This article includes a list of general references, but it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (January 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
марий йылме marij jylme
RegionRussian Federation: autonomous republics Mari El, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Udmurtia; oblasti Nizhny Novgorod, Kirov, Sverdlovsk, Orenburg; Perm Krai
Ethnicity548,000 Mari (2010 census)[1]
Native speakers
320,000 (2020)[2]
Standard forms
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2chm
ISO 639-3chm – inclusive code
Individual codes:
mhr – Eastern and Meadow Mari (Eastern Mari)
mrj – Hill Mari (Western Mari)
Geographic distribution of Mari languages at the beginning of the 20th century[3][4]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
CountryMari El

The Mari language (Mari: марий йылме, marij jylme; Russian: марийский язык, mariyskiy yazyk), formerly known as the Cheremiss language, spoken by approximately 400,000 people, belongs to the Uralic language family. It is spoken primarily in the Mari Republic (Mari: Марий Эл, Marij El, i.e., 'Mari land') of the Russian Federation as well as in the area along the Vyatka river basin and eastwards to the Urals. Mari speakers, known as the Mari, are found also in the Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Udmurtia, and Perm regions.

Mari is the titular and official language of its republic, alongside Russian.

The Mari language today has three standard forms: Hill Mari, Northwestern Mari, and Meadow Mari. The latter is predominant and spans the continuum Meadow Mari to Eastern Mari from the Republic into the Ural dialects of Bashkortostan, Sverdlovsk Oblast and Udmurtia), whereas the former, Hill Mari, shares a stronger affiliation with the Northwestern dialect (spoken in the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast and parts of the Kirov Oblast). Both language forms use modified versions of Cyrillic script. For the non-native, Hill Mari, or Western Mari, can be recognized by its use of the special letters "ӓ" and "ӹ" in addition to the shared letters "ӱ" and "ӧ", while Eastern and Meadow Mari utilize a special letter "ҥ".

The use of two "variants", as opposed to two "languages", has been debated: Maris recognize the unity of the ethnic group, and the two forms are very close, but distinct enough to cause some problems with communication.[citation needed]

Ethnonym and glottonym

The Mari language and people were known as "Cheremis" (Russian: черемисы, черемисский язык, cheremisy, cheremisskiy yazyk). In medieval texts the variant forms Sarmys and Tsarmys are also found, as well as Tatar: Чирмеш, romanized: Çirmeş; and Chuvash: Ҫармӑс, Śarmăs before the Russian Revolution. The term Mari comes from the Maris' autonym марий (mari).

Sociolinguistic situation

Most Maris live in rural areas with slightly more than a quarter living in cities. In the republic's capital, Yoshkar-Ola, the percentage of Maris is just over 23 percent. At the end of the 1980s (per the 1989 census) Maris numbered 670,868, of whom 80% (542,160) claimed Mari as their first language and 18.8% did not speak Mari. In the Mari Republic, 11.6% claimed Mari was not their first language. In a survey by the Mari Research Institute more than three quarters of Maris surveyed considered Mari language to be the most crucial marker of ethnic identity, followed by traditional culture (61%) and common historical past (22%), religion (16%), character and mentality (15%) and appearance (11%) (see Glukhov and Glukhov for details). A gradual downward trend towards assimilation to Russian has been noted for the Communist period: the 1926 census indicated more than 99% of Maris considered Mari their first language, declining to less than 81% in 1989. Some qualitative evidence of a reversal in recent years has been noted.

There was no state support for Mari language in Imperial Russia, and with the exception of some enthusiasts and numerous ecclesiastical texts by the Russian Orthodox Church, there was almost no education in Mari language. After the October Revolution, there was a period of support of all lesser national cultures in the Soviet Union, but eventually Russification returned. While the development of Mari literary language continued, still, only elementary-school education was available in Mari in the Soviet period, with this policy ending in village schools in the 1970–1980s. The period of glasnost and perestroika in the 1990s opened opportunities for a revival of efforts expand the use of Mari in education and the public sphere. In the 1990s, the Mari language, alongside Russian, was proclaimed in the republican constitution to be an official language of Mari El. By the beginning of the 21st century, Mari language and literature was taught in 226 schools. At the History and Philology Department of the Mari State University and the Krupskaya Teachers' Training Institute (Yoshkar-Ola), more than half of the subjects are taught in Mari.


