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Chance for even more interactive learning


As you already know, each lesson comes with Tips and Notes (currently unavailable on the app, but available on the website through your mobile web browser) that help you navigate the lessons and understand some of the concepts of the new words and sentence structures introduced. These are very useful notes, and a lot of time and effort has been put into creating them, so I would highly recommend reading them prior to starting each lesson, to help you get more out of the lesson.

We also recognize that not every nuance can be covered in the notes, and some concepts, especially recurring ones, can be hard to grasp on the first go. Since I got some positive responses from the Pronoun Use post (here: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/31676304), I wanted to hear from you, the learners, about whether you would find it useful to occasionally have a post talking more about a certain concept in Swahili grammar. These topics would be chosen by you, as you would know better what gaps need to be filled, and there would of course be open discussions on the comment section of the post where you can ask questions and anyone can answer. Ideally what would be covered would be the more basic concepts that have more of a widespread use throughout the course (but we may diversify once they're exhausted). If enough demand and engagement exists for the posts, it will occur (to the best of my ability) on a monthly basis. Otherwise, as always, you can open a discussion on lessons as you do them, and those will continue to be monitored.

Please feel free to leave a comment below with post suggestions/ideas, and priority will be given to the comments with the most up votes. If a topic is well covered on the Tips and Notes section, I will be sure to refer the OP to it.

I'm also open to additional suggestions for interactive learning that are easily facilitated through the discussion section!

April 22, 2019



I would like to see a comprehensive explanation of Swahili times of day in a two column format. The first column would contain a Swahili "time-of-day" word (e.g., asubuhi) and the second would contain a time range (taking into account when the sun rises and sets in East Africa) that most Swahili speakers would agree is "asubuhi". Swahili words for times of day that come to mind at the moment are alfajiri, asubuhi, adhuhuri, mchana, jioni, alasiri, magharibi, usiku, usiku wa manane. There are probably others, and it is understood that they may overlap.

Motivation: Does "Habari za jioni" as native Swahili speakers understand that Swahili greeting really mean the same as "Good evening" as native English speakers understand that English greeting?


Motivation: Does "Habari za jioni" as native Swahili speakers understand that Swahili greeting really mean the same as "Good evening" as native English speakers understand that English greeting?

I have looked into this myself by asking a few Tanzanians and concluded that no, these mean different things. Basically, one would say habari za jioni when meeting someone at jioni time. Jioni is from when the sky starts going dark until the Sun sets. After sunset, you're in usiku. When the sunlight starts illuminating the skies it is alfajiri, and after sunrise it is asubuhi. Then, after midday you have mchana.

This is what my little group of Tanzanian friends agreed upon after much discussion, and I got the impression that this is highly subjective. One thing they all emphatically agreed on, though, is that 7pm is definitely not jioni anymore, and you should not say habari za jioni after that.


I agree that some of these terms are relative, and honestly I don't keep up with most of them as the major ones I use on a regular basis are: asubuhi, jioni, usiku, mchana. The rest are (typically, in my experience) used by news channels to mark the different times the news airs; in Kenya at least, most channels air news at 6/7 am, 1 pm, 4 pm, 7 pm, 9 pm, and sometimes 11 pm e.g. as far as I know the channel Citizen has Citizen Alasiri which is news that airs at 4 pm. (IDK why the overkill, but at least you're assured to catch the news at some point LOL). As far as I know:

Wakati Time
alfajiri dawn (or wee hours of the morning; think 4 AM)
asubuhi morning (arbitrary - any time before noon, really)
adhuhuri noon
mchana daytime (arbitrary-I would say around noon±2 hours)
jioni evening (also arbitrary, I would personally say 4 PM to 7 PM)
alasiri mid to late afternoon (~ between 12 and 4 PM)
magharibi evening/sunset, so 6 PM (magharibi also means 'west', so that's a way to remember that)
usiku nighttime (arbitrary - basically if it's dark out)
usiku wa manane midnight/dead of night

People just tend to say what time it is and follow it up with 'mchana', 'usiku', 'asubuhi' or 'jioni' to make the time of day clear e.g. 'saa nane mchana' to mean '2 PM'


Asante sana. Nice chart! :)


I'm slightly obsessed with making tables now :D


is there just a generic, "Good day" one? This might be bad of me, but I tend to learn as few of vocabulary words as I can get by with...like, if there are five different ways of saying something, I'll learn one and use it all the time!


