Translation:the night

February 20, 2017

This discussion is locked.


usiku (u class, no plural)

night, nighttime (period between sunset and sunrise)

From Wiktionary:




For those interested in literature, there are some denominations for the "Arabian Nights":

One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: كِتَاب أَلْف لَيْلَة وَلَيْلَة‎‎ kitāb ʾalf layla wa-layla) in Swahili:

"Alfu Lela U Lela"

"Kitabu cha Alfu Lela U Lela" or "Usiku Elfu na Moja"


https://glosbe.com/en/swh/One%20Thousand%20and%20One%20Nights (Coastal Swahili, perhaps in Kingozi dialect)

Kingozi is an ancient dialect spoken on the Indian Ocean coast between Lamu and Somalia and is sometimes still used in poetry. It is often considered the source of Swahili.


Other data:



Interesting. . thank you


Karibu rafiki! I am not expert reading Swahili, but I really would like to understand and read tales some day. I will need to practice more and more, adding vocabulary also. Here some examples from Wikisource:



Hey i saw somewhere that you are trying to practice with native Swahili speakers on the internet. If you like, i am a native speaker myself and can help you out. Also you can use the HelloTalk app which allows you to speak with others international for free. Its really good. :)


I wrote "evening" which was marked as incorrect. Any ideas as to why that might be?


Strictly speaking, evening and night are different concepts even in English. Of course there will be a debate on exactly when evening ends and night starts. Personally, I wouldn't accept "evening" as a correct translation for "usiku" , but don't hang me for that. It's just my personal opinion.

This may help;

Usiku = night

Jioni = evening


This is one of the words which are the same in many Bantu languages


Which others use it?


Usiku = Ndau, Nyanja, Chewa , Swahili

Husiku = Shona ,

Ubusuku = Zulu, Ndebele,

Busuku = Xhosa,

Bosigo = Tswana,

These are a few examples. As you can see they are similar with minor variations in spelling and pronunciation. I hope that helps.


It did. Thanks a lot :)


Glad it helped. Happy learning !


All Bantu languages.


So, according to wiktionary, this is an uncountable noun.


I know I'm getting way ahead but I'm wondering about this. I understand the idea of it being an uncountable noun (just light "lightning" is an uncountable noun in English, even though it is a thing that you can count), but there must be some way to resolve this for Swahili speakers to be able to talk about "nights" (as we can say "bolts of lightning" or "lightning bolts")?

Do they say something like "times of night" or "instances of night" (maybe vipindi vya usiku or matokeo ya usiku), ...

... or substitute with the noun ngono (plural ngono) which my dictionary says means "nighttime", ...

... or is Wiktionary wrong and the plural of night is actually nyusiku, following the pattern of many other u- class words like uma (fork) with the plural nyuma?


I am yet to find out about the Swahili, but from the few Bantu languages I checked (exactly the same word usiku), usiku is an invariable noun which has the same form in singular as in plural. This may be different in Swahili but I wrote this here in case it helps someone.


Thanks! And if you don't mind telling me, where did you check? Is there a good resource on the net?


Sorry for the late reply. Unfortunately my sources are not written. They are experience from the languages I know and word of mouth from native speakers that I ask.


No problem. Duolingo doesn't let you see any more than your five most recent notifications now (grrrrrr!) so I miss most replies to my comments now.

And yeah, I realised sometime later, that according to the rules of plural formation for the U/N class, the regular plural would be ... siku, which would obviously be confusing. Adding ny- and keeping the u- only happens when the the word is only two syllables long.


What dictionary are you using for "nighttime"?


Sounds very similar to the Zulu word "ebusuku" meaning at night. "Busuku" Zulu for night.


You don't use capital letters in Swahili?


This is a single word, not a sentence.


Typically in these courses words are still written capitalized


You do. Its just not well written this version since its still a beta type. Hopefully they will fix it soon


why don't I hear the off being spoken?


I wrote the night instead of a night but I think it's unfair at the very least I deserved a point for that.


Usiku (with a capital "U") is incorrect?

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