 fill
    Chinland is all covered with hills.
  3. Ramlak ah ramsa an um.
    Jungle+in pp jungle+animal 3Pl be
    There are wild animals in the jungle.

(d) Ownership

  1. Keimah cu computer pakhat ka ngei.
    I TOPIC computer one 1 have
    I have a computer.
  2. Pu Rum Lian cu sia sawmnga a ngei.
    Mr Rum Lian TOPIC mythun fifty 3 have
    Pu Rum Lian has fifty mithuns.

(e) Condition/Feeling

  1. Kham Bik cu a zaw.
    Kham Bik TOPIC 3 sick
    Kham Bik is sick.
  2. Sang Lian cu a lung amit.
    Sang Lian TOPIC 3 heart 3 dizzy
    Sang Lian is dizzy.
  3. Na ra i Khente aalawm.
    2 come and Khente 3Mid rejoice
    Khente rejoiced when you came.
  4. Lian Dang cu a ral a ṭha.
    Lian Dang TOPIC 3 enemy 3 good
    Lian Dang was brave.
  5. Dawtnak cu aaporhlaw lo.
    Love+NOM TOPIC 3MID boast NEG
    Love does not boast.
  6. Hlawnku cu a mui aadawh.
    Hlawnku TOPIC 3 feature 3MID be.beautiful
    Hlawnku is beautiful.
  7. Khente cu a hnem.
    KhenteTOPIC3 be. stingy
    Khente is stingy.

(f) Colour

  1. Hnuuk cu a raang i langak cu a nak.
    Milk TOPIC3 white and crow TOPIC 3 black
    Milk is white and the crow is black.
  2. Mang Chawn cu a thin a hun ca-ah a hmai a sen.
    Mang Chawn TOPIC 3 liver 3 angry because-pp 3 face 3 red
    Mang Chawn was so angry that his face turned red.
  3. Rung Lian cua dam lo ca ah a mit a eng (a aihre).
    Rung Lian TOPIC 3 heal NEG bec-pp 3 eye 3 yellow
    Ram Lian was so unwell that his eyes turned yellow.
  4. Nan vokfa cu an ṭial.
    2Pl pig+baby TOPIC 3Pl striped
    Your piglets are striped.

It should be kept in mind that some colours do not have lexical words to describe them and are described in terms of the things that have those colours. For example, coffee is used for brown, orange for a colour between red and yellow, ivory for a colour between yellow and white. These colour names cannot function as verbs.

Linking Verbs

Verbs like nung, tlai, chuak, pang, hlawh are used after some verb infinitives to add the meaning of the infinitives.

nung (comes after duh, ṭih, fih)

  1. Mah bawhte cu duha nung.
    That baby TOPIC love 3
    The baby is lively.
  2. Cakei cu ṭih a nung ko.
    Tiger TOPICfear 3- EMPH
    The tiger is fearful.
  3. Tholung cu fih an nung.
    Maggot TOPIC loath 3Pl
    Maggots are loathsome.

tlai (combined with huat meaning ‘hate’)

  1. Miṭhalo cu huat an tlai
    Person+good+NEG TOPIC hate 3
    Bad people are hateful.

tlaak (combined with zumh ‘believe’)

  1. Miding cu zumh an tlaak.
    Person+righteous TOPIC believe 3 deserve
    The righteous are believable.

hlawh (combined with dawt ‘love’) means deserve

  1. Parku cu dawt aahlawh.
    Parku TOPIC love 3MID deserve
    Parku deserves to be loved.

um (combined with ngaih, zaangfah, etc)

  1. Hlaan lio kan caan hna kha ngaih an um tuk.
    Past TENSE 1Pl time Pl DEM miss 3Pl be very
    The moments we had in the past are good missing.

Kinds of Verbs

Verbs are classified into two major parts according to their argumentative judgment - intransitive and transitive.

(a) Intransitive: Verbs that have only one argument (that is, the subject) are known as intransitive verbs. Examples below are intransitive verbs.

  1. Ngakchia cua itcang.
    Child TOPIC 3 sleep PERF
    The child has been sleeping.
  2. Naute cu daite in aa hngilh ko.
    Baby+little TOPIC silent MOD pp 3MID sleep EMPH
    The child is soundly asleep.
  3. Ka u cu lam thlang ah a ril.
    1 brotherTOPIC road south pp 3 roll
    My brother rolled downhill off the road.
  4. Lian Thleng cu rawlṭaam in a thi.
    Lian Thleng TOPICfood+starve pp 3 die
    Lian Thleng died of starvation.

