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Tlamachtiliztli 28 Nipanoyaya mochan (I Was Passing By Your House)


In this lesson we will see the imperfect tense, which describes an action or state in the past but without a termination limit, in other words, it is a past action that is in process or which used to occur. In Nahuatl, the imperfect tense is marked by adding the suffix /-yaya/ to the verbal base, before the numerical suffix, which are “ø” for the singular and “-h” for the plural. For example:

Nipano     “I pass”

Nipanqui     “I passed”

Nipanoyaya     “I was passing”

As we have seen previously, there are four classes of verbs and the imperfect changes verbs in class three. These are those which end in /-ia/ and /-oa/, and lose their final vowel /a/ when the imperfect tense is applied.



Ahahuiltiliztli tlen tlachihualiztli (Conjugation of the verb)

ni – (verbal base) – yaya – ø

ti – (verbal base) – yaya – ø

ø – (verbal base) – yaya – ø

ti – (verbal base) – yaya – h

in – (verbal base) – yaya – h

ø – (verbal base) – yaya – h


Tlachihualiztli tlen clase ce (Verbs in class one)

/itta/     “to see”

Niquittayaya     “I was seeing” (something)

Tiquittayaya     “You were seeing” (something)

Quiittayaya     “She/he was seeing” (something)

Tiquittayayah     “We were seeing” (something)

Inquiittayayah     “You (plural) were seeing” (something)

Quiittayayah     “They were seeing” (something)


/oni/     “to drink”

Niconiyaya     “I was drinking” (something)

Ticoniyaya     “You were drinking” (something)

Quioniyaya     “She/he was drinking” (something)

Ticoniyayah     “We were drinking” (something)

Inquioniyayah     “You (plural) were drinking” (something)

Quioniyayah     “They were drinking” (something)


/pano/     “to pass”

Nipanoyaya     “I was passing”

Tipanoyaya     “You were passing”

Panoyaya     “She/he was passing”

Tipanoyayah     “We were passing”

Inpanoyayah     “You (plural) were passing”

Panoyayah     “They were passing”


Tlachihualiztli tlen clase ome (Verbs in class two)

/cahua/     “to leave”

Niccahuayaya     “I was leaving” (something)

Ticcahuayaya     “You were leaving” (something)

Quicahuayaya     “She/he was leaving” (something)

Ticcahuayayah     “We were leaving” (something)

Inquicahuayayah     “You (plural) were leaving” (something)

Quicahuayayah     “They were leaving” (something)


/amati/     “to like”

Nicamatiyaya     “I used to like” (something)

Ticamatiyaya     “You used to like” (something)

Quiamatiyaya     “She/he used to like” (something)

Ticamatiyayah     “We used to like” (something)

Inquiamatiyayah     “You (plural) used to like” (something)

Quiamatiyayah     “They used to like” (something)


/amiqui/     “to be thirsty”

Niamiquiyaya     “I was thirsty”

Tiamiquiyaya     “You were thirsty”

Amiquiyaya     “She/he was thirsty”

Tiamiquiyayah     “We were thirsty”

Inamiquiyayah     “You (plural) were thirsty”

Amiquiyayah     “They were thirsty”


Tlachihualiztli tlen clase eyi (Verbs in class three)

/poloa/     “to lose”

Nicpoloyaya     “I was losing” (something)

Ticpoloyaya     “You were losing” (something)

Quipoloyaya     “She/he was losing” (something)

Ticpoloyayah     “We were losing” (something)

Inquipoloyayah     “You (plural) were losing” (something)

Quipoloyayah     “They were loosing” (something)


/illia/     “to say”

Niquilliyaya     “I was saying” (to someone)

Tiquilliyaya     “You were saying” (to someone)

Quilliyaya     “She/he was saying” (to someone)

Tiquilliyayah     “We were saying” (to someone)

Inquiilliyayah     “You (plural) were saying” (to someone)

Quilliyayah     “They were saying” (to someone)


/motlaloa/     “to run”

Nimotlaloyaya     “I was running”

Timotlaloyaya     “You were running”

Motlaloyaya     “She/he was running”

Timotlaloyayah     “We were running”

Inmotlaloyayah     “You (plural) were running”

Motlaloyayah     “They were running”


Tlachihualiztli tlen clase nahui (Verbs in class four)

/cua/     “to eat”

Niccuayaya     “I was eating” (something)

Ticcuayaya     “You were eating” (something)

Quicuayaya     “She/he was eating” (something)

Ticcuayayah     “We were eating” (something)

Inquicuayayah     “You (plural) were eating” (something)

Quicuayayah     “They were eating” (something)


/mama/     “to carry”

Nicmamayaya     “I was carrying” (something/someone)

Ticmamayaya     “You were carrying” (something/someone)

Quimamayaya     “She/he was carrying” (something/someone)

Ticmamayayah     “We were carrying” (something/someone)

Inquimamayayah     “You (plural) were carrying” (something/someone)

Quimamayayah     “They were carrying” (something/someone)


/pa/     “to paint”

Nicpayaya     “I was painting” (something)

Ticpayaya     “You were painting” (something)

Quipayaya     “She/he was painting” (something)

Ticpayayah     “We were painting” (something)

Inquipayayah     “You (plural) were painting” (something)

Quipayayah     “They were painting” (something)

Chantequitl tlen momachtianihPractice for Students

Tequitl ce (Activity One): Conjugate four verbs in different classes in the imperfect tense.


Tequitl ome (Activity Two): Write four sentences with the verbs from work one in the imperfect tense. For example:

Laura axcanah quicuayaya nacatl zampampa naman tlahuel quiamati.

Laura does not eat meat, but now she likes it a lot

Nototatah huahcauhquiya tlahuel tlaoniyaya naman ayoccanah quiamati.

My dad used to drink a lot some time ago, now he does not like it.


Tequitl eyi (Activity Three): Write a paragraph describing “what you used to like.”