Е/Ё Assimilation (Yakannie)


Яканне "yakannie" (saying я) is a process similar to akannie. It is also related to stress shifting. The rule for yakannie is as follows.

The vowels е and ё are not normally used in the pretonic syllable. The я letter is used instead of them in such a position.

вёска "vioska" a village - вяско́вы "viaskovy" village (adjective)

In all other unstressed syllables, other than pretonic, е is preserved.

зямля́ "ziamlia" land - зе́млі "ziemli" lands - землятру́с "ziemliatrus" an earthquake.

In the last word, the е letter is used instead of я because it is not the pretonic, though unstressed, syllable.



The word не is used to form negative statements. You should place it before the word being negated.

Гэ́та не студэ́нт. Гэ́та выкла́дчык. This is not a student. This is a lecturer.

Я не хво́ры. I am not ill.

Не я хво́ры. This is not I who is ill.

Take care that не is pronounced like ня if the next word's first syllable is stressed (and thus не becomes pretonic). In tarashkievitsa, in such cases ня is written instead of не. E.g. the latter two sentences in tarashkievitsa would look like Я ня хворы and Ня я хворы.

With qualitative adjectives, не is often used as a prefix, forming an adjective with an opposite meaning (like the English un prefix).

вялікі big - невялікі not big

прыго́жы beautiful - непрыго́жы not beautiful

зру́чны comfortable, handy - нязру́чны uncomfortable

Take note that being a prefix не may transform to ня if gets into a pretonic position.

Saying Yes or No


To ask a general question, i.e. a question requiring the answer yes or no, in Belarusian, you need to put a question mark (?) at the end of the sentence (in writing) or use interrogative intonation (in oral speech). No special word order is required.

To answer a general question, the words так (yes) or не (no) can be used.

Гэ́та саба́ка? - Так, гэ́та саба́ка. Is this a dog? Yes, it is a dog.

Ты хво́ры? - Не, я не хво́ры. Я здаро́вы. Are you ill? No, I am not ill. I am well.

Note the difference between Belarusian так and English yes when answering questions containing negation.

Гэ́та не саро́ка? - Так, гэ́та не саро́ка. Гэ́та варо́на. This is not a magpie, is it? No, it is not. It is a crow.

Thus, saying так means agreeing with what is asked in the question. If the question is negative, the так answer confirms negation.

The не answer can mean both negation and disagreement, and it is ambiguous when answering negative questions (no, you are not right or no, it is not so). So, some extra information is needed in such cases.

Гэ́та не но́вая кніга? - Так, гэ́та не но́вая кніга. or Не, гэ́та не но́вая кніга. Is this book not new? No, it is not new.



Along with the demonstrative pronoun гэта there exists a demonstrative determiner гэты which is coordinated with the noun by number and gender (like adjectives).

Гэ́ты го́рад вялікі. This city is big.

Гэ́тае мо́ра прыго́жае. This sea is beautiful.

Гэ́тая вёска стара́я. This village is old.

Гэ́тыя ву́ліцы шыро́кія. These streets are broad.

Note the difference between гэты and гэта:

Гэ́та но́вы трамва́й. This is a new tram.

Гэ́ты трамва́й но́вы. This tram is new.

The word той corresponds to the English that determiner.

Той саба́ка стары́. That dog is old.

То́е дрэ́ва высо́кае. That tree is high.

Та́я рака́ ву́зкая. That river is narrow.

Ты́я шко́лы но́выя. Those schools are new.

Тое can also be used as a pronoun. But it is not used as a demonstrative: гэта is used instead, both with close and distant objects. Thus, Гэта хата may mean This is a house or That is a house.



Questions and Answers


Ask questions and give positive and negative answers using the statements below.

Sample: This is a book. - Гэта кніга? Так, гэта кніга. Не, гэта не кніга.

(1) This is a high house.

(2) He is a tourist.

(3) She is not beautiful.

(4) This is not a cow.

(5) These are old villages.

(6) They are not old.

Clue: (1) Гэта высокі дом? Так, гэта высокі дом. Не, гэта не высокі дом. (2) Ён турыст? Так, ён турыст. Не, ён не турыст. (3) Яна непрыгожая? Так (не), яна непрыгожая. Не, яна прыгожая. (4) Гэта не карова? Так (не), гэта не карова. Не, гэта карова. (5) Гэта старыя вёскі? Так, гэта старыя вёскі. Не, гэта не старыя вёскі. (6) Яны не старыя? Так (не), яны не старыя. Не, яны старыя.

This and That


Translate into Belarusian.

(1) That mirror is new.

(2) That man is a lecturer.

(3) This bird is beautiful.

(4) That church is high.

(5) This window is big.

Clue: (1) Тое люстра новае. (2) Той мужчына - выкладчык. (3) Гэтая птушка прыгожая. (4) Тая царква высокая. (5) Гэтае вакно вялікае.

These and Those


Make the sentences from the previous exercise plural.

Clue: (1) Тыя люстры новыя. (2) Тыя мужчыны - выклыдчыкі. (3) Гэтыя птушкі прыгожыя. (4) Тыя цэрквы высокія. (5) Гэтыя вокны вялікія.



Translate into Belarusian.

(1) "What is that?" "That is a tree." "Is that tree high?" "Yes, it is."

(2) "Who are these?" "These are birds." "Are they beautiful?" "No, these birds are not beautiful".

(3) "Are you ill?" "No, I am not ill. I am well."

(4) "Is that woman a secretary?" "No, she is not. She is a student."

(5) "Is that city big?" "Yes, it is big."

Clue: (1) Што гэта? - Гэта дрэва. - Тое дрэва высокае? - Так, яно высокае. (2) Хто гэта? - Гэта птушкі. - Яны прыгожыя? - Не, гэтыя птушкі не прыгожыя. (3) Ты хворы? - Не, я не хворы. Я здаровы. (4) Тая жанчына сакратарка? - Не, яна не сакратарка. Яна студэнтка. (5) Той горад вялікі? - Так, ён вялікі.