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Survey of the grammatical treatment of embedded Dative/locative clauses in Mongolian

27 February 2019 (last updated 1 November 2019)

This is a survey of how embedded clauses (sentences) in the Dative-locative case are treated in a selection of textbooks and grammars of Mongolian. It is primarily concerned with comparing approaches so as to better understand the placing of this type of construction in Mongolian grammar. One caveat must be borne in mind: since it covers only a small range of grammars written in foreign languages (mostly English), as well as textbooks aimed at language learners, it is doubtful that this brief survey can present a full picture of how such clauses are used in Mongolian.

The Dative-locative suffix (өгөх оршихийн тийн ялгал) attaches to what are traditionally known in Mongolian as 'verbal nouns' or 'participles' (үйлт нэр or тэмдэг үйл үг). Clauses containing such 'nominalised verbs' are equivalent to embedded sentences or clauses (subject clauses, object clauses, adverbial clauses, adnominal clauses) in many other languages.

Tserenpil & Kullmann abandon the old terminology and speak of verb forms ending in the Noun Determining Suffix NDS⇪, to which case endings can then attach. Note that case endings can also attach to the negative suffix -гүй.

The commonest case ending on NDS (verbal nouns or participles) is the Accusative, which marks the entire clause as the object of a verb. Indeed, clauses in the Accusative case have their own grammatical designation: "Objective clause" or Тусагдахуун гишүүн өгүүлбэр. Similarly, "Subjective clauses" (Өгүүлэгдэхүүн гишүүн өгүүлбэр), which have zero marking, have their own separate grammatical identity.

Other grammatical cases are more limited in their ability to attach to NDSs and the role they play is more fragmented. The Dative/locative attaches to the following: the -х form, the -сан4 form (simple past tense), the -даг4 form (habitual), and the -аа4 (imperfective) form, as well as the aforementioned negative form -гүй.

Note that the grammaticalised or semi-grammaticalised form гэхэд, the Dative/locative of гэх, is excluded from the scope of the following.

ᠥᠭᠬᠦ ᠣᠷᠣᠰᠢᠬᠤ ᠵᠢᠨ
ᠲᠡᠢᠨ ᠢᠯᠭᠠᠯ


ᠦᠢᠯᠡᠲᠤ ᠨᠡᠷ᠎ᠡ᠂
ᠲᠡᠮᠳᠡᠭ ᠦᠢᠯᠡ ᠦᠭᠡ


ᠭᠢᠰᠢᠭᠦᠨ ᠥᠭᠦᠯᠡᠪᠦᠷᠢ


ᠭᠢᠰᠢᠭᠦᠨ ᠥᠭᠦᠯᠡᠪᠦᠷᠢ


1. Poppe (Grammar of Written Mongolian) 1954

Poppe was writing about a conservative form of the written Mongolian language which is no longer in use. One feature of this language is that modern Dative/locative is rendered as  ᠳᠤᠷ, which I have rendered into Cyrillic as д.

Poppe has the following to say about what he calls the "Dativus Temporalis" (508).

Dativus Temporalis

The temporal dative (dativus temporalis or dativus temporis) indicates the time during or at which an action takes place. This answers the question "when?"


ᠮᠢᠨᠦ ᠪᠠᠭ᠎ᠠ ᠳᠤᠷ
minu baɣa-dur
миний багад
when I was a child (lit."in my little")

A particular case of the temporal dative is the dative-locative of the nomen futuri or nomen perfecti. The former of these verbal nouns indicates an uncompleted action during which an action is or will be performed (e.g., "when he is" or "when he will be here"); the latter indicates the completed past during which the action has been performed (e.g., "when he did something"). Such constructions act as the Latin ablativus absolutus or as subordinate temporal clauses in modern European languages.

ᠲᠡᠨᠳᠡ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦᠷ
tende irekü-dür
Tэнд ирэхэд
when he comes there (lit. "in the future coming there")
ᠲᠡᠭᠦᠨ ᠦ ᠦᠬᠦᠭᠰᠡᠨ ᠳᠦᠷ
tegün-ü ükügsen-dür
Tүүний үхсэнд
when he died (lit. "in his dying")

Poppe goes into more detail at the section on Nominal Constructions in the Dative-Locative (651):

Nominal constructions in the dative-locative correspond, in the meaning, to temporal subordinate clauses of European languages and to the Latin ablativus absolutus. They are translated into English as "When the person concerned did (or will do) something..."

The action of such constructions is expressed by a verbal noun in the dative-locative. When the actor of the construction is the same as the grammatical subject of the whole period, the action is indicated by a dative-locative with the reflexive-possessive suffix.

The actor is put in the genitive (or in relatively rare cases, under the influence of the Colloquial, in the accusativus actoris...), when he is not the same as the subject of the whole sentence.

The actor in the accusative:

ᠮᠠᠨᠤ ᠨᠥᠬᠥᠷ ᠢ ᠬᠣᠲᠠ ᠳᠤᠷ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦᠷ ᠲᠡᠭᠦᠨ ᠦ ᠣᠯᠠᠨ ᠲᠠᠨᠢᠯ ᠪᠠᠢᠭᠰᠠᠨ ᠠᠵᠤᠭᠤ᠃
manu nökör-i qota-dur irekü-dür tegün-ü olan tanil bayiɣsan aǰuɣu
Манай нөхөрийг хотод ирэхэд түүниий олон танил байсан ажуу
When our friend came to town, there were many acquaintances of his there.

The actor in the genitive:

ᠮᠠᠨᠤ ᠨᠥᠬᠥᠷ ᠦᠨ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦᠷ ᠪᠢᠳᠡ ᠪᠦᠭᠦᠳᠡ ᠪᠠᠶᠠᠰᠪᠠ᠃
manu nökör-ün irekü-dür bida bügüde mašida bayasba
Манай нөхрийн ирэхэд бид бүгд машид баясав.
When our friend came to town, all of us were very glad.

