Episode 7: Good Stuff and Aireals

Good Stuff was invented by my friend Mateo. Every so often he calls me and says I got some good stuff for ya, only he doesn’t use the word stuff. This means that he’s figured out how to say something really useful and just has to tell me. I grab a pen and he gives me a random list. Today for the first half of the episode I just got some Good Stuff for you. It’s just a random list of words that I looked at and I was like, “Ah! We haven’t gone over that yet.” Then in the second half of this episode my Good Stuff will ever so smoothly segue into talking about a kind of verb called Aireals.


Ok, beginning with Good Stuff:

The first one is just good times. This word is Cháke! It begins with a Ch, which should have an s-h sound, but people usually pronounce it just like it has an H. Cháke che ra’a! you might say when someone is tripping. It can also be like when someone’s dancing all crazy, possibly doing the shimmy. Cháke, Cháke! If someone starts doing the robot, you can just go straight for the nahániri.

The next word I know I’ve mentioned, and everyone who’s in Paraguay knows what it is. But I don’t want to forget those of you who haven’t come to Paraguay yet. That word is terere. Terere is a delicious iced drink made of crushed yerba leaves. It’s also a custom that is so important, sitting around drinking terere. It might just be more important than mandi’o, but that’s a pretty tough call. We’ll have a whole terere lesson in the future, but for now I just want you to know what it is. It’s a noun, but you can also use it as a verb. To say, “Let’s drink terere,” you can just say, Jaterere. To say, “I’m drinking terere”, it’s Aterere hína. What would be, “Just us are going to drink terere.” Ore roterereta.

The next word is your friend. This word is ikatu. It means “can”, as in “Can Jimmy come out and play?” Or “to be able to.” To say, “I can go” is Che ikatu aha. The most beautiful thing about ikatu is that, like any strong woman, it doesn’t change for anybody. Che ikatu, nde ikatu, ha’e ikatu... (fade)

The ikatu is always before the other verb in a question, and we’ll learn how to ask questions in the next episode. But sometimes, in a statement, it will be tacked on like a caboose, but without the i. ***In this case, it means then, as in Jahakatu, "Let´s go then."***

Ikatu also means “maybe” or “possibly.” Like, “Will you make me sushi tomorrow?” Eh, ikatu. Just a warning, though, about the cultural use of this word. Paraguayans don’t like to say “no” directly, so a lot of times they say, “maybe,” which is “no.” So if someone asks them a question, like, “Will you come to my grandmother’s 90th birthday?”, they’ll just respond with ikatu, which means “could be” and which means “no.” Once someone asked me if we’d do something later, and I said ikatu because I really did mean “maybe”. But he was mad because he thought I’d said “no.”

The next verb is the only other one in Guaraní that I know of that also doesn’t change for anybody. This is ha’e. Wait, you say, ha’e means “him or her”. I know. Ha’e suffers from multiple personality disorder. It could be “him or her,” and now I’m going to tell you that it is “to be” as well. And there will be one more definition coming down the line a little later.

“To be” is one big idea in English, right? You can be fat or be angry or be American or be in your house. “To be” encompasses a lot of things, from the temporary location where you are for five minutes to your origin that you will keep for your whole life. It can be an emotion that will pass or a physical trait that will never change.

That’s not how it is in Guaraní. Guaraní follows that patterns of “to be” that Spanish follows. I’m going to use Spanish just as a reference for those of you who are familiar with it. If you don’t know Spanish, don’t worry about it.

The first kind of “to be” is the big kind of “to be”. In Spanish, this word is ser. In Guaraní, ha’e is this kind of “to be.” The work ser is derived from the same Latin root from which we derive “essence” in English, or so that’s what this here book says. I don’t usually go around throwing out knowledge of Latin roots. Anyway, with this kind of “to be,” we can think about everything that is more about the essence of a person, an inherent quality or characteristic. This is for big stuff like your origin. I am American. Che ha’e Americana. Or your physical characteristics. I am blond. Che ha’e rubia. Your profession. I am a volunteer. Che ha’e voluntaria. Think of things that won’t change, just like the verb ha’e doesn’t change.

The thing about this ha’e is that people don’t use it all that often. Usually, in Guaraní, it’s more of like a “Me Tarzan, you Jane” kind of sound. “I am American” could be Che Americana. I am a volunteer, Che voluntaria. My Guaraní tutor said that because ha’e means so many things, people just leave it out.

The other kind of “to be” is kind that can change. This is the equivalent of estar in Spanish, and, says my book, estar is derived from the same Latin root as “state.” So then, this kind of “to be” is for temporary states or conditions. In Guaraní, this word is ime.

So to say, “I am,” we’re going to say Che, then add the a like usual, then the verb, ime. Che aime. I am.

Now, I am what? With this you’re going to use those temporary things, such as where you are. “I am in Paraguay” is going to be Che aime Paraguaipe. “You are in Paraguay.” Nde reime Paraguaipe. What would be “Paulita is in Yataity.” Paulita oime Yataitype.

There’s another Guaraní word for estar, to be, which is iko. Iko is more of that state, like “How are you?” “How are things going?” “How la living Biggie Smalls? That kind of how are you. Sometimes in a greeting, someone asks, Mba’echapa reiko?, which is like, “How is it going?”, people will answer, Aiko porã. Kind of like, “I’m living good.”

