Georgian verbal morphology includes a concept called a preverb, which has several functions compounded into one morpheme:
- distinguishes present (without preverb) from future (with preverb)
- adds direction or other nuance to a verb (like verb prefixes in German or Russian)
- can totally change the meaning of a verb (also like verb prefixes in German or Russian)
(If you are not familiar with German or Russian verbs, preverbs are a bit like "down" in "cut down" or "up" in "eat up" in English.
Now there is a conflict in the literature which I cannot resolve:
Source after source states that preverbs are only used in future forms and this is what makes the future forms distinguishable from the present forms.
... the main function of a preverb is to distinguish between the present tenses and the future tenses. In order to make a present tense verb into a future tense, one has to add the preverb to the verb compound.
But source after source also lists present forms of to go and to come with preverbs!
modis = ("he is coming")
midis = ("he is going")
So what am I failing to understand? If preverbs are only for future forms why are they also in present forms?
In my continued reading on this topic I've found two interesting facts:
- The verb base of "to come" / "to go" uses suppletion heavily. Several different roots are used for different screeves or forms of the verb.
- Some sources say preverbs are used for present forms, other sources say they are used for perfective forms. Since "present" and "perfective" are not at all synonyms, these terms might be obscuring a more tricky actual situation.
- The more I learn about Georgian, the more it seems that the "verbs of motion/movement" are exceptional and use the same prefix morphemes that elsewhere are preverbs, but that they are not preverbs in this case! Yet none of my textbooks actually state this so I'm still in doubt.