The actor is the subject of the whole sentence:

ᠪᠢ ᠬᠣᠲᠠ ᠳᠤᠷ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠡᠭᠡᠨ ᠰᠤᠷᠭᠠᠭᠤᠯᠢ ᠳᠤᠷ ᠣᠷᠣᠮᠤᠢ᠃
bi qota-dur irekü-degen surɣaɣuli-dur oromui
Би хотод ирэхдээ сургуульд ормуй.
When I come to town, I shall enter school.


  • Poppe works within a traditional grammatical system using Latinate terminology.
  • Poppe draws a parallel between the use of the Dative/locative on nouns to indicate a location in time and the use of Dative/locative on verbal nouns to similarly indicate a point in time.
  • He mentions the use of different cases for the subject of the embedded clause, and the use of the reflexive suffix when the subject of the embedded clause is the same as that of the whole sentence.

2. Qingge'ertai (蒙古语语法) 1991

Qingge'ertai worked within the Inner Mongolian grammatical tradition. In the section on Verbal Nouns or Participles (known in Chinese as 形动词 xíngdòngcí), he discusses their use in a nominal function (形动词的静词性 xíngdòngcí de jìngcíxìng) for each grammatical case. His classification of such forms when followed by the Dative/locative is as follows. (Any errors in translation are my own.)


1) 形动词的向位格可以表示与某种性质特征有关的行为。
(The Dative/locative of the verb can express the relationship of actions to certain characteristics)

ᠢᠳᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠠᠮᠲᠠᠲᠠᠢ
Идэхэд амттай.
(Good to eat)
ᠤᠤᠭᠤᠬᠤ ᠳᠣ ᠰᠠᠢᠨ
Уухад сайн
(Nice to drink, easy to drink)
ᠨᠠᠭᠠᠳᠬᠤ  ᠳᠤ ᠠᠪᠢᠶᠠᠰ ᠲᠠᠢ
Наадахад авиястай
(knows how to play, good at playing)
ᠬᠢᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠳᠡᠮ ᠲᠡᠢ
Хийхэд дэмтэй
(practised at doing)
ᠡᠪᠳᠡᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠠᠮᠠᠷᠬᠠᠨ
Эвдэрхэд амархан
(easy to break)
ᠪᠠᠢᠭᠤᠯᠬᠤ ᠳᠤ ᠬᠦᠴᠢᠷᠲᠡᠢ
Байгуулахад хүчиртэй
(Not easy to go about building)

(Note: Mongolia: байгуулахад хэцүү)

2) 表示具有行为意义的原因(是一种两个动词之间的因果关系)。
(Expresses the cause of actions - a causal relationship between two verbs)

ᠲᠠᠨ ᠦ ᠢᠷᠡᠭᠰᠡᠨ ᠳᠦ ᠪᠢᠳᠡ ᠶᠡᠬᠡ ᠪᠠᠶᠠᠷᠯᠠᠵᠤ ᠪᠠᠢᠨ᠎ᠠ᠃
Таны ирсэнд бид их баярлаж байна.
(We're glad you came)
ᠲᠡᠭᠦᠨ ᠦ ᠴᠢᠩᠭᠢᠵᠦ ᠬᠡᠯᠡᠭᠰᠡᠨ ᠳᠦ ᠪᠦᠭᠦᠳᠡᠭᠡᠷ ᠴᠥᠮ ᠰᠠᠨᠠᠯ ᠲᠠᠢ᠃
Түүний чингэж хэлсэнд бүгдээр цөм саналтай.
(Everyone has objections to him saying that)

(Note: Саналтай is a translation of Chinese 有意见 and is not used in Mongolia in this sense.)

3) 表示具有行为意义的时机。
(Expresses the time of actions)

ᠲᠠᠨ ᠦ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠲᠡᠳᠡ ᠶᠠᠪᠤᠴᠢᠬᠠᠭᠰᠠᠨ᠃
Таны ирэхэд тэд явчихсан.
(They left when you came)
ᠥᠯᠥᠰᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠢᠳᠡᠭᠡᠨ ᠡᠷᠳᠡᠨᠢ᠂ ᠳᠠᠭᠠᠷᠠᠬᠤ ᠰᠤ ᠳᠠᠬᠤ ᠡᠷᠳᠡᠨᠢ᠃
Өлсхөд идээн эрдэнэ, даарахад дах эрдэнэ.
(When you're hungry food is a treasure; when you're cold clothes are a treasure)
ᠠᠷᠰᠯᠠᠨ ᠵᠢ ᠪᠠᠷᠢᠬᠤ ᠳᠤ ᠠᠷᠭ᠎ᠠ ᠪᠠᠷ
Арсланыг барихад аргаар.
(To catch a lion you need to know how to catch)
ᠲᠠᠷᠢᠶ᠎ᠠ ᠲᠠᠷᠢᠬᠤ ᠳᠤ ᠬᠡᠷᠡᠭᠯᠡᠨ᠎ᠡ᠃
Тариа тарихад хэрэглэнэ.
(Use when planting crops)
ᠮᠠᠯ ᠬᠠᠷᠢᠭᠤᠯᠬᠤ ᠳᠤ ᠵᠠᠷᠤᠨ᠎ᠠ᠃
Мал хариулахад зарна.
(Use when running livestock)
ᠨᠠᠳᠠ ᠵᠢ ᠮᠡᠳᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠲᠡᠳᠡ ᠬᠢᠭᠡᠳ ᠪᠠᠷᠠᠴᠢᠬᠠᠭᠰᠠᠨ᠃
Надыг мэдэхэд тэд хийгээд барчихсан.
(When I realised it they'd finished)

(Note: Mongolia: Надыг мэдэхэд тэд хийгээд дуусчихсан.)