(b) Transitive Verbs: Verbs that have two arguments - subject and object - are transitive verbs.

  1. Ka nu le ka pa nih an ka dawt.
    1 mother and 1 father BY 3Pl 1 love
    My parents love me.
  2. Na sualnak kan in ngaihthiam ko.
    2 guilt+NOM 1Pl 2 forgive EMPH
    We forgave you of your guilt.
  3. Harnak na ton ahcun kaan bawmh lai.
    Hard+NOM2meetif 1+2 help FUT
    If you face with trouble, I will help you.
  4. Amah nih a ka hruai.
    He BY 3 1 lead
    He leads me.

From the examples above, we have:




Verb phrase


ka nu le ka pa


an ka dawt



Na sualnak

kan in ngaihthiam




kaan bawmh lai


Amah nih


a ka hruai

Parts of sentence

In Lai, a sentence can be divided into two main parts: the Nominative Phraseand Verb phrase parts.The Nominative part gives information of the subject and object and the verb phrase includes the verb with the agreement markers of the subject and the object. In most cases, the Nominative Phrase is optional but the verb phrase is a compulsory, without which no sentence is formed.


Nominative Phrase


Verb Phrase



a kal.



kan kal.



na kal.



nan kal


Nangmah nih


na kan bawmh.


Kanmah nih


kanϴ bawmh hna.(SOV)


Lian Ling

a kal. (SV)


Lian Ling le Kharte

an kal. (SV)


Lian Ling le Kharte nih


an in bawmh. (SOV)


Lian Ling cu


a si. (SV)


Amah cu


a si. (SV)


Lian Ling te nih

Pu Ceu

an ϴ bawmh. (SOV)

The Nominative Phrase may be optionally omitted in pragmatically utterance in sentences (1) to (6). In the above examples, underlined phrases are overtly necessary while italicized phrases optionally omissible.

The noun phrase ‘miṭha’ (good man) in (11) is the complement of the verb phase ‘a si’.

The character ϴ stands for the implicit objective marker for the third persons.

The syntactical order of structure can be made up from the verb phrase with subjective agreement markers before intransitive verbs and objective agreement markers occupying between the subjective markers and the transitive verbs, forming a sentence formulas ‘SV’ with intransitive and ‘SOV’ with intransitive verbs.

Intransitives to Transitives: Intransitive verbs change into transitives by adding some suffixes at the end. These suffixes are -hnawh, -kanh, -pi, -piak, -tak and -ter.It is to be noted that when suffixes are added to the stem-2 or infinitive form of the transitive verb.

Intransitive Suffixes → Transitive
lut/luh hnawh luhhlawh
enter Dative bugler/inrude
thi/thih taak thihtaak
die before leave
kal pi kalpi
go together carry along
kir ter kirter
go back CAUS made him turn back

  1. Kan Lairam cu ka kirhnawh ţhaan lai.
    1Pl Chinland TOPIC 1 go-back+DAT again FUT
    I will go back to Chinland.

  2. Siangakchia pawl nih an lungtlinlonak kong sayapa an chimhnawh.
    Student Pl BY 3Pl dissatisfied+NEG+NOM about teacher+Male 3 tell+against
    The students told their dissatisfaction against the teacher.
  3. Zaan tlai i ka ṭiin ca ah ka panih innka a ka kharkanh.
    Night late pp 1 come.home because 1 father BY door 3 1 close-against
    Father shut the door against me because I came home late at night.
  4. Thawng Lian nih America a kan phanhkanh.
    Thawng Lian BY America 3 1 arrive+before
    Thawng Lian arrived in America before me.
  5. Ka pi cu Yangon ah keimah nihka kalpi.
    aunt TOPIC Yangon DAT I BY 1 go-along
    I guided my aunt to Yangon.
  6. An nu le an pa nihan thihtaak hna.
    3Pl mother and 1Pl father BY 3Pl die+before Pl
    Their parents left them.

(b) Some intransitives with initial letters of m, r, k, p, and tl change into transitive by prefixing or suffixing h with them.

