Category: Beginning Chamorro Grammar

Negation and Negative Words in Chamorro

In this article, we’ll learn Chamorro negation and negative words.

To make statements negative in Chamorro, in most cases, you simply have to put the negative marker ti at the beginning of the statement.

Look at the following examples.

Ti båba este.
This is not bad.
Ti ya-hu tumåtes.
I don’t like tomatoes.
Ti manhanao ham para i lancho, sa’ u’uchan.
We didn’t go to the ranch, because it’s raining.

There are a couple of exceptions to this. The words guaha and gaige both have negative counterparts. They are tåya’ and taigue, respectively. So, instead of using ti we say these opposite words. Look at the following examples.

Guaha chåda’ gi kahon ais.
There are eggs in the refrigerator.
Tåya’ chåda’ gi kahon ais.
There are no eggs in the refrigerator.
Guaha karetå-hu.
I have a car.
Tåya’ karetå-hu.
I don’t have a car.
Gaige i yabi-hu gi betså-hu.
My keys are in my pocket.
Taigue i yabi-hu gi betså-hu.
My keys are not in my pocket.
Gaige si George gi kuåtto-ña.
George is in his room.
Taigue si George gi kuåtto-ña.
George is not in his room.

Negative Words

Using the negative marker ti is the most basic type of Chamorro negation, but you can also use the following negative words and phrases.

cha’-(poss. pron.)don’t (even, try to)
ni ngai’an (ni ngai’a’an)never / never ever
ni håyi (ni håyiyi)no one / no matter who
ni håfa (ni håfafa)none / no matter what
ni månu (ni månunu)nowhere / no matter where
tampokuneither, not either
trabihanot yet

Here are some examples using the negative words from the table above.

Munga kumuentos.
Don’t talk.
Ni si Antonia humånao.
Neither Antonia went.
Ni unu ni otro!
Not one nor the other!
Ni ngai’an bai hu maleffa.
I will never forget.
Ti angokkuyon na taotao! Ni håyiyi un faisen.
He’s not a trustworthy person! No matter who you ask.
Ti bai hu magof guini, ya ni hågu tampoku.
I won’t be happy here, and neither will you.
Ti hu apåpåsi i dibi-hu trabiha.
I haven’t paid my bills yet.
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The Linking Particle na

The particle na is truly one of the most versatile particles in the Chamorro language. The following description below lists all the different ways in which na is used.

“Na” as a Noun Modifier

One of the most basic ways to use na is to connect an adjective with the noun it modifies.

Maolek na estudiante
A good student

Dånkolo na guma’
A big house

Agaga’ na kareta
A red car

“Na” as a General Modifier

Tres na sitbesa.
Three beers

Guiya na taotao ti ya-ña masangåni.
He’s a person who doesn’t like to be told.

Guaha na taotao ti yan-ñiha tumåtes.
Some people do not like tomatoes.

“Na” as a Conjunction

The particle na is used in the same way as the subordinating conjunction “that” in English. In conversational English, the conjunction “that” is often omitted, but in Chamorro, it must always be used.

Kao un tungo’ na magraduha si Jennifer?
Did you know that Jennifer graduated?

Maolek na matto hao.
It’s good that you came.

Hagas ha’ hu tungo’ na guiya.
I always knew that it was him.

The particle na can also be used in sentences where we would use “rather” or “but” in English. For example, one might say “It’s not blue, but red in color.” That is, the second clause corrects the initial negative.

Ti matuhok yu’ na yayas ha’ yu’.
I’m not sleepy, but just tired.

Ti ha fa’tinas, na ha fåhan gi tenda.
He didn’t make, but rather he bought it at the store.

Ti asut na betde.
It’s not blue, but green.

“Na” to ask a Negative Rhetorical Question

These are questions where we anticipate an affirmative answer.

Na ti hågu fumåhan i pan?
But weren’t you the one who bought the bread?

Na ti si Peter hao sumangåni?
But wasn’t Peter the one who told you?

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Asking Questions in Chamorro

Asking Questions is a good way to learn new things in Chamorro, and is essential in daily life.

Kåo siña hao fumino’ Chamoru?
Can you speak Chamorro?

Månu na sumasaga hao?
Where do you live?

Håfa kumeke’ilek-mu?
What do you mean?

Yes/No Questions

In Chamorro, to ask a question that can be answered with hunggan or åhe’ is easy. You simply have to start off the question with the marker kåo.

Chumochu i patgon.
The child ate.
Kåo chumochu i patgon?
Did the child eat?
Asut i kareta.
The car is blue.
Kåo asut i kareta?
Is the car blue?
Lunes på’go.
Today is Monday.
Kåo Lunes på’go.
Is today Monday?
Ya-mu na’italianu.
You like Italian food.
Kåo ya-mu na’italianu?
Do you like Italian food?

Question Words

When asking questions that require a response beyond hunggan or åhe’, you’ll need to start off your question with a question word or phrase. Here is a list of some common Chamorro question words.

sa’ håfawhytaimanuhow
kuånto, akuåntohow muchkuåntohow many
ginen manufrom wherepara håfafor what
para månuto wherepot håfaabout what

Here are some examples of Chamorro interrogative sentences.

