Notianjow Kernuak rag Dallathorian
Cornish Notes for Beginners
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I am; it is. Description.



What's this?  What's that?



Fatel ew...?  How  is....? (What is









These and Those



More about ew

8 and 9






The descriptive tense of boaz (to be)

3.1 ....I am; it is. Description.

You will probably have realised that o ve means I am and that ew means is or it is. We encountered o ve in section 2.1 (social language) with expressions like: tubm o ve: I’m hot,  clav o ve: I’m ill.  With a few basic nouns and adjectives it is possible to say quite a lot using o ve and ew.  See how many phrases you can make.  Here are some adjectives to use:

braoz: big;   bian: little;   hîr: long/tall;   ber: short;   kern: round;   pedrak: square;   marow: dead;   beaw: alive;   daa: good;   droag: bad;  têg: beautiful;   hagar: ugly;   glân: clean;   ploos: dirty;   tubm: hot;   yein: cold;   zeah: dry;   gleab: wet;   calish: hard;    medall: soft;  aiz: easy;   euhall: high;   ezall: low;   creav: strong;   gwadn: weak;   noweth: new; coath: old;   younk: young;   looan: happy;   trawethack: sad;   whêg: pleasant, nice, sweet;   wherow: bitter;   terres: broken;   gwâg: hungry, empty;    lean: full;     kîf: expensive;   râz: cheap;   skâv: light;   pooz: heavy; tew: fat;   tanow: scarce, thin;   spladn: bright, obvious, splendid;   tewal: dark, unclear, gloomy;   parres: ready.

[ Users of Unified and Kemmyn should be aware that Late Cornish makes greater use of emphatic forms like o ve. ]


3.2..What's this?  What's that?.........back

The word for this is hemma, occasionally written hebma
The word for that is hedna

There are also feminine forms of this and that: homma and hodna which you use when you know something is feminine.

The word for what is pandra.  It contains the word for thing – tra / dra

Pandra ew hemma?  What is this?
Pandra ew hedna?  What is that?

(Pandra ew may be shortened to pandr'ew or even drew.) 

To answer, simply name the thing and follow with ew (is):

Tezan ew It’s a cake    Bord ew It’s a table    Darras ew It’s a door

Alternatively, you can start with thew:

Thew gwedhan It’s a tree   Thew beisder It’s a window   Thew quillan It's a pen

Thew is the same word as ew. The th simply stops it from producing a question when placed at the start of the sentence.


Peath dha redia / Something to read: (floh : child   an daama: the mother)

Floh: Mabm, Mabm Pandr’ew hedna?

An dâma: Pandra?

Floh: Hedna Mabm....war an vrea. Pandr’ew hedna?

An dâma: Ah, belin-gwins ew hedna. Onen braoz ew.

Floh: Ew hedna per wîr belin-gwins Mabm? Nag ew pecara’n velin-gwins en lever ve.

An dâma: Ah, thew hedna onen coath...thew hemma onen noweth.

(Belin-gwinz: windmill,  war an vrea: on the hill,  lever ve: my book,  per wîr: really, en: in)


Build your vocabulary by asking Cornish speakers  Pandr’ew hemma?  Pandr’ew hedna?

 [ ew may occasionally be written yw ]

3.3     Fatel ew...?  How  is....? (What is

Fatel: how is the same word found in Fatla gana whei? & Fatel era whei kîl?

You can  practice your adjectives by asking questions about objects e.g.

Fatel ew an bord?....Pedrak ew?    Fatel ew an tay?.....Tubm ew an tay.
Fatel ew an dezan?....Whêg ew an dezan.   Fatel ew hedna?....Têg ew hedna.
Fatel ew an gistan?....Gwâg ew an gistan?   Fatel ew an  scudell?....Glân ew. Nag ew ploos.

3.4  Obma.........back

Obma means either here or here is.

Obma kei. kei bian ew. Nag ew braoz.     Here is a dog. It’s a little dog. It isn’t big.

Obma chy. Chy coath ew. Nag ew chy noweth.  Here is a house. It’s an old house. It isn’t new.


You can use obma when presenting something:

Ha, Marîa ! Obma bolla tay Tubm ha creav ew.
Hey, Mary. Here’s a cup of tea. It's hot and strong.

Obma scudell noweth. Glaon ew. Nag ew ploos.   Here’s a new plate. Its clean. It isn’t dirty.


