Burmese By Ear/Essential Myanmar Introduction to the Burmese Language John Okell

1.1. It is ..., isn't it?

1. lesson

New Words       

pu-deh  ပူတယ်  to be hot, it is hot   

è-deh  အေးတယ်  to be cold, it is cold   

kaùn-deh  ကောင်းတယ်  to be good, it is good   

yá-deh  ရတယ်  to be all right, it is all right   


  Pu-deh-naw?  ပူတယ်နော်။  It's hot, isn't it?  

  È-deh-naw?  အေးတယ်နော်။  It’s cold, isn’t it? 

  Kaùn-deh-naw?  ကောင်းတယ်နော်။  It’s good, isn’t it? 

  Yá-deh-naw?  ရတယ်နော်။  It’s all right, isn’t it? 


Suffixes. Any word which is attached to the end of other words is called a “suffix”. For example, in English -ing is a suffix: you add it to talk to make talking, to fill to make filling and so on. Suffixes are very important in Burmese, because they are the bits that carry almost all the grammar: ideas like “did”, “don’t”, “will”, “in”, “if” and many others. 

-naw is a suffix that you add to a statement when you want someone to agree with you. You can think of it as meaning “right?”, but it’s often more appropriate to translate -naw with phrases like “isn’t it?”, “don’t you?”, “won’t they?”, and so on. 

-deh is a suffix that has two functions: 

1. It is used to show you are making a statement, as in: 

   Pu-deh. It’s hot. 

   È-deh. It’s cold. 

2. It is used when you are talking about individual Burmese words, as in: 

   Pu-deh. To be hot. 

   È-deh. To be cold. 

For a summary of essential Burmese grammar see Appendix 3. 

Adjectives. Although we have to translate pu-deh, è-deh and the others with the English adjectives: “hot”, “cold”, and so on, in terms of Burmese grammar they must be classified as verbs: “to be hot”, “to be cold”, etc. 

“It”. Burmese does have words for “it”, but when it’s obvious what you’re talking about you normally leave them out. So in the question- 

   Kaùn-deh-naw? It’s good, isn’t it? 

all you are actually saying in Burmese is “Is good, right?”