Intransitive Transitive Meaning
maan hmaan maanter
disintegrate cause to disintegrate
ril hril rilhter
roll cause to roll
kaang khaang kanghter
burn cause to burn
poih phoih poihter
be loosened untie/ cause to be loosened
tlau thlau tlauter
lose cause to lose


  1. Leitlang an maan lo.
    The soil is not crumbled.
  2. Leitlang kan hmaan.
    We crumbled the soil.


  1. Lungtum cu lam thlang ah a ril.
    The stone rolled downhill off the road.
  2. Lungtum cu ka hril kho lo.
    I cannot roll the stone.


  1. Inn a kaang!
    House 3 burn
    The house is on fire.
  2. Aho dah a khaang?
    Who Q 3 cause to burn
    Who caused the house on fire?


  1. Zung tawh a tlau.
    Office key 3 lose
    The office key lost.
  2. Keimah nih ka thlau
    I BY 1 lose
    I lost it.

Some intransitive verbs change into transitive verbs by adding the glottal stop sound (h) at the ending.

Intransitive Transitive Meaning
sur (ruah) surh cungah sur
rain rain on rain on
niam niamh niamter
short shorten make short
fum fumh fumter
slow slow down make slow
rang (khul) ranh ranter
quick quicken make quick


  1. Inn kan ṭin pah ah ruah a sur
    Home 1Pl go while pp rain 3 rain
    On our way home it was raining.
  2. Cin thlirhthlerh in a kan surh
    Wet completely pp 3 1Pl rain
    We were completely drenched by the rain.


Na seh kha a fum tuk. Na fumh dahra?
2 machine DEM 3 slow too 2 slow Q
Your machine runs slow. Did you slow it down?


“Na rangtum cu a kal a rang ko.” ~ “Ka ranh ca ah a si.”
2 horse TOPIC 3 go 3 quick EMPH 1 qucik+make because pp 3 be
“Your horse runs so quickly.” ~ “Because I hasten it.”

Some intransitive verbs change into transitive by prefixing and suffixing the letter h.

Intransitive Transitive Meaning
cause to start

Khua ka ruah lio ah na ka hlauh i ka lau tuk.
I was started because you startled me while I was thinking.

Double Transitive Verbs

Some transitives are made into double transitives by adding suffixes to their ending. In double transitive verbs have two objects with one subject.

Transitive Double transitive Meaning
cawn cawnpiak
learn learn+BENEFACT teach
laak lakpiak caah laak
take take+BEN take for
ei eikanh
eat eat+ahead of eat up ahead of

We have two objects in each of the sentences below.


Pastorpa nih Baibal a kan cawnpiak.
Pastor+male BY Bible 3 1 teach
The pastor taught us the Bible.


  1. Baibal (Bible)
  2. Kanmah (us)

Verb phrase: a kan cawnpiak


Pa Lian nih Nu Sui thing a hlampiak.
Pa Lian BY Nu Sui firewood 3 collect+BEN
Pa Lian collected firewood for Nu Sui.


  1. Thing (firewood)
  2. Nu Sui (Nu Sui)

Verb phrase: a hlampiak


Ka pa nih hrawl cung i cauk a ka laakpiak.
1 Father BY shelf on pp book 3 1 take+BEN
Father took the book on the shelf for me.


  1. Cauk (book)
  2. Keimah (me)

Verb phrase: a ka laakpiak


Uico nih chizawh cu sa a eikanh.
Dog BY cat TOPIC meat 3 eat+Precede
The dog ate all the meat against the cat.


1. sa (meat)
2. chizawh (cat)

Verb phrase: a eikanh


In Lai, there are two stem forms, and they are classified as finite and infinite. For convenience in use, we shall term the finite verb as stem-1 and infinite as stem-2. As there are some verbs which do not change their forms in any circumstances, there are some verbs in Lai which have the same form in all circumstances.

Change of verb forms

(a) Verbs which end in vowel sounds are suffixed with k, h le t to change into stem-2.

Stem 1 Stem 2 Meaning
thi thih die
si siik quarrel
hne hneek force
thlu thluuk fall
zu zuuk (kuak) smoke
zu zuut be tapered
hme hmeet be small
ra rat come
daw dawt love
sa sak build
sa sat heat (water)

(b) Verbs ending in nasals (m, n) and liquids (l, r) are suffixed with the glottal stop (h) to change from stem 1 to stem 2.

Stem 1 Stem 2 Meaning
ril rilh roll
vel velh fight
khawl khawlh collect
rawl rawlh replace
lum lumh stumble
kom komh befriend
laam lamh step on
zuum zumh believe

(c) Some stem-1 verbs ending with velar-nasal (ng) decline to nasal ending with n to change to stem 2.

