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"Nitakuja Tanzania"

Translation:I will come to Tanzania

May 8, 2017



Why Tanzania takes no preposition as -ni ? Is there an exception for countries?


Yeah, there's an exception for all proper nouns, words for times, recent loanwords and just some other random words as well.

This confused me too. The function of the "-ni" is not like a case or a preposition as I thought at first, even though it can look like it's acting as one. It's more like a derivational suffix meaning "-place" and it forces the noun out of its original class and into one of the three special classes for place nouns:

  • Class 16 (pa-) — exact
  • Class 17 (ku-) — less exact
  • Class 18 (mu-) — internal

For example, we can say nyumba yangu meaning "my house" as a thing, but if we want to talk about "my house" as a place, we can't say nyumbani yangu but one of nyumbani pangu (to/at/from my house), nyumbani kwangu (towards/to/at/from my house), nyumbani mwangu (into/in/out of my house).

(I don't think the first of these, nyumbani pangu is usually used because a house is a fairly large location for most contexts - I think it's more used for "right at the summit" etc, but I'm not sure.)

Place names can either be in class 9, meaning the country, itself or the locative classes, and they are not marked for this change with -ni.

Tanzania iko Afrika. = Tanzania is in Africa. (Tanzania is in class 9, as can be seen with the verb prefix i-. Africa is locative here.)

Tanzania kuna wanyama wengi.
= There are many animals in Tanzania. (Tanzania is still the subject but now it's in a locative class. The subject prefix ku- shows that Tanzania is in class 17. It's literally more or less "Tanzania (as a place) has many animals.)

If it feels unclear or a bit naked to just use Tanzania without it being marked, you can use Nchini before it. For maximum clarity, those two sentences above could also be:

Nchi Tanzania iko barani Afrika. = The country Tanzania is in the continent-place Africa.

Nchini Tanzania kuna wanyama wengi. = The country-place Tanzania has many animals.


the ku-class is more common than pa- (especially in casual speech) - at least in these constructions


O wow ! Thanks for that explanation. I'll treasure it. Though I need to admit that I don't fully understand it yet. Not because you did not explain well, but because there is still a lot of grammar I didn't come across yet. It feels a bit like. You thought you were in trouble, just wait there's more to come:D Could you do me a great favour and give me a list of the classes. I have trouble knowing which class is what number, since here they are named by character not by number.


M-/Wa- (humans/animate, living things) M-/Mi- (trees/plants; also includes several others) Ji-/Ma- (name is the common example; body parts; some loan words...) Ki-/Vi- (things; concrete) N-/N- (mostly loan words; most animals) U- (abstracts; some relative/concrete nouns) Ku- (infinitive) Pa- (locative/place, concrete, named - only poper noun: Mahali "place") Ku- (locative/place, general, larger) Mu- (locative/place, within)

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