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QumwI' yIchu'! ("Activate communicator!")Edit

Hello and welcome to Duolingo's course in Klingon! We're excited to bring the language of the future to your primitive technical devices!

We would like to tell you "Hello and welcome" in Klingon, but as you will see, Klingon does not have close equivalents to those words. Klingons tend to be very direct and rarely engage in conversation simply for the pleasure of conversing, making superfluous many of the pleasantries we are accustomed to using in English.

In this part of the course, we will focus on getting you using Klingon right away by introducing useful phrases. The grammar for these phrases will be explained in future lessons.

Alphabet Edit

The Klingon alphabet has the following letters: a b ch D e gh H I j l m n ng o p Q q r S t tlh u v w y '.

Note that case matters: many letters are always lowercase (even at the beginning of a sentence!) and some are always uppercase.

Note I (capital i) versus l (small L) - the second has a small curl at the bottom in Duolingo's website font.

Q and q are two separate letters. ch gh ng tlh count as single consonants in Klingon.

And ' (the apostrophe) also counts as a letter. It represents a glottal stop.

More about pronunciation will be presented in the "Sounds" Skill.

nuqneH & nuqjatlhEdit

nuqneH is a truncated form of nuq DaneH, meaning "What do you want?"

It is a common misconception that this is "the Klingon word for hello". In reality, however, Klingons have no word for hello. If a Klingon wishes to tell you something, they'll walk up to you and say it, without wasting time - as they see it - on idle chatter.

nuqjatlh? is a truncated form of nuq Dajatlh?, meaning "What did you say?"


Klingon for "success".

This word is often mistranslated as "Goodbye", due to the fact that it is often heard at the end of conversations. In fact, Klingon has no word for "Goodbye", but Qapla' is often used either to congratulate somebody on their success or to wish them success in the future.

Video Edit

Quvar - also known as the Klingon Teacher from Germany - has produced an informative video about the words nuqneH and Qapla', available in both English ( and German (


Klingon verbs do not have tense (past, present, future), so a verb such as yaj could mean "understands, understood, will understand".

They do have aspect (e.g. whether an action is completed or is continuous), but that will come later in the course. For now, translate verbs as non-continuous forms (e.g. "he walks" or "he walked", not "he is walking" or "he was walking"), until the ending for continuous aspect is introduced.

Klingon verbs show the subject and the object of verbs by means of prefixes.

The most important verb prefixes at the beginning of the course are:

 |   jI- = I (subject), no object
    bI- = you (subject), no object -- for one person
    vI- = I (subject), him/her/it/them (object)
    Da- = you (subject), him/her/it/them (object) -- for one person

If the subject is third person (he/she/it/they) and has either no object or a third-person object (him/her/it/them), then the verb has no prefix. (With the exception of "they - him/her/it", which you will learn later). So a verb such as yaj can mean "he understands; she understands; it understands; they understand; he understands him/her/it/them; she understands him/her/it/them; they understand them", or the same in the past or future.

Because of the verbal prefixes, the subject and/or object does not have to be included as a pronoun, and a subject or object pronoun is often left off.

Torg and MaraEdit

In this lesson, you will meet Torg and Mara. They will appear in many sentences where a name is useful, including in many later lessons as well. (Later on, more names will appear, too.)

Torg is male and Mara is female - though that fact is not important to Klingon grammar, as there are no separate words for "he" and "she", or different verb prefixes or suffixes depending on gender.

Joining nouns with and without "and"Edit

Nouns are joined with je, which comes after the two nouns, as in torgh mara je "Torg and Mara", or Hol pong je "the language and the name".

If there is no je after two nouns next to each other, the effect is similar to possession: mara pong "Mara's name"; tlhIngan Hol "(a Klingon's language =) Klingon, the Klingon language".

Word orderEdit

Klingon word order in a sentence is just about the opposite of English word order - first comes the object (if any), then the verb, then the subject. So a sentence such as mara legh torgh means that "Torg sees Mara".

Also see this note from the course creators:

Computer translationsEdit

You may be tempted to use computer translators such as Bing. Just don't! The quality of Klingon machine translation is almost always very bad. Don't report sentences from there.

Basic Edit

Here, you will practise some short sentences, and learn a few new verb prefixes.

Plurals Edit

Klingon plurals are very easy.

Nearly all Klingon nouns belong to one of three groups, depending on how they form their plural:

  • Beings capable of using language have a plural in -pu'
  • Body parts have a plural in -Du'
  • Everything else (including inanimate objects, robots, and animals) has a plural in -mey.

There are only a handful of exceptions where nouns have completely separate plurals, a bit like English "person / people".

