Max Planck Institute
for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Linguistics

Typological tools for field linguistics



A converb (or coverb) is a non-finite verb form that serves to express adverbial subordination, i.e. notions like 'when', 'because', 'after', 'while'. The term converb was coined for Mongolian and until recently was mostly used by specialists of Mongolic and Turkic languages. Nedjalkov & Nedjalkov first adopted the term for general typological use, followed by Haspelmath & König (1995).

A converb depends syntactically on another verb form, but is not its argument. It can be an adjunct, i.e. an adverbial, but can neither be the only predicate of a simple sentence, nor clausal argument (i.e. it cannot depend on predicates such as 'begin', 'order', etc.), nor a nominal argument (i.e. it does not occur in subject and object position). [Adapted from Wikipedia article on Coverbs]

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Igor Nedjalkov

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