The pronoun “we” in English can sometimes be ambiguous if the sentence is not constructed carefully. When it is used in conversation sometimes it is unclear if the person being spoken to is included in this mention of “we.” This ambiguity does not exist in Chamorro as there are two versions of “we”, defined as inclusive, meaning the addressee is included, and exclusive, the addressee is excluded.
The Inclusive/Exclusive “we” in Chamorro
Look at the sentence below and then look at the diagrams.
Speaker: Para ta fanhånao para i tasi! / We’re going to beach!
In Figure 1, the speaker is letting the other person know they’re included in the activity.
Speaker: Para bai in hanao para i tasi! / We’re going to the beach!
In Figure 2, the speaker is letting the other person know his plans.
A “We” for every situation
Once you’ve learned and are able to distinguish between the two “we”s in Chamorro, you can start learning the different words for them. The word for we changes depending on what you want to say.
Stative / Intransitive Sentence
A stative sentence is a basic sentence consisting of a subject and a predicate and is usually a descriptive sentence. For example, “We are happy” is a stative sentence. An intransitive sentence in Chamorro is one where there is no definite object involved. The Chamorro words for we here are inclusive hit and exclusive ham.
We are Chamorro.
We are Chamorro.
Mañocho hit gi resturan.
We ate at the restaurant.
Transitive Sentence with Definite Object
You may have noticed that the above sentence examples have the subject pronoun AFTER the verb. When a definite (specific) object is involved, the sentence structure changes to a structure familiar to English speakers: Subject Verb Object.
For example, in the sentence “He ate the apple”, the word “he” is the subject, “ate” is the verb, and “the apple” is the object. In Chamorro, the structure will be exactly the same. Except, here’s the catch, this only applies if the object is a definite object, that is, the object is specific. Our example works because the object “the apple” is specific; the apple refers to a specific apple located somewhere or bought by someone. If our example had been “He ate an apple,” then our sentence structure would revert back to Verb Subject, since there is no definite object involved.
The words for we in this sentence construction are inclusive ta and exclusive in.
In faisen si George.
We asked George.
Ta faisen si George.
We asked George.
In English, the way someone emphasizes that the subject is responsible for an action is by adding the words “is the one who” or by putting stress on the subject when mentioning them verbally.
We ate the pizza. vs. We (were the ones who) ate the pizza OR We at the pizza.
To achieve the same thing in Chamorro, we use Actor-focus constructions and Emphatic pronouns. By themselves, the pronouns for the first-person plural are understood as US instead of WE, but are understood as WE in Actor-focus constructions. The emphatic we are the inclusive hita and exclusive hami.
Hami! Us! (Not you!)
Hita! Us! (Including you!)
Hami chumule’ i lamasa siha.
We (are the ones who) brought the tables.
Now that you’ve figured out there’s more to “WE” in Chamorro, you’re probably thinking you’re done, right? Well, not so fast. If you haven’t checked it out already, here’s how to say the singular and plural “you” in Chamorro.
In Chamorro, there are five ways to say you, and they differ according to whether or not you’re addressing a single person or a group and what you’re trying to say. The word you in English is used to refer to one person or a group of people. In Chamorro, you have five different ways to say you and they are grouped below according to how you use them.
The English “You”
Before we go into the different categories, here is a quick example of the two types of you in English:
1. You (singular): How are you?
2. You (plural): How are you (all) doing?
Unlike English, the word for you in Chamorro is different for the singular and the plural. The word also changes according to the pronoun category, which are: Emphatic Pronouns, Yo’-Type Pronouns and Hu-Type Pronouns.
These pronouns are called emphatic because they place emphasis on the subject. Sometimes referred to as stressed pronouns, they are often used after prepositions like yan (and/with), para (for) and sin (without).
Hågu – You (singular) – Para hågu este! This is for you!
Hamyo – You (plural) – Para hamyo este! This is for you all!
Maria: Håyi para u na’gasgas i kusina?
Who is going to clean the kitchen?
Daniel: Hågu yan si Dolores.
You and Dolores.
Yo’-Type pronouns are subject pronouns and they’re used in stative sentences, or descriptive sentences. They’re also used in intransitive sentences where the action is done to a non-specific object.
Hao – You (singular)
Hamyo – You (plural)
Magof hao. You are hapy.
Magof hamyo. You (both) are happy.
Manmagof hamyo. You (all) are happy.
Bumaila hao. You danced.