In this lesson, you will come across some nouns that refer to beings capable of using language: "man, woman, child". These therefore form their plural in -pu':

Singular (EN) Singular (tlh) Plural (EN) Plural (tlh)
woman be' women be'pu'
man loD men loDpu'
child puq children puqpu'

Plural suffixes in Klingon are optional and can be left off. Later on, you may come across sentences where only the grammar tells you that a noun must be plural.

New verb prefixes Edit

Next to jI- for "I ..." and bI- for "you ..." (for one person), you will learn ma- for "we ..." and Su- for "you ..." (for multiple people). These prefixes indicate that there is no object.

Joining two sentences with "and" Edit

In the previous skill you learned that nouns are joined with je -- remember that it comes after the two nouns, as in torgh mara je "Torg and Mara".

To join two sentences with "and" a different word is used: 'ej. This word is placed between the sentences. For example, "I run" (jIqet )+ "I jump" (jISup) can become "I run and I jump" (jIqet 'ej jISup). 

'ej is only for joining sentences together, not nouns -- you can't say torgh 'ej mara, for example

Dialogue Edit

Adjectives Edit

In this lesson, you will come across some adjectives.

Klingon does not have adjectives as a separate class of words; instead, it has verbs which mean things such as "be handsome", "be smart", or "be big".

A sentence such as val torgh "Torg is smart" has the same grammar (verb + subject) as yaj torgh "Torg understands", even though one sentence has an adjective in English and the other an active verb.

Note that the English translation includes the connecting word "is" when you use an adjective, but the Klingon translation just connects the subject directly to the verb without using 'oH or ghaH or any sort of connecting word. As verbs, these Klingon words already contain the "is" in their definitions like "be smart".

If, on the other hand, such a verb is used after a noun, it acts like an attributive adjective: for example, from Duj "a ship" and tIn"big", we can make Duj tIn "a big ship", and from qach "a building" and 'IH "beautiful", we can make qach 'IH "a beautiful building".

This can't be interpreted as object + verb word order, because such verbs can't take an object -- they can't mean "it bigs the ship" or "it beautifuls the building".

Compare again: tIn Duj "the ship is big" (verb comes before the noun), Duj tIn "the big ship" (verb comes after the noun); 'IH qach"the building is beautiful", qach 'IH "the beautiful building".

One adjective you will come across here is 'IH which means "be beautiful" (or "handsome" or "pretty") - you may not be able to see a hint when you hover over the word due to a Duolingo problem that is being worked on that affects words starting with an apostrophe. Do not report these missing hints - it's a general problem and those who can fix it know about it. Reporting it will just waste your time and ours.

(Other words with apostrophe in this lesson include 'ach "but", 'ej"and", and 'oH "it". Note that 'ej is for joining sentences, not nouns within a sentence.)

The words HISlaH and ghobe' Edit

HISlaH means "yes" and ghobe' means "no". These words are primarily used to answer yes/no questions. Later in the course, you will learn another word - Qo' - which is used to express refusal (as in "No, I won't!").

Note that unlike the English word "no", the words ghobe' and Qo'cannot be used as determiners (as in "We have no bananas."), nor as adverbs ("I am no better."); they are strictly used as exclamations.

Negatives and questions Edit

You will come across some adjectives and verbs that are negative -- he is not handsome, I am not stupid -- and/or are questions -- is he handsome? are you smart?.

These are formed with the suffix -be' for negative and -'a' for a question.

These suffixes can be added to any verb to turn it into a negative or a question. For example, jIQong "I slept", jIQongbe' "I did not sleep", jIQong'a'? "did I sleep?"; bIval "you are smart", bIvalbe'"you are not smart", bIval'a'? "are you smart"?

Even negative questions are possible: valbe''a' torgh? "Is Torg not smart?", yItbe''a' mara? "Didn't Mara walk?"

Please note that the -'a' suffix is not used on the verb when there is a question word such as "who", "what", "where", "when", "why", or "how". It is only used to turn a statement into a question. These question words will be covered later in this course, but you have already previewed some of them with questions like nuq 'oH ponglIj'e' ("What is it your name?").

Apostrophes and quotes Edit

You know by now that Klingon uses the apostrophe ' as a letter.

It does not use the double-quote character " as a letter -- when you see what might look like one in the middle of the word, it is actually two apostrophes side by side.

For example, maw' means "to be crazy" or "he/she is crazy"; when you add the question suffix -'a', you get maw''a'? "is he/she crazy?"

Simple Sentences Edit

Transitive verbs Edit

This lesson practises some transitive verbs (ones that have an object).

Remember that the object comes before the verb and the subject goes after it in a Klingon sentence.

lu- Edit

The lesson introduces a new prefix: lu- is used when the subject is "they" and the object is "him", "her", or "it".

Remember that if the subject is "they" and the object is "them" or there is no object, there is no prefix. Similarly if the subject is "he", "she", or "it" and the object is "him", "her", or "it".