Stem 1Stem 2Meaning
raangraanbe white
laanglaanbe better than/ travel a round trip journey in a day
chaangchaansucceed a post
rangranbe quick
raangraanbe white
dongdonwelcome/ greet
leengleenpay a visit
rungruncome down
thangthanbe loud

(d) Some stem-1 verbs ending with velar-nasal (ng) are suffixed with the glottal stop (h) in the stem-2 form.

Stem 1Stem 2Meaning
daangdanghbe pale
dangdanghtreat with something eatable
khaangkhanghmake burn
langlanghbe visible

(e) Stem-1 verbs ending wth stop finals such as k, p, and t are replaced with glottal stop (h) in the stem-2.

Stem 1Stem 2Meaning
bokbawhlie in a prone position
chokchawhwalk about
ṭhep (mit)ṭhehblink eye
ruutruhscoop (garbage)

(f) Some stem-1 verbs ending in short vowel o change to awh in the stem-2 form.

Stem 1Stem 2Meaning

(g) Some stem-1 verbs ending with closing diphthongs—ai, ao, au, ei, eo, eu, oi, etc change into stem-2 by suffixing the glottal stop h with them.

Stem 1Stem 2Meaning
ngai ngaih long for
dai daih cool
ngei ngeih have/own
nai naih be near
rau rauh be away of time
kau kauh be wide
cau cauh look upware
hau hauh demand/cry for

Some stem-1 verbs ending with opening diphthongs—ia, ua change into stem-2 forms with t or k being added to them.

Stem 1Stem 2Meaning
bia biak worship
bua buat grassy
chia chiat be bad
hua huat hate
kua kuat send
lua luak vomit
phua phuat add
pua puak carry (a child) on back
sua suat glean/ collect
ṭhria ṭhiat be lanky
ṭhua ṭhuat fight with fist/ copulate
tia tiat be equal in size
vua vuak fight
zua zuat breed animals

(h) Stem-1 verbs ending with -iang, -uang decline to -ian, -uan with the letter g being dropped when changed into stem-2 forms.

Stem 1Stem 2Meaning
buang buan be fluffy
cuang cuan be prominent
fiang fian be clear
hriang hrian be on the edge
piang pian be clear
puang puan be revealed (news)
ruang ruan be even
siang sian be generous
suang suan lie in state, to lay a corpse
thiang thian be clean
thuang thuan plough field
tiang tian arrange in line
tuang tuan make annoyance in anger

(i) Some verbs remained unchanged in the stem-2 forms. They are unchanged forms.

Stem 1Stem 2Meaning
buut buut gather around sb
chap chap add/ replenish
dik dik be true
fak fak recommend
kal kal go
kum kum bow
lal lal lord over/ be the fittest
men men wrap/ bandage
neem neem soft, tender
paam paam be starved, be poor
rim rim stop doing sth bad
sen sen be red
taar taar hang on the wall (such as skulls)
tar tar be old in age
zar zar hang clothes, expose
zor zor decrease

Alteration of Multi-syllabic verbs

Multi-syllabic verbs follow the rules of change mentioned above. However, they differ in syllables.

(a) In some words, changes take place only in the first syllable. The last letter of the first syllable changes according to the stem changing rules.

Stem 1Stem 2Meaning
ngaithiam ngaihthiam forgive
ruatthiam ruahthiam be understanding
ṭhihruai ṭhiithruai lead
hngakhlang hngahhlang be eager
ngia-thlai ngiatthlai spy on
khinghraam khinhraam grunt
hrawkhral hrawhhral destroy
piangthar pianthar be born again

(b) In some multi-syllabic verbs, the last letter of the second syllable change according to the rules of the stem change.

Stem 1Stem 2Meaning
hnursuang hnursuan affect
puarhraang puarhraan be violent
ingpuang ingpuan be outraged
thiamsang thiamsan be educated
thiamhngal thiamhngalh be well-informed
damhkhaang damhkhaan arrange
daithlaang daithlaan be careless
aukhuang aukhuan shout
zuamkhawng zuamkhawn challenge

Some multi-syllabic verbs change both in the first and second syllables according to the stem change rules.

