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Module 1A

Intransitive Sentences with Weather Words


The previous mini-module discussed the pattern of intransitive sentences with common noun subjects. That pattern is quite simple and it is easy to learn how to create sentences following that pattern: 

Start - verb-a connective - common noun subject - end.


Here are some of the sentences that fit that pattern:


  • Yaawxga 'yuuta. (The man ate.)

  • Łuunti hana̱'a̱. (The woman is angry.)

  • Dm yaawxga haas. (The dog will eat.)

  • Nah sisaaxsa łgu 'yuuta. (The boy laughed.)

Although that is a simple pattern, there is one type of sentence in Sm'algya̱x that is even simpler, and easier to use. That is the pattern for what linguist Bruce Rigsby called an "ambient predicate," but which we will simply call "weather words."

Birds on Frozen Grass

It's cold.



The category we're calling "weather words" includes the names of the winds, some (but not all) of the words for tides, and weather conditions such as snow, hail, sleet or sunshine, most of which can function as intransitive verbs in Sm'algya̱x. Using these verbs is simple: almost all of them fit the intransitive sentence pattern, except that you don't need a subject, though a few of the words for tides are exceptions that will be noted below.


In English, when we express things about winds, tides and weather we often use "it" as  a "dummy subject." So we have sentences like:


It is blowing today.


Notice that the English sentences above include "it" as a subject. But, in fact, there is no "it" that is blowing, etc. Using "it" in these sentences is just a convention of English, which needs a "filler" for the subject slot. That's why we called it a "dummy subject." The word "it" fills the subject position, but there is nothing that is "it."

Here are more English examples:

It's snowing.

It's windy outside.

It's high tide now.

It's really cold here.


Sm'algya̱x doesn't bother creating a "dummy" to fill the subject slot in the intransitive sentence pattern. Instead, the pattern for most "weather words" consists of only one obligatory slot – the intransitive verb slot, which you will recall is coloured yellow in the template. There is no subject required, so there is no need for a connective linking the verb and subject, and the "start" and "end" slots in the pattern are optional. So here is the stripped down template for sentences with "weather words" as verbs:

Start - verb - end.


*** See Module 1 for details .*** 


This structure provides the necessary “slot” to cover one-word sentences that use only the verb slot such as:


Waas.                          Its' raining.

Waasmyeen.               It's drizzling/misty.

Baask.                         It's blowing.

Gwa̱tk.                         It's cold.

Sa̱g̱a̱gyemk.                It's sunny.

Akslsgmm̱aadm.         It's sleeting.

G̱oba̱g̱a̱la̱xha.             It's overcast.

Uksbaask.                   It's blowing from the east (offshore).

Gisiyaask.                   It's blowing from the north.

Xba̱nxł.                        It's sultry weather.

'Ya̱g̱a̱g̱a̱ksüülma̱xs.     It's half tide going out

La̱xla̱g̱mks.                  It's slack water. (calm before a tide change)

Ditxa̱ks.                       It's high tide.

Dzog̱mbaask.              It's blowing towards shore.

Rain Boots


Image by shayd johnson


Image by Jordan Ladikos


Since the "weather words" shown in the examples above are a subclass of intransitive verbs, the verb – the only sentence part in these examples - fits into the yellow slot used for intransitive verbs in the colour-coded sentence templates. The sentences above could all answer one of the following questions:


Goł laxha sah gya'wn?             What's the weather today?

Goł la waaldu aksit gya'wn?     What's the tide doing now?

Start and end

If extra information about when or where the action of the sentence takes place is to be included, it fits into the “start” or “end” slot. The extra information may be about when, where, or how the weather is happening. It may be expressed as full words such as sah gya'wn (today), or gyelx (outside). 

Or it may be expressed as modifying proclitics (part words) before the weather words, such as 'ap g̱ani (really= continuosly=). Here are some examples of extra information with weather word sentences:

Waasmyeen gyelx.

Baask a gyigyaani.

Sa̱g̱a̱gyemk a Lax Klan a sah gya'wn.

'Ap g̱a̱ni g̱oba̱g̱a̱la̱xha a Kxeen.

Ts'iiba la̱xha sah gya'wn

Ts'üü baask. 

