1. What is the format of a Hupa Verb?
A verb in Hupa can have many components. It is not like in English where the verb is a separate word. In Hupa, the verb "stem" must be combined with other things like a subject marker. Again, the subject is not a separate word, but must be combined with the verb stem to make sense. So, actually what you get is a sentence.
There may also be a combination of modifying prefixes which come before the subject marker and the verb stem. For example, consider "He pick the stick back down". In English, this is 6 different words. But, the way to express the same idea in Hupa is all contained in one word: no:-na-'-nin-ta:n. (From Golla's Practical Grammar, p.30):
2. What are Subject Prefixes?
Shows the subject of a verb, i.e. who or what is doing the action. In Hupa, the subject is incorporated into the verb. All verbs must have a subject prefix. The subject prefix can differ in person (I, You, He/She, We, You All, They) and can also differ in tense (definite or indefinite). Usually, the subject prefix or what I called above subject marker immediately precedes the verb stem, except in the third person forms (He/She/They). See Golla, p. 82. The subject prefixes change based on the verb pattern. For example, "I" is not always the same sound.... it could be wh, we:, y, ne:, or se: depending on the verb pattern.
3. What are Modifying Prefixes?
One of the two basic type of prefixes. Usually comes before the subject marker and the verb stem. Modifying Prefixes alter or clarify the meaning of the verb stem. In the example above the no: and na modify the action of the stick being moved to show that the stick is being moved down and back to where it used to be.
4. What is Definite Tense?
This is an action that occurs on one specific occasion. For example, "I eat spaghetti" is not definite, but "I ate spaghetti tonight" is definite because it refers to that one specific occasion (tonight when I ate the spaghetti).
Used to express a single action, clearly defined in time, which may occur in the past or future. The focus is on the completeness of the action. See Golla, p. 83-84.
5. What is it if it's not Definite Tense?
It could be one of the other five Hupa Tenses (customary, indefinite, permissive, progressive, or warning). Note that Hupa does not have the tenses English has (past, present, future). Instead it has a total of six tenses, the five above plus Definite Tense.
Basic Subject Prefixes
Basic Subject Prefixes with Modifying Prefix
"W" Definite Tense Subject Prefixes with No Modifying Prefix
"W" Definite Tense Subject Prefix with Modifying Prefix
"N" Definite Tense Subject Prefixes with No Modifying Prefix
"N" Definite Tense Subject Prefix with Modifying Prefix
"S" Definite Tense Subject Prefixes without Modifying Prefix
"S" Definite Tense Subject Prefixes with Modifying Prefix
From A Short Practical Grammar of Hupa by Victor Golla, for the Hupa Language Program, Hoopa Valley Tribe, December 1985.