Swahili I/More Grammar

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Verb Tenses[edit | edit source]

The following affices are more tense affices that show when an action is to have happened. They are placed between the subject and object prefix and affix to show the tense or the mood of the verb. This placement applies to all of them except -e, which is actually a marker for the subjunctive, though used only in imperatives. It comes as a suffix to the verb instead of the -a indicative marker. For instance, the verb -imba means "to sing," so to say, "Uimbe," would mean "Sing!" (U- is the subject prefix for the understood "you.")

Affix Tense Notes
-me- Perfect Nimefanya = I-HAVE-DONE (IND.), not I DID
-ka- Storytelling "And then..., And then..., ..."
-ki- "If" tense *NOT CONDITIONAL*
-nge- Conditional Facts you can change
-ngali- Conditional Perfect Facts you can't change anymore
***-e Subjunctive Used in imperatives only.
      • Does not apply to the grammatical rules with regard to placement.

-NGE- & -NGALI-[edit | edit source]

You can also use -nge- and -ngali- as a sort of tense that is similar to the english subjunctive. You can say, "Ningalimwona, ningalimpenda." This means, "If I had not seen him/her, I would not have loved him/her." This is because -ngali-, as you know, is the conditional perfect, so you put it in both words as a tense marker to express this kind of sentence. (The -m- object affix changes to -mw- in front of -ona.)

Negation of -NGE- & -NGALI-[edit | edit source]

To negate these tense markers, you simply add the affix -si- in between the subject prefix and the tense marker. So, "Nisingependa" means, "I would not like." Or you can say, "Usingaliyaona machungwa, usingaliyataka."

u- -si- -ngali- -ya- -ona

So as you can see, this means, "If you had not seen the oranges," (Oranges = Machungwa, cl. 6) because it was negated by the -si- affix.

u- -si- -ngali- -ya- -taka

This means, You would not have wanted the oranges" because it has the -si- affix, negating it.

Noun Class Affices[edit | edit source]

Here are the noun class pronouns mentioned in lesson 1. In addition, adjective prefices and -a (of) prefices are included for your edification.

Class Semantics Prefix/Suffix -C, -V Subj. Pref. Obj. Aff. -a Adj. (-C, -i, -e)
1 Person m- a- -m- wa m-, mwi-, mwe-
2 People wa- wa- -wa- wa wa-, we-, we-
3 Natural Force m- u- -u- wa m-, mwi-, mwe-
4 Natural Forces mi- i- -i- ya mi-, mi-, mye-
5 Part of a Group ji-, j- li- -li- la ji-, ji-, je-
6 Groups ma- ya- -ya- ya ma-, mi-, me-
7 Tool ki-, ch- ki- -ki- cha ki-, ki-, che-
8 Tools vi-, vy- vi- -vi- vya vi-, vi-, vye-
9 Animal, Loanword n- i- -i- ya n-, nyi-, nye-
10 Animals, Loanwords n- zi- -zi- za n-, nyi-, nye-
11 Extension u- u- -u- wa m-, mwi-, mwe-
10 Plural of 11 n- zi- -zi- za n-, nyi-, nye
14 Abstractions u- u- -u- wa m-, mwi-, mwe-/u-, wi-, we-
15 Infinitives ku-, kw- ku- -ku- kwa- ku-, kwi-, kwe-
16 Location -ni pa- -pa- pa- pa-, pi-, pe-
17 Direction -ni ku- -ku- kwa ku-, kwi-, kwe-
18 Within, Along -ni mu- -mu- mwa mu-, mwi-, mwe-