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Tlamachtiliztli 20 Tlahtoltecpanalitzli -pil huan -tzin (The Grammar of -pil and -tzin)


In this lesson we will introduce diminutive particles, which are used in order to name small things but also to give reverence to a person or towards an object. For example:

tonanan     “our mother”

no – pil – tononan     “our little mother”


Tlatocaxtiliztli tlen axquipiya itecoh (Absolute Substantive Nouns)

Substantive nouns have a group of prefixes and suffixes that mark diminutive declensions in relation to time, attention, and honor or reverence. The diminutive is represented by the prefix “pil-” and suffix “-tzin” in order to mark the singular, but “-tzitzin” in order to mark the plural. These particles appear at the exterior of the substantive base.

ni – pil – (substantive base) – tzin

ti – pil – (substantive base) – tzin

ø – pil – (substantive base) – tzin

ti – pil – (substantive base) – tzitzin

in – pil – (substantive base) – tzitzin

ø – pil – (substantive base) – tzitzin

Tlamanextilli ahahuiltiliztli tlen tlatocaxtiliztli tlen axquipiya itecoh (Example of the conjugation of substantive nouns)

/cihuatl/     “woman”

Nipilcihuatzin     “I am a little woman”

Tipilcihuatzin     “You are a little woman”

Pilcihuatzin     “She is a little woman”

Tipilcihuatzitzin     “We are little women”

Inpilcihuatzitzin     “You (plural) are little women”

Pilcihuatzitzin     “They are are little women”


/papalotl/     “butterfly”

Tipilpapalotzin     “You are a little butterfly”

Pilpapalotzin     “She/he is a little butterfly”

Inpilpapalotzitzin     “We are little butterflies”

Pilpapalotzitzin     “They are little butterflies”


/xillin/     “shrimp

Tipilxilitzin     “You are a little shrimp”

Pilxilitzin     “She/he is a little shrimp”

Inpilxilitzitzin     “You (plural) are little shrimps”

Pilxilitzitzin     “They are little shrimps”


/chichi/     “dog”

Tipilchichitzin     “You are a little dog”

Pilchichitzin     “She/he is a little dog”

Inpilchichitzitzin     “You (plural) are little dogs”

Pilchichitzitzin     “They are little dogs”


/tlapiyalli/     “livestock, domesticated animal”

Titlapiyaltzin     “You are a little domesticated animal”

Tlapiyaltzin     “She/he is a little domesticated animal”

Inpiyaltzitzin     “You (plural) are little domesticated animals”

Tlapiyaltzitzin     “They are little domesticated animals”


Motocaxtilli tlen quipiya iteco (Possessive pronouns)

The diminutive form of possessive pronouns is marked with “pil-” in the same way as the absolute substantive nouns. However, the possessive markers are used for the prefixes and suffixes, rather than the absolute subject markers (ni, ti, ø, ti, in, ø). This means that the subject is marked by their possessed form (no, mo, i, to, inmo, inin), while also using their possessed singular (-uh, -hui, ø) and plural (-huan) suffixes. Diminutive possessive pronouns are used mainly for family members, parts of the body, and the possession of an object.

no – pil – (substantive base) – uh /hui /ø

mo – pil – (substantive base) – uh /hui /ø

i – pil – (substantive base) – uh /hui /ø

to – pil – (substantive base) – huan

inmo – pil – (substantive base) – huan

inin – pil – (substantive base) – huan


Tlamanextilli ahahuiltiliztli tlen motocaxtilli tlen quipoz iteco (Ejemplo de la conjugacion del substantivo posesivo)

/ahui/     “aunt”

nopilahui     “mi pequeña tía”

mopilahui     “your little aunt”

ipolahui     “her/his little aunt”

topilahuihuan     “our little aunts”

inmopilahuihuan     “your (plural) little aunts”

ininpilahuihuan     “their little aunts”

tonanan     “our mother”

nopiltonanan     “my revered mother”

mopiltonanan     “your revered mother”

ipiltonanan     “her/his revered mother”

topiltonanahuan     “our revered mothers”

inmopiltonanahuan     “your (plural) revered mothers”

ininpiltonanahuan     “their revered mothers”


/cintli/     “corn”

nopilcin     “my little corn”

mopilcin     “your little corn”

ipilcin     “her/his little corn”

topilcinhuan     “our little corns”

inmopilcinhuan     “your (plural) little corns”

ininpilcinhuan     “their little corns”


/cuaxilotl/     “banana”

nopilcuaxilouh     “my little banana”

mopilcuaxilouh     “your little banana”

ipilcuaxilouh     “her/his little banana”

topilcuaxilouhuan     “our little banana”

inmopilcuaxilouhuan     “your (plural) little bananas”

ininpilcuaxilouhuan     “their little bananas”


/icxitl/     “foot”

nopilicxi     “my little foot”

mopilicxi     “your little foot”

ipilicxi     “her/his little foot”

topilicxihuan     “our little feet”

inmopilicxihuan     “your (plural) little feet”

ininpilicxihuan     “their little feet”


/tzipitl/     “belly button”

nopiltzipiuh     “my little belly button”

mopiltzipiuh     “your little belly button”

ipiltzipiuh     “her/his little belly button”

topiltzipiuh     “our little belly button”

inmopiltzipiuh     “your (plural) little belly button”

ininpiltzipiuh     “their little belly button”

Yancuic Tlahtolli tlen TlamachtiliztliNew vocabulary

amatl     “paper”

ceboh     “ointment”

chicomexochitl     “seven flower”

chichi     “dog”

nehpalli     “cactus”

olotl     “corn on the cob”

papalotl     “butterfly”

pilatzin     “honored water”

pilcantelahtzin     “little candle”

pilcintzin     “little corn”

piltlaltzin     “honored land”

piltlaxcaltzin     “little tortilla”

popochcomitl     “incense burner”

tecciztli     “egg”

tlapiyalli     “livestock, domesticated animal”

tlatehtectli     “paper cut-out”

xillin     “shrimp”

xochicozcatl     “flower collar”

xochimantli     “flower pot”

xochitl     “flower”

Chantequitl tlen momachtianihPractice for Students

Tequitl ce (Activity One): Write five sentences with words that have “pil-” and “-tzin”


Tequitl ome (Activity Two): Translate the following sentences into Nahuatl.

 My little bean is very beautiful.

The teeth of your little corn is too big for planting.

Our reverend grandfather works a lot at the cornfield.

This tree of little bananas that our son planted is growing very beautiful.

The little candles that were lit at the altar for corn will be put away.