The four main dialects of Mari.
  Hill Mari
  Northwestern Mari
  Meadow Mari
  Eastern Mari

The principal division between Mari varieties is the West and the East. According to the Soviet linguist Kovedyaeva (1976:9-15, 1993:163-164) the Mari macrolanguage is divided into four main dialects:

Each main dialect is divided into their own smaller local subdialects. Only Hill and Meadow Mari have their own literary written standard varieties, based on the dialects of Kozmodemyansk and Yoshkar-Ola respectively.

Eastern and Meadow Mari are often united as a Meadow-Eastern supra-dialect. Northwestern Mari is transitional between the Hill and Meadow dialects, and its phonology and morphology are closer to Hill Mari.


Main article: Mari orthography

Geographical distribution of the Mari language

Mari is mostly written with the Cyrillic script.



Front Central Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
Close /i/
Mid /e/
/ə/, /ə̟/1
ы/y, ӹ/ÿ
Open /æ/1
  1. Only in Hill Mari

The schwa /ə/ and its fronted counterpart are usually transcribed in Finno-Ugric transcription as ə̑ (reduced mid unrounded vowel) and ə (reduced front unrounded vowel) respectively. The former has sometimes been transcribed in IPA as /ɤ/, but phonetically the vowel is most strongly distinguished by its short duration and reduced quality. Descriptions vary on the degree of backness and labialization.[5]

The mid vowels /e/, /ø/, /o/ have more reduced allophones [e̽], [ø̽], [o̽] at the end of a word.

Word prosody

Stress is not phonemic in Mari, but a dynamic stress system is exhibited phonetically, the stressed syllable being higher in pitch and amplitude and greater in length than an unstressed syllable. Generally, there is one prominent syllable per word and prominence may be found in any syllable of the word. Post- and prefixes behave as clitics, i.e., they do not have their own stress. For example, пӧ́рт (pört, "house") гыч (gəč, "out of") ([ˈpørt ɣɤt͡ʃ]); or му́ро (muro, "song") дене (dene, "with") ([ˈmuro ðene]).


Consonants are shown in Cyrillic, Latin, and the IPA:

Labial Dental Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar
plain pal.
Nasal /m/
Plosive voiceless /p/
voiced /b/
Affricate /ts/1
Fricative voiceless /f/1
voiced (β)4
Rhotic /r/ (or /ɾ/)
Approximant central /j/
lateral /l/
  1. Only in Russian loanwords, in Hill Mari also onomatopoeia and Chuvashian loanwords.
  2. Palatalisation is marked in different ways. A ⟨у⟩ following a palatalised consonant is written as ⟨ю⟩, and ⟨а⟩ following a palatalised consonant is written as ⟨я⟩. If the vowel following a palatalised consonant is an е or an и, palatalisation is not marked at all. In other cases, the soft sign ь is used to mark palatalisation.
  3. The modified Cyrillic letter for the velar nasal (ŋ) combines the Cyrillic letter ⟨Н н⟩ with and ⟨Г г⟩, where the rightmost post of Н is conflated with the vertical post of ⟨Г⟩: ⟨Ҥ, ҥ⟩. Although Hill Mari has this sound too, this character is only used in Meadow Mari.
  4. In Russian loanwords and after nasals, /b d ɡ/ are voiced stops. Word-finally and before a consonant, there is free variation between voiced fricatives ( ð ɣ]) and voiceless stops [p t k].

Phonological processes

Like several other Uralic languages, Mari has vowel harmony. In addition to front/back harmony, Mari also features round/unround harmony. If the stressed vowel in the word is rounded, then the suffix will contain a rounded vowel: for example, кӱтӱ́ ([kyˈty] 'herd') becomes кӱтӱ́штӧ ([kyˈtyʃtø], 'in the herd'); if the stressed vowel is unrounded, then the suffix will contain an unrounded vowel: ки́д ([kid], 'hand') becomes ки́дыште ([ˈkidəʃte], 'in the hand'). If the stressed vowel is back, then the suffix will end in a back vowel: агу́р ([aˈgur], 'whirlpool') becomes агу́рышто ([aˈgurəʃto], 'in the whirlpool').[6]


Like other Uralic languages, Mari is an agglutinating language. It lacks grammatical gender, and does not use articles.