Habari za leo should do the trick.


Or if you want to use even fewer words... "Za leo?"


depends. As a greeting, as vitoreiji said, habari ya/za leo is fine. If departing, 'Siku njema' i.e. 'have a good day'


You can drop the time-specific words and just say "Habari?" That should work.


things that have (and are helping me). www.swahilipod101.com (good for audio) https://www2.ku.edu/~kiswahili/ (a college course)


thank you so much for those links especially the college course one they are excellent


thanks for sharing!


Two wishes on the more advanced level from my side:

  • The -enye construction is encountered in a few sentences throughout the course, but it is not explained anywhere. It is very common. This has led to some confusing discussions like for these sentences: Yuko kwenye nyumbani kwangu? in the Places/Mahali section, and Rais alikuja kwenye Mei mosi (probably in the Holidays lesson).

  • The subjunctive is used a lot in Swahili, but in the lesson there are only a few examples of its use (following ni sharti/inafaa etc.). Constructing the subjunctive is very easy, using it properly isn't. A thorough presentation on its use would be very useful, I think.

[Edit] I found an example of a double subjunctive in a sentence in a children's book (my level :): Aku alipowauliza kwa nini, walicheka kisha wakamwambia aende acheze na wasichana wenzake.


working on this right now (-enye), but to clarify those two sentences you mentioned, if you're using '-ni' to reference a place, you don't use 'kwenye', so the sentence would be 'Yuko nyumbani kwangu?'; that sentence is erroneous. The '-ni' already accomplishes the function of a locative preposition. Alternatively if you say 'yuko kwenye nyumba yangu?' I would be inclined to think there's someone on the roof of your house. 'Kwenye' usually translates to 'on', so you'd more likely use it to say 'yuko kwenye paa ya nyumba yangu?' (is he/she on the roof of my house?)

I don't know if I'm remembering this incorrectly, although I don't think that I am, but 'kwenye' is not typically used to refer to the day something happens. It would just be 'Rais alikuja (siku ya) Mei mosi'. Swahili has little use, if any, for time prepositions


Yes, I recall that sentence from the "Holidays" module: "Rais alikuja kwenye Mei mosi." I think the intended meaning was "Rais alikuja kwenye sherehe za Mei Mosi." Personally I would have used "Rais alihudhuria sherehe za / maadhimisho ya Mei Mosi.

mnamo can appear to be a preposition, but I think it is actually an adverb; many examples of it can be found on www.glosbe.com . Typically something like Vita vilianza mnamo mwezi wa Desemba, mwaka 1941. Or, Polisi wanasema mwizi alionekana akiingia katika nyumba hiyo mnamo saa tatu za usiku.

It looks like mnamo takes on several different meanings in relation to dates, times or periods of time, including "approximately; at about; by; in; within; on."



first point, I totally agree, 'kwenye' is only used for tangible things, not dates

2nd point, yes, 'mnamo' means 'approximately'; so does 'takriban'


On the double subjunctive: in Swahili it can also be used for like "so that sh/e should [verb], and that's what's going on there. It's almost as though they dropped an "ili" between the two: wakamwabia aende ili acheze..." "They told her to go and play" or "They told she should go and she should play..." or even "They told her she should go so she could play"

You hear the subjunctive a lot also after things like "ni lazima" or "inabidi" or "ni afadhali", in addition to the examples you gave.