Stem 1Stem 2Meaning
ruatkhaang ruahkhaan plan/ put decision in a meeting
khawmsua khawmhsuat collect
hraamkau hramhkauh care
aukhuan (auh) auhkhuanh call/ remind
chuaklang chuahlangh appear in public


1. Use of stem-1 forms (Finite)

(a)In the indicative mood, except in the clause, all the intransitive verbs are used in stem 1 form.

  1. Ngakchia cu chun ah an it tawn.
    Child TOPIC noon pp 3Pl sleep sometimes
    Children sometimes sleep in the day time.
  2. Ramvai pawl ramlak in an hung tlung.
    Hunter Pl jungle+in pp 3Pl DIR come home
    The hunters came home from the jungle.

(b) Verbs - both intransitive and transtive - accompanied by negative marker lo and question word maw are in the finite or stem 1 forms.

  1. Ka pu nih a ka daw lo.
    1 uncle BY 3 1 love NEG
    My uncle does not love me.
  2. Na pi a ra cang maw?
    2 father 3 come PERF Q
    Has your father come?

(c) All verbs in the imperative/subjunctive moods take the stem-1 or finite forms. In these moods the personal agreement markers are ning, usih, seh, and hna seh (for the third person plural).

  1. Na sinah keimah ra ning.
    2 to-pp I come 1
    May I come to you.
  2. Kanmah nih in bawm hna usih.
    We BY 2 help Pl 1Pl
    Let us help you (Pl).
  3. Hi kong hi ṭha te in ruat u.
    This account this good MOD pp think 2Pl
    Please think about this matter very well.
  4. Thiang Thlarau nih ka mit kha tawng seh.
    Holy Spirit BY 1 eye that touch 3

    Let the Holy Spirit touch my eyes.

2. Use of Stem-2 Forms (Infinitive)

a. Stem-2 form is used before conjunctional phrases (except na in) such as ahcun, ca ah, hnu ah, hlaan ah, tik ah, lio ah.

  1. Nikhua a chiat ca-ah kan piknik kan leet.
    Weather 3 bad because pp 1Pl picnic 1Pl cancel
    We cancelled our picnic because the weather was bad.
  2. Khua ka ruah lio-ah na ra.
    Though 1 think while pp 2 come
    You came to me while I was thinking.
  3. Sianginn in ka phaak tik-ah kaan leeng hna lai.
    School from 1 arrive when pp 1-2 visit Pl FUT
    I will visit you when I come home from school.
  4. Na thih hnu-ah khoi dah na kal lai?
    2 die after pp where+Q 2 go FUT
    Where are you going after you die?
  5. Tlanglawng dinhhmun kan phaak hlaan-ah tlanglawng a rak chuak cang.
    Train rest+place 1Pl arrive before-pp train 3 PAST leave PERF
    The train had left before we arrived at the station.

b. When there is the agentive marker nih in the sentence, the verb is in the stem-2 or infinitive form. Something that we need to be aware of is that verbs in the domain of nih are transitive verbs.

  1. Pathian nih vawlei a dawt.
    God BY world 3 love
    God loves the world.
  2. Ralkap nih khuami kha phaisa an chuh hna.
    Soldiers BY villagers that money 3Pl seize Pl
    The soldiers took money from the villagers by force.
  3. Nu Khen nih Pa Bik a lawmh.
    Nu Khen BY Pa Bik 3 thank
    Nu Khen thanked Pa Bik.

It needs, however, to keep in mind that some stem determiners are stronger than others and the verbal variants follow the stronger determiners. For example, the verbal variants in the examples above take stem-1 forms before lo, and maw which are stronger determiners than nih as in (4) to (6).

  1. Pathian nih vawlei a daw maw?
    God BY world 3 love Q
    Does God love the world?
  2. Ralkap nih khuami phaisa an chut hna maw?
    Soldier BY villager money 3Pl seize Pl Q
    Did the soldiers take money by force from the villagers?
  3. Nu Khen nih Pa Bik a lawm lo.
    Nu Khen BY Pa Bik 3 thank NEG
    Nu Khen did not thank Pa Bik?

However, if there is a conjunctional phrase after lo, the verb stem is determined by the former as in (7). The stem lawmh in this situation is determined by caah, and not with nih.

  1. Nu Khen nih Pa Bik a lawmh lo caah, Pa Bik a ngaih a chia.
    Nu Khen BY Pa Bik Bik 3 thank NEG because Pa Bik 3 - be- sad
    Because Nu Khen did not thank Pa Bik, he was sad.