Meadow Mari has 9 productive cases, of which 3 are locative cases. The usage of the latter ones is restricted to inanimate objects.

Many cases, aside from their basic function, are used in other situations, such as in expressions of time.

Case Name Suffix Question Words Example (animate) Example (inanimate)
Nominative - кӧ, мо (who, what) йоча (a child; subject) ял (a village; subject)
Genitive -(ы)н кӧн, мон (whose, what's) йочан (of a child) ялын (of a village)
Dative -лан кӧлан, молан (to whom, to what/why) йочалан (to a child) яллан (to a village)
Accusative -(ы)м кӧм, мом (whom, what) йочам (a child; object) ялым (a village; object)
Comitative -ге кӧге, моге (with whom, with what) йочаге (with a child) ялге (with a village)
Comparative -ла кӧла, мола (like who, like what) йочала (like a child) ялла (like a village)
Inessive -(ы)ште/(ы)што/(ы)штӧ кушто (where) - ялыште (in a village)
Illative -(ы)шке/(ы)шко/(ы)шкӧ, -(ы)ш[note 1] кушко/куш (where to) - ялышке/ялыш (to a village)
Lative -ш/еш/эш кушан (where to) - ялеш (into a village)
  1. ^ The illative has a short form, equivalent to the long form in meaning.

If a locative statement was to be made about an animate object, postpositions would be used.

Additionally, terms denoting family members have vocative forms. These are, however, not created with a specific paradigm, and only exist in a few pre-defined cases.

Hill Mari has these cases, plus the abessive case (of the form -де), which is used to form adverbials stating without the involvement or influence of which an action happens.


Mari, though an agglutinative language, does not have a separate morpheme to signify plurality. There are three particles, which are attached to the end of words with a hyphen, used to signify plural.

Possessive suffixes

Every grammatical person in Mari has its own possessive suffix.

Person Suffix Example
- - шӱргӧ (face)
First-person singular -ем/эм шӱргем (my face)
Second-person singular -ет/эт шӱргет (your face)
Third-person singular -же/жо/жӧ/ше/шо/шӧ шӱргыжӧ (his/her/its face)
First-person plural -на шӱргына (our face)
Second-person plural -да шӱргыда (your face)
Third-person plural -шт/ышт шӱргышт (their face)

Additional suffixes

Additional particles, falling into none of the categories above, can be added to the very end of a word, giving it some additional meaning. For example, the suffix -ат (-at), means 'also' or 'too'.

Arrangement of suffixes

The arrangement of suffixes varies from case to case. Although the case suffixes are after the possessive suffixes in the genitive and the accusative, the opposite is the case for the locative cases. In the dative, both arrangements are possible.

Case Singular Example Plural
Nominative P пӧртем – 'my house (subject)' пӧртем-влак – 'my houses (subject)'
Genitive P → C пӧртемын – 'of my house' пӧртем-влакын – 'of my houses'
Accusative пӧртемым – 'my house (object)' пӧртем-влакым – 'my houses (object)'
Comitative пӧртемге – 'with my house' пӧртем-влакге – 'with my houses'
Dative P → C, C → P пӧртемлан, пӧртланем – 'to my house' пӧртем-влаклан – 'to my houses'
Comparative P → C, C → P пӧртемла, пӧртлам – 'like my house' пӧртем-влакла – 'like my houses'
Inessive C → P пӧртыштем – 'in my house' пӧрт-влакыштем – 'in my houses'
Illative пӧртышкем – 'into my house' пӧрт-влакышкем – 'into my houses'
Lative пӧртешем – 'into my house' пӧрт-влакешем – 'into my houses'

There are many other arrangements in the plural—the position of the plural particle is flexible. The arrangement here is one commonly used possibility.


Comparison happens with adjectives and adverbs. The comparative is formed with the suffix -рак (-rak). The superlative is formed by adding the word эн (en) in front.

Comparative Superlative
кугу – 'big' кугурак – 'bigger' эн кугу – 'biggest'


Morphologically, conjugation follows three tenses and three moods in Meadow Mari.

