Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ninasoma Kiswahili

Present Definite Tense in Swahili is usually the first tense presented in the textbooks. It is said to be an equivalent of the Present Continuous in English, but not exactly. It generally states the actions that are taking place at the moment but we can also use it to say about where we live, what we do etc. Thus “Ninasoma Kiswahili” can mean “I learn Swahili” as well as “I am learning Swahili (at the moment)”.

Affirmative
Otherwise than in other languages, Swahili builds affirmative and negative forms using different infixes. In the affirmative we insert an infix “na” between a personal pronoun (subject prefix) and a verb radical (stem). Example (when talking about people): -fanya (to do)
ni-na-fanya
u-na-fanya
a-na-fanya
tu-na-fanya
m-na-fanya
wa-na-fanya

So-called monosyllabic verbs require additional infix -ku-/-kw- in the affirmative form (it’s in fact infinitive prefix). In spite of their name, some of them are not monosyllabic, e.g. -nywa (drink) or -isha (finish).
Example: -(ku)ja (come)
ni-na-ku-ja
u-na-ku-ja
a-na-ku-ja
tu-na-ku-ja
m-na-ku-ja
wa-na-ku-ja

Negative
To form the negative form we put a prefix “ha-” in front of the verb radical, with the exception of the first personal singular - which requires a special prefix “si-”. In the second and third persons singular final -a of this prefix elides before a subject prefix. The last vowel of the verb changes from -a to -i.
Example: -fanya
si-fanyi
hu-fanyi
ha-fanyi
hatu-fanyi
ham-fanyi
hawa-fanyi
Monosyllabic verbs drop infinitive prefix -ku- in this form. Example: -(ku)ja
si-ji
hu-ji
ha-ji
hatu-ji
ham-ji
hawa-ji

There is a group of verb that behave differently. These are the verbs of the Arabic origin which have a final vowel other than -a (characteristic for the verbs of Bantu origins), e.g. -(ku)jibu (answer), -ishi (to live, to dwell), -sahau (to forget). They don’t change the final vowel to -i in the negative form. Example: -(ku)jibu
Affirmative
ni-na-ku-jibu
u-na-ku-jibu
a-na-ku-jibu
tu-na-ku-jibu
m-na-ku-jibu
wa-na-ku-jibu
Negative
si-jibu
hu-jibu
ha-jibu
hatu-jibu
ham-jibu
hawa-jibu

Some monosyllabic words:
-(ku)ja - to come
-(kw)enda - to go
-(ku)la - to eat
-(ku)nywa - to dring
-(ku)isha - to finish
-(ku)jibu - to answer

Examples of the simple sentences:
Ninatoka Uingereza. - I come from England.
Unataka kahawa. - I want a coffee.
Ninakwenda kwa miguu. - I go on foot. / I’m going on foot.
Ninakaa Nairobi. - I live in Nairobi.
Anaishi kwa hotelini. - He is staying in a hotel.
Mnakunywa maziwa. - Your are drinking milk.
Watoto wanakuja matunda. - Children are eating fruits.
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