Nishłį́

Literally: I am.

This Navajo word is considered a type of verb – the type that expresses a state of being (also known as a neuter verb). Navajo verbs nearly always combine the action part with the point of view of the speaker. Since the point of view changes, the form of the verb changes accordingly (a conjugation).

Here, take a look at the forms this verb takes:

  • nishłį́
  • nílį́
  • nilį́
  • niidlį́
  • nohłį́
  • nilį́
  • daniidlį
  • danohłį́
  • danilį́

Here are their English counterparts:

  • I am
  • You are
  • (S)he/it is
  • We two are
  • You two are
  • Those two are
  • We three are
  • You three are
  • Those three are (7+8+9 are also used when speaking of groups larger than three)

So how is the verb used? Simple! Diné nishłį́. I am Navajo. Diné nílį́. You are Navajo. And so on.

As you can imagine, this is used frequently in Navajo conversation to express identity.