Conjugation types

In Meadow Mari, words can conjugate according to two conjugation types. These differ from each other in all forms but the infinitive and the third-person plural of the imperative. Unfortunately, the infinitive is the form denoted in dictionaries and word lists. It is, thus, necessary to either mark verb infinitives by their conjugation type in word lists, or to include a form in which the conjugation type is visible—usually, the first-person singular present, which ends in -ам (or -ям) for verbs in the first declination, and in -ем (or -эм) for second-declination verbs.


The three tenses of Mari verbs are:

  1. Present: The present tense is used for present and future actions, for states of being and for habitual actions, among others.
  2. First preterite: The first preterite is used to express observed, recent actions.
  3. Second preterite: The second preterite is used for actions that are in the more-distant past.

Additional tenses can be formed through periphrasis.


The moods are:

  1. Indicative: The indicative is used to express facts and positive beliefs. All intentions that a particular language does not categorize as another mood are classified as indicative. It can be formed in all persons, in all times.
  2. Imperative: The imperative expresses direct commands, requests, and prohibitions. It only exists in the present tense, and exists in all persons but the first person singular.
  3. Desiderative: The desiderative is used to express desires. It can be formed for all persons, in the present tense and in the two periphrastic imperfect.


Negation in Mari uses a 'negative verb', much like Finnish does. The negative verb is more versatile than the negative verb in Finnish (see Finnish grammar), existing in more grammatical tenses and moods. It has its own form in the present indicative, imperative and desiderative, and in the first preterite indicative. Other negations are periphrastic.

The negation verb in its corresponding form is put in front of the negated verb in its second-person singular (the stem-only form), much as it is in Finnish and Estonian.

Person Indicative present Imperative present Desiderative present Indicative first preterite
First-person singular ом (om) - ынем (ənem) шым (šəm)
Second-person singular от (ot) ит (it) ынет (ənet) шыч (šəč)
Third-person singular огеш (ogeš) / ок (ok) ынже (ənže) ынеж(е) (ənež(e)) ыш (əš)
First-person plural огына (ogəna) / она (ona) - ынена (ənena) ышна (əšna)
Second-person plural огыда (ogəda) / ода (oda) ида (ida) ынеда (əneda) ышда (əšda)
Third-person plural огыт (ogət) ынышт (ənəšt) ынешт (ənešt) ышт (əšt)

The verb улаш (ulaš) – to be – has its own negated forms.

First-person singular – 'I am not' омыл (oməl)
Second-person singular – 'You are not' отыл (otəl)
Third-person singular – 'He/she/it is not' огыл (ogəl)
First-person plural – 'We are not' огынал (ogənal) / онал (onal)
Second-person plural – 'You are not' огыдал (ogədal) / одал (odal)
Third-person plural – 'They are not' огытыл (ogətəl)


In order to illustrate the conjugation in the respective moods and times, one verb of the first declination (лекташ – to go) and one verb of the second declination (мондаш – to forget) will be used.