ᠴᠢᠩᠭᠢᠵᠦ ᠬᠡᠯᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠪᠣᠯᠬᠣ ᠦᠭᠡᠢ ᠵᠦᠢᠯ ᠦᠭᠡᠢ᠃
Чингэж хэлэхэд болохгүй зүйлгүй.
(There's nothing wrong with talking like that)

4) 表示具有行为意义的境地。
(Expresses the place of actions)

ᠤᠬᠢᠯᠠᠬᠤ ᠳᠤ ᠬᠦᠷᠬᠦ
Уйлахад хүрэх
(reach the stage of crying)
ᠦᠬᠦᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠣᠢᠷᠠᠲᠤᠬᠤ
үхэхэд ойртох.
(be almost dead)
ᠥᠯᠥᠰᠴᠦ ᠳᠠᠭᠠᠷᠠᠬᠤ ᠳᠤ ᠬᠦᠷᠬᠦ
Өлсч даархад хүрэх
(to starvation)

5) 表示具有行为意义的依存条件。
(Expresses the dependent conditions of actions)

ᠦᠭᠡ ᠭᠡᠳᠡᠭ ᠴᠢᠨᠢ ᠬᠡᠯᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠪᠠᠢᠨ᠎ᠠ
Үг гэдэг чинь хэлэхэд байна.
(It depends how you say it)
ᠮᠠᠯ ᠦᠨ ᠬᠦᠴᠤ ᠲᠠᠷᠭᠤ ᠬᠡᠷᠬᠢᠨ ᠬᠠᠷᠢᠭᠤᠯᠬᠤ ᠳᠤ ᠪᠠᠢᠨ᠎ᠠ᠃
Малын хүч тарга хэрхэн хариулахад байна.
(The strength and fatness of livestock depend on how they've been pastured.)

6) 形动词的向位格可以构成一种比较结构。

(The Dative/locative of a verb can form a comparative construction)

ᠢᠩᠭᠢᠭᠰᠡᠨ ᠳᠦ ᠣᠷᠣᠪᠠᠯ ᠴᠢᠩᠭᠢᠭᠰᠡᠨ ᠨᠢ ᠳᠡᠭᠡᠷ᠎ᠡ᠃
Ингэсэнд орвол чингэсэн нь дээр.
(This way is better than that)
ᠡᠭᠦᠨ ᠢ ᠠᠪᠣᠭᠰᠠᠨ ᠳᠤ ᠣᠷᠣᠪᠠᠯ ᠲᠡᠭᠦᠨ ᠢ ᠠᠪᠣᠭᠰᠠᠨ ᠨᠢ ᠳᠡᠭᠡᠷ᠎ᠡ᠃
Үүнийг авсанд орвол түүнийг авсан нь дээр.
(Asking him for this is better than asking for that)


  • Qingge'ertai's classification includes an interesting range of uses for Dative/locative clauses. All but a few are perfectly acceptable in Khalkha.
  • These need to be taken into account when considering the uses of Dative/locative clauses in Mongolian.

3. Kullmann and Tserenpil (Mongolian Grammar) 2005

Kullman and Tserenpil do not treat Dative/locative forms in a unified way. They are mainly covered at "Conjunctions" and "Adverbials". In addition, the Dative/locative of a verb can also occur where a noun has been dropped.

Coordinating Conjunctions

We could present a twofold classification in original and derived conjunctions, but for the following reasons we don't do that: conjunctions that look superficially like original conjunctions (e.g. "бөгөөд", "болон", etc.) would have to be strictly classed as 'derived' because of their origin of "verb + VDS". So, it's difficult to draw proper lines between 'original' and 'derived'. To us, it seemed more important that the following conjunctions serve as conjunctions today.

"байхад, харин" = "whereas"

- has an additive meaning; creates a comparison between two actions or things; general statements, therefore the NDS "-даг" is mainly used.
- connects predicate parts (verb demands an NDS).

ᠵᠠᠷᠢᠮ ᠬᠦᠮᠦᠰ ᠲᠠᠮᠠᠬᠢ ᠲᠠᠲᠠᠬᠤ ᠳᠤᠷᠲᠠᠢ ᠪᠠᠢᠬᠤ ᠳᠦ᠂ ᠬᠠᠷᠢᠨ ᠵᠠᠷᠢᠮ ᠨᠢ ᠳᠤᠷ᠎ᠠ ᠦᠭᠡᠢ᠃
Зарим хүмүүс тамхи татах дуртай байхад, харин зарим нь дургүй.
Some people like smoking, whereas others don't like it.
ᠭᠧᠷᠮᠠᠨᠴᠤᠳ ᠬᠥᠯ ᠪᠥᠮᠪᠥᠭᠡ ᠲᠣᠭᠯᠠᠬᠤ ᠳᠠᠭᠠᠨ ᠰᠠᠢᠨ ᠪᠠᠢᠬᠤ ᠳᠦ᠂ ᠬᠠᠷᠢᠨ ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯᠴᠤᠤᠳ ᠪᠥᠬᠡ ᠪᠠᠷᠢᠯᠳᠤᠬᠤ ᠳᠠᠭᠠᠨ ᠰᠠᠢᠨ᠃
Германчууд хөл бөмбөг тоглохдоо сайн байхад, харин Монтолчууд бөх барилдахдаа сайн.
The Germans are good at football, whereas the Mongolians are good at wrestling.
ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯ ᠳᠦ ᠮᠢᠬ᠎ᠠ ᠮᠠᠰᠢ ᠬᠢᠮᠳᠠ ᠪᠠᠢᠬᠤ ᠳᠦ᠂ ᠬᠠᠷᠢᠨ ᠧᠦᠷᠣᠫᠡ ᠳᠦ ᠮᠠᠰᠢ ᠦᠨᠡᠲᠡᠢ᠃
Монголд мах маш хямд байхад, харин Европт маш үнэтэй.
In Mongolia, meat is very cheap, whereas in Europe it's very expensive.
ᠠᠩᠭ᠍ᠯᠢ ᠳᠦ ᠦᠷᠭᠦᠯᠵᠢ ᠪᠣᠷᠣᠭ᠎ᠠ ᠣᠷᠣᠳᠠᠭ ᠪᠠᠢᠬᠤ ᠳᠦ᠂ ᠬᠠᠷᠢᠨ ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯ ᠳᠦ ᠵᠥᠪᠬᠡᠨ ᠵᠤᠨ ᠦ ᠴᠠᠭ ᠲᠦ ᠪᠣᠷᠣᠭ᠎ᠠ ᠣᠷᠣᠳᠠᠭ᠃
Англид үргэлж бороо ордог байхад, харин Монголд зөвхөн зуны цагт бороо ордог.
In England, it rains all the time, whereas in Mongolia, it rains only in summer.
ᠬᠢᠲᠠᠳ ᠬᠦᠮᠦᠰ ᠡᠳᠦᠷ ᠪᠦᠷᠢ ᠴᠠᠭᠠᠨ ᠪᠤᠳᠠᠭ᠎ᠠ ᠢᠳᠡᠳᠡᠭ ᠪᠠᠢᠬᠤ ᠳᠦ᠂ ᠬᠠᠷᠢᠨ ᠭᠧᠷᠮᠠᠨ ᠬᠦᠮᠦᠰ ᠲᠠᠯᠬ᠎ᠠ ᠶᠡᠬᠡ ᠢᠳᠡᠳᠡᠭ᠃
Хятад хүмүүс өдөр бүр цагаан будаа иддэг байхад, харин Герман хүмүүс талх их иддэг.
The Chinese eat rice every day, whereas the Germans eat a lot of bread.