Oiko kind of means to work, as in to function. Paraguayans also use it as kind of like an, "eh, it works." Like if you throw a meal together from what you have, and it’s not the most delicious. You taste it and your buddy asks, “Is it good?” You’d could say, Oiko. It’ll do the trick. If it is actually good, you might say, Oiko porã.

***Oiko can also mean "to happen". Mba´e oiko is "What happened?"***

There is also another way to describe states, such as being tired, but we’ll have to save that for another episode.


When you change the driver car for ime or iko, then, they’re going to have an ai, which makes this a dirty fakeout of another kind of verb, which is called an Aireal. It’s no big deal, so don’t panic. With Aireal verbs, all you’re going to do is add an i after the normal verb beginning driver cars. That’s it. Just think these as a little kid on the train that says, “I want to ride up front.” So “i” is just riding up front, in the driver car. Hence, when these verbs are in the first person, they start with a ai, with second person rei and so on. So you might think when you hear aime that it’s an Aireal, but it’s not. When we get to more complicated conjugations, it will be important to know the difference.

How about the rest of the aireals? How are you going to spot them? Well, mostly they are those that begin with k, p, n or s. But some begin with t. Over time as well, you’ll just here them and get used to the sound with the i in there.

Let’s look at the aireal kuaa, which means “to know” or “to understand.” Let’s practice the beginnings. Basically it’s just more of an “i” sound on the end. I know is Che aikuaa. You know. Nde reikuaa. She knows. Ha’e oikuaa. You all know. Peẽ peikuaa. Just us know. Ore roikuaa. We all know. Ñande jaikuaa. They know. Ha’ekuéra oikuaa. The ñande beginning will change to ñai when the aireal verb is nasal.

So how about “I know Suzy.” Here we’re going to revisit that caboose -pe. When you have an action and someone is, excuse me, the direct object, meaning they receive the action directly, then you’re going to add a -pe to the end of their name. These are called direct objects and we’ll talk more about them later. “I punch Suzy” is going to be “I punch Suzype”. When you have animals, you can either use it or leave it off. -Pe is going to have a few more uses as we go along.

So let’s go back to “I know Suzy.” We’re going to say, Che aikuaa Suzype. How about, “He knows Joan.” Ha’e oikuaa Joanpe. How would you say, “They know Tessa”? Ha’ekuéra oikuaa Tessape.

Side note: You’re going to use kuaa as a verb like this when you want to say you know a place or you know someone, but you’re going to use kuaa as a caboose when you want to say you know how to do something. "I know how to speak" would be, Che añe’ẽkua. So what would be, “I know how to speak in Guaraní”? Che añe’ẽkuaa Guaraníme. ***Sometimes kuaa as a caboose like this can also mean "to be able to". Remba'apokuaa ko'ãga can mean, "Can you work now?"*** End of side note.

Another real aireal is pota, which means “to want.” “I want water” would be, Che aipota y. How about “She wants mandioca”? Ha’e oipota mandi’o.

And here we have another side note, because, much like kuaa, pota is going “to be”, this is not a thing, but a verb. I’m not going to use pota for this kind of want, when I want to do a verb. When I want to do something, I’m going to use a caboose, which is -se. So I want to be in Paraguay will be Che aimese Paraguaype. “He wants to work” would be Ha’e omba’apose. How about “They want to know”? Ha’ekuéra oikuaase. End of side note. Back to aireals.

Another good one is poru. I use this a lot with the caboose -se, to say things like, “I want to use your scissors.” This sounds like weird phrasing in English, but aiporuse is a common thing to hear in Guaraní.

Now let’s review

Your 10 new vocab words:
  1. terere: yerba drink
  2. ikatu: can, am able to
  3. ha’e: am, is, are
  4. ime: to be, location
  5. iko: live, go
  6. kuaa: to know
  7. ...kuaa: v.e. to know how
  8. pota: to want
  9. ...se: v.e. to want to
  10. poru: to use

1. I want to drink terere now
Che atererese ko’ãga.

2. You can use my mandioca.
Nde ikatu reiporu che mandi’o.

3. They are Paraguayans.
Ha’ekuéra ha’e Paraguayos.

4. Jesus is in Brazil
Jesus oime Brazilpe.

5. We all want water.
Ñande jaipota y.

Now with the Guaraní first.

6. Che aikuaa Carlospe.
I know Carlos.

7. Ha’ekuéra omba’apokuaa.
They know how to work

8. Fernando ha’e Paraguayo.
Fernando is Paraguayan.

9. Ha’e oipuruse che camara ko’ẽrõ.
He wants to use my camera tomorrow.

10. Ha’e omopotĩse kuri kuehe.
She wanted to clean yesterday.

Extra credit:
More aireal verbs:
kotevẽ: to need
kytĩ: to cut
nupã: to hit, to beat (someone)
piro: to peel
poka: to twist, to wring
pytyvõ: to help, to cooperate
su’u: to bite or chew
typei: to sweep

More aireal dirty fake-outs:
ike: enter
imo’ã: to think
ity: to throw