Conjugation of the present indicative positive
Person 1st dec. pos. 2nd dec. pos.
1st singular лектам (I go) мондем (I forget)
2nd singular лектат (You go) мондет (You forget)
3rd singular лектеш (He/she/it goes) монда (He/she/it forgets)
1st plural лектына (We go) мондена (We forget)
2nd plural лектыда (You go) мондеда (You forget)
3rd plural лектыт (They go) мондат (They forget)
Conjugation of the present indicative negative
Person 1st dec. neg. 2nd dec. neg.
1st singular ом лек2 (I don't go) ом мондо1 (I don't forget)
2nd singular от лек2 (You don't go) от мондо1 (You don't forget)
3rd singular огеш лек2 (He/she/it doesn't go) огеш мондо1 (He/she/it doesn't forget)
1st plural огына лек2 (We don't go) огына мондо1 (We don't forget)
2nd plural огыда лек2 (You don't go) огыда мондо1 (You don't forget)
3rd plural огыт лек2 (They don't go) огыт мондо1 (They don't forget)
  1. Bold letters are subject to vowel harmony—they can be е/о/ӧ, depending on the preceding full vowel.
  2. First-conjugation verb forms using the imperative second-person singular as their stem are subject to the same stem changes as the imperative – see imperative second-person singular.
Conjugation of the 1st preterite indicative positive
Person 1st dec. pos. 2nd dec. pos.
1st singular лектым3 (I went) мондышым (I forgot)
2nd singular лектыч3 (You went) мондышыч (You forgot)
3rd singular лекте1, 3 (He/she/it went) мондыш (He/she/it forgot)
1st plural лекна2 (We went) мондышна (We forget)
2nd plural лекда2 (You went) мондышда (You forgot)
3rd plural лектыч3 (They went) мондышт (They forgot)
  1. Bold letters are subject to vowel harmony—they can be е/о/ӧ, depending on the preceding full vowel.
  2. First-conjugation verb forms using the imperative second-person singular as their stem are subject to the same stem changes as the imperative – see imperative second-person singular.
  3. If the consonant prior to the ending can be palatalized—if it is л (l) or н (n)—it is palatalized in this position. Palatalization is not marked if the vowel following a consonant is an е.
    колаш → кольым, кольыч, кольо, колна, колда, кольыч (to hear)
Conjugation of the 1st preterite indicative negative
Person 1st dec. neg. 2nd dec. neg.
1st singular шым лек2 (I didn't go) шым мондо1 (I didn't forget)
2nd singular шыч лек2 (You didn't go) шыч мондо1 (You didn't forget)
3rd singular ыш лек2 (He/she/it didn't go) ыш мондо1 (He/she/it didn't forget)
1st plural ышна лек2 (We didn't go) ышна мондо1 (We don't forget)
2nd plural ышда лек2 (You didn't go) ышда мондо1 (You didn't forget)
3rd plural ышт лек2 (They didn't go) ышт мондо1 (They didn't forget)
  1. Bold letters are subject to vowel harmony—they can be е/о/ӧ, depending on the preceding full vowel.
  2. First-conjugation verb forms using the imperative second-person singular as their stem are subject to the same stem changes as the imperative – see imperative second-person singular.
Conjugation of the 2nd preterite indicative positive
Person 1st dec. pos. 2nd dec. pos.
1st singular лектынам (I went) монденам (I forgot)
2nd singular лектынат (You went) монденат (You forgot)
3rd singular лектын (He/she/it went) монден (He/she/it forgot)
1st plural лектынна (We went) монденна (We forget)
2nd plural лектында (You went) монденда (You forgot)
3rd plural лектыныт (They went) монденыт (They forgot)
Conjugation of the 2nd preterite indicative negative
Person 1st dec. neg. 2nd dec. neg.
1st singular лектын омыл (I didn't go) монден омыл (I didn't forget)
2nd singular лектын отыл (You didn't go) монден отыл (You didn't forget)
3rd singular лектын огыл (He/she/it didn't go) монден огыл (He/she/it didn't forget)
1st plural лектын огынал (We didn't go) монден огынал (We don't forget)
2nd plural лектын огыдал (You didn't go) монден огыдал (You didn't forget)
3rd plural лектын огытыл (They didn't go) монден огытыл (They didn't forget)
Conjugation of the imperative positive
Person 1st dec. pos. 2nd dec. pos.
1st singular
2nd singular лек3 (Go!) мондо1 (Forget!)
3rd singular лекше2 (He/She/It should go) мондыжо1 (He/She/It should forget)
1st plural лектына (Let's go) мондена (Let's forget)
2nd plural лекса2 (Go!) мондыза (Forget!)
3rd plural лекытшт (They should go) мондышт (They should forget)
  1. Bold letters are subject to vowel harmony—they can be е/о/ӧ, depending on the preceding full vowel.
  2. First-conjugation verb forms using the imperative second-person singular as their stem are subject to the same stem changes as the imperative.
  3. In the first conjugation, the imperative second-person singular is formed by removing the -аш ending from the infinitive. Four consonant combinations are not allowed at the end of an imperative, and are thus simplified—one consonant is lost.
    ктк, нчч, чкч, шкш
Conjugation of the imperative negative
Person 1st dec. neg. 2nd dec. neg.
1st singular - -
2nd singular ит лек2 (Don't go!) ит мондо1 (Don't forget!)
3rd singular ынже лек2 (He/She/It shouldn't go) ынже мондо1 (He/She/It shouldn't forget)
1st plural огына лек2 (Let's not go) огына мондо1 (Let's not forget)
2nd plural ида лек2 (Don't go!) ида мондо1 (Don't forget!)
3rd plural ынышт лек2 (They shouldn't go) ынышт мондо1 (They shouldn't forget)
  1. Bold letters are subject to vowel harmony—they can be е/о/ӧ, depending on the preceding full vowel.
  2. First-conjugation verb forms using the imperative second-person singular as their stem are subject to the same stem changes as the imperative – see imperative second-person singular.
Conjugation of the present desiderative positive
Person 1st dec. pos. 2nd dec. pos.
1st singular лекнем2 (I want to go) мондынем (I want to forget)
2nd singular лекнет2 (You want to go) мондынет (You want to forget)
3rd singular лекнеже2 (He/she/it wants to go) мондынеже (He/she/it wants to forget)
1st plural лекнена2 (We want to go) мондынена (We want to forget)
2nd plural лекнеда2 (You want to go) мондынеда (You want to forget)
3rd plural лекнешт2 (They want to go) мондынешт (They want to forget)
  1. First-conjugation verb forms using the imperative second-person singular as their stem are subject to the same stem changes as the imperative – see imperative second-person singular.
Conjugation of the present desiderative negative
Person 1st dec. neg. 2nd dec. neg.
1st singular ынем лек2 (I don't want to go) ынем мондо1 (I don't want to forget)
2nd singular ынет лек2 (You don't want to go) ынет мондо1 (You don't want to forget)
3rd singular ынеже лек2 (He/she/it doesn't want to go) ынеже мондо1 (He/she/it doesn't want to forget)
1st plural ынена лек2 (We don't want to go) ынена мондо1 (We don't want to forget)
2nd plural ынеда лек2 (You don't want to go) ынеда мондо1 (You don't want to forget)
3rd plural ынешт лек2 (They don't want to go) ынешт мондо1 (They don't want to forget)
  1. Bold letters are subject to vowel harmony—they can be е/о/ӧ, depending on the preceding full vowel.
  2. First-conjugation verb forms using the imperative second-person singular as their stem are subject to the same stem changes as the imperative – see imperative second-person singular.
Conjugation of улаш – to be – in the indicative mood
Person Present 1st preterite 2nd preterite
positive negative positive negative positive negative
1st sing. улам
(I am)
(I am not)
(I was)
шым лий
(I was not)
(I was)
лийын омыл
(I was not)
2nd sing. улат
(You are)
(You are not)
(You were)
шыч лий
(You were not)
(You were)
лийын отыл
(You were not)
3rd sing. уло (улеш)
(He/she/it is)
(He/she/it is not)
(He/she/it was)
ыш лий
(He/she/it was not)
(He/she/it was)
лийын огыл
(He/she/it was not)
1st pl. улына
(We are)
(We are not)
(We were)
ышна лий
(We were not)
(We were)
лийын огынал
(We were not)
2nd pl. улыда
(You are)
(You are not)
(You were)
ышда лий
(You were not)
(You were)
лийын огыдал
(You were not)
3rd pl. улыт
(They are)
(They are not)
(They were)
ышт лий
(They were not)
(They were)
лийын огытыл
(They were not)