Subordinating Conjunctions

With this list, our main concern was to look at those verbs or analytical constructions that serve as conjunctions today. We'll not talk again about the sVDS's in general, but only consider those sVDS's and postpositions that appear in an analytical construction.

"байх үед; х(а)д" = "when; while"

- introduces temporal clauses

- "-х(а)д is the short form of "байх үед". Only if the epoch ("үе") needs to be stressed, the conjunction "байх үед" is used (examples omitted here).

- with a common subject, the RS [reflexive suffix] is used and the subject is in nominative and not in accusative voice... In [the final example] the RS is used on the object ("son"), which is also possible.

ᠨᠠᠮᠠᠢ᠍ᠶ ᠠᠩᠭᠢ ᠳᠦ ᠣᠷᠣᠵᠤ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠣᠶᠤᠲᠠᠨ ᠨᠤᠭᠤᠳ ᠢᠷᠡᠴᠢᠬᠡᠭᠰᠡᠨ ᠪᠠᠢᠪᠠ᠃
Намайг ангид орж ирэхэд оюутнууд ирчихсэн байв.
When I entered the classroom, the students had (already) come.
ᠲᠡᠭᠦᠨ ᠢ ᠭᠡᠷ ᠡᠴᠡ ᠪᠡᠨ ᠭᠠᠷᠬᠤ ᠳᠦ ᠭᠠᠳᠠᠭ᠎ᠠ ᠬᠠᠷᠠᠩᠭᠤᠢ ᠪᠣᠯᠤᠭᠰᠠᠨ ᠪᠠᠢᠯ᠎ᠠ᠃
Түүнийг гэрээсээ гарахад гадаа харанхуй болсон байлаа.
When he left his yurt it was already dark. ("it was having become dark")
ᠨᠠᠮᠠᠢ᠍ᠶ ᠦᠷᠯᠦᠭᠡ ᠪᠣᠰᠬᠤ ᠳᠦ ᠠᠯᠢ ᠬᠡᠳᠦᠢᠨ 9 ᠴᠠᠭ ᠪᠣᠯᠣᠭᠰᠠᠨ ᠪᠠᠢᠪᠠ᠃
Намайг өглөө босоход аль хэдийн 9 цаг болсон байв.
When I got up in the morning it was already 9 o'clock.
ᠪᠢᠳᠡᠨ ᠢ ᠬᠣᠤᠣᠯᠠ ᠪᠠᠨ ᠢᠳᠡᠬᠦ ᠭᠡᠵᠦ ᠪᠠᠢᠬᠤ ᠳᠦ ᠠᠪᠤ ᠢᠷᠡᠯ᠎ᠠ᠃
Биднийг хоолоо идэх гэж байхад аав ирлээ.
Father came, when we were just about to eat.
ᠪᠢ ᠣᠶᠤᠲᠠᠨ ᠪᠠᠢᠬᠤ ᠳᠠᠭᠠᠨ ᠡᠬᠡᠨᠡᠷ ᠲᠡᠢ ᠪᠡᠨ ᠲᠠᠨᠢᠯᠴᠠᠭᠰᠠᠨ᠃
Би оюутан байхдаа эхнэртэйгээ танилцсан.
I got to know my wife, when I was a student.
ᠲᠡᠷᠡ ᠮᠠᠷᠭᠠᠰᠢ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠡᠭᠡᠨ ᠨᠥᠭᠦᠭᠡ ᠨᠣᠮ ᠢ ᠠᠪᠣᠢᠷᠠᠨ᠎ᠠ᠃
Тэр маргааш ирэхдээ нөгөө номыг авчирна.
He will bring that other book, when he comes tomorrow.
ᠬᠦᠦ ᠪᠡᠨ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠳᠤᠯᠮ᠎ᠠ ᠬᠣᠭᠣᠯᠠ ᠬᠢᠵᠦ ᠪᠠᠢᠭᠰᠠᠨ᠃
Хүүгээ ирэхэд Дулмаа хоол хийж байсан.
When her son came home, Dulmaa was preparing a meal.


All of the following conjunctions contain a proword (mostly a demonstrative proword). That's why we call them 'proword-conjunctions'. Such conjunctions refer to something which was mentioned before (either one or more sentences). Therefore, such conjunctions are usually placed at the beginning of a new sentence.

"Тэгэхэд" = "As ... doing that"

- connects two sentences
- the literal translation 'as ... doing that' is very clumsy in English. We would make one sentence instead, with a clause expressing the "Тэгэ-".
- compare with "-хад" ('when'; 'as')

ᠲᠡᠷᠡ ᠮᠠᠨᠠᠢ ᠡᠷᠲᠡ ᠢᠷᠡᠭᠡᠳ ᠲᠤᠰᠠᠯᠠᠬᠤ ᠵᠢ ᠭᠤᠶᠤᠭᠰᠠᠨ᠃ ᠲᠡᠭᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠨᠢ ᠪᠢ ᠵᠥᠪᠰᠢᠶᠡᠷᠡᠭᠰᠡᠨ᠃
Тэр манайд эрт ирээд туслахыг гуйсан. Тэгэхэд би зөвшөөрсөн.
When he came to my home early and asked for help, I agreed.
ᠪᠢ ᠲᠡᠳᠡᠨ ᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠮᠠᠰᠢ ᠣᠷᠣᠢ ᠣᠴᠢᠭᠰᠠᠨ᠃ ᠲᠡᠭᠡᠬᠦ ᠳᠦ ᠲᠡᠷᠡ ᠣᠨᠲᠠᠵᠤ ᠪᠠᠢᠭᠰᠠᠨ᠃
Би тэднийд маш орой очсон. Тэгэхэд тэр унтаж байсан.
When I went very late to his home, he was sleeping.


