Every word in iljena is a noun-verb compound. It consists of a triconsonantal root, which expresses the nominal sense of the word, and a vowel pattern, marking the verbal sense. The following word-shapes are possible-
Many verb patterns act in a caselike way- for example lijin kovt, the name usually used by humans for the Leyen's home planet, parses as Leyen.dwell world.hold, with the verb-pattern 1o23 "hold" acting in a locative-like manner. There is a school of thought, originating with the Kēleni explorer an-Mārōn λi-Kīþa Ōmrisse maþīñanen, that classifies iljena as a verbless language, similar to Kēlen, but the Leyen reject this analysis, and most human exolinguists agree that it makes more sense to describe an open class as "verbs" than "cases".
The terms used by Leyen grammarians are kps "body" for the noun root, and brt "spirit" - it is the union of the two that makes a word alive. They describe human words as "like corpses and ghosts". It is also noted that human students tend to overuse the verb pattern 12u3o "undergo" as a quasi-accusative.
Verbal categories such as tense are expressed periphrastically.