To say here I am / behold me  use  otta ve (also written yta ve).
e.g. Otta ve parres: Behold, I’m ready 

To say that you have got something use ottava for a masculine thing or otta hei for a feminine thing followed by genam (with me). e.g.
otta va genam  /  otta hei genam   behold, I’ve got it


3.5 Plurals.........back

There are severals kinds of plural:

Many of these apply to animals.

3.6  These and Those.........back

These a rima       Those: a rina

What are these?  Pandra ew a rima?         
What are those?  Pandra ew a rina?

They are: ens or en'gei (when placed after the noun)..thenz or then'gei (when placed before the noun):

e.g. Pandr’ew a rima? > Deves enz   They are sheep

Pandr’ew a rima? > Levrow enz  They are books

Pandr’ew a rima? > Puscas enz  They are fish

3.7  More about ew.........back

In the questions above ew (is)  is used to mean are. In Cornish it is correct to say what is these?, what is those?.  Similarly we say things like: the dogs is running, the books is open etc.. In effect ew may translate either is or are.  However, you will need to use enz or en'gei when the meaning 'they are' is intended. 
Let’s look at ew a bit more:

We have already established that we can either start statements with thew or put ew later in the phrase.  Look at these examples and try to get a feel for it:

An car ew noweth The car is new     Car noweth ew / Thew car noweth It's a new car

Coath ew an marh The horse is old   Marh coath ew/ Thew marh coath It is an old horse

An lever ew pooz The book is heavy   Lever pooz ew/ Thew lever pooz It is a heavy book

thew would not normally be used in answer to a question. In answer to pandra ew hemma/hedna?  use ew:

Chy têg ew It’s a beautiful house   Darras glâz ew It’s a blue door   Bord kern ew It’s a round table   Bara gwidn ew It’s white bread   Tezan whêg ew It’s a nice cake   Brea vroaz ew It’s a big hill   Vor hîr ew It’s a long road   Scâth bian ew It’s a little boat

3.8 Questions.........back

To ask a question, start with ew:

Ew marow an pesk? Is the fish dead?   Ew parres an booz? Is the food ready?

Ew an padik terres aweadh?  Is the jug broken as well?
Ew hemma da?  Is this good?   Ew an quillan rooz po du?   Is the pen red or black?
Ew an flehas skîth?  Are the children tired?   Ew an vibbian looan? Are the boys happy?
Ew hedna edhan?  Is that a bird?

3.9  Negatives.........back

To say  is not/are not use : nag ew:

Nag ew droag an cor’ma This beer isn’t bad   Nag ew teag an drea The town isn’t beautiful   Nag ew da andella dha cowz It isn’t good to speak like that
Nag ew gwâg It is not empty   Nag ew hedna an gwela vor That is not the best way
Nag ew creav It isn’t strong    Nag ew an muzzy vâz  The girls are not good
Nag ew an bobel looan The people are not happy

[ Unified & Kemmyn speakers, be aware that nag is used here where you would use nyns/nynj ]

Useful words from above examples:  aweadh: as well;    po: or

3.10  The descriptive tense of boaz (to be)..........back

So far we have encountered EW (is/are), O VE (am I / I am), ENZ / THENZ (they are). These are parts of the descriptive form of the verb BOAZ: to be (& this is sounding seriously like grammar).  Here is a summary of boaz:

a)The TH form. Used when the verb comes first: tho ve: I am,   tho che: thou art,   thew e: he is,   thew hei: she is, tho nei : we are,   tho whei: you are,   then'gei / thenz: they are.

Be aware of the less emphatic forms which may be used where you wish to give less stress to the verb and subject:

thom: I'm,   thooz: thou art,   thew: he's / she's / it's,   thon: we're,    thenz: they're


b)Without TH.  Used when the compliment comes before the verb & for questions:

o ve: I am,  o che/osta: thou art,  ew e: he is,  ew hei: she is,  o nei: we are,  o whei: you are,  enz/en'gei: they are

Again there are less emphatic forms for use when you don't need to stress the subject:
om: I'm,   ooz/os: thou art,   ew: he's/she's,   on:we're,   o: you're,    enz: they're

c) With nag. Used for negatives:

nag o ve,  nag o che,  nag ew e,  nag ew hei,  nag o nei,  nag o whei,  nag enz


Note: The forms above are together the descriptive present tense of the verb BOAZ: to be.  Use them for describing. In Cornish there are completely different forms of this verb for use when talking about actions and locations. These are introduced in the following sections.