Category: Advanced Chamorro Grammar

Affirmative and Negative Commands in Chamorro

There are many different types of commands in Chamorro. There are affirmative commands, negative commands, indirect commands and ta commands.

As with constructing declarative sentences in Chamorro, to give commands we must take into account the number of people involved and the existence and type of an object. The number of people involved refers to the number of people you are giving the command to, and an object’s type refers to the object being specific or non-specific.

Using UM Verbs

By itself, the infinitive form of the intransitive verb is used to address one or two people.

Chochu! Eat!
Baila! Dance!
Såga! Stay!

To address three or more people, we need to use the prefix fan. This prefix is essentially the same as the prefix man used to denote the plural when constructing regular sentences.

Using Transitive MAN Verbs

Because the transitive verb takes an object, using the root verb by itself assumes there’s an object.

Kånno’! Eat it!
Taitai! Read it!
Påtik! Kick it!

The actual object can also be mentioned, and because you are using a transitive verb, the object here is specific.

Kånno’ i na’-mu. Eat your food.
Taitai i lepblo-mu. Read your book.
Påtik i petta. Kick the door.

Now, if the object is non-specific or if there is no object, you must turn the transitive command intransitive by adding fan.

Fanaitai! Read!
Fanestudia! Study!
Fama’tinas hineksa’! Make rice!

The above examples address only 1 or 2 people. To address three or more, you need to add the prefix man.

Fanmanaitai! (All of you,) read!
Fanmanestudia! (All of you,) study!
Fanmama’tinas hineksa’! (All of you,) make rice!

Negative Commands

To order someone not to do something we use the word munga, which means “don’t”, followed by the action. The verb here, no matter the type, must be conjugated in the completed form.

munga + verb

Using UM Verbs

The form of the UM is exactly the same as when conjugating it for a regular

Munga chumochu. Don’t eat.
Munga mañochu. Don’t eat (, all of you!) (3+)
Munga kumuentos. Don’t talk.
Munga manguentos. Don’t talk (, all of you!) (3+)

Using MAN Verbs

How we use MAN verbs always depends on whether or not a specific object is involved.

With specific objects
Munga mataitai i lepblo-mu. Don’t read your book.
Munga matuge’ i na’an-mu. Don’t write your name.

Without specific objects
Munga manaitai. Don’t read.
Munga manaitai lepblo. Don’t read a book. OR, Don’t read books.
Munga mangge’. Don’t write.
Munga mangge’ kåtta. Don’t write a letter.

Continue Reading

Examples of Chamorro Idioms

Idioms are phrases that have meanings different from the literal translation. Their use reflects a greater understanding of the language and for the second-language learner is one of the most difficult things to master. Imagine having to master grammar and memorize vocabulary only to learn that you’ve barely scratched the surface of your understanding.

Examples of idioms in English are:

  • Break a leg – Good luck!
  • Call it a day – Stop working on something.
  • Once in a blue moon – Something that doesn’t occur very often.

Chamorro Phrases as Idioms

The following is a list of Chamorro idioms, along with the literal meaning and the colloquial meaning.

  1. matai ñålang literally means “to have died of hunger”. The phrase is used to express that someone is famished, that they’re about to die of starvation.
  2. maipi i pachot literally means “the mouth is hot.” The expression describes someone whose conversations appear to become reality.
  3. mababa literally means “open” or “to be opened”, referring to a person who may have once been timid and is starting to become more social.
  4. matåla’ literally means “to be hung out to dry.” Refers to an outgoing person; someone who is extroverted.
  5. Ha leleggua’ i kichalå-ña literally means “she is stirring her spoon.” Sometimes shortened to just ha leleggua’ gue’, or “she’s stirring herself.” The phrase refers to someone who overhears a conversation but does not fully grasp what is being said and then attempts to be part of the conversation.
  6. dinanche literally means “to have hit the target”, that is, a person aiming to hit something and did. This is how we express that something is “correct,” as in “not wrong.”
  7. mafak i platu means “the plate is broken”. It refers to a relationship that’s completely broken; one that cannot be repaired or put back together.
Continue Reading

Expressing Obligation with debi di

debi di – must, have to

To express obligation as in to say that we must or have to do something, we use the phrase debi di, which is a borrowed expression from Spanish. Debi di can also be used for expectation. In either case, we treat debi di as if it was a modal verb which never changes and almost always starts off the sentence.