Adverbials, (Latin 'ad verbum' = 'to the word/verb'), describe the conditions under which the action, which is expressed in the sentence, takes place. It is difficult to draw a line between adverbials and adverbial clauses. [...]

Adverbials can be divided into the following semantic groups:

  1. Local adverbials (place)
  2. Temporal adverbials (time
  3. Modal adverbials (mode; way of behaving)
  4. Causal adverbials (reason)
  5. Final adverbials (intention)
  6. Conditional adverbials (condition)
  7. Concessive adverbials (concession)

Causal adverbials

They answer the questions "яагаад? ямар учраас? юунаас? яаснаас? юунд?" (why? for what reason? due to what?) and thus explain the reason of the action.

They can be built like this:

* with NDS's + Dative-locative-CS's

(Four other types of construction are also given.)

ᠲᠡᠷᠡ ᠠᠭᠤᠷᠯᠠᠭᠰᠠᠨ ᠳᠠᠭᠠᠨ ᠴᠢᠷᠠᠢ ᠨᠢ ᠤᠯᠠᠢᠪᠠ᠃
Тэр уурласандаа царай нь улайв.
Out of anger his face became red ("in his having become angry")
ᠲᠡᠷᠡ ᠠᠶᠤᠬᠤ ᠳᠠᠭᠠᠨ ᠤᠢᠯᠠᠭᠰᠠᠨ᠃
Тэр айхдаа уйлсан.
She cried from being afraid ("in her being afraid")

Where a noun has been dropped

If a noun is dropped and replaced by нь, the Dative/locative on the original noun will transfer to the verb.

Би Германаас ирсэн хүнд байр олж өгсөн.
I provided a flat for the person who had come from Germany.
Би Германаас ирсэнд нь байр олж өгсөн.
I provided a flat for the one who had come from Germany.


  • In addition to the use of -хад for expressing time, Kullmann and Tserenpil also introduce usages like байхад, харин and тэгэхэд.
  • The category of 'adverbials of cause' adds an extra dimension to that of 'time'.
  • Kullmann and Tserenpil also note the case behaviour of subjects in clauses (differential subject marking) and the use of reflexives when the verb in the subordinate clause is the same as that of the whole sentence.


  • While a grammar rather than a textbook, Kullmann-Tserenpil is still heavily oriented towards the language learner. While it retains an emphasis on morphological and syntactic criteria at a basic level, for larger units of syntax this approach breaks down. In particular, the conjunctions are a heterogeneous collection of forms, including words and structures that connect non-predicate parts (for instance "N and N") as well as those connecting predicate parts (Sentence + Sentence). Treating -хад (an NDS followed by a case ending) as variant of үед 'at a time, when' is one result this approach.

4. Juha A. Janhunen (Mongolian) 2012

Janhunen deals with this construction at a couple of sections. One is at Quasiconverbs.

Quasiconverbs may be defined as complex verbal forms with a converbial function and a morphologically transparent structure. Formally, quasiconverbs are case forms of participles used as action nouns. ... In the complex sentence, quasiconverbs have normally a role basically identical with that of disjunct converbs, linking verbs with different subjects. Like the disjunct converbs they can, however, be rendered conjunct by adding the reflexive possessor marker, which then allows them to be used in same-subject constructions.

...In the quasiconverbs, ... case forms have somewhat more specialized functions than with regular nominals. Thus, the quasiconverbs in the Dative/locative case have normally a temporal function (time:'when?')...'

The system of quasiconverbs

  PART CX   RX Function
(1) FUT DAT -x-e.d -e.x-d-AA/n temporal
(2) HAB DAT -deg-t -deg.t-AA/n temporal
(3) PRF DAT -sen-d -sen-d-AA/n temporal
(4) IMPRF DAT -g.AA-d -g.AA-d-AA/n temporal

Temporal: The temporal quasiconverbs are formed by adding the dative ending -e.d to the participle markers, as in -ir- 'to come': PART FUT DAT ir-h-e.d 'when (s/he) comes': PART HAB DAT ir-deg-t 'when (s/he) always comes', PART FUT DAT ir-sen-d 'when (s/he) had come'.

(Janhunen claims that the form based on the imperfective participle (-хад, -хдаа) is only 'theoretical' since it would be formally (though not functionally) identical with the perfective converb in -g.AAd. This appears to be incorrect as such forms do occur in Mongolian. However, none of the sources consulted here make reference to them.) Two examples of such forms are:

    Сэржамц удирдагч хүнтэй танилцаж байгаадаа өөрөөрөө бахархаж байв.

    Serjamts udirdagch khüntei taniltsaj baigaadaa öörööroo bakharkhaj baiv.

    Serjamts was proud of himself for gettng to know a leading person.

    Ерөнхий сайд У. Хүрэлсүх Ерөнхий сайд Абэ Шинзо-тай дахин уулзаж байгаадаа баяртай байгаагаа илэрхийлэв.

    Yörönkhii said U. Khürelsükh Yörönkhii Abe Shinzo-tai dakhin uulzaj baigaadaa bayartai baigaagaa ilerkhiilev.

    Prime Minister Khürelsükh said that he was pleased to meet Prime Minister Abe Shinzo again.

Janhunen also makes clear that there are other uses of participial case forms:

It should be noted that the participial case forms attested in the quasiconverbial constructions can also occur in other contexts, as when required by the verb itself (verbal rection). In such contexts, participles can take also other adverbial case endings, including those of the possessive and directive. Syntactically, however, it is useful to distinguish the quasiconverbial uses from the other occurrences of participial case forms which do not serve the purpose of verb chaining.

Janhunen gives (within the context of conjoint/disjunct constructions) an example at Referative constructions where a participle is followed by a Dative/locative in what is clearly not a temporal form. He notes that '... in the conjunct type, the subject is expressed by the reflexive suffix, added to the nominalized predicate.'