Kao manestudia hao? Did you study?
These pronouns are the subject pronouns in transitive sentences involving specific objects.
Un – You (singular)
En – You (plural)
Un kanno’ i mansana. You ate the apple.
En lachai i sitbesa. You all finished the beer.
Featured Image Photo by YesManPro from Pexels.
There are few ways to say “Happy Birthday” in Chamorro. One way is felis kumpleaños, which comes from the Spanish birthday greeting feliz cumpleaños. Another way is to say biba kumpleaños, which roughly translates to something like “hurray, it’s your birthday!” or “yay, your birthday!” In Chamorro the word kumpleaños is used to mean both birthday and anniversary as the word itself is understood literally from its components, kumple, to complete, and años, meaning years. Another greeting you can use is biba ha’ånen mafañågu-mu, which is “hurray for the day of your birth!”
Try using a birthday greeting with someone:
Felis kumpleaños, ____________________.
|amiga / amigu / ga’chong||friend|
|asagua-hu||my husband/wife (lit. “my spouse”)|
I miss you = mahålang yu’ nu hågu.
I miss you very much. = gof mahålang yu’ nu hågu.
I miss you so much. = sen mahålang yu’ nu hågu. (NOTE: sen here is like gof but a greater degree.)
Miss You (Singular vs. Plural)
The hågu in the phrase above is you singular. If you wanted to say “I miss you (all)”, you would have to say mahålang yu’ nu hamyo, where hamyo is the plural you.
hågu (second person singular pronoun)
hamyo (second person plural pronoun)
Håfa tatatmanu hao, Mom? – Mamaolek ha’, lao mahålang yu’ nu hågu.
How are you, Mom? – Still doing well, but I miss you.
Gof mahålang yu’ nu hamyo!
I miss you guys so much!
To Miss Someone Specific
To say that you miss a specific person, you will use the particle as instead of nu. Look at the following examples:
Mahålang yu’ as Chris.
I miss Chris.
Mahålang yu’ as nanå-hu.
I miss my mom.
Mahålang yu’ as nanå-hu biha.
I miss my grandmother.
Mahålang ham nu hågu.
We miss you. (The we here refers only to two people.)
Manmahålang ham nu hågu.
We miss you. (The we now refers to three or more people.)
Mahålang yu’ nu guiya.
I miss him/her.
Kåo mahålang hao nu guahu?
Do you miss me?
The following are other examples to express that you miss something. By now, you should’ve noted that mahålang yu’ is i miss and what follows depends on the object.
Mahålang yu’ nu Guam.
I miss Guam.
Mahålang yu’ nu i che’lu-hu låhi.
I miss my brother. (Literally, “I miss my male sibling.”)
Gof mahålang yu’ nu i fina’tinas nanå-hu biha.
I really miss my grandmother’s cooking.
Know how to say “I love you” in Chamorro? Click here to find out how.
You say “you’re welcome” when someone thanks you for a gift or service. The most common translation of “you’re welcome” in Chamorro you’ll find is buen prubechu. The phrase comes directly from the Spanish buen provecho. While speakers of Spanish may recognize the phrase as one said during a meal and equivalent to “enjoy your meal”, the actual meaning of the phrase is closer to its literal Spanish meaning. In Chamorro, when someone says “buen prubechu”, they are actually saying “good benefit,” that is, they are hoping that the gift or favor done benefits them.
A more common response to a thank you is tåya’ guaha, which means “there’s nothing there” or “it was nothing”. This response is most commonly said after some minor favor or task was done and not so much if a gift was given. You’re basically saying the thing you had to do was no big deal at all.
Other Ways to Say “You’re Welcome” in Chamorro
You may hear hågu mas, or “you more”, as a response to a Si Yu’us ma’åse’. When someone says this, they are actually saying “no, thank YOU”, “likewise” or “I should be one thanking you.” This might be said to someone who has paid you for a product or service. They would be thanking you for helping them and you disagree by saying that you should be thanking them for choosing to do business with you.
Saying “you’re welcome” in Chamorro is not as common as you’d think. For the most part, all of the responses above are all actual responses, but between strangers or people who are not friends or close family. Giving thanks and welcome in Chamorro are not expected between people who are supposedly close. Though when the occasion does call for it and we do say thanks, the response is sometimes a simple esta, which roughly translates to “already” but is understood as “that’s enough (don’t make a fuss)”.
Thanks for reading and be sure you’ve checked out how to say thank you in Chamorro.