SWAHILI: UNIT 10 – ADJECTIVES

,
ADVERBS, AND SYNTAX
UNIT OBJECTIVES
By the end of this unit, you should be able to:

Modify adjectives beginning with consonants and vowels for nouns

of all classes

Form and use adverbs properly

Form basic descriptive sentences (subject, verb, object, adjective)

Master the following vocabulary: Swahili Unit 10 Vocabulary

ADJECTIVES
Swahili words come from several sources: the primary sources are African
languages of the Bantu family. About 30% of the lexicon comes from Arabic. A
small portion of words come from European or Asian languages of the Indian
Ocean Basin.
The rules for adjective formation actually follow the origins of the adjectives
themselves. Adjectives of Bantu origin follow the rules of basic Bantu grammar:
they are formed by combining noun class prefixes with adjective stems.
Adjectives of Arabic origin don’t follow these same rules–they take no prefixes.
Let’s look at these rules of adjective formation in detail.
Phonetic Rules for (Bantu) Adjective Formation
Basic Prefixes for Adjectives beginning with Consonants

which means “big”) are included: . Every noun class has a particular prefix. For each noun class. 10) shape adjectives by the absence of an adjectival prefix (just as the nouns within these classes themselves take no noun class prefix). the adjectival prefix is the same as the noun class prefix (the exceptions are classes 11 and 14). for nearly every class. though three noun classes (5. a sample noun and sample adjective (using the stem –kubwa.So. but let’s review them again here. constructing most adjectives in Swahili requires the affixation of an appropriate noun class prefix to an adjectival stem. 9. We briefly introduced the basic adjectival prefixes in Unit 6. as we know. In fact. Please note that these prefixes appear in the form below when affixed to adjectives that begin withconsonants.

Noun Class Sample Noun Adjectival Prefix Sample Adjective 1 mtu m- mkubwa 2 watu wa- wakubwa 3 mti m- mkubwa 4 miti mi- mikubwa 5 tunda (-) kubwa 6 matunda ma- makubwa 7 kitu ki- kikubwa 8 vitu vi- vikubwa 9 nyumba (-) kubwa 10 nyumba (-) kubwa .

Exceptions to Prefixes for Adjectives Beginning with Consonants Noun Classes 9/10 Adjectives whose stems start with D. . baba. simba wanakula). rafiki. so too do adjectives used to describe them require the noun classes 1&2 adjectival prefixes (baba mkubwa. This is because they are the one part of speech whose rules contain significant exceptions. there are many nouns for animate beings that do not fall in noun classes 1&2 (mama.11 ukuta m- mkubwa 14 upendo m- mkubwa 16 mahali pa- pakubwa 17 mahali ku- kuzuri Many people consider adjectives the be the trickiest piece of Swahili grammar to master (but master them. simba. Just as these nouns take the noun classes 1&2 subject prefixes for verb conjugation (mama anapika. They are as follows: Modifying Animate Nouns Not in Classes 1&2 As you know. simba wakubwa). G or Z take the prefix “n-“ when describing nouns in classes 9 and 10. you will!). etc).

the adjectival prefix is modified phonetically as follows: Noun Classes 1 & 2 (m/wa)  M. So a ‘long journey’ is a “safari ndefu” Prefixes for Adjectives Beginning with Vowels If an adjective stem begins with a vowel. meaning long.+ -a = Mwa: Mwalimu mwaminifu (An honest teacher)  M. is modified to “ndefu” for noun classes 9 and 10.+ -e = We: Watu wema (good people)  Wa.+ -a = Wa: Walimu waminifu (honest teachers)  Wa.+ -i = Mwi: Mteja mwingine (another customer)  Wa. P or V take the prefix “m-” when describing nouns in classes 9 and 10:  Nyumba mbaya: Bad house  Nyumba mpya: New house The adjective “-refu”.+ -i = We: Wateja wengine (other customers) – Noun Classes 3 & 4 (m/mi) . Nyumba nzuri: Good house  Nyumba ndogo: Small house Adjectives whose stems start with B.+ -e = Mwe: Mtu mwema (a good/nice person)  M.

+ -e = Mye: Miti myeupe (white trees)  Mi. M.+ -i = Mi: Mitihani mingine (other tests) – Noun Classes 5 & 6 (-/ma) When describing a noun in class 5 with an adjective that begins with a vowel.+ -i = Ki: Kitu kingine (Another thing)  Vi. The prefix is modified further in phonetic fashion:  Ji.+ -e = Je: Gari jeusi (Black car)  Ji.+ -e = Mwe: Mti mweupe (white tree)  M.+ -e = Me: Magari meusi (Black cars)  Ma.+ -i = Me: Matunda mengine (Other fruits) – Noun Classes 7 & 8 (ki/vi)  Ki. you use the prefix “ji-” (many nouns in class 5 start with “ji-“).+ -i = Mwi: Mtihani mwingine (another test)  Mi.+ -i = Ji: Tunda jingine (Another fruit)  Ma.+ -e = Vye: Viatu vyekundu (Red shoes) – .+ -e = Che: Kiatu chekundu (Red shoe)  Ki.