This is only partially related to your comment, but I also find on Google many examples where the subjunctive is combined with the -KA- (narrative) tense to show a sequence of actions: Lakini lazima niende nikamwone mtoto .. In English this could be translated two ways, I think: (i) But I must go and see the child .. or (2) But I must go see the child .. Comments, anyone?


Yeah, I think your analysis is perfect -- it's a sequence. Maybe this construction is to emphasize the sequence more than "niende nimwone"?

I will say that I've never personally come across -ka- combined with the subjunctive like in "nikamwone". I do see it if I try to Google that or like "nikamwambie". although at least half the results of the latter seem like typos for "nikamwambia".


More emphasis on the importance of noun classes, as well as a printable noun class chart up front would help hammer home how important it is to memorize the noun class along with the word (the way people memorize genders of words in other languages)


Yes, this would be very helpful. It would be good to have a thread that provided a general overview of all the noun classes, and particularly the way things like possessive pronouns and prepositions like "a" agree with them (e.g. for M/WA nouns, possessives and prepositions start with w, but for JI/MA I think they start with l, and then there's another class where they have to start with y or z depending on singular or plural, etc.).

I'm still in the early stages of the course, learning about the M/WA and M/MI classes mainly, and it gets a bit confusing when you get a noun like "jina" from a different class and have to make the possessives agree (so "jina lako" and not "jina wako" for instance) when you haven't yet been introduced to that particular noun class and its agreements. So a single thread covering all the noun classes would be a great reference source.


machieng, the more explanations, the better! so I vote yes. And thank you, btw.


@machieng: The comment above reminds me to ask if you may add some exercises for yes and no to the course please. I haven't came across any sentence with ndiyo or siyo/hapana up to now.
Thank you very much!


Another area that I feel is not covered well in the current DuoLingo Swahili course is the use of the relative infix as an alternative to the amba- relative construction. Almost all the current exercises demand the use of amba-, except for relatives of time and place (-po-, -ko-, -mo-), but of course there is a lot more to relative infixes than -po-, -ko-, -mo-. Maybe a discussion of when one is better than the other would be appropriate (or is it just a matter of choice?). Well, we know a relative infix cannot be used with the -ME- tense (it has to be "mtu ambaye amenenepa" and never "mtu ameyenenepa"). What else is there to know about relative infixes?


I cover some of this in the Noun class post I did recently, so have a look and let me know if that answers your question on the use of 'amba-' (check the comment section for examples) and relative infixes. Yes, you can only use the relative infix (or -o- rejeshi) with the past (-li-), present (-na-) and future (-ta-) infixes. As far as when to use 'amba-' versus the relative infix, it's a matter of choice, they mean the same. Often it's just one is less tedious over the other


Thanks, that's clear. What is your opinion on using the "tenseless" relative: "matunda yauzwayo sokoni", "lipi likulizalo?", "popote uendapo" and similar constructions in present-day Swahili?


they are technically not "tenseless" (used in present simple/habitual tense). They are totally correct, and in fact mean the same when you use 'amba-' or relative infixes instead. i.e. "popote uendapo" = "popote unapoenda" = popote ambapo unaenda". So the use of "-po" eliminates the tense infix '-na-', but it's there in spirit :)

Even in present continuous tense, it's not uncommon to leave out the '-na-' e.g. 'Rehema anasoma' can be 'Rehema asoma' (but it's included throughout this course, always)


I have been using the app for half a year and have not been aware that such notes exist, where can I find these? I only know of the tips in duolingo for schools.


Use DL on your webbrowser, and you'll see a light bulb for many lessons (but not all).


I'm not sure if y'all are notified when a new comment is posted, but be sure to periodically check in with @davidvdb's Swahili Masterpost, which is a compilation of all the supplementary notes I've made for the course! And add on here to whatever you'd like to be featured

Particularly, there's more content on the post labeled Tenses, which now includes statements in the affirmative and the negative, along with an exercise for you all!


Thanks! I'll be sure to check it out! :D


this would be so helpful!


Thank you this is very helpful

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