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  5. "Give us fruits"

"Give us fruits"

Translation:Tupe matunda

October 29, 2018



Can someone explain why Tupe is "give us" and not "we should give"?


'tupe' is imperative; 'tu-' is objective form of 'us', '-pe' is the imperative of 'kupa' i.e. to give.

'We should give (object) fruits' would be 'tunafaa/twafaa tumpe/tuwape matunda' (usually 'kupa' used in a sentence will have both the subject and the object to make grammatical sense)


I understand your answer, but I'm still confused in the way @saynave first asked his question. If the sentence did not have "fruits," if it was just "we should give," would that also be "tupe"? Is this one of the ones where we just need context?

This makes me think of the Sauti Sol song Nipe Nikupe. That's generally translated as "Give me, I'll give you." The "nipe" fits with "tupe" here in being give me/give us. Why is "nikupe" not "I should give you"?


To me 'we should give' has a suggestive connotation to it, which has a different tone to the imperative 'give us'. The suggestive nature of the first sentence is expressed in Swahili by pairing it with '-faa' (to be suitable/useful) or 'ni bora', and it also necessitates the use of an object infix to indicate the recipient i.e. 'tumpe'.

For the imperative 'tupe', the object and subject are made clear from the prefix and suffix in the word, respectively.

'nikupe' can be interpreted as 'I should give you', which can be a suggestion or a promise (so it's kiinda self-imperative? That's totally made up, but I hope that makes sense), but grammatically it doesn't stand alone; 'Nitakupa' is an independent sentence, but 'nikupe' is not, unless it is presented as a question i.e. 'nikupe?' ('should I give you?'). You can think of it as a dependent clause.

Let me know if that needs clarification!


Thanks, machieng. So if I wanted to say "we should give" rather than "give us," does the "-faa" go on the end, like "tupefaa?" I've never seen something like that, but since I mostly read Sauti Sol lyrics and occasionally some children's book , I may not have the widest exposure.


I'm gonna backtrack a bit (this is a bit hard to explain all in text). To explicitly speak in a suggestive tone, one would say ' tunafaa/twafaa tumpe' or 'ni bora/heri tumpe'. You can still just say 'tumpe' to mean 'we should give him/her'. 'Tumpe' can also mean 'let us give him', which is pretty much still a suggestion.

'mpe' (subject in 2nd person, singular) can be ambiguous in meaning as to whether it's imperative or suggestive, but it can be used to mean both e.g. 'mtoto akililia wembe, mpe' generally means 'when/if a child cries for a blade, (you should) give it to him/her'

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