GB300 - grambank/grambank Wiki

Does the verb for ‘give’ have suppletive verb forms?


This question concerns strong suppletion in verbs of giving. Suppletion is a process where a lexeme is changed in such a way that the new form does not resemble the previous when it appears in a different position in the paradigm. So called ‘weak’ suppletion is not included. An example of this is English went and go. In this case, the verb is suppletive for tense.


  1. Look up the section on ditransitive verbs.
  2. If no such section exists, search for the words ‘give’ and ‘receive’.
  3. If the verb paradigm for ‘give’ is not described, code as ?.
  4. If the verb ‘give’ is described as being non-variant in any way, code as 0.
  5. If the verb ‘give’ is strongly suppletive anywhere, code as 1.


Tongan (ISO 639-3: ton, Glottolog: tong1325)

In Tongan ‘give’ is expressed with the words mai and atu for give towards speaker and give away from speaker respectively (Churchward 1985: 20–21). The forms are very different from each other but both express the meaning ‘give' and the difference is in direction. Hence, they count as suppletion. Tongan is coded 1 for this feature.

Further reading

Dressler, Wolfgang. 1985. Suppletion in word-formation. In Jacek Fisiak (ed.), Historical morphology, 97–112. The Hague: Mouton.

Veselinova, Ljuba N. 2006. Suppletion in verb paradigms: Bits and pieces of the puzzle. (Typological Studies in Language. Vol. 67.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Veselinova, Ljuba N. 2013. Suppletion according to tense and aspect. In Matthew S. Dryer & Martin Haspelmath (eds), The world atlas of language structures online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.


Churchward, Maxwell C. 1985 [1953]. Tongan grammar. Tonga: Vava'u Press.

Related Features


Hedvig Skirgård