Tibetan/Printable version


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Bod yig

When learning a new language, it's always a good idea to begin by knowing how to read and write. The Tibetan script has 30 consonants. The vowels are a, i, u, e, o. As in other Indic scripts, each consonant letter includes an inherent a, and the other vowels are indicated by marks; thus ka, ཀི ki, ཀུ ku, ཀེ ke, ཀོ ko. There is no distinction between long and short vowels in written Tibetan, except in loanwords, especially transcribed from the Sanskrit.

Syllables are separated by a tseg ་; since many Tibetan words are monosyllabic, this mark often functions almost as a space. Spaces are not used to divide words.

Although some Tibetan dialects are tonal, because the language had no tone at the time of the scripts invention, tones are not written. However, since tones developed from segmental features they can usually be correctly predicted by the spelling of Tibetan words.

ka [ká] kha [kʰá] ga [ɡà/kʰːà] nga [ŋà]
ca [tɕá] cha [tɕʰá] ja [dʑà/tɕʰːà] nya [ɲà]
ta [tá] tha [tʰá] da [dà/tʰːà] na [nà]
pa [pá] pha [pʰá] ba [bà/pʰːà] ma [mà]
tsa [tsá] tsha [tsʰá] dza [dzà/tsʰːà] wa [wà]
zha [ʑà] za [zà] 'a [ʔà] ya [jà]
ra [rà] la [là] sha [ɕá] sa [sá]
ha [há] a [ʔá]

The h or apostrophe (’) usually signifies aspiration, but in the case of zh and sh it signifies palatalization and the single letter h represents a voiceless glottal fricative.

Old Tibetan had no letter w, which was instead a digraph for 'w.

The Sanskrit "cerebral" (retroflex) consonants are represented by mirror forms of the letters ta, tha, da, na, and sha to give ṭa (Ta), ṭha (Tha), ḍa (Da), ṇa (Na), and ṣa (Sa).

As in other Indic scripts, clustered consonants are often stacked vertically. Unfortunately, some fonts and applications do not support this behavior for Tibetan, so these examples may not display properly; you might have to download a font such as Tibetan Machine Uni.

W, r, and y change form when they are beneath another consonant; thus ཀྭ kwa; ཀྲ kra; ཀྱ kya. R also changes form when it is above most other consonants; thus རྐ rka. An exception is the cluster རྙ rnya.


Ming tshig

Here we have the declension of the noun house (Nang)

Cases Singular Plural
Nominative Nang Nang tsh'o
Genitive Nang gi Nang tsho i
Dative Nang la Nang tsho i
Accusative Nang Nang tsh'o
Locative Nang la Nang tsho i
Agentive Nang gi Nang tsho i
Ablative Nang ne Nang tsho ne

Genitive Case edit

The last sound of the noun determines the genitive suffix. The following rules determine the appropiate suffixes:

Last sound Suffix
-'a -'i
-g or -ng -gi
-n, -m, -r or -l -gyi
-d, -b or -s -kyi

Agentive Case edit

The rules for which suffix to use are as follows;

Last sound Suffix
-'a -s
-g or -ng -gis
-n, -m, -r or -l -gyis or -kyis


Ming tshab

Possesive edit

My Ngai
Your Khyed rang gi
His/her Khong gi/Mo rang gi
Our Nga tsho i
Your Khyed rang tsho i
Their Khong tsho i
  • Ngäi nyal khri
    • My bed
  • Khyed rang gi khyim tshang
    • Your family
  • Khong gi po lo
    • His ball
  • Ngäi tsho i khyi
    • Our dog
  • Khyed rang tsho i mo ta
    • Your car
  • khong tsho i kung kung chi'i khre
    • Their bus

Demonstrative edit

Demonstrative  De gra 
This Di
That De
That Pha gi
These Di tsho
Those De tsho
Those Pha gi tsho
  • Klung ma di : This river
  • Khyer men de : That woman
  • Lung pa pha gi : That valley
  • Ku shu di tsho : These apples
  • Lug de tsho : Those sheeps
  • Sching tog pha gi tsho : Those fruits

Interrogative edit

Who Su
What Ga re
Where Ga pa
When Ga du
How Ga na
How much Ga tshod
  • Khyed rang ga pa yod?
    • Where do you are?
  • Khang mig ga na re?
    • How the room is?
  • Grong khyer ga re re?
    • What city is?
  • Khyed rang la su la re?
    • Who is with you?
  • Mabjha shi tsho ga tshod dug?
    • How much are peacocks?
  • De khyed rang ga du nang ro nang?'
    • When that take you?



Positive Jag po
Comparative Jag ba
Superlative Jag sho
Positive Tshung tshung
Comparative Tshung ba
Superlative Tshung sho
Positive Tsche po
Comparative Tsche pa
Superlative Tsche sho
Positive Bring po
Comparative Bring ba
Superlative Bring sho
Positive Gryop po
Comparative Gryop pa
Superlative Gryop sho
Positive Tshen po
Comparative Tshen ba
Superlative Tshen sho
  • Bryu ru ni zi la khong chung ba yod
    • Coral is cheaper than dzi
  • Bu shel dang yu khong chung chung red
    • Amber and turquoise are cheap

We expresse feellings and emotions with adjectives.

  • Kyi po yin : I am happy
  • Khong thro sa wa yin : I am angry
  • Thang chhe pa yin : I am tired
  • Saem kyo wa yin : I am sad
  • Nyop pa yin : I am bored
  • Go khor wa yin : I am confused
  • Dro go tog pa yin : I am hungry


Bya tshig

Copula edit

Essential egophoric

  • Nga bod mi yin
    • I am Tibetan.

The negative form is with the word Min

  • Nga p'i ling min
    • I am not englisman.

Existencial Testimonial

  • Kha lak shim po dug
    • The food is delicious
  • Me tok nyin gje mi dug
    • The flower don't is beautiful

Infinitive edit

In general the suffixes for to create infinitives is pa or wa

Root    Infinitive   
Read Lok To read Lok pa
Go Do To go Do wa
Hear Nyen To hear Nyen pa
Eat Sa To eat Sa wa

Present edit

Da ta ba

  • Nga di la kha po med
    • I don't like it

Past edit

'da pa

There are several ways of expressing the past tense, the most common is with the suffixes chung, tong, and chin.

  • Nga na ning lor nyi hong la yül kor chin pa yin.
    • I traveled to Japón last year.

Future edit

Ma ong pa

  • Nga zla ba ze mar phar bre yod
    • I will pay you back next week

Imperative edit

The imperative is generally formed replacing the verb root with the central vowel change into an O

Infinitive    Imperative   
To do Dze 'pa Do it! Dzo
To let go Tang wa Let go! Tong
To get up Yar lang wa Get up! Yar long
To eat To sa wa Eat! To so

Howerer, there are cases in wicht tang or dhang must be annexing to the verbal root. Others words take the preffix shok to create the imperative.

Infinitive    Imperative   
To see Ta wa See! To dhang
To lead Ti wa Lead! Ti shok