Infinitive forms

Verbs have two infinitive forms: the standard infinitive and the necessive infinitive, used when a person must do something. The person needing to do something is put in the dative in such a situation.


There are four participles in Meadow Mari:


There are five gerunds in Meadow Mari:


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August 2018)

Word order

Word order in Mari is subject–object–verb.[7] This means that the object appears directly before the predicate.[7] Word order in Mari is affected by information structure.[7] However, the position of the verb is not affected.[7] The focus position is directly before the verb. [7] Subjects, objects, adverbial, and secondary predicate can appear in this position.[7] The examples below quoted in Saarinen (2022)[7] show the different elements that can appear in the focus position.

1PST:first preterite 2PST:second preterite

Element in the focus position



















Чачи корно мучко Сакарым шонен кайыш.

t͡ɕɑt͡ɕi korno mut͡ɕko sɑkɑr-əm ʃon-en kɑjə-ʃ

Chachi road end-ILL.U Sakar-ACC think-CVB go-1PST.3SG

'Chachi walked to the end of the road, while thinking of Sakar.' Unknown glossing abbreviation(s) (help);














Школым мый ыштенам мо?

ʃkol-əm məj əʃt-en-ɑm mo

school-ACC 1SG make-2PST-1SG Q

'Was it I who built the school?'














