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I'm Having Trouble On Locatives

I've come pretty far in the Swahili course and I'm starting to have a lot of trouble. I can't at all seem to grasp any of the words in Locatives. Can someone please give me tips on how to remember the words? I can't understand after multiple attempts. Practicing more and more isn't helping at all.

Asante sana!

April 27, 2017



If you're struggling with learning words, you might like to try Memrise. I find memrise particularly helpful for languages like Swahili, where I have fewer pre-existing connections between the language I'm learning and English, so there's less for my memory to grip on to. By creating memes in Memrise I'm creating a visual connection (eg a can next to something for "kando ya" for "next to / beside" - or whatever helps you remember), and that can help get past the barrier of everything seeming the same and nothing sticking in your head.

Also, are you struggling with understanding the grammar? Do you know when to use ko or po or mo? Do you get why "where are the knives" is "visu viko wapi?" and "where are you" is "yuko wapi?"? If you understand the concepts, but are finding it difficult to work out / remember in practice, then I'd suggest creating your own sentences either on paper or somewhere like memrise so you get more practice working through the ideas slowly. If you're struggling a bit with the concepts, then I think people have already noted various grammar sites to look at.

Basically, you need to practice some more so that your brain can make the connections, but you don't need to do all that practice on duolingo. Find something different that works as a supplement.


Good advice! Just wanted to point out:

Uko wapi? = Where are you?
Yuko wapi? = Where is s/he?


Thanks! I know that, but clearly not completely...


Don't worry, I'm still getting mixed up between ni-, tu- and wa- :'-D


Well, I wish I were telling you a shortcut to that, but no. You'll just have to learn them by heart. Memorising is the key. Slowly you'll begin to adjust to the flow. Just don't be overwhelmed by all the hints and tips provided. I know it can be too much.


One thing to keep in mind is that this is Swahili BETA. There are wrong answers and even wrong questions, and if I recall, the Locative category is one of the troublesome ones. Consider using other sources on the net and see if that helps you understand the Locative. In some of these troublesome categories, which will eventually be fixed but it looks like it will take some time, you have to memorize (or copy and paste) the "wrong" answers to get through the category.


As far as I can tell, "Locatives" illustrates a particular use of the verb "to be", that is, when describing position. It's complicated by the fact that – in addition to the suffixes ko (indefinite), po (definite), and mo (inside or enclosed) and their uses – Duo also introduces a lot of other concepts and uses. (Please let me know if I've made any mistakes; I'm still grappling with this myself.):

1) The question: wapi? = where?

2) Locative phrases, e.g.: nje = outside; kati ya = between, among; chini ya = under, below; mbele (ya) = in front (of); nyuma = behind; juu = up, above; juu ya = over; ng'ambo = across, other side; kuna = there is, there are ("to" or indefinite); pana = there is, there are ("at" or definite); mna = there is, there are ("in" or enclosed).

3) locative demonstratives, (being the demonstrative forms from the mahali noun-class), taken from the table in Locative Tips & Notes:
huku = here, hereabouts (indefinite); hapa = here, right here (definite); humu = in here (enclosed); huko = there/over there (indefinite); hapo = there/just there (definite); humo = there/in there (enclosed); kule = there/in the distance (indefinite); pale = there/over there (definite); mle - there in (enclosed). There is a pattern to these, but it's probably quicker to learn them individually.

4) Locative pronouns (of which "yu" is the only irregular case): positives: ni-, u-, yu-, tu-, m-, wa- ; negatives: si-, hu-, hayu, hatu-, ham- haw- ; each suffixed by ko, po, or mo.

e.g.: upo wapi? = where are you?; nipo hapa = I am here; Mama hayumo chumbani kwake = mother is not in her room.

5) Locative nouns, in which the position suffix (ko/po/mo) is prefixed by whatever prefix is relevant to the verb class, e.g.: Visu viko wapi? = where is the chair?; Kitabu kipo hapa = the book is here; Maembe yangu yamo jikoni = my mangoes are in the kitchen.

If (like me) you can never remember your noun classes, you're going to struggle more with locatives, which depend on them. Here are the first six again: M/Wa (wa/wa); M/Mi (wa/ya); N/N (ya/za); Ki/Vi (cha/vya); Ji/Ma (la/ya); U/N (wa/za);

6) Preposition Suffix (-ni) for some common nouns, e.g.: Chumba (room) + ni = chumbani (in the room). See Locatives Tips & Notes for more.

Hope this helps. Let me know of any additions/mistakes (or useful links), and I'll add/correct them asap.


Nice compilation of this difficult subject, thanks! Small correction though: Visu viko wapi? = where are the knives. Where is the chair? = Kiti kiko wapi?

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