In Georgian and its related languages there is a concept of the "preverb", which is much like the separable and inseparable verb prefixes in German or in English phrasal verbs with a preposition or adverbial particle.

Prefixes sometimes impart some meaning like a preposition, but mostly there is one set preverb per verb which is used in perfective forms.

There is a set number of preverbs in Georgian: ა–, გა–, და–, მი–, მო–, შე–, ჩა–, and წა–.

Preverbs can also be combined, the most common being: ამო–, გადა–, გამო–, and ჩამო–.

But the materials I've been using do not go on to list the full number of possible combinations and permutations. So I'm wondering about rare preverbs, preverbs which might lead to ambiguity in analysing verbs, and whether what is possible and impossible in preverb combinations has been studied.


  1. Are preverbs with the same morpheme doubled possible, such as აა- or მიმი-?
  2. Is it possible for preverbs to comprise three morphemes?
  3. May ა- occur as the second morpheme in a preverb pair?

I've analysed some Georgian text and found words which might be examples of all three types but it's very possible they're not verbs or the following morpheme is causing ambiguity where it looks like part of a preverb. My Georgian knowledge is not yet sufficient to tell.

  • At least constraints feels more like the right word that what I had before (-: Jun 7, 2013 at 5:46

2 Answers 2


I can answer only from Hewitt's Georgian, a learner's grammar (which is, of course, not a reference grammar).

He lists the eight you give, together with გადა-, as "Simplex", and all of them (except მო- itself) combined with მო- as "Complex", though he says დამო- is found with only one verbal root.

So if other combinations of two or more preverbs are found, they are outside the notice of this Learner's Grammar.

  • In my simple CS code sifting through articles from the Georgian edition of Wikipedia I'm finding what look on the surface to be lots of rarer combinations such as მომი- (მომიჯნავე, მომიტინგე, მომიტინგეებს) but of course they may be false positives due to stems beginning with the same letters as a preverb, or in the case of ა- it being a versioner/pre-radical between the preverb and the stem. But I don't want to assume anything and overlook interesting rare cases. Jun 7, 2013 at 0:53

Hewitt, Aronson and Tschenkeli are in agreement that გადა- is simplex and that the only way that complex preverbs can be formed is by having მო as the second element. Therefore, anything that looks like a complex preverb with something other than მო as the second element, or anything that looks as if it might be a three-part complex preverb should be flagged as a false positive and reinterpreted as some combination potentially including the preverb, object pronouns, version vowels and even the first letters of the root.

Forms such as მომიტანე ("bring me" or "you brought me X") are not parsed *მომი [preverb] + ტან [root] + ე [screeve ending], but should be parsed მო [preverb] + მი [1st p sg indirect object] + ტან [root] + ე [screeve ending]. Contrast with მოგიტანე ("I brought you X"), where there is no such ambiguity.

To give an example with ა looking like part of a preverb, but actually being a version vowel, we could take the example of გაინტერესებს "it interests you", which is not parsed *გა [preverb] + ინტერეს [root] + ებ [P/F stem formant] + ს [screeve ending], but which should be parsed გ [2nd p sg indirect object, h-series] + ა [version vowel] + ინტერეს [root] + ებ [P/F stem formant] + ს [screeve ending]. Contrast with მაინტერესებს ("it interests me"), where there is no such ambiguity.

I hope this helps!

  • Yes it does help, thanks! Version vowels are indeed the leading culprit for false positive when there are no constraints on complex preverbs. I actually knew about the მი ambiguity specifically, since that one is noted in one of my textbooks, but nothing more general. It's made harder because different dictionaries books use different verb forms as lemmas in wordlists. 3rd person singular nominative present vs masdar but then none of them state whether they include the neutral version vowel in lemmas or whether some stems just begin with , , , or (-: Jun 8, 2013 at 12:23
  • 1
    I find that dictionaries are a huge problem for anyone learning Georgian. The vast majority (i.e. all the ones I have encountered) of the English dictionaries do not give enough information about verbs to be of any particular use to a non-native speaker. However, if you know German, Kita Tschenkéli's Georgisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch is fantastic once you get used to his classification system.
    – A Parmar
    Jun 8, 2013 at 13:34

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