MODELU:     debi di   +   future phrase

The following describe how to use debi di.

debi di – must, have to (obligation)

I maolek na estudiante debi di  u fanestudia kada dia, hånao para i klas-ña yan cho’gue i che’cho’-ña.
The good student must study every day, go to his class and do his work.

Debi di bai hu falak i post office pa’go sa’ mahuchom agupa’.
I have to go the post office today, because it is closed tomorrow.

Debi di un famaisen antes di un hånao.
You must ask before you leave.

Debi di u ekungok yo’.
She has to listen to me.

Debi di ta osge i mañaina-ta.
We must obey our parents.

debi di – to be expected, supposed to (expectation)

Esta alas 8, debi di u gaigi si Antonia gi che’cho’.
It’s already 8 o’clock, Antonia should be at work.

Debi di u magraduha esta si Jesse.
Jesse should have graduated already.


Continue Reading

Confirming Stereotypes or Preconceptions

Two expressions that we use to confirm stereotypes or preconceptions are:

  1. Guiya muna’fatto…

              +                          Reason for Behavior or Quality
  2. Basta ki… 

These expressions are used in situations where people perform actions or display qualities that support a stereotype or a preconception about the group they belong to. These groups can be anything from race to geographic location, as long as some label can be applied. To make these comments is to state that the actions and/or qualities are to be expected from them due to the fact that they belong to that group. Though it may seem that these sentences would be used only in negative circumstances, this is not the case. They can be said to state a mere fact.


  1. He bought the cheapest shoes in the store! Hmph! Basta ki Chinu! (on the stereotype that Chinese are cheap)
  2. Wow, you know all these roads here on the mainland! Basta ki mapoksai sanlagu hao. (on the fact that the person was raised in the States) 
  3. So, she was mean to you? Guiya muna’fatto hagan Bernadita. (nothing less should be expected of Bernadita’s daughter, implying that Bernadita is the same way)


Continue Reading

The conditional marker mohon

The conditional mohon serves as a marker indicating that the proposed condition is more favorable than the current one.

Example 1:

Juan:                Un chuli’i yo’ Pepsi? Coke mohon.
                           You got me a Pepsi? It should’ve been Coke.

Example 2:

Maria:              Mana’i si Tito ni scholarship. Guahu mohon.
                          Tito was given the scholarship. It should’ve been me.

Mohon is also used to indicate hypothetical situations or situations that are now too late for their condition and their result to exist.


Chumochochu yo’ mohon yanggen mamahan hao nengkanno’.
I’d be eating if you had bought food.

Mafatto yo’ mohon Guam yanggen ti pumakyu.
I’d be arriving in Guam, if it didn’t storm.

Humugando yo’ mohon, lao gof malangu yo’.
I would’ve played, but I’m very sick.

Masisinek yo’ mohon yanggen guaha påpet kommon.
I would be taking a dump right now if there was toilet paper.

With yanggen

Because it is a conditional marker mohon is often used in conjunction with yanggen in the expression yanggen mohon.


Yanggen mohon humanao hao para i tenda, esta mama’titinas yo’ titiyas.
If you had gone to the store, I would be making titiyas right now.

Yanggen mohon hu tungo’ na gaige hao gi espitat, bai hu bisita hao.
If I had known you were in the hospital, I would’ve visited you.

With Question Words

When used in a question, mohon acts as a marker requesting an opinion. Again, mohon suggests a preferred alternative, so when used with questions, we are asking what (or who, where, etc.)  someone would do.

Manu mohon na manggaigi?
Where do you think they are?

Ngai’an mohon na ta fanali’i?
When do you think we all should meet?

Håyi mohon manggana gi ileksion?
Who do you think won in the election?

When used in conjunction with who, what, when, where, why and how questions, mohon usually follows the question word.

Other related expressions

Other expressions commonly used with mohon:

Ohala mohon…

In rapid speech ohala is often pronounced as “ola”. It is used to say that we wish something would happen.


Ohala mohon uchan.               I wish it would rain. Or If only it would rain.

Continue Reading