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quick lesson on demonstratives

I like to divide these in my head as near (subject/object in the immediate vicinity) versus far (s/o needs to be pointed out/indicated) versus ambiguous (s/o is far or being referenced to in absentia or a near object being pointed out, if that makes sense, hence the ambiguity)

Noun Near Plural Far Plural Ambiguous Plural
M/Wa (Mtu-Watu) Huyu Hawa Yule Wale Huyo Hao
Ki/Vi (Kiti-Viti) Hiki Hivi Kile Vile Hicho Hivyo
M/Mi (Mkuki-Mikuki) Huu Hii Ule ile Huo Hiyo
Ji/Ma (Yai-Mayai) Hili Haya Lile Yale Hilo Hayo
U/N (Uso-Nyuso) Huu Hizi Ule Zile Huo Hizo
N/N (Kalamu-Kalamu) Hii Hizi ile Zile Hiyo Hizo
Locative (Place) Here There There (far away or allusive)
Locative 'KU' Huku Huko Kule
Locative 'PU' Hapa Hapo Pale
Locative 'MU' Humu Humo Mle
May 22, 2019



I SO appreciate your posts even though they don't make much sense to me yet. I have studied a lot of different languages but the only people in my life on a regular basis now who are multilingual are friends from church who are from Tanzania and Kenya. They are all gone home now that the university is on summer break (and one graduated with his PhD), though. Also, I really came here to learn Romanian first so I've gone back to that until I get more solid in it.

I just wanted to let you know that such tips as there can make all the difference in the world when trying to take up a new language. They kept me going in Swahili near(er) the beginning when it seemed like the words were just all jumbled together. From some tips I learned that they ARE! The different parts of the word clarify the meaning.

BTW, my friends are already very happy and impressed and can understand me just from the DL program and its great opportunity to actually hear the words.

So thanks again. I am following this post so I'll have it when I get back to Swahili study and to a point where I can use it.


Awesome! Please keep these up!

But "hawo" completes the pattern so nicely! ;)

The last two columns were not covered in the Tips and Notes - it's great to learn more than before.

I found that the demonstratives module really highlighted the importance of knowing the subject prefixes because they crop up everywhere in various forms as prefixes, infixes or suffices like here. I like noticing when they do and which forms are similar across different grammatical constructions. I've noticed the ambiguous demonstratives have suffices similar to the amba- relative.

I have a couple of questions:

  1. I see "kwa hiyo" and "kwa hivyo" used interchangeably sometimes. Is that entirely so or is there a subtle difference between them?

  2. Related: would you also use the ambiguous form in constructions such as "That is good"?


Note, 'hawo' does not exist.

It does, it's just lost the "w": hao.


Wanafunzi hao ambao nilikueleza habari zao jana, basi leo wameandamana kumpinga mkuu wa shule.


In the explanation for demonstratives there is a mistake:

Maembe haya yameharibika = Those mangoes have spoiled, instead of the correct these. I posted here because I don't know how else to send this feedback. Thanks to anyone who can help/fix.



Here is Huku or Hapa,There(at your place) is Huko or Hapo and what is THERE(like another place that isn't mine or the person's i am speaking with.Sorry if the question is confusing.


Valid question, I was struggling a bit to explain it. The third 'there' I would say is for referring to something not in the immediate vicinity; either it is further away or not at all visible and just being referenced:

  • Shamba lipo pale karibu na mto - the farm is over there by/near the river
  • Kule Tanzania utapata waimbaji maridadi - there in Tanzania you will find great singers

I dunno if that made any sense

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