Classification of Suffixes in Quechua

There are many suffixes in Quechua that can be stacked on a root word to change or add meaning.

Note: The names for the suffixes are translations from Spanish names, and I am not 100% confident in the original Spanish names, let alone my translations. I’m not a linguist, so beware. Thankfully, the names of the suffixes aren’t necessary to learning how to use them.

If you spot an innacuracies in the descriptions of these suffixes, please shoot me an email (see very bottom).

Contents of suffixes on this page:

-LLA: Limitative

This suffix has two usaages:

  1. Expresses a limitation in what is being said. Can appear on any element in the sentence (subject, object, verb). Corresponds to the connotations: only, exclusively, uniquely.

Kinsallan wawaykunaqa
They have only three children

T'antallata sapa p'unchay mikhuyku
We eat only bread every day

Pisillan Punomanta hamushanku
Only a few are coming from Puno.

  1. Used in polite situations to express courtesy, friendship, and affection.

Imaynalla kashanki
How are you?

Allillanmi kashani
I am doing good

Qhalillachu Maria kashan
Is Maria healthy?

Ari, qhalillanmi kashan
Yes, she is healthy

-MI/-N: Evidential, Personal Knowledge

Used to assert or confirm what was said by the speaker; indicates the speaker has personal experience with the claim. Can be added to any element of the sentence. Is not translatable.

-mi: is used for words that end in a consonant (allillanmi, good)
-n: is used for words that end in a vowel (wasin, house)

It is raining. (source of information unknown)

It is raining. (speaker knows it is raining through direct experience)


-CHU: Interrogative

Used in sentences that do not have a question word (e.g., Imay, what). Indicates that the speaker is asking a question. The word to which it is attached is what the speaker is asking about or is interested in.

Allillanchu kashankichis?
Are you all doing well?

Qhalillanchu Maria kashan
Is Maria healthy?

Runasimitachu rimanki
You speak Quechua? (emphasis on the Quechua)

Runasimita rimankichu
You speak Quechua? (emphasis on the speaking)

-RÍ: Inchoative

Added to the end of words and functions as an interrogative or prompts the conversation to continue. It is translated like “and.” When used rí is emphasized, instead of the second to last syllable.

Allillanmi kashayku. Qan?
We are good. And you?

Need more non-name/pronoun examples.

-PAS/-PIS: Inclusive

Used in sentences of affirmation and corresponds to the translation “also” or “likewise”.

Mariapas allillanmi kashan.
Maria also is doing well.

Wiraquchapis runasimita riman
Likewise the señor speaks Quechua.

-KAMA: Terminative

Indicates a limit in space or time and also conveys the goal of an action. Corresponds to the translation “until”.

Paqarinkama mamay Gabina.
Until tomorrow Señora Gabina.

Minchhakamachu rishanki.
Are you going until tomorrow?

Arí, minchhakama rishani.
Yes, I'm going until tomorrow.

-Y: Vocative

Expresses tenderness, respect, or a positive emotional bond between the speaker and the person or thing being addressed. Can be accompanied by the suffixes -chay and -lla.

Imaynalla mamay kakushanki
How are you doing (my/dear) mother?

Tupananchiskama ñañay.
Until later (dear) sister

Qusqullay, sumuqlla kashanki
My Cuzco, you are beautiful


Expresses conformity, approval or assent. No direct translation.

Tupananchiskama ñañay
Until later sister
Tupananchiskama panay
Indeed, until later brother


Expresses the notion of “already”.

Runasimita rimashaniña.
I am already speaking Quechua

Qhaliñachu kashanki
You're already healthy?

-PI: Locative (also ablative)

One of the several ablative case markers. Indicates a specific location in geographical space or place. Corresponds vaguely to the prepositions “in” and “at”.

Maypin tiyashanki
(In) where do you live?

Paykunan Qusqupi runasimita yachashanku
They are learning Quechua in Cuzco

-MANTA: Ablative

One of the several ablative case markers. Primary usage indicates the place of origin. Is a distinct suffix and is not composed of the individual suffixes -man and -ta.

