The Habitual Aspect in Wyandot

The Habitual Aspect

The habitual is one of the aspects of the Wyandot language.  It is used to refer to a frequent or repeated practice.  It does not appear with the modals (factual, future and optative).  It appears in two different contexts:  the habitual by itself, and with the past aspect suffix added.  The typical forms are -(a)k, -h(a) and -s.

The habitual by itself

Hustayehtak                  He often carries bark (male Porcupine clan name)


hu-       masculine singular patient ’he‘

-st-       noun root ’bark‘

-a-       noun suffix

-yeht-   verb root ’to carry‘

-ak       habitual aspect

Connelley 1900:110

“As the porcupine carries it in his pocket-like jaws from the top of the hemlock, where it has been feeding.”

Hažatǫh                         He writes often, is a writer. (male Deer clan name)


ha-                               masculine singular agent ‘he’

-žatǫ-                           verb root, ‘to mark, write’

-h[1]                                habitual aspect

Teundisewas                    She does not delay.         (female Snake clan name)


te-                                negative prefix

-u-                               feminine-zoic singular patient ‘she’

-ndisewa-                     verb root ‘to delay’

-s                                 habitual aspect.

Utrǫyayęk                           She is often seen in the sky (female Large Turtle clan)


u-                                 feminine-zoic singular  patient ‘she’

-t-                                semi-reflexive voice

-rǫy-                            noun root ‘sky’

-a-                               noun suffix

-yę-                              verb root ‘to see’

-k                                 habitual aspect

atikyes                 They fly (frequently), are birds.


ati-                               feminine-zoic plural agent ‘they (f)’

-kye-                            verb ‘to fly’

-s                                 habitual aspect

Habitual Aspect Plus Past Aspect Suffix

Ǫdehšiǫnyahak             She used to make sand. (Large Turtle clan name)


ǫ-                                 feminine-zoic singular patient ‘she’

-ndehš-                       noun root ‘sand’

-ǫy-                             verb root ‘to make, build’

-aha-                         habitual aspect

-k                                 past

yaˀnariskwaˀ                  wolf [She/it used to chew bones.]


ya-                          feminine-zoic singular agent, ‘she or it’[2]

-ˀn-                        noun root, ‘bone(s)’

-a-                         noun suffix

-ri-                         verb root, ‘to bite, suck, chew’

-s-                         habitual aspect

-kwaˀ                      past aspect suffix

yeˀetišakeˀskwaˀ              I used to go look for a claw.


ye-                               1st person singular agent ‘I’

-ˀet-                             noun root ‘claw’

-iša-                             verb root ‘to search for’

-ke-                             dislocative root suffix

-ˀs-                               habitual aspect

-kwaˀ                           past aspect suffix

With the verb root -yę- ‘to be’ this was traditionally used after the name of a person who recently died, like how the word ‘late’ is used before a name in English.

yehęh                    It used to be.


ye       feminine-zoic singular agent + verb root ‘to be’

-hę–     habitual aspect

-h         past aspect suffix

yežaˀhaˀ       yęhęh           I was a child

I – child            it used to be

yežaˀhaˀ       I (am a) child



ye-         1st person singular agent ‘I’

-žaˀh-   noun root ‘child’

-aˀ        noun suffix       

[1] This is sometimes marked with a -k-.

[2] This is usually recorded without the initial -y-.

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