Observing the above sentences, we can find that determiners that come afterwards are more determinative than the ones that come before in order. [Nih < lo < conjunction (< = stronger)]

c. Stem-2 forms are used before nominalizer awk and ding (when having similar meaning to awk)

  1. Tuufa cu thah awk/ding ah an kalpi.
    Lamb TOPIC kill to pp 3 go-together
    They took the lamb away to be killed.
  2. Rawl chumh awk/ding a um lo.
    Food cook to 3 be NEG
    There is no food to cook.
  3. Thih awk ah aa tlaak.
    Die to pp 3-MID deserve
    He deserved to die.

d. Transitivizers such as -hnawh, -kanh, -pi, -piak, -tak, -ter, etc are suffixed to stem-2 forms.

Stem-1 Stem-2+suffixes → transitive
nung (live) nunhnawh live for
thi (die) thihhnawh die for
ruat (consider) ruahpiak consider for
ding (drink) dinpiak drink for
diin (rest) dinhtaak leave(die)
ra (come) ratpi bring
kaang (burn) kanghter cause to/ let burn

    1. Rawl kan ei caah kan nung. (intransitive)
      Food 1Pl eat because 1Pl live
      We live because we eat food.
    2. Rawl ei hi kan nunhnawh lo.
      Food eat this 1Pl live+for NEG
      We do not live for food.
    1. Ral Kam cu ram caah a thi.
      Ral Kam TOPIC country for 3 die
      Ral Kam died for the country.
    2. b. Ral Kam nih ram a thihhnawh.
      Ral Kap BY country 3 die+for
      Ral Kam died for the country.
    1. Ramlak ah mei a kaang.
      Jungle+in pp fire 3 burn
      A wildfire is burning in the jungle.
    2. b. Ramvai nih an kanghter.
      Hunter BY 3Pl burn+CAUS
      The hunters cause it to burn.

e. The nominalizer –nak is suffixed to the stem-2 form.

Stem-2 +nak →; gerund

Thih → thihnak
Nun → nunnak
Dawt → dawtnak
Ṭhangh → ṭhanghnak
Velh → velhnak

f. Verbs in their stem 2 or the infinitive forms stand as nouns.

Stem 1 Stem 2 (infinitive)
thi thih
nung nun
tlawng tlawn
si-faak si-fah

  1. Miraltha pawl nih thih an ṭih lo.
    Person+brave Pl BY die 3Pl fear NEG
    The brave are not afraid to die.
  2. Nun cu raldoh a si.
    Life TOPIC enemy+fight 3 be
    Life is war.
  3. Khual-tlawn cu ka huamsazia a si.
    Foreign+travel TOPIC 1 hobby 3 be
    Traveling is my hobby.
  4. Sifah cu i pheh ding a si lo.
    Poor TOPIC MID deny to 3 be NEG
    It is not good to deny your poverty.
  5. Minung ciocio kan zawn kan i ruah awk a si.
    Person each-each 1Pl affairs 1Pl RR consider should 3 be
    We should be kind to each other as human beings.

f. The stem 2 form is used when the relative suffix –mi is added to the verb in the situation where the the entity that the relative suffix mi refers to is the patient.

  1. Amah hi ka dawtmi ka fapa a si.
    He this 1 love+REL 1 son 3 be
    He is my son whom I love.
  2. Mangte nih a ngaihmi cu Nu Renh a si.
    Mangte BY 3 miss+REL TOPIC Nu Renh 3 be
    The one that Mangte missed is Nu Renh.
  3. Bawipa nih a huatmi thil pasarih a um.
    Lord BY 3 hate+REL thing seven 3 be
    There are seven things that the Lord hates.

f. Verb stem-2 is used in integrative sentences that begin with Zei (= what).

  1. Zei tik ah dah kan sin na phanh lai?
    What when+pp Q 1Pl with 2 arrive FUT
    When are you getting to us?
  2. Zei ruang ah dah harnak a tlun?
    What why pp Q hard+NOM 3 come home
    Why does hardship come?
  3. Zei dah na hmuh hna?
    What Q 2 see Pl
    What do you see?

g. When two determinant zei and maw are present in a sentence, the verb stem takes the stem-2 form since the latter determinant is always stronger than the former one that comes first.

