There are two forms of the basic verb: [nebonen] a leverys and [nebonen] a lavaras. Some speakers use them interchangeably. Generally, a leverys is more appropriate to a formal style, while a lavaras has a more colloquial feel.


For affirmative statements there are various options, presented below in increasing order of formality (though only Constructions 4 and 5 are more or less confined to formal registers).

For negative statements the construction is always na2 + inflected verb. Informally, dell or fatell may precede na2.

Nominal construction is not recommended

A nominal construction is best reserved for a main clause. We do find examples in the Corpus of nominal construction for what someone has said. So you could, for example, use a sentence like Hy a leverys Caradar a wrug screfa Kernowek pòr dhâ (without the quotation marks that would indicate direct speech). But you must also take into account how rare this construction is in the historical texts. While the construction is legitimate, we can safely say good Cornish will not rely on it as a primary method of reporting speech. It is an essentially 'English' way of thinking.

‘Sequence of tenses’

Technically, if you are using Construction 1, 2 or 5 (or na2), a rule going back to literary Latin requires tense changes when reporting something said previously. These days we often don’t bother when we are using a fairly colloquial register. If you do change a tense in what was said, be careful not to slip up. The commonest mistake is changing vëdh to via under the influence of English ‘will’, ‘would’. Wrong! Change vëdh to vedha.

1     Affirmative statement introduced by DELL

Use dell2 as equivalent to English ‘that’. If the verb in the original speech is a ‘perfect tense’ with particle re(2), then keeping it as dell re(2) is fine, unless you are applying 'sequence of tenses' when reporting something said previously, in which case re is dropped.

In a literary style a singular noun subject of the verb that follows dell is often brought forward and placed immediately before dell.

In a colloquial style later forms may be substituted for dell (but not when followed by re). These later forms are dèr2 or drè2 (neither can carry stress). Before a vowel in forms of bos we prefer drè (abbreviated in this case to dr').

Note that some write dell but pronounce as dèr or drè (dr') where appropriate.

2     Affirmative statement introduced by FATELL

Use fatell2 as equivalent to English ‘that’. (Note that the syllables in fatell are sressed evenly.) This time any re must be dropped. Fatell2 may be clipped to tell. This is nearly always done when reporting a further statement: that (fatell) ... and that (ha tell) ...

In a colloquial style later forms tèr2 or trè(neither carrying stress) may be substituted for tell. Before a vowel in forms of bos we prefer trè (abbreviated in this case to tr').

Note that some write tell  (or even fatell) but pronounce as tèr or t (tr') where appropriate.

3     Affirmative statement cast as infinitive construction

The so called ‘infinitive construction’ is grammatical subject + dhe2 + verb-noun. If the subject is a personal pronoun, the independent form is used. Note that the original tense of the verb is lost, so the construction relies heavily on context. It is not used if the original tense was conditional. Some speakers who prefer to use an older style substitute Construction 4 (below) whenever it is available.


4     Affirmative statement with verb-noun BOS

When the verb of the original speech is a present tense of bos and the grammatical subject is a noun or a personal pronoun, you can change the verb to the verb-noun bos itself without any conjunction. A noun subject goes immediately after the verb-noun. A pronoun subject becomes a possessive pronoun and goes immediately before the verb-noun.

Bos may additionally be marked for person, but this is only common in the first person singular: ow bosaf / ow bosa. Or you can mark bos for person and substitute a 'dummy' particle y (which does not trigger any mutation) instead of the possessive pronoun: y bosama, y bosta, y bos ev, y bos hy, y bosen [ny], y bosowgh [why], y bosans [y]. Note that the plural endings are the same as for preposition gans.

5     Affirmative statement introduced by particle Y5 or particle RE(2) (perfect)

Treat Y5 or RE(2) as if it were a conjunction equivalent to English ‘that’.


“Kernowek yw tavas bew.”

Ev a leverys / lavaras:

○    dell o (yw) Kernowek tavas bew.

○    literary variant Kernowek dell o tavas bew.

○    colloquial variant dr'yw Kernowek tavas bew.

○    fatell o (yw) Kernowek tavas bew.

○    colloquial variant tell yw / tr'yw Kernowek tavas bew.

○    Kernowek dhe vos tavas bew.

○    bos Kernowek tavas bew.

○    yth o Kernowek tavas bew.

“Nyns yw Kernowek tavas bew.”

Ev a leverys / lavaras:

○    nag o (yw) Kernowek tavas bew.

“My yw descor”

Ev a leverys / lavaras:

○    dell en (ov) vy descor.

○    colloquial variant dr'oma descor.

○    fatell en (ov) vy descor.

○    colloquial variant tell ov / tr'oma descor.

○    my dhe vos descor.

○    ow bos descor.

○    y bosaf / bosama descor.

○    yth en vy descor.

“My a vëdh ena, heb fall.”

Ty a leverys / lavaras:

○    dell vedhes (vedhys) ena, heb fall.

○    colloquial variant der / dre vedhys ena, heb fall.

○    fatell vedhes (vedhys) ena, heb fall.

○    colloquial variant tell / ter / tre vedhys ena, heb fall.

○    ty dhe vos ena, heb fall.

○    y fedhes ena, heb fall.

“Caradar a wrug screfa Kernowek pòr dhâ.”

Anjy a leverys / lavaras:

○    dell wrug Caradar screfa Kernowek pòr dhâ.

○    literary variant Caradar dell wrug screfa Kernowek pòr dhâ.

○    colloquial variant der / dre wrug Caradar screfa Kernowek pòr dhâ.

○    fatell wrug Caradar screfa Kernowek pòr dhâ.

○    colloquial variant tell / ter / tre wrug Caradar screfa Kernowek pòr dhâ.

○    Caradar dhe screfa Kernowek pòr dhâ.

○    y whrug Caradar screfa Kernowek pòr dhâ.

 “I’gan apposyans ny wrussyn ny screfa yn tâ.”

Ny a leverys / lavaras:

○    na wrussyn ny screfa i’gan apposyans yn tâ.

       Note loss of fronting.

"Ty re wrug tùlla ow govenek.”

 Hy a leverys / lavaras:

○    dell (re) wrug vy tùlla hy govenek.

○    colloquial variant der / dre wrug vy tùlla hy govenek.

○    fatell wrug vy tùlla hy govenek.

○    colloquial variant tell / ter / tre wrug vy tùlla hy govenek.

○    my dhe dùlla hy govenek.

○    re wrug vy tùlla hy govenek.

“Nyns ov vy dhe vlâmya.”

My a leverys / lavaras:

○    nag en (ov) vy dhe vlâmya.

○    colloquially dell / fatell nag ov vy dhe vlâmya.