All the nouns in this noun class are inanimate objects (the converse, however, is not true). These nouns are a little easier to identify because they all have the prefix ki- in singular and vi- in plural OR the prefix ch- in singular and vy-in plural (again, the converse is not true).

Noun Singular Plural
Spoon Kijiko Vijiko
Cup Kikombe Vikombe
Bed Kitanda Vitanda
Mirror Kioo Vioo
Toilet Choo Vyoo
Organization/club Chama Vyama
Certificate Cheti Vyeti

Note that other nouns do have the Ki/Vi prefixes, but they do not belong to this noun class because of the affixes they are associated with. (For reference, nouns in the noun class 'Ki/Vi' always take on the affixes 'ki/vi')

Sentence Singular Plural
The chick is lost Kifaranga amepotea Vifaranga wamepotea
The last born is selfish/stingy Kitinda-mimba ni mchoyo Vitinda-mimba ni wachoyo
The class monitor is writing a report Kiranja anaandika ripoti Viranja wanaandika ripoti

This is why the noun classes are sometimes identified by their affixes rather than the noun prefixes themselves, e.g. the noun class 'M/Wa' is also referred to as 'A/Wa', because the latter is consistent regardless of the noun's prefix.

October 13, 2019


Ah, very useful. Thanks. I'v been keeping my own grammar notes along with a dictionary/ database, and I've been trying to work out the right questions to think about for what the different noun classes are.

The only exception to this no-animates rule is when it comes to diminutives, which keep their ki-vi agreement throughout to emphasise their diminutive nature.

Kitoto kidogo kililia. = The little baby cried. (Many non-standard varieties of Swahili use ka- instead of ki-, a noun class that was lost from Swahili but still present in many other Bantu languages in the region.)

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