Nuqa Qusqumantan kani
I am from Cuzco

Nuqayku karu llaqtamantan hamushayku
We (restrictive) are coming from a far village

-QA: Topic Marker

Marks a previously established topic in discourse. -qa may be suffixed on nouns, pronouns, adjectives, nominalized clauses, etc. However, -qa does not occur on negative lexemes (mana and ama), the conjunctions, y ‘and’ and o ‘or’ borrowed from Spanish, or within subordinate clauses. One -qa may occur per sentence. (source)

Generally occurs in affirmative sentences.

Wawaykikuna runasimita rimashallankuchu
You're children are only speaking Quechua?
Ari, wawaykunaqa runasimita rimashallanku
Yes, my children[-topic] are only speaking Quechua

Nuqapis munani iñiytaqa
I also want to believe[-topic]

-KUNA: Plural marker

Marks nouns, pronouns in the 2nd and 3rd person, and demonstrative pronouns as plural. If the meaning is clear, then -kuna is optional. For example, if the sentence contains a number, then -kuna can be omitted.

wasi → wasikuna
house → houses

Qan → Qankuna
You → You (all)

Iskayllan ususiy kani
I have only two daughters

-Q/PA: Genitive

Appears on nouns and indicates possession or ownership.

When a word ends in a vowel use -q or occasionally -qpa. When a word ends in a consonant use -pa.

When the possessor and thing possessed appear in a sentence, the possessor takes the genitive -q/pa and the thing possessed takes the possessive suffix.

Qusaypa panan
The sister of my husband

Irqiq pukllanan
The boy's toy

Qanpa llaqtayki hatunchu
Is your village big?

-WAN: Instrumental

Appears on nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. Signals accompaniment or the means or instrument, animate or inanimate, that someone uses to do something. In this case -wan is translated as “with”.

Also can be used as a conjunction to indicate something additional, join words or phrases, or join sentences, in which case it is translated as “and”.

Note: It is possible for both meanings to be used (“with” and conjunction), see the final example.

Qusaypa pananwanmi qhipakuni
I stay with the sister of my husband

Pukawan yurqaqmi bandiranchis
Our flag is red and white

Pidruwan, Pabluwan, nuqami runasimita yachashayku
Pedro, Pablo, and I are studying Quechua

Churiywanwan riranchis
We went with my son (we and my son)

-MAN: Directional translocative

Appears on nouns but comes with a movement verb. Indicates the directional sense of the verb’s action towards a particular goal. Translated as “to” or “toward” or “at”.

Imamanmi urquta p'itashanki
Toward what hill are you hurrying?

Llaqtaman chayarani.
I arrived at the village

-NIQ: Approximative (location)

Indicates the place or location approximate to a point of reference. Translated as “around”, “by”, “near”. It is always followed by one of the ablative suffixes: -pi, -man, -manta, -kama.

Pronounced as “neq” (remember the q rule).

Mayniqpi tiyashanki?
Around where do you live?

Plazaniqpi tiyani
I live by the plaza

Mayuniqkamachu phaqwarqankichis
You all ran until near the river?

-S/SI: Reportative evidential (hearsay)

Indicates that the information was reported to the speaker by another person(s).

When the word stem ends in a vowel “-s” is used. When the word stem ends in a consonant “-si” is used.

Punomanta sipaswansi tiyan
It's said he lives with a girl from Puno

Maypis runasimita yachachishanku
Where do they say they teach Quechua?

-MU: Translocative (verbs only)

Indicates that the action began in another place and is headed (or finished) here. Used with movement verbs except “riy” (to go).

As an example for how this effects the meaning of verbs consider the following:

Wasiykiman chayamushayku
We are arriving at your house

Maymantan phawamushanki
From where did you run here?

Imapaqmi chay qurata apamuraqnki
For what did you bring those herbs?