gbarto.com's Introduction to Uzbek

Lesson 3

by Geoffrey Barto

Greetings and Formalities

In this lesson, we learn to say "How are you?" and "Please" and "Thank you." We also learn to ask what people want and for what we want ourselves (with the word "kerak"). Once you're done with this lesson, you're ready to start the Self-Talk Course linked at the bottom. And now, let's listen in on Ben and John, who are meeting in Ben's office.

Vocabulary 3A

  • marhamat - welcome
  • o'tir- - to sit
  • -ing - command form of a verb
  • o'tiring - sit (command or request)
  • yaxshi - good
  • -mi - indicates a question
  • -siz - you (are)
  • yaxshimisiz? - You are well?
  • rahmat - thanks
  • ahvol - state, condition
  • -lar - indicates plural, like "-s" or "-es" in English
  • ahvollar - conditions
  • ahvollar yaxshimi? - Things are good?
  • siz - you
  • -ga - to, for
  • choy - tea
  • yoki - or
  • kofe - coffee
  • kerak - need, want
  • sizga choy kerak? - do you want tea?
  • iltimos - please
  • menga - to me, for me
  • arzimaydi - you're welcome
  • ertaga - tomorrow
  • -gacha - until
  • ertagacha - until tomorrow
  • xayr - bye

Reading 3A

B: Assalomu alaykum.
J: Alaykum assalom.
B: Marhamat, o'tiring. Yaxshimisiz?
J: Yaxshi, rahmat. Ahvollar yaxshimi?
B: Yaxshi. Sizga choy yoki kofe kerak?
J: Iltimos, menga kofe kerak.
Ben hands it to him.
J: Rahmat.
B: Arzimaydi.
The two talk briefly before John is to leave. They agree to meet the next day.
B: Ertagacha xayr.
J: Xayr.

Grammar and Commentary

So far in this lesson, we've only learned a few new phrases but we've got a lot to talk about. First of all, note that to make a verb a command, you stick "-ing" on the stem (we've seen "o'tir -ing" - sit). For multiple people, add the plural marker "-lar" at the end. For example, to start a meal you say "olinglar" ("ol-" - take + "-ing" - command marker + "-lar" - plural marker), that is "all of you take some" (we might say "dig in").

Our next point is the particle "-mi". It is usually added to the last word in a sentence to form a question. We've seen "ahvollar yaxshimi?" (things are well?). Later, we'll see "Inglizcha bilasizmi?" (Do you know English?). "Yaxshimisiz?" (You are well?) with "-mi" in second to last position seems to be an anomaly.

Another particle of interest in Uzbek is "-ga" (to, for). This simple postposition (equivalent to an English preposition) has some usages that might not immediately make sense for an English speaker. For example, "Sizga nima kerak?" (What do you want?). Broken down, we see this means "For you what (is) a need?" The answer, e.g. "Menga (kofe) kerak" is "To me (coffee) is a need."

"-ga" reappears in another word we met in this lesson, "ertaga" (tomorrow). In the notes, we said that "until tomorrow" is "ertagacha" or "ertaga" plus "-gacha". Not quite. "Erta-" is a root expressing morning, or "the morrow". This means that "ertaga" is literally "to-morrow". But because of the way Uzbek uses postpositions and the way it builds words, you don't say "until tomorrow" but "until the morrow". So remember, "erta-ga" = "to-morrow" and "erta-gacha" = "until morrow". Incidentally, morning is "ertalab". And our phrase "Ertagacha xayr"? Remember it as "until tomorrow, bye."

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Now that you know a little bit about how Uzbek works, it's time to start learning and using it a little more naturally. To do so, visit the next course, Self-Talk Uzbek.