It's come to my attention that there is a little bit of confusion when it comes to pronoun use in Swahili. First, the basics:
|Pronouns||Viwakilishi vya nafsi||Possessive Pronoun||Viwakilishi vimilikishi|
NOTE: For possessive pronouns, the prefix is determined by the object/"possession" being referenced. Refer to the Noun Class post for noun class prefixes
These pronouns also have corresponding pronoun subject prefixes, which are typically used with verb stems, as follows:
The same concords are used in the negative if the pronoun is the subject.
They also have pronoun object infixes to stand in for objects in the sentence (which are the same in the negative if the pronoun is the object):
- 2nd person (pl) and 3rd person (pl) share the same infix. Typically more context is needed to distinguish which one applies
For the verb 'to be' i.e. 'ni', these pronouns are used as they appear above, e.g. 'Mimi ni mpishi' - 'I am a cook/chef'
However, it is not necessary to include the pronouns mimi, wewe, yeye and their plural form in sentences when using other verbs, as the verbs following them will contain the pronoun prefix i.e. instead of saying Mimi nitakupigia wewe simu, which is essentially saying 'I I will call you you', one would say
kupigia simu. Even from the above examples, 'Wewe umechoka' can be simply put as '
Umechoka', and 'Yeye aliolewa' need only be '
Aliolewa', Wao watatumbelea' - '
Watatutembelea', and so on.
If you're just starting out, something like 'Umechoka' does constitute a complete sentence. It breaks down in the order of: subject pronoun prefix - tense infix - object pronoun infix (optional) - conjugated verb stem. So 'Umechoka' breaks down to
U- (subject pronoun prefix for you, singular)
-me- (tense infix, present perfect tense)
-choka (stem verb for 'kuchoka', i.e. 'to be tired', in the conjugation 'to do').
I hope this clarified the concept, and do comment below if you have questions (on anything)! Happy learning :)
I am a fluent speaker and literally learning grammar not because I can't use it but I have never in my life even thought about swahili grammar. I often explain things with an "it just is." I was telling my family that swahili has noun classes and everyone was like "What is that?" I really like these clarifications. I should learn enough to be able to teach it.
"It just is."
I speak the Maa language of the Maasai people. One day I came across an expression with a bit of grammar that was beyond me. So I asked one of my Maasai friends (who is fluent in Maa, English, and Swahili) what was up. Why was that form used?
"It makes the verb happy" was his reply.