  1. Zei tal na hmu maw? (Zei tal na hmuh maw?*)
    What else 2 see Q
    Did you see anything else?
  2. Zei thawng hmanh na thei lo maw?
    What news even 2 hear NEG Q
    Did you not hear any news?

h. When we describe that something happens by itself, not caused by any other things, we use the stem 2 form as in the sentences below. In this situation, the personal pronoun focus (variant 1) is accompanied by the stem-2 verb.

  1. Arfa te amah thih in a thi. (thih…thi)
    Chicken little Itself die pp 3 die
    Our little chicken died by itself.
  2. Ram cu amah kangh in a kaang.
    Grass TOPIC itself burn pp 3 burn
    The grass burned ablaze by itself.
  3. Ka pi cu amah tluuk in a tlu. (tluuk…tlu)
    1 aunt TOPIC herself fall pp 3 fall
    My aunt fell without being caused by any outside force.
  4. Naa hngilhnak in nangmah ṭhangh te in naa ṭhang. (ṭhangh…ṭhang)
    2MID sleep+NOM pp You awake MOD pp 2MID awake
    You woke up by yourself.

h. Stem-2 form is used before words such as ning, daan, zia, that describe manner, means, and degree.

  1. Kan Lairam te a nuamh zia ka chim kho lo. (stem-1 nuam)
    1Pl Chinland DIM 3 pleasant how 1 say can NEG
    I cannot say how pleasant our Chinland is.
  2. Lai Grammar cu keimah ka fian ning in kaan chimh lai. (stem 1 fiang)
    Lai grammar TOPIC I 1 understand how pp 1-2 teach FUT
    I will teach you Lai grammar in the way I understand it.
  3. Na thil ruah daan le ka ruah daan an i khat. (stem 1, ruat)
    2 thing think way and 1 think way 3Pl MID one
    Your way of thinking is similar to mine.
  4. Mah thilhar hi a tawlchan zia kan thiam lo. (stem 1 tawlchang )
    This thing+hard this 3 handle means 1Pl know NEG
    We don’t know how to handle this difficult thing.

i. Stem-2 form is used with the adverb phrase khawh chung in describing “as much as possible”. In this situation, the same verb appears in two places—the first in stem 1 form and the second time in stem 2 form.

  1. Sakhi ka pauh i, a rankhawh chung rang in a tli. (stem 1, rang)
    Deer 1 startle and 3 fast can in pp 3 run
    I startled a deer and it ran as fast as possible.
  2. Tiva cu a lianhkhawh chung in a lian.
    River TOPIC 3 big can in pp 3 big
    The river swelled up as big as possible. (stem 1, lian)
  3. Ngakchia pawl a thankhawh chung thang in hla an sa.
    Children Pl 3 loud can in loud pp song 3Pl sing
    The children are singing as loud as possible.
  4. Zingka ah a tuanhkhawh chung tuan in ka tho.
    Morning pp 3 early can in early pp 1 get-up
    In the morning, I get up as early as possible.
    (OR) Zingka ah a tuanh khawh chung tuan ah ka tho.
    In the morning, I get up at the earliest time.
  5. Ruahpi a tuh khawh chung tuk in a sur.
    Rain 3 –be torrent can in be torrent pp 3 rain
    It is raining very torrentially.

Verb Stems as Nouns

In Lai, both the finite (stem 1) and infinite (stem 2) forms can function as nouns but in different aspects. The stem 1 form denotes the person while the stem 2 denotes condition of the verb.

  1. Sifaak (stem 1)/Sifah (poverty):
    1. Sifaak cu kan bawmh hna awk a si.
      Poor TOPIC 1Pl help Pl should 3 be
      We should help the poor.
    2. Sifah (stem 2):
      Mikip nih sifah ral kan doh lai.
      Person+every poverty enemy 1Pl fight FUT
      Everyone will fight against the enemy of poverty.
  2. Ram-vai (stem 1):
    Ram-vaih (stem 2):
    1. Ramvai pawl nih meithal an puah.
      Hunter Pl BY gun 3Pl fire
      The hunters fired guns.
    2. Lian Dang cu ramvaih a huam.
      Lian Dang TOPIC hunting 3 like
      Lian Dang likes hunting.
  3. Ral-tu (stem 1): person who fights in battle
    Ral-tuk (stem 2): fighting in battle
    1. Kan dihlak in ram ca raltu kan si.
      1 all pp country for fighter 3Pl be
      We are all fighters for the country.
    2. Ram ca raltuk cu kan rian a si.
      Country for fighting TOPIC 1Pl work 3 be
      It is our responsibility to fight for the country.