Verb Type 1 – What Happens

This is the first of many lessons about the four verb types. We’ve tried to break down the beautiful complexity of Anishinaabe verbs to help you assemble the parts into a whole. It is presented with help from Sean Kennedy of White Earth Nation, living now in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Please note:

  • Anishinaabemowin is very descriptive. Most of the language involves explaining what is happening.
  • The first of the four main verb types describes the world around you. No one is doing anything. Something is just happening.

Let’s learn some widely used Verb Type 1 words and phrases. The following vocabulary is singular.

Verb Types 1-1

1. Minogizhebaawagad.
It’s a good morning.

Verb Types 1-2

2. Aaniin ezhiwebak agwajiing?
What is happening outside?

* “aaniin” is used to ask questions as well as say hello.
* Asking what is happening outside is used to ask about the weather because weather is seen as a verb.

Verb Types 1-3

3. Gimiwan. Ziigwan.
It is raining. It is spring.

* Ziigwan refers to ziigwanibiisaa (it is pouring water in little bits). This happens at a specific time of year, after the animkiig (thunders) animkodaadiwag (are projecting rumbling noises with each other). After these spring stroms the ground is good for growing which is why in some areas the word for spring is minogamig (mino = good, gamig = a place, building or land.)

Verb Types 1-4

4. Abaate. Niibin.
It is warm. It is summer.

Verb Types 1-5

5. Dagwaagin. Madwebagaasin.
It is fall. There is a resonating sound being made by leaves in the blowing wind.
* This word is a combination of word parts that describe exactly what is happening – “madwe” means a resonating sound, “bag” refers to a leaf or leaves, “aasin” indicates the wind is blowing.

Verb Type 1 What Happens 1-6

6. Biboon. Zoogipon.
It is winter. It is snowing.

* Biboon relates to “booni” which means to quit and “boonii” to land after flying. “Biboonigizi” also references age. In Anishinaabe culture, you say how old you are by indicating the number of winters you’ve lived through.

Verb Types 1-7

7. Biidaaban.
Dawn comes.

Verb Types 1-8

8. Gigizhebaawagad.
It is morning.

Verb Types 1-9

9. Naawakwe.
It is mid’day / noon.

Verb Types 1-10

10. Onaagoshin.
It is evening.

Verb Types 1-11

11. Bangishimon.
It is sunset or moonset.

Verb Types 1-12

12. Minodibikad.
It is a good night.

Verb Types 1-13

13. Debwemagad.
It is true.

Verb Types 1-14

14. Maamakaadendaagwad.
It is amazing.

Making Verb Type 1 Plural

You may be wondering how you make a Verb Type 1 plural. Remember, a Verb Type 1 explains something in the general sense and there are no people or objects involved. Use the following formulas to make a Verb Type 1 plural:

Think about the ending of your Verb Type 1:

  • If it ends in a vowel → add “wan”
  • If it ends in a consonant → add “oon”

For example,


Michaa – it is big.
Michaawan – more than one thing is big.

Verb Type 1 What Happens 1-8

Minomaagwad – it smells good.
Minomaagwadoon – more than one thing smells good.

Gozigwan – it is heavy.
Gozigwanoon – more than one thing is heavy.

Aanikanootan (Translate it)

Practice translating the following Verb Type 1 phrases and if possible, change the Ojibwe phrases to make them plural.

Verb Type 1 What Happens 1-10

1. It is amazing.

More than one thing is amazing.

2. It is true.

More than one this is true.

3. It is evening.

More than one evening.

4. It is snowing.
5. It is night.

More than one night.

Bizindan (Listen to It)


Read/listen to the following conversation. Do you recognize any new vocabulary?

A. Hello. What is happening outside?
B. It is snowing.
A. It is winter. It is amazing.
B. It is a good night.
A. It is true.

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