For more information on Mato grammar, please consult the Mato Grammar Sketch (2013), available on the SIL-PNG Language Resources website.


Mato is an Austronesian language, and its typology is typical of Oceanic languages. These characteristics include:

  • four sets of pronominal elements: free pronouns, subject prefixes, object suffixes and possessor suffixes
  • duals and trials in the free pronouns (but not in the other sets)
  • fairly restricted verbal derivational morphology, limited to causative, directional, distributive and intensifying affixes, as well as reduplication
  • productive nominalisation of verbs
  • SVO order in transitive clauses
  • prepositions (with one clitic postposition)
  • verb serialisation.

The following features, however, are less typical of Oceanic languages in general, though all of them are found in the wider New Guinea area:

  • no distinction between direct and indirect possession (and hence no possessive classifiers)
  • no prenominal articles (though there is an article-like enclitic)
  • with few exceptions, transitivity not explicitly marked on the verb
  • a reduced numeral system, with few Proto-Oceanic reflexes
  • an existential-copular verb
  • a complex category of noun-like adjectives
  • clause-final negation
  • a relatively large number of conjunctions.