Quechua Grammar Basics - Suffixes and Word Particles

An Introduction


Suffixes and word particles are tiny word pieces which add nuance and refinement to your sentences.
These little bits of language are the working heart of the Quechua language. Suffixes and word particles do all the heavy lifting.

The tricky part for us English-speaking people is this: many of the same word particles have different meanings depending on where and how they are used:

when used as a suffix, -pi means "at, in, on, during", like this:

Kay llaqtapi "In this town" 'this town-in'
Kaypi "here" 'here-at'


When used by itself, pi means "who", like this:

Pi? "Who?" 'Who?'

Pitaq chay runa? "Who is that man/person?" 'Who-quest that person [is]?'

In Quechua, context is everything.
The subject of word particles and suffixes is a very big topic. Navigating this is, for me, one of the biggest challenges of learning the language. We will approach it little by little, as-asllamanta, together.

The three main groups of suffixes are
Lets start with some simple suffixes and examples. Note that many more refinements are possible. And desirable!

Suffix Quechua Meaning Sample usage
-kama until "Tupananchiskama"
'Meet-we-until' ("Until we meet again")

"Paqarinkama!"
'Morning-until!' ("See you in the morning!")
-man* (1) to, towards "Machu Picchuman rishani"
'Machu Picchu-towards going-I'
(2) indirect object marker
   (implied direction ...)
"Rumita payman quni"
'(a) stone to-her/him give-I'
-manta from "Karu llaqtamanta kani"
'Far town-from I am'

"Maymanta hamushanki?"
'Where-from come-towards-ongoing-you?'
-paq for, for the purpose "Aylluypaq llank'ani"
'Ayllu-for work-I' ("I work for my ayllu / for my family")
-pi at, in, on, during "Asheville llaqtapi kani"
'Asheville town-in am-I' ("I am in Asheville")

"Maypi Jeffrey?"
'Where-at Jeffrey?'
-wan with (people) "Annawan kani"
'Anna-with am-I'

"Jeffreywan runasimita yachashani."
'Jeffrey-with Quechua-object-marker study-ing-I.'
-yoq with (object) "Allpayoq kani"
'Land-with am-I' (i.e. "I own land")

"Hatunmishayoq"
'Big/High-level misha-with'

* -man is a multi-purpose suffix. More on those in the next suffix section.