Игече келге шыжыш тошкалын.

iget͡ɕe kelge ʃəʒə-ʃ toʃkɑl-ən

weather deep autumn-ILL step-2PST.3SG

'The weather changed to that of a true autumn.'

Secondary predicate













Мам нулевой мычаш маныт?

mɑ-m nuleβoj mət͡ʃɑʃ  mɑn-ət

what-ACC zero ending say-3PL

'Which (elements) are called zero endings?'

Question particles мо /mo/ and ма /mɑ/ are clause-final.[7]

However, Georgieva et al. (2021) point out that Mari also allows backgrounded material to occur after the verb.[8]

Example taken from Georgieva et al. (2021)[8] showing that backgrounded material can occur after the verb







məj kert-am kušt-en

1SG can-1SG dance-GER

'I can dance (e.g. as opposed to you).

Moving the verb to other positions in the sentence is possible for stylistic reasons or for emphasis.[9]

Nominal predication

Two nouns can be put against each other to form nominal predication.[10] According to Saarinen (2022) both nouns and adjectives appear in the nominative case and do not agree with the subject in number in nominal predication.[7] Saarinen (2022) notes that when the sentence is in the indicative mood with 3sg, a copula is not used.[7] However, a copula is obligatory and appears clause-final and in other persons, tenses, and moods.[7]

Verbal predication

Saarinen (2022) points out that the object is marked with the accusative in transitive clauses.[7] However, the object can appear in the nominative case in non-finite constructions.[7] When the clause is ditransitive, the direct object appears in the accusative case and the indirect takes the dative case.[7] However, Saarinen (2022) notes that in dialects and with verbs such as йӱкты- /jyktə-/ 'water' and пукшы- /pukʃə-/ 'feed' both objects appear in the accusative case.[7]

Some common words and phrases

Observation: Note that the accent mark, which denotes the place of stress, is not used in actual Mari orthography.

Mari word/expression Transliteration Meaning
По́ро ке́че Póro kéče Good day
Ку́гу та́у Kúgu táu Thank you (very much)
ик ik one
кок kok two
кум kum three
ныл nəl four
вич vič five
куд kud six
шым šəm seven
канда́ш kandáš eight
инде́ш indéš nine
лу lu ten
мут mut word



  1. ^ Mari, Meadow at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ "Итоги Всероссийской переписи населения 2020 года. Таблица 6. Население по родному языку" [Results of the All-Russian population census 2020. Table 6. population according to native language.]. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  3. ^ Rantanen, Timo; Tolvanen, Harri; Roose, Meeli; Ylikoski, Jussi; Vesakoski, Outi (2022-06-08). "Best practices for spatial language data harmonization, sharing and map creation—A case study of Uralic". PLOS ONE. 17 (6): e0269648. Bibcode:2022PLoSO..1769648R. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0269648. PMC 9176854. PMID 35675367.
  4. ^ Rantanen, Timo, Vesakoski, Outi, Ylikoski, Jussi, & Tolvanen, Harri. (2021). Geographical database of the Uralic languages (v1.0) [Data set]. Zenodo.
  5. ^ Estill, Dennis (2012). "Revising the Meadow Mari vocalism". Linguistica Uralica. XLVIII/3.
  6. ^ Зорина, Крылова, Якимова 1990: 9
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Saarinen, Sirkka, 'Mari', in Marianne Bakró-Nagy, Johanna Laakso, and Elena Skribnik (eds), The Oxford Guide to the Uralic Languages (Oxford, 2022; online edn, Oxford Academic, 23 June 2022), doi:10.1093/oso/9780198767664.003.0024 , accessed 31 July 2023.
  8. ^ a b Georgieva, Ekaterina; Salzmann, Martin; Weisser, Philipp (2021-05-01). "Negative verb clusters in Mari and Udmurt and why they require postsyntactic top-down word-formation". Natural Language & Linguistic Theory. 39 (2): 457–503. doi:10.1007/s11049-020-09484-w. ISSN 1573-0859. S2CID 225270981.
  9. ^ Riese, Timothy; Bradley, Jeremy; Yakimova, Emma; Krylova, Galina (2017). A Comprehensive Introduction to the Mari Language. Department of Finno-Ugric Studies, University of Vienna.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ Kangasmaa-Minn, Eeva (1998). Abondolo, Daniel Abondolo (ed.). The Uralic languages.