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to eat

ush sha

The Navajo word ashą́ is the first-person form of the continuative imperfective verb “to eat.” Or, it can be said that this verb paradigm is the “is eating” paradigm, denoting that eating has begun and is ongoing (in contrast to “did eat” and “will eat,” and others).

Here are the other words for this paradigm:

  1. Ashą́ (I eat)
  2. Íyą́ (You eat)
  3. Ayą́ (He eats)
  4. Iidą́ (We two eat)
  5. Ohsą́ (You two eat)
  6. Ayą́ (They two eat)
  7. Da’iidą́ (We three, or more, eat)
  8. Da’ohsą́ (You three, or more, eat)
  9. Da’ayą́ (They three, or more, eat)
1. Ashą́ (I eat)4. Iidą́ (We two eat)7. Da’iidą́ (We three, or more, eat)
2. Íyą́ (You eat)5. Ohsą́ (You two eat)8. Da’ohsą́ (You three, or more, eat)
3. Ayą́ (He eats)6. Ayą́ (They two eat)9. Da’ayą́ (They three, or more, eat)

Example: Shí dóó Jerry bá’áłchíní éí Mary bighandi da’iidą́.

Me and Jerry’s children, at Mary’s house, we are eating. (Verbs generally follow the object, which follow the subject(s)).


north or night

nah hoh kohs

The English translation of the Navajo word náhookǫs is the northern direction, or in some instances the Big Dipper (Ursa Major).

The color that symbolizes náhookǫs, in the Navajo traditional teachings, is łizhin (black, darkness).

This direction is associated with the end-of-the-day, and spiritual knowledge. It is arguably the most enigmatic of all directions. When the north gets closer, as in the Winter months, the first snowfall (yas) will signal to the Navajo that it is okay to tell the Creation stories.

In some places, this has already occurred.

For the other three Navajo directions: East (Ha’a’aah), South (Shádi’ááh), West (E’e’aah)


lava rock

tseh zhin

Tsézhin is a Navajo word that means “the rock that is black” in English. It is used to refer to lava rock.

Tsé (see also: tsésǫ, and Tsé Bii’ Ndzisgaii) is rock, or stone.

The next part of the word, -zhin, comes from łizhin, which describes the color black, or something that is dark.


children, kids

u-lth chin nih

The Navajo word áłchíní is a noun that means “children” in English.

Bá’áłchíní is how you refer to his/her children (in the third person).


Ellen bá’áłchíní dóó Jerry bá’áłchíní ólta’góó deeskai.

Ellen’s children and Jerry’s children are going to the school.

You can also use sha’áłchíní (“my children”), na’áłchíní (“your children”), niha’áłchíní (“our children”).

Click here for more on the Navajo verb “to go” (deeskai).

Damóo Biiskání


dah moh bees kun nih

Awaken, for it is Monday once again. And Monday is your Navajo word of the day.

Now, consider the days of the week. Is it possible that the Navajo people came up with a seven day week before the Colonial Era? Yes. But it is highly improbable.

It’s actually a lot easier to borrow the Spanish word for Sunday (“domingo”) and use that to frame the succession of days starting from the first day of the week. The only day that doesn’t follow this convention is Friday (nda’iiníísh), and that’s because its most notable quality is that of being the end of the work week.

Did the concept of a ‘work week’ exist in early Navajo times? How did the cycle of life change once the Navajos adopted a 7-day week? All great questions.

But lets back up for a moment, if the naming convention for the week is based on Sunday, does that mean “Damóo” means “Sunday?” That is correct. “Biisk’ání” is the Navajo addition that means, roughly, “the next day.” It’s like saying, “Sunday, and then another day, is Monday.”

Now back to the Spanish origin of the word; some Navajos will say “Damíigo” in place of “Damóo.” I’m sure you can see why.