But the combination "they - him/her/it" needs a prefix: lu-.

Suffixes -'egh and -chuq Edit

This lesson introduces some of the first verb suffixes.

The suffixes taught here indicate that the subjects of the verb somehow affect themselves or each other.

-'egh indicates that the subject of the verb affects itself (or the subjects affect themselves). For example, from legh(see), one could form legh'egh torgh "Torg sees himself" or legh'egh puqpu' "the children see themselves" (perhaps in a mirror).

-chuq indicates that the subjects of the verb affect each other. It only makes sense if the subject is plural: "we, you, they". For example, leghchuq puqpu' would mean "the children see each other" -- that is, each child sees another child.

In more technical terms, the suffix -'egh makes a verb reflexive, while the suffix -chuq makes it reciprocal.

Plurals Edit

As you have already seen, forming plurals is about as easy as in English -- where the basic rule is "just add -s". You may also remember that in Klingon, the plural ending depends on whether the noun is a being capable of language or a body part.

Beings capable of language take -pu' (tlhIngan "a Klingon", tlhInganpu' "Klingons").

Body parts take -Du' (and will be introduced later).

Everything else takes -mey (nagh "a rock", naghmey"rocks").

Note that Klingons do not generally consider robots (no matter how smart or independent) to qualify as "beings capable of language". Thus robots usually (and in this course, always) use the plural suffix -mey: one qoq, several qoqmey.

(If you, the one taking this course, are a language-using robot, we apologize for any perceived slight this simplification may inflict.)

Plural suffixes are optional in Klingon, so "the Klingons" could be translated as tlhInganpu' but also as tlhIngan.

The special case of mang Edit

The word mang "soldier" is introduced in this skill and as a being capable of language uses the plural mangpu'. A note should be made that this is not the simple plural it appears to be. There is a separate word, negh which is used to refer to a group of "soldiers" as a whole. The plural word mangpu' has an implication that you are talking about each individual soldier in the group. Thus mangpu'might be translated as "each of the soldiers". For purposes of this lesson the simple plural "soldiers" will also be accepted.

Some more names Edit

While you'll still see Torg (male) and Mara (female) in the course, this unit also introduces a few more names for variety.

A few of these are female: beylana, ghIrIlqa', luqara'(B'Elanna, Grilka, Lukara)

Most of them are male: DuraS, ghawran, martaq, mogh, molor, moratlh, qeylIS, wo'rIv (Duras, Gowron, Martok, Mogh, Molor, Morath, Kahless, Worf).

More names will come later in the "People" skill.

Pronunciation 1 Edit

Do NOT report missing hints for words starting with an apostrophe! We know about it and are working on it.

This unit was intended to teach the sounds of Klingon, but as the course does not have audio, it has been shrunk down to mostly the names of the letters.

Much as the letter "H" in English has a name ("aitch" or "haitch"), or "Y" is "wye" and "W" is "double-you", so Klingon letters also have names.

The vowels are called 'at 'et 'It 'ot 'ut, the consonants by adding -ay to the consonant sound, e.g. D is called Day and tlh, tlhay.

Translate those names as "the letter a", "the letter D", "the letter tlh", etc.

This lesson also teaches the word mu' which means "word".

General notes on pronunciation: Edit

Letters b, l, m, n, p, t, & v are said as in English, but b, p & t should always have a puff of air, even at the end of a word.

Vowels each have one pronunciation. a as in father e as in ten I as in it o as in bowl u as the oo in pool

I is uppercase to remind us that it is different from the pattern of 5 vowels we often see in foreign languages. The vowel I(capital i) never has an adjacent vowel and the consonant l (small L) will always have at least one adjacent vowel. Also note the small curl at the bottom of the l (small L) and absent from the I (capital i).

w & y are as in English at the beginnings of syllables and form a combined sound called a diphthong at the ends. At the end of a syllable w sounds like the vowel u & y sounds like "ee". So paw sounds like "pow" & pay sounds like "pie".

ch is said as in the English word "church". Never like an English "k" nor "sh", & never like a German, Scottish, nor Hebrew "ch". Please note that this is a single Klingon consonant.

j should be said hard like the beginning & end of the English word "judge" & never with the softer sound from French.

' represents a sound we make a lot in English. We don't usually mark it in English, but in Klingon it is a full letter & leaving it out is like missing any other letter from a word. We call this a qaghwI'. It is made by closing the throat & is described as a glottal stop. You can experience it in the middle of the word "uh-oh". That stop between syllables is a glottal stop. You may notice that you also close the throat at the beginning of "uh-oh" and all English words that start with a vowel. The Klingon word 'ej sounds exactly like the English word "edge".

r is not usually said at the roof of the mouth like an American English "r", but with the tip of the tongue behind the teeth like a Spanish "r".

ng is said exactly as in English, but many English speakers are not used to it at the beginning of a word. Put the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth to make this sound. Please note that this is a single Klingon consonant.

q sounds much like an English "k", but is said from the back of the throat. The q does not include the "w" sound as in English words that begin with "qu" and even when q is followed by u, the two sounds do not blend. The Klingon word qul("fire") should sound like the English word "cool", but with a stronger "c" sound. This is a different letter than the Q which is explained below.