Би энд ирсэндээ баярлаж байна.
bii en-d ir-sen-d-ee bayerle.j bai-n'
SG1P here-LOC come-P.PRF-DAT-RX rejoice-C.IMPRF be-DUR
'I am glad that I came here'


  • Janhunen divides Dative/locative clauses between a rather semantically-based category of grammaticalised expressions that he calls 'quasiconverbs' (with a temporal meaning) and Dative/locative clauses governed by the verb or adjective ('verbal rection').
  • Apart from one example elsewhere in the book, Janhunen goes no further in discussing the uses of Dative/locative clauses.

5. Dagdangiin Batchuluun (A Contrastive Grammar of Mongolian and English) 2013

Batchuluun's contrastive grammar, written from the point of view of language teaching and learning, attempts to compare and contrast the two languages within existing grammatical frameworks. Regrettably, differences in grammatical frameworks result in strained comparisons, mismatches, and gaps. 'Verb + Dative/locative' forms are almost completely ignored, with only one explicit mention at VERBALS. There is also a cursory mention at CONJUNCTIONS.


Verbals are non-finite forms of a verb. They are verbs that act like nouns and name actions and processes. In a sentence a verbal can be used as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb.

There are three kinds of verbals: infinitives, gerunds and participles.

Completely equating terminology between the two languages, Batchuluun notes that Mongolian has only two of the three types: 'infinitives' and 'participles'.


Infinitives are non-finite verb forms which name action without referring to a tense, person, or number.

Batchuluun notes the difference of opinion among Mongolian grammarians over the form that should be regarded as the infinitive: the verb stem (e.g. яв- 'to go'), or the verb form with the suffix -х (явах). It is in discussing the 'verb form + suffix -х' that Batchuluun makes the only explicit reference to 'verb + Dative/locative case' in the entire book:

In Mongolian, the infinitive suffix -х is retained when a noun case suffix or noun possessive suffixes are added to a verb:

(Examples relating to Dative/locative )

Долгор өтгөн кофе уухдаа тун дургүй.
Dolgor hates to drink strong coffee.
Түүнийг өрөөнд орж ирэхэд бүгд алга ташив.
Everyone applauded when he entered the room.


Batchuluun adopts the traditional category of 'participles' in Mongolian, which covers noun-determining suffixes (Noun Determining Suffixes NDS⇪), adjective-determining suffixes (such as -маар 'want to'), and verb-connecting suffixes (such as аад4, -ж, -бч, -магц4 'as soon as', -вал/бал4, and many others). Dative-locative forms of verbs are not covered.


Batchuluun mentions the use of the Verb + Dative/locative to indicate time ('when') as follows:

The subordinators in English are classified as follows:

TIME: when -х үед, -д, -т...

No examples are given.

However, there are numerous examples through the book of Dative/locative clauses as translations of English sentences. A large selection is shown below:

Thank you for reminding me about it.
Үүнийг над сануулсанд баярлалаа.
Andy regretted leaving the party so early.
Энди үдэшлэг дээрээс тун эрт явсандаа харамсжээ.
I regret saying that to him.
Үүнийг түүнд хэлсэндээ би харамсаж байна.
I have to apologize to my friend for leaving the city without saying goodbye.
Би хотоос явахдаа баяртай хэлээгүйдээ найзаасаа уучлалт гуйх хэрэг гарч байна.
John resented having chosen to study Japanese rather than Chinese.
Жон хятад хэлний оронд япон хэлийг судлахаар сонгож авсандаа бухимдаж байв.
I regret saying it / I regret that I said it.
Үнийг хэлсэндээ би гэмшиж байна.
She offered to help clean up the room after the party.
Тэр нийллэгийн дараагаар өрөөг цэвэрлэж янзлахад туслахаа хэлэв.
Her father said he would help her to find a job.
Эцэг нь түүнд ажил олоход нь туслахаа хэлжээ.
Your walking a long distance takes five hours. (Refers to an action)
Явганаар хол алхахад таван цаг зарцуулдаг.
Eating fast is bad for the digestion.
Хурдан идэх нь хоол шингэхэд муу байдаг.
Your walking a long distance in your health condition is a bad idea. (Refers to a fact)
Явганаар хол алхан гэдэг таны бие ийм байхад таарахгүй.
He is not good at horse-riding.
Тэр морь унахдаа тааруу.
The children were excited about going to the river.
Хүүхдүүд гол руу явахдаа сэтгэл хөөрсөн байв.
In filling out the form an original and two copies are required.
Энэ маягт бөглөхөд шинжэнэ болон өөр хоёр хувь шаардлагатай.
dislike: I really dislike having to get up early.
Би өглөө эрт босохдоо үнэхээр дургуй.
I hate having to get up on cold mornings / I hate to get up on cold mornings.
Би хүйтэн өглөөгүүр босохдоо тун ч дургуй.
I really dislike weeding the garden.
Би цэцэрлэгийн зэрлэг ургамал зулгаахдаа үнэхээр дургүй.
She was accused of having cheated.
Булхай гаргасанд нь түүнийг буруутгажээ.
We met the students feeling upset about their tuition increase.
Сургалтын төлбөр нэмэгдсэнд сэтгэл дундуур байгаа оюутнуудтай бид уулзлаа.
(While) traveling abroad, he met many interesting people.
Тэр гадаадад аялж явахдаа олон сонирхолтой хүнтэй танилцжээ.


  • The cursory coverage illustrates a major blind spot in the contrastive method. Cases are covered at the section on nouns but almost completely ignored at the section on verbs.
  • While the Dative/locative form of 'participles' is ignored in analysing and contrasting Mongolian with English, ironically many -хад expressions are found as translations of English sentences.

6. T. Uranchimeg (Mongolian Language Handbook) 2007

Uranchimeg does not deal with 'Verb + Dative/locative' as a specific grammatical format. However, she does cover the uses of -санд4, -гүйд, -хад4, -хдаа4 in two separate sections: "Conversation" and "Use of Suffixes".


The Conversation section deals with congratulations, expressing thanks, asking forgiveness, and expressing condolences, with all examples in the past tense (-сан4 or -аагүй4).

