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A converb is a non-finite verb form that serves to express adverbial subordination, i.e. notions like 'when', 'because', 'after', 'while'.


(1) Russian (Weiss 1995:259)

Okonchiv desjatiletku, ja osen'ju byl prizvan v Armiju.

'Having finished ten years of school, in autumn I was drafted into the Army.'

(2) Italian (Pusch 1980:107)

C'è una donna che guadagna danaro accompagnando nuovi membri.

'There's a woman who earns money by accompanying new members.'


The notion adverbial in the definition is relatively vague. Adverbial subordinate clause primarily contrasts with relative clause and complement clause. Non-finite verb forms that serve to express relative clauses are often called participle, and non-finite verb forms that serve to express complement clauses are often called infinitive, masdar or nominalization. The notion "non-finite" in the definition is problematic and arguably Indo-European-centered.


narrative vs. specialized converb (Nedjalkov 1995)




  • Russian deepricastie: This term does not have an exact English equivalent. In Nedjalkov (1995), converb was used as the English equivalent of deepricastie (cf. Nedjalkov 1990), but in English-language Slavic linguistic, converb is never used to render deepricastie. Also, some Russian linguists have started using this the term konverb.
  • gerund: This is the most widely found alternative term for converb, especially in Romance, Turkic and other Eurasian languages.
  • gerundive (2)
  • absolutive (verb form)
  • adverbial participle
  • half participle
  • conjunctive participle


The term converb was coined by Ramstedt (1903:55) for Mongolian and until recently was mostly used by specialists of Mongolic and Turkic languages. Nedjalkov & Nedjalkov (1987) first adopted the term for general typological use, followed by Haspelmath & König (1995).


  • Nedjalkov, Vladimir P. 1990. "Osnovnye tipy deepricastij." In: Xrakovskij, Viktor S. (ed.) Tipologija i grammatika. Moskva: Nauka, 36-59.
  • Nedjalkov, Vladimir P. & Nedjalkov, Igor’ V. 1987. "On the typological characteristics of converbs." In: Toomas Help (ed.) Symposium on language universals. Tallinn, 75-79.
  • Pusch, Luise. 1980. ...
  • Weiss, Daniel. 1995. "Russian converbs: a typological outline." In: Haspelmath, Martin & König, Ekkehard (eds.) 1995. Converbs in cross-linguistic perspective. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 239-282.

Other languages

German Konverb