More about Helper Verbs

Auxilary or Helper verbs

Kernowek has four main auxiliary or helper verbs, which are used mainly linked to other verbs to establish “tense”

They are;

Bos – to be

Gwil – to do or to make

Mydnes – to will or to wish

Gallos – to be able

The verbs Gwil, Mydnes and Gallos can be used with personal pronouns;

Me – me

Te – you (singular)

Ev – he

Hy – she

Ny – we

Why – you (plural or polite)

Y – they

When using verbs in this way the “Third Person Singular” of the verbs is used whichever personal pronoun is required, and creates a second mutation in respect of the following verb, by the inclusion of the “a” particle.

It should be noted at this point that Gwil and Mydnes are usually used to create a future tense.

This gives us;

Gwil – 3rd person singular Gwra

Me a wra – I will

Te a wra – you will

Ev a wra – he will

Hy a wra – she will

Ny a wra – we will

Why a wra – you will

Y a wra – they will

Mydnes – 3rd person singular Mydn

Me a vydn – I will

Te a vydn – you will (singular)

Ev a vydn – he will

Hy a vydn – she will

Ny a vydn – we will

Why a vydn – you will (plural or polite)

Y a vydn – they will

You will notice in this form both Gwil and Mydnes are used for “will”. These forms of expressing “will” are used as a matter of choice. I have discussed this and received the following advice:

“Choice of future construction is all quite flexible – there are style considerations, and some individuals just have their own personal preferences. It is a mistake to match the Cornish options with English options – there is no direct correspondence.”

Gallos – 3rd person singular Gyll

Me a yll – I can

Te a yll – you can (singular)

Ev a yll – he can

Hy a yll – she can

Ny a yll – we can

Why a yll – you can (plural or polite)

Y a yll – they can

Below are some examples using these verb constructions in simple sentences:


Redya – to read

Neyja – to swim

Eva – to eat

Debry – to drink

Kerdhes - to walk

Me a wra redya – I will read

Te a vydn redya – You will read

Ev a yll redya – He can read

Hy a wra neyja – She will swim

Ny a vydn neyja – We will swim

Why a yll neyja – You can swim

Y a wra eva – They will drink

Me a vydn eva – I will drink

Te a yll eva – You can drink

Ev a wra debry – He will eat

Hy a vydn debry – She will eat

Ny a yll debry – We can eat

Why a wra kerdhes – You will walk

Y a vydn kerdhes – They will walk

Me a yll kerdhes – I can walk

Sometimes however you wish to express the action in the present tense, so as in Sawnek you need to add a continuous element for example if you continue to read you are reading and adjustments in Kernowek need to be made to encompass the “ing” element in the present tense.

The verb to be used in this case is the long form of Bos (to be) as below;

Yth esof vy – I am

Yth esta – you are

Yma ev – he is

Yma hy – she is

Yth eson ny – we

Yth esowgh why – you are

Ymowns y – they are

You will notice the prefixes “Yth, Yma and Ymowns” are used which are from the “Y” particle which becomes “Yth” before (a, e, i, o, u and y) “Yma” before ev (he) and hy(she), finally Ymowns before “Y”(they). These particles indicate that a positive statement is being made.

To establish the Sawsnek (English) “ing” on the end of the following verb, the second verb is prefixed by “ow” or “owth (before a, e, i, o, u and y)

It is important to remember that “ow” or “owth” create a 4th mutation in the following word.

The fourth (4th) mutation affects the following letters;

B changes to P

D changes to T

G changes to C or K

Gw changes to QW

It may help some of you to remember that this is in fact a reversal of the mutation changes in the 2nd mutation.

It should be noted that the 4th mutation does not have the masculine and feminine rules applied to the 2nd Mutation, and so if the following word begins with one of the above four letters or combination of letters it will mutate.

Here are some examples;

Yth esof vy ow redya – I am reading (no mutation)

Yth esta ow tebry – You are eating (d in debry mutates to t for tebry)

Yma ev ow qweles – He is seeing (gw in gweles mutates to qw for qweles)

Yma hy ow marhogeth – She is riding (no mutation)

Yth eson ny ow cusca – We are sleeping (no mutation)

Yth esowgh why ow tancya – we are dancing (d in dancya mutates to t for tancya)

Ymowns y ow prosya – they are embroidering (b in brosya mutates to p in prosya)

Question Form of Long Form Bos;

To change long form Bos to a question you remove “Yth” from the present tense for, howver “Yma” and “Ymowns” change to “Usy” and “Usons” as follows

Essof ve ow redya? – Am I reading?

Esta ow tebry? – Are you eating?

Usy ev ow gweles – Is he seeing?

Usy hy ow marhogeth? – Is she riding?

Eson ny ow cuscas? – Are we sleeping?

Esowgh why ow tancya? – Are we dancing?

Usons y ow prosya? – Are they embroidering?

Note; If the subject of the sentence is not definite, “Usy” changes to” Eus”

For example

Usy an keus Kernowek ow tos? – Is the Cornish cheese coming? (definite)

Eus keus ow tos? Is there cheese coming? (indefinite)

Question form;

Gwil & Gallos

To use the question form in simple sentences, you begin the sentence with the “A” particle which establishes that what follows is a question. Remember the “A” particle still creates a second mutation in the following word.

A yll hy marhogeth an margh? – Can she ride the horse?

A wra an kyttryn mos lebmyn ? – Does the bus go now?

A yll an maw gweles an vowes? – Can the boy see the girl?

A wra an scath golyow war an mor? – Does the boat sale on the sea?

The form of the question when using me, te, ny, why and y is slightly different and we will look at this later in the course,