Баяр хүргэх: Congratulations

Хүүхэдтэй болсонд чинь баяр хүргэе!
Congratulations on the new baby!

Талархал илэрхийлэх: Expressing thanks

Манайд ирсэнд тань баярлалаа.
Thank you for coming (to our house).
Намайг урьсанд тань баярлалаа.
Thank you for inviting me.
Тусалсанд чинь баярлалаа.
Thank you for helping.
Сайхан дайлсанд тань баярлалаа.
Thank you for the wonderful food.

Уучлалт гуйх: Asking forgiveness

Хоцорсонд минь уучлаарай.
Sorry for being late.
Өчигдөөр ирж чадаагүйд уучлаарай.
Sorry I could not come yesterday.
Намайг утсаар яриагүйд уучлаарай.
Sorry I didn't call.
Номоо авч ирээгүйд уучлаарай.
Sorry I didn't bring my book.

Эмгэнэл илэрхийлэх: Expressing condolences

(Танд) зовгүй явдал тохиолдсонд эмгэнэл илэрхийлье.
Sorry for bad happenings.
Ийм явдал болсонд харамсаж байна.
I'm sorry to hear about that (your bad news).
Таны аав нас барсанд их харамсаж байна.
I am really sorry about your father's death.

Use of Suffixes

In the "Use of Suffixes" section Uranchimeg treats the use of -хад4 and -хдаа4 to mean 'when' or 'while'.

-хдаа4 (when, while (one subject and two actions))

(Main clause in past tense)

Та Улиастайд байхдаа олон удаа морь унасан уу?
Үгүй, би Улиастайд ганцхан удаа морь унасан.
Did you go horse riding while you were in Uliastai?
No, I rode a horse only once in Uliastai.
Та Хархоринд байхдаа ямар ажил хийж байсан бэ?
Би тэнд байхдаа номин санд ажилласан.
When you were in Karakorum what kind of work were you doing?
When I was there I worked in a library.
Ээж гаднаас орж ирэхдээ юу авчирсан бэ?
When mother came home what did she bring?
Чи хоол хийж байхдаа хэнтэй утсаар ярьсан бэ?
Who did you talk on the phone with while you were cooking?
Галт тэрэг хөдлөхдөө дуут дохио өгсөн бэ?
When the train left did it sound its horn?
Та Монголд ирэхдээ нохой авчирсан уу?
Did you bring a dog with you when you came to Mongolia?
Их сургуульд сурч байхдаа оройн цагаар ажил хийх хэрэгтэй байсан уу?
When you studied at the university did you need to work in the evenings?

(Main clause in habitual tense)

Онгоц буухдаа дохио өгдөг үү?
When a plane lands does it give a signal?
Танайхан хоол идэхдээ ус уудаг уу?
When your family has a meal do they drink water?

(Main clause in future tense)

Та маргааш ирэхдээ юу юу авчирах вэ?
What things will you bring when you come tomorrow?

-хад4 (when, while (two subjects and two actions))

(Main clause in past tense in all examples)

Та нарыг Улиастай байхад мөндөр орсон уу?
Тийм, биднийг Улиастайд байхад мөднөр орсон.
Did it hail when you were in Uliastai?
Yes, it hailed when we were in Uliastai.
Таныг Хархоринд байхад Тэрбиш хаана байсан бэ?
Намайг тэнд байхад Тэрбиш Улаанбаатарт байсан.
Where was Terbish while you were in Karkorum?
While I was there Terbish was in Ulaanbaatar.
Ээж бид хоёрыг орж ирэхэд Туяа юу гэж хэлсэн бэ?
Та хоёрыг орж ирэхэд Туяа "Сайн явж ирэв үү?" гэж асуусан.
What did Tuya say when my mother and I arrived?
When the two of you arrived Tuya asked "Did you have a good trip?"
Чамайг хоол хийж байхад хэн утсаар ярьсан бэ?
Намайг хоол хийж байхад Бурмаа утсаар ярьсан.
Who phoned while you were cooking?
Burmaa called while I was cooking.
Онгоц буухад та хаана зогсож байсан бэ?
Онгоц буухад би машиныхаа дэргэд байсан.
Where were you standing when the airplane landed?
When the airplane landed I was standing next to my car.
Галт тэрэг 10 цагаас 20 минут өнгөрч байхад эндээс хөдөлсөн үү?
Үгүй. 10 цаг 30 минут болж байхад галт тэрэг хөдөлсөн.
Did the train leave from here at 10:20?
No, the train left at 10:30.
Таныг Монголд ирэхэд хэн хэн угтаж авсан бэ?
Намайг Монголд ирэхэд жолооч, хэлмэрч хоёр утгсан.
When you came to Mongolia, who welcomed you?
When I came to Mongolia, the driver and translator welcomed.
Энэ өглөө та нарыг босоход хэдэн цаг болж байсан бэ?
Өглөө намайг босоход 7 цаг 40 минут болж байсан.
What time was it when you got up this morning?
When I got up this morning it was 7:40.


  • The usages covered in Uranchimeg are those which are likely to be most useful to foreign students learning Mongolian.
  • Uranchimeg demonstrates by example 1) the use of the reflexive on the verb (-хдаа4 if the subject in both clauses is the same) and 2) the use of -ыг / -ийг on the subject of the subordinate clause if it is animate or definite.

7. Bayarmaa Khalzaa (Mongolian Language for Beginners) 2012, (Mongolian Language for Intermediate Students) 2011

Bayarmaa's approach is functional. There is no formal identification of 'Verb + Dative/locative' as a specific construction; examples are focused on use in actual speech.

Uses of the 'Verb + Dative/locative' can be divided into three: 1) expressions of thankfulness, asking for forgiveness, and congratulations, 2) use in the meaning 'when, while', and 3) use as an object of the verb.