D in Klingon sounds very similar to the English "d", but should be said with the tip of the tongue further back in the high roof of the mouth and is capitalized to help us remember the difference.

S is similarly said with the tip of the tongue further back in the high roof of the mouth. It winds up sounding a little bit like an English "sh", but should never be said like an "sh". The S is also capitalized to help us remember the different pronunciation.

gh is produced at the top of the throat with a raspy gargle or purr and a voiced vibration in the throat. Please note that this is a single Klingon consonant.

H is pronounced in the same position as the gh but without the voiced vibration. It is very similar to the "ch" heard in Scottish "loch", Hebrew "l'chaim", & German "Bach", though it is usually pronounced a little further back and a little stronger than those sounds. It is capitalized to remind us not to pronounce it like the weak English "h". When you see a lower-case "h" it will always be part of one of the consonants ch, gh, or tlh.

Q is different than q, but it is similar in that it is a sort of a combination of the q sound and the H sound. It should start with the throat closed like you are going to make a q, but then explode into a raspy H-type sound.

tlh is another sound not made in English. It sort of explodes like a "t", but out the sides of the tongue like an "l". Note that this is one consonant in Klingon and is the only time you will see a l (lower-case L) without at least one vowel next to it.

Vocabulary 1 Edit

This lesson introduces some new verb prefixes and suffixes, as well as some more noun suffixes.

Verb suffix -laH "can" Edit

The suffix -laH indicates "can" or "able to".

For example, it makes the difference between tlhIngan Hol vIjatlh "I speak Klingon" and tlhIngan Hol vIjatlhlaH "I can speak Klingon".

Verb suffix -be' "not" Edit

A very useful verb suffix is -be', which means "not".

This suffix comes immediately after the verb portion which it negates.

So tlhIngan Hol vIjatlhlaHbe' means "I cannot speak Klingon" (the -be' negates the -laH), while tlhIngan Hol vIjatlhbe'laH would mean "I am able to not speak Klingon" (the -be' negates the vIjatlh to make "I do not speak", and then -laH turns that into "I can not-speak" or "I am able not to speak").

This suffix is called a "rover" by Klingon grammarians, because it can appear in any position in the list of suffixes (even multiple times!).

Nearly all other verb suffixes, if a verb has more than one, must appear in a particular order.

Most verbs have only one or two suffixes at a time, and the correct order of suffixes will soon become second nature from seeing the most frequent combinations.

Noun suffix -mey Edit

This lesson introduces the noun suffix -mey, which forms the plural of nearly all nouns.

In Klingon, noun suffixes are optional -- both qach and qachmey can be used for "buildings".

Since it is clearer to use a plural suffix when there is more than one of something, this course usually does so. But sometimes, we will show you sentences where only the verb prefix or the context indicates that a noun is plural.

New verb prefixes Edit

You've already come across what are probably the most common verb prefixes: jI-, vI-, bI-, Da-, ma-, Su-, and no prefix at all.

The lesson introduces some new verb prefixes for combinations of subjects and objects:

Prefix subject object
qa- I you (singular)
Sa- I you (plural)
cho- you (singular) me
ju- you (singular) us
pI- we you (singular)
wI- we him, her, it
DI- we them
re- we you (plural)
tu- you (plural) me
che- you (plural) us
bo- you (plural) him, her, it, them

Pay special attention to the fact that when the subject is "we", there are separate prefixes wI- and DI- depending on whether the third-person object is singular (him, her, it) or plural (them) -- unlike when the subject is "I" (always vI-) or "you (singular)" (always Da-) or "you (plural)" (always bo-). Though this is a constructed language, there are some irregularities like this that appear to make it resemble a natural language.

Some of these prefixes are more frequent then others, especially the ones with an object of "him, her, it" and/or "them", so you'll see a fair bit of bo- in this course and some wI- and DI-, and it pays to get those three down.

The others are a bit rarer, though cho- and qa- (you do something to me, or I do something to you) are perhaps a bit more common than the others.

Pronouns Edit

Overview of pronouns Edit

English Klingon
I (am); me jIH
you (are); you SoH
he (is), she (is); him, her ghaH
it (is); it 'oH
we (are); us maH
you (are); you tlhIH
they (are) - language-users; them chaH
they (are) - objects etc.; them bIH
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