When we use these adjectives. we do not modify them with noun class prefixes. Non-Bantu Adjectives Several of the most frequently used Swahili adjectives are of non-Bantu (Arabic) origin. Some key examples: Safi: Clean – Eneo safi / A clean area Ghali: Expensive – Bei ghali / An expensive price Rahisi: Easy/cheap – Lengo rahisi / An easy goal Bora: High quality/Excellent/Better – Maisha bora / Better life Key Modifiers: -ingi. -ingine .+ -i = Vi: Vitu vingine (Other things) Noun Classes 9 & 10: (-/-)  N.+-ema = Njema (good) Noun Classes 11 & 14: (u/u) Noun classes 11&14 follow the same phonetic modification rules that noun classes 1&2 follow. Vi.+ -e = Nye: Nyumba nyeusi (Black house)  N.+ -i = Nyi: Nguo nyingi (Many clothes) Exception: N.

The constructions are as follows: Noun Sample Adjectival -ingi (many) -ingine (other) Class Noun Prefix 1 mtu m- – mwengine/mwingine* 2 watu wa- wengi wengine 3 mti m- – mwingine 4 miti mi- mingi mingine 5 tunda (-) – jingine / lingine** 6 matunda ma- mengi mengine 7 kitu ki- kingi (only used kingine with “chakula”) . but given their frequency of use (and the challenge of remembering all the different rules for constructing adjectives that begin with vowels). it’s worth separating these two out.Two particularly important adjectives are –ingi (many) and –ingine (other). As we have already seen from examples above. The construction of these adjectives follows the basic adjectival rules.

though “jingine” may be more technically accurate. Some more examples: Noun Classes 1 &2 Mzee mwengine: Another elder Mama mwengine: Another mother .8 vitu vi- vingi vingine 9 nyumba (-) – nyingine 10 nyumba (-) nyingi nyingine or zingine 11 ukuta m- – mwingine 14 upendo m- – mwingine 16 mahali pa pengi pengine 17 mahali ku kwingi kwengine *You will occasionally encounter “mwingine” used for nouns in class 1 **You will often (even most commonly) hear people use “lingine” rather than “jingine” for class 5.

Wazee wengine: Other elders Wakulima wengi: Many farmers Noun Classes 3 & 4 Mkopo mwingine: Another loan Mtihani mwingine: Other exams Mikopo mingine: Other loans Mitihani mingi: Many exams Noun Classes 5 & 6 Shamba lingine: Another farm Zao lingine: Another crop Mashamba mengine: Other farms Mazao mengi: Many crops Noun Classes 7 & 8 Kitabu kingine: Another book .

Kitenge kingine: Another kitenge Vitabu vingine: Other books Vitenge vingi: Many kitenges Noun Classes 9 & 10 Siku nyingine: Another day Wiki nyingine: Another week Siku nyingine: Other days Wiki nyingi: Many weeks Noun Class 11 Ufunguo mwingine: Another key Noun Class 14 Utaratibu mwingine: Another system .

– gumu (difficult). some adverbs require a prefix modification. we place adverbs immediately after the verb it describes. in fact most of the most commonly used adverbs come from adjective stems: –zuri (well/good). we leave them as they are: Ulifanya vizuri: You did well Alipanga vibaya: He planned poorly Mtihani ulikuwa rahisi: The exam was easy Mnakimbia haraka! You are running fast! Don’t forget that we can use “sana” and “tu” to modify both verbs and adverbs. To modify adjective stems as adverbs. –baya (badly).Note: When used together. -ingi comes before -ingine: watoto wengi wengine wanacheza mpira ADVERBS Swahili adverbs function almost identically to adjectives. So for example. Just as with adjectives. we attach the prefix “vi-” to the stem. The number of adverbs that are used is very limited. rahisi (easy). we could say: Amesoma sana: He has really studied a lot Mmezoea haraka sana: You all have acclimated very quickly! Nenda polepole tu: Just go slowly! . For those adverbs that do not require stems. Within a sentence.

EXERCISES Swahili Unit 10 Worksheet Swahili Unit 10 Worksheet Answers . Be disciplined. and push yourself to get them right from the start.Endelea tu: Just continue SYNTAX Key rules to remember:  Adjectives come after the objects they describe: mtoto mdogo  Associatives always come last in a sentence: shamba kubwa la shule  Possessives come before adjectives: Gari langu jekundu  Demonstratives come immediately after the object they refer to: nyumba hii kubwa  -ote and -o-ote come before other adjectives: matango yote mabovu / wanafunzi wote wengine  -ingine and -ingi come before other adjectives: masomo mengine magumu CONCLUDING ADVICE It will take a lot of time and practice to get some of the adjectives down. because it’s very easy to develop bad and lazy habits with adjectives.