Gwa̱tga gyelx a Txałgiiw.

Akslsgmm̱aadm da sg̱a̱süü Ksyen.

'Na doosda wil uksbaask.

Ła 'naga dziiws wil 'ya̱g̱a̱disüülgisk.

Ludaba aatk sg̱a̱ 'naga gisiyaask.

Xba̱nxł asda suunt.

Noos dp gwatga gyelx.

Luk'wil gwa̱tga suunda gya'wn. 

It's misty outside.

It’s blowing up the inlet.

It's sunny in Kitkatla today.

It is always overcast in Prince Rupert.

It is overcast today.

It's blowing hard.

It's cold outside in Hartley Bay.

It's sleeting at the mouth of the Skeena.

There's an east (offshore) wind across there.

Long after daylight it's half-tide going out.

There was a north wind all night.

It was sultry weather last summer.

It's so cold outside.

It is very cold this summer.

Misty Woodland

Waasmyeen gyelx.

For more information about "expanding" basic sentences with extras in the Start and End slots, see Visible Grammar, Module 13: Expanded Intransitive Sentences, which includes several hundred examples of the various ways to add information on when, where, how, and why the action of the sentence happens.

Winter Islands

Ts'iiba la̱xha sah gya'wn.

Image by Eunice Stahl



Image by Juan Davila

Luk'wil gwa̱tga suunda gya'wn


G̱oba̱g̱a̱la̱xha a Kxeen.

It should be noted that while some words about tides fit this "weather word" pattern, there are some expressions having to do with tides that don't fit this pattern, instead patterning as regular intransitive sentences with common noun subjects, with aks as the subject. In this usage, aks means 'tide.'

Start - verb-a connective - common noun subject - end.


'Wiileeksa aks.                      It's high tide.

Ba̱xg̱a̱ksüülgm aks.               The tide is half in.

Ts'oo aks.                              The tide's going out.

Lug̱awsga aks.                      The tide is low.

Wag̱ayt gyeeka / gyiika aks It's zero tide.

Dziła ditxaksa aks, dm wil sigyootgm.     When the tide is high, we will leave.


Dziła ditxaksa aks, dm wil sigyootgm.


Ts'oo aks. 

In the previous mini-module dealing with intransitive sentences with common noun subjects, we saw that some words in Sm'algya̱x have multiple meanings and these may be from different parts of speech.

  • The word aks, for example, is sometimes a common noun meaning water, sometimes an intransitive verb meaning to be wet, and sometimes a transitive verb meaning to drink water. Some of the weathers words also occur as several different parts of speech, and therefore they occur in several patterns.

  • Waas, for example, functions both as an intransitive verb (to rain) and as a common noun meaning the rain. So one sense works in the "weather word" intransitive verb pattern as shown above, but the other sense occurs in the standard pattern as a common noun subject of an intransitive sentence:

    • Waas.        It's raining. (Waas is an intransitive verb in the weather word pattern.)

    • Yaa waasIt's raining. (Literally "the rain walks," with waas as a common noun in the pattern for intransitive sentences with common noun subjects.)


Maadm, on the other hand, seems to function only as a common noun, so it doesn't work with the "weather word" pattern, but requires an intransitive verb with it:


Yaa maadm.             It's snowing.

Yaa aksm̱maadm.    It's sleeting


Note: Aksm̱maadm also acts like a noun, but its older form, aksłsgm̱maadm, behaves like an intransitive verb (see above).


Here are two other weather words that are acting as common noun subjects in sentences with intransitive verbs:


  • G̱a̱tgyeda dzog̱m baask da sah gya'wn.   The onshore wind is strong today. 

  • 'Wiileeksa dzog̱m baask da sah gya'wn.   There's a big south wind today. 

  • G̱a̱tgyeda dzog̱m haywaas.    The south wind is strong. 




This mini-module has shown how many of the words that describe weather and tides are used in Sm'algya̱x. Sometimes they are intransitive verbs and can form a full sentence with no other sentence parts. Sometimes they act as common nouns in the standard pattern of an intransitive sentence with a common noun subject. These words are part of the rich heritage of Sm'algya̱x and learners will find it well worth their time to learn a selection of these words.

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