Taimanu un fa’tinas i titiyas-mu?
How did you make your titiyas?

Ginen manu hao?
Where were you? Where did you come from?

Para månu hao?
Where are you going? Where are you off to?

Ngai’an i fiestan San Jose?
When is the San Jose fiesta?

Månu na sumåsåga hao på’go?
Where do you live now?

Håyi i na’ån-ña?
What’s her name?

Kuånto un fåhan na gimen?
How many drinks did you buy?

Para håfa este?
What is this for?

Pot håfa i lepblo?
What is the book about?

Tag Questions

A tag question is a mini question after a statement that asks for confirmation. Look at the bolded words in the following questions. These are the tag questions.

He’s tall, isn’t he?

You’re hungry, aren’t you?

The ocean is salty, isn’t it?

You don’t like me, do you?

In English, when creating tag questions, we ask the opposite of the statement. If our statement is negative, we ask the positive, and the same goes for a positive statement. In Chamorro, to ask a tag question, we simply say “no” at the end.

Guiya i ma’gas, no?
She’s the boss, isn’t she?

Månnge’ este, no?
This is good, isn’t it?

Ti matuhok hao, no?
You aren’t sleepy, are you?

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guaha and taya’

Guaha is used to indicate existence or possession. Tåya’ indicates non-existence or non-possession.

guaha – there is / there are

tåya’  – there isn’t / there aren’t

Examples showing existence and non-existence:

Guaha klas Chamoru gi Lunes yan Mietkoles.
There’s Chamorro class on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Guaha siette dias gi semåna.
There are seven days in a week.

Guaha dosse meses gi un año.
There are twelve months in a year.

Tåya’ klas gi Lunes sa’ Labor Day.
There is no class on Monday, because it is Labor Day.

Tåya’ taotao gi gima’ Yu’us.
There are no people in church.

Tåya’ ti un tungo’.
There is nothing you don’t know.

Expressing “to have” something

If we want to say we “have” something, we follow this pattern:
Guaha OBJECT-(possessive pronoun).  The possessive pronoun used is how you inform who your subject is. Look at the following examples.

Guaha karetå-hu.
I have a car.

Guaha che’lu-ña palao’an.
He has a sister.

Guaha gima’-måmi.
We have a house. 

Tåya’ salåppe’-ña.
She has no money.

Tåya’ gimen-ta.
We have no drinks.

Kåo tåya’ maleffå-mu?
Did you forget anything? (lit. “Was there nothing you forgot?”)

Everyday Expressions: Tåya’ guaha! Literally meaning “nothing is there”, that is, there is no problem or issue, or something is of little consequence, and is the equivalent of the English expression “it’s no big deal!”

Examples of tåya’ guaha as a response:

MARIA:   Are you sure I can borrow your book?

LOLA:    Ai, tåya’ guaha! Oh, no big deal!

Or, asking for assurance:

MARIA:    Tåya’ guaha, if I use your computer?
No big deal if I use your computer?

LOLA:        Guse’ ha’. (or Tåya’ guaha!)
Just go right ahead.

Guaha and tåya’ are also used in other ways. It is often used with the linking particle na and can take on different meanings depending on what follows.

With na, guaha and tåya’ can mean that there is/are “some” or “none” of something.

For example:

Guaha na taotao ti yan–ñiha matågo’.
Some people do not like to be told what to do.

Guaha na flores manggof paopao.
Some flowers are very fragrant.

Some related words:

guinaha – wealth, possessions

mangguaha – to describe a family or group as having wealth

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How to Express Likes and Dislikes in Chamorro

Bearded man likes music.

Learning how to express likes and dislikes is a great way to show your fluency in Chamorro. To do this you say ya followed by a possessive pronoun. For example, -hu is the possessive pronoun “my” in Chamorro and usually follows a word. For example, “my car” is kareta-hu. The verb “to like” is somewhat irregular in Chamorro as it requires you to use a possessive pronoun as demonstrated below.

Ya-hu.            I like.

Ya-mu.           You like.

Ya-ña.             He or she likes.

Ya-ta.              We like. (inclusive)

Yan-måmi.    We like. (exclusive)

Yan-miyu.      You (all) like.

Yan-ñiha.        They like.


To say you like an object, you simply use one of the phrases and then the object.

Ya-hu    +     OBJECT

To say “I like eggs”, you would say: Ya-hu chåda’.

Here are more examples:

Ya-ña si Maria åbas.
Maria likes guava.

Kao ya-mu titiyas?
Do you like titiyas?

To say that you like doing something, you would again use one of the phrases and then say use the completed form of a verb.

Ya-hu bumaila.
I like to dance.

Ya-hu umegga’ Netflix.
I like to watch Netflix.

Ya-hu chumochu.
I like to eat.

Kao ya-mu kumånta?
Do you like to sing?


To say that you don’t like something, you simply have to add the negator ti at the beginning of your statement.

Ya-hu pån. 
I like bread.

Ti ya-hu pån.
I don’t like bread.


More Examples

Ya-hu maigo’. 
I like to sleep.

Ti ya-ña si George manestudia.
George does not like to study.

Ti yan-ñiha manekungok.
They do not like to listen

Kao ya-mu yu’?
Do you like me?


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