High Valyrian Verb Moods

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Uses of the subjunctive

The subjunctive is mostly used for negative statements and subordinate clauses.[1] Unlike many languages, High Valyrian does not appear to use the subjunctive for wishes (optative) or commands (jussive). Infinitive constructions are used for these instead.

Negative statements

By far the most common use of the subjunctive is in negative statements:

  • Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor. — A dragon is not a slave.
  • Kesys ondor avy sytilībus daor. — This power does not belong to you.

It seems to be specifically triggered by the word daor "not." Other negatives appear to take the indicative:

  • Dōrior dārion udrirzi mijessis.No kingdom lacks a language.
  • daorys ziry ōdrikilza.no one will harm him.

Positive questions do not take a subjunctive, but negative ones presumably do. There is at least one example of a grammatically negative question being translated as semantically positive:

  • New Yorkī sōnar raqō daor?Are you enjoying winter in New York?[2]

A more literal translation would be "Don't you like winter in New York?". In English, this may also be interpreted as a positive question, depending on context, in parallel with High Valyrian usage.

As infinitives, participles, and imperatives have no corresponding subjunctive forms, the do not follow this rule:

  • Infinitives are simply used as-is with daor: sagon iā sagon daor "to be or not to be"
  • Imperatives cannot be used with daor, so the negative command is supplied by the negative infinitive instead: jagon daor "don't go!"
  • Negative participles may be expressed through relative clauses, or negated as adjectives (presumably using a prefix like nā- or do-.)

Reported speech

Indirect quotations may optionally take a subjunctive:

  • Morghot nēdyssy sesīr zūguksy azantys vestras. — The knight says that even the brave men fear death.

However, it may also take an indicative:[3]

  • Dārys issa vestris... — They say he is a king...

Presumably using the indicative implies that the speaker agrees with the statement, whereas the subjunctive is appropriate when the speaker disagrees, or does not wish to commit to it.

It is unknown how indirect questions and indirect commands are handled.

Potential subjunctive

A subjunctive may be used for something that might hypothetically happen.

  • Skoriot dōre vala gō istos nēdenkirī jagon. — To boldly go where no man would have gone before.[4]
  • Kydȳptakson sȳz kesos. — It would be good to have been measured.

This may be related to the use of subjunctive in relative clauses, where it appears to mean "anyone who should..." (as opposed to "a specific set of people who do...."):

  • Tolvi zijo syt vilībari morghūljosy li henkiri sigliliks. — All those who die fighting for her shall be reborn in kind.

Desiderative subjunctive

A subjunctive may be used in place of a verb meaning "to want."[5] This is particularly true for the future subjunctive:

  • Vīlībāzmosa iderennī emilun. — I would like to have a trial by combat.
  • Ao ynoma dīnilūks?Would you like to marry me?
  • Skoros ynot epilu? — What would you ask of me?

But it also occurs in other tenses:

  • ... se avy ōdrikosy lī hīghari morghūlilzi. — ... and those who would harm you will die screaming.

This use of the subjunctive may be compared the use of "would" in literary English, e.g. "I would have trial by combat..." etc.

Conditional subjunctive

The expression kostilus "please," "maybe" seems to be literally the future subjunctive of kostagon. The meaning here is certainly conditional: "If it will be possible" (compare the archaic English construction "Be it possible....") It is uncertain if this can occur outside of this expression, however.

The subjunctive may also be used in conditionals explicitly containing lo "if."

  • Lo Dārie se pāsābari sytiotāpia lōtirī jorrāeloty, sepār dōre vala arlī īlōn belmurilza. — If we should steadfastly love in our love for the Queen and her faithful advisors, no man will ever lock us in chains again.

Purpose clauses

A subjunctive may be used to express purpose, either explicitly marked with the word 'hegnīr "in order to...," or on its own (compare the archaic English "that she might...."):

  • Gēlȳndi aōt tepagon jaelas, hegnīr aōhys rūs ipradagon kostos — His Valyrian is terrible. He only wants to give you money, so your baby can eat.
  • Vys verdlios perzomy siglitaks! — From the fire she was reborn to remake the world!

Uses of the infinitive

Some grammatical traditions consider the infinitive a mood, which is convenient for our purposes, as the infinitive has many specialized uses in High Valyrian.

Basic uses

Complementary infinitive

An infinitive may be used to complete the meaning of another verb, effectively acting as a direct object:

  • Henujagon jaelza lua vala mirre henujagon kostas. — Any man who wishes to leave may leave.

Infinitive of purpose

An infinitive may express purpose, as in English "(in order) to...."

  • ...Dāria Daenerys jemī ivīlībagon kesīr īlos daor. — ...Queen Daenerys is not here to fight for you.

Indirect commands

An "indirect" or "embedded" command may be expressed by an infinitive:

  • Mentyri idañe jevi ivestrilātās keskydoso gaomagon. — You shall tell your fellow soldiers to do likewise.

Special expressions

High Valyrian is rich in special expressions that make use of the infinitive.

Negative commands

Negative commands are expressed by an infinitive with daor:

  • Zūgagon daor, ñuhys raqiros. — Don’t be afraid, my friend.

Permissive commands

When commanding someone to allow something to happen, the infinitive is used with a preceding dative.

  • Ynot rebagon. — Let me pass.

This construction may optionally be followed by an imperative of gaomagon, but this is usually left unexpressed

  • *Ynot rebagon gaomātās.Let me pass.

As in English, the same construction may be used for "first person commands" (also known as "hortatives"):

  • Sesīr īlot jagon! — Now let's go![6]

Third person commands

"Third person commands" (also known as "jussives") are expressed by the infinitive with a preceding vocative:

  • Dohaerirus māzigon! — May a slave come!

This is presumably ambiguous in the negative: Dohaerirus māzigon daor could mean either "May a slave not come!" or "Slave, do not come!"


  1. http://www.dothraki.com/2014/01/the-treasure-of-the-wastes/#comment-7458
  2. http://dedalvs.tumblr.com/post/137111885757/ahhhhhhh-i-havent-been-on-tumblr-in-a-few-days
  3. http://www.dothraki.com/2013/05/gryves-se-rina-litse/#comment-1686
  4. http://www.dothraki.com/2014/01/elat-kathivezhofari/#comment-6729
    Not required, but allowed. If you were to use the subjunctive here, it’d be more, “To boldly go where no man would have gone before”. This is more direct. So, yes, the subjunctive works differently in HV than it does in some languages that have them (it’s more of a late subjunctive, I want to say, where it has more affective uses than syntactic uses).
  5. This use of the subjunctive was first mentioned in DJP's entry "Mhysa":
    If there’s a controversial bit in that translation, it’s the choice of verb and tense in lo ziry arlī jaelāt—i.e. “if it again you want”. There are a couple of ways I could’ve gone. One would be, for example, to use the verb emagon, “to have”, in the subjunctive. I felt that was too hypothetical. This translation I felt was more direct (i.e. using the indicative rather than the subjunctive and using the verb for “to want”), and I liked it better for the content.
    Notice that he says "in the subjunctive," but does not specify "future."
  6. https://twitter.com/Dedalvs/status/352348019221471233
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