Expressions of thankfulness, asking for forgiveness, and congratulations

Талархал илээрхийлэх (To express thankfulness)

(Main clause in past tense in all examples)

Ирсэнд баярлалаа.
Thank you for coming.
Манайд ирсэнд баярлалаа.
Thank you for coming to my house.
(Надад) тусалсанд баярлалаа.
Thank you for helping (me).
Асуусанд баярлалаа.
Thank you for asking.
Гэр бүлийн минь талаар асуусанд баярлалаа.
Thank you for asking about my family.
(Надад) хэлсэнд баярлалаа.
Thank you for telling (me).
Надад энэ талаар урьдчилж хэлсэнд баярлалаа.
Thank you for telling me about this in advance.
Утсаар ярьсанд баярлалаа.
Thank you for calling.

Уучлал гүйх (To ask for forgiveness)

(One example in the past tense, the other uses -аагүйд)

Хоцорсонд уучлаарай.
Sorry for being late.
Ирж чадаагүйд уучлаарай.
Sorry for not being able to come.

Баяр хүргэх (To give congratulations)

(Example in the past tense)

Хүүхэдтэй болсонд тань баяр хүргэе!
Congratulations for having a new baby!

Нийлмэл өгүүлбэр (Complex Sentence -- When)

Sentences with the same subject:

Subject ........... verb stem + (а4)хдаа4     ..........verb
Subordinate clause                                   Main clause

Тэр манайд ирэхдээ жимс авчирсан.
When he came to my house he brought fruit.
Тэр манайд ирэхдээ жимс авчирна.
When he comes to my house he will bring fruit.
Тэр манайд ирэхдээ жимс авчирдаг.
When he comes to my house he brings fruit.

Sentences with different subjects:

Subject ........... verb stem + (а4)хад4     ..........verb
Subordinate clause                                   Main clause

Намайг ирэхэд багш ангид байсан.
When I came the teacher was in the classroom.
Намайг ирэхэд багш ангид байна.
When I came the teacher will be in the classroom.
Намайг ирэхэд багш ангид байдаг.
When I came the teacher is in the classroom.

Object of the Verb "хүрэх"

Машин авахад энэ мөнгө хүрэх үү?
Will this money be enough to buy a car?
Тэр хэлсэндээ үргэлж хүрдэг.
She keeps her promises all the time.


  • The treatment is largely the same as Uranchimeg.
  • The use of reflexives (where subjects are the same) and of -ыг / -ийг on the subject of the subordinate clause, along with other rules, are spelt out by example or explicit comment.

8. Summing up

Following Janhunen, Dative/locative clauses can roughly be divided into two types:

  • Clauses where the verb or adjective governs (requires) the dative case. In such cases, the Dative/locative can be considered a core case, like the Nominative and Accusative. Such verbs include туслах 'to help', хүрэх 'to touch, reach', халаглах 'to regret', харамсах 'to regret', баярлах 'to rejoice', гэмших 'to regret', итгэх 'to believe', гайхах 'to be surprised', уурлах 'to be angry', оролцох 'to participate', and many others. The form дуртай/дургүй 'like/dislike' and some other also require the Dative/locative. Use of a reflexive suffix to indicate that the matrix sentence has the same subject as the clause will depend on the semantics of the verb.
  • Clauses where the Dative/locative clause has been semi-grammaticalised with a temporal meaning ('when'). No matter what the tense of the final verb, the verb in the clause will normally be in the -х form. A reflexive suffix can be used to indicate that the subject of the matrix sentence and that of the clause are identical.

However, this is clearly inadequate as an explanation of the range of uses of Dative/locative clauses. Several other common patterns exist, including:

  • Clauses with the sense of 'easy to', 'difficult to', 'good at', etc. It is relatively rare to use a reflexive indicating 'same subject' in such clauses since in most cases the statement is a generalisation. (However, these can possibly be classed under 'quasiconverbs' of time.)
  • Clauses indicating cause. The most common type of clause indicating cause are those expressing gratitude. These are possibly conditioned by the verb баярлах 'to rejoice', on which баярлалаа 'thank you' is based, but the pattern appears to have become fixed in expressing gratitude, regret, or apologies. It mostly occurs in the past tense and seldom takes the reflexive suffix.

From Qingge'ertai we learn that Dative/locative clauses have other uses, as well. These appear to have a narrower range of application than those listed above but are nevertheless valid uses of Dative/locative clauses. Our selection of grammars and textbooks, mostly written in English, is clearly insufficient to fully describe the range of uses of Dative/locative clauses in Mongolian.

(The uses of the Dative/locative are relevant to this later post on Switch Reference in Mongolian, qv.)

9. Works cited

Batchuluun, Dagdangiin. 2013 A Contrastive Grammar of Mongolian and English Ulaanbaatar: Soyombo Printing Company.

Bayarmaa Khalzaa 2017, Mongolian Language for Intermediate Students, Ulaanbaatar: Lingo Lab.

Janhunen, Juha A. 2012 Mongolian (London Oriental and African language library 19.) Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Poppe, Nikolas 1954 Grammar of Written Mongolian (Fifth unrevised printing 2006, Porta Linguarum Orientalium Neue Serie 1. Originally published 1954) Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Qingge'ertai. 1991 蒙古语语法 (A Grammar of the Mongolian Language) Huhhot: Inner Mongolian People's Publishing.

Tserenpil, D., Kullmann, R. 2005 Mongolian Grammar (Монгол хэлний хэлзүй ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯ ᠬᠡᠯᠡ ᠦ ᠵᠦᠢ) Third revised edition, Ulaanbaatar. (4th revised edition appeared in 2008, 5th revised edition appeared in 2015.)

Uranchimeg, T. 2007 Mongolian Language Handbook: For Learners of the Mongolian Language (Revised edition) (Монгол Хэл Сурах Гарын Авлага: Гадаадыинханд зориулав) Ulaanbaatar.

NDS: Noun Determining Suffix (traditionally known as a 'verbal noun suffix') is a category in the Kullmann/Tserenpil grammar. It includes the verb endings -сан (-сон, -сэн, -сөн), -даг (-дог, -дэг, -дөг), -аа (-ээ, -оо, -өө), -х, and -гч.

An NDS can serve as a verbal adjective to a succeeding noun (явсан хүн), can take case endings (явсаныг), can be followed by the particle юм (явсан юм) or an auxiliary verb (явсан байна), and can form negatives (явсангүй) and interrogatives (явсан уу?)

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