Swahili Modal Verbs - hard to find a list online

Hey there! Just wondering if anyone can help with a list of the swahili modal verbs etc. as there are a few on duolingo but I struggle to find a list online. To be able to - kuweza To have to - ??? To want to - Kutaka To like to - Kupenda To wish To hope etc.

December 6, 2017

1 Comment

Here are some off the top of my head:

kuweza = to be able / can
kuhitaji = to need
kupaswa = to be obliged / forced kutaka = to want
kutumaini = to hope / expect

"To have to" doesn't have an exact equivalent as a modal verb. You use lazima + the subjunctive verb form (subject prefix + verb stem + -e), for example Lazima niondoke for "I have to leave". The meaning is pretty similar to saying Ninahitaji kuondoka or Ninapaswa kuondoka though. (I think the latter generally indicates that the obligation is on account of someone else though.)

To talk about wishes for hypothetical situations, you can use laiti "if only" with the -nge- or -ngali- verb forms.

Laiti ningekuwa ndege. = If only I were a bird. / I wish I were a bird.

December 10, 2017
Learn Swahili in just 5 minutes a day. For free.