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Shona Grammar

Welcome to the 8th lesson about Shona grammar. We will first learn about prepositions, negation, questions, adverbs, and pronouns including: personal, object and possessive pronouns.

We will start with prepositions. In general, they are used to link words to other words. For example: I speak Shona and English the preposition is [and] because it connects both words Shona and English. The following is a list of the most used prepositions in Shona.

Prepositions - Shona
and uye
above pamusoro
under pasi
before pamberi
after pashure
in front of kumberi kwe
behind kumashure
far from kure ne
near pedyo
in mu
inside mukati
outside panze
with na
without pasina
about nezve
between pakati
but asi
for nokuda
from kubva
to ku

Preposition Grammar Rules

The following examples use prepositions in different ways and places to demonstrate how they behave in a sentence.

Prepositions + Rules - Shona
I eat without a knife
[preposition + noun] ndinodya ndisina banga
she lives near the church
[verb + preposition] anogara pedyo nechechi
he is taller than her
[adjective + preposition] akareba kupfuura iye
he came with his small dog
[preposition + pronoun] akauya nembwa yake duku
can you come with me?
[preposition + pronoun] unogona kuenda neni here?

Negation in Shona

Now let's learn how to make a negative sentence (negation). For example: Saying no, I can't, I don't ... The following examples use negation in different ways and places to demonstrate how they behave in a sentence.

Negation + Rules - Shona
I understand you
[affirmative form] ndinokunzwisisa
I don't understand you
[negation + verb] handisi kukunzwisisa
this is not the correct word
[negation + adjective] iri harisi shoko racho rakarurama
don't leave me
[imperative negation] usandisiye
no problem
[negation + noun] hapana chinetso

Negative Sentences - Shona
I don't speak French
[negation + present tense] handitauri chifrench
she didn't visit Germany
[negation + past tense] haana kushanyira germany
he cannot see us
[negative modal verb] haagoni kutiona
can't she play chess?
[interrogative negation] haagoni kutamba chess here?
we will not come late
[negation + future tense] hatisi kuzononoka kusvika

Questions in Shona

Now let's learn how to ask questions (interrogative). Such as: what, why, can you ...? Here are some common examples:

English - Shona
how? sei?
what? chii?
who? ani?
why? nei?
where? kupi?

More of the interrogative form, now in a sentence:

Questions + Rules - Shona
where do you live?
[interrogative + verb] unogara kupi?
does she speak Chinese?
[interrogative verb] anotaura chichinese here?
how much is this?
[interrogative preposition] ichi chinoita marii?
can I help you?
[interrogative modal verb] ndingakubatsira here?
what is your name?
[interrogative preposition] zita rako ndiani?

Adverbs in Shona

It's time to learn the adverbs in Shona. But what is an adverb? In general, adverbs modify verbs and adjectives. For example: You speak fast. The adverb is [fast] because it describes the verb and answers the question how do you speak?. Here is a list of the most common ones:

Adverbs - Shona
now iye zvino
yesterday nezuro
today nhasi
tonight manheru anhasi
tomorrow mangwana
soon nokukurumidza
quickly kurumidza
slowly nonokera
together pamwechete
very chaizvo
almost pedyo
always nguva dzose
usually kakawanda
sometimes dzimwe nguva
rarely kashoma
never zvachose

The following examples use the adverbs in different ways and places to demonstrate how it behaves in a sentence.

Adverbs + Rules - Shona
do you understand me now?
[pronoun + adverb] wava kundinzwisisa iye zvino here?
I need help immediately
[noun + adverb] ndiri kuda kubatsirwa nokukurumidza
she is very intelligent
[adverb + adjective] akangwara chaizvo
I will always love you
[verb + adverb] ndicharamba ndichikuda
can we learn German together?
[adverb in a question] tinogona kudzidzira chigerman tose here?

Pronouns in Shona

We're almost done! This time we will learn the pronouns in Shona. In general, a pronoun can be used instead of a noun. For example instead of saying my teacher speaks 3 languages, you can use the pronoun he, and say he speaks 3 languages. Here is a list of the most common ones:

Personal Pronouns - Shona
I ini
you iwe
he iye
she iye
we isu
they ivo

Object Pronouns - Shona
me ini
you iwe
him iye
her iye
us isu
them ivo

Possessive Pronouns - Shona
my chake
your chako
his chake
her chake
our chedu
their chavo

I think it's better to put the above example in a sentence to better assist you. The following examples use pronouns in different ways and places to demonstrate how they behave in a sentence. We will start with the personal pronouns.

Personal Pronouns - Shona
I am your friend
[1st pronoun + verb] ndiri shamwari yako
you speak very fast
[2nd pronoun + adverb] unotaura uchikurumidza
he has three dogs
[3rd pronoun + verb] ane imbwa nhatu
she can speak German
[3rd pronoun + verb] anogona kutaura chigerman
we will not come late
[1st plural pronoun] hatisi kuzononoka kusvika
they bought milk and bread
[3rd plural pronoun] vakatenga mukaka nechingwa

The object pronoun is used as a target by a verb, and usually come after that verb. For example: I gave him my book. The object pronoun here is him. Here are more examples:

Object Pronouns - Shona
can you tell me your name?
[1st object pronoun] ungandiudza zita rako here?
I will give you money
[2nd object pronoun] ndichakupa mari
she wrote him a letter
[3rd object pronoun] akamunyorera tsamba
they visited her yesterday
[3rd object pronoun] vakamushanyira nezuro
can she help us?
[1st pl. object pronoun] anogona kutibatsira here?
he gave them food
[3rd pl. object pronoun] akavapa zvokudya

Possessive Pronouns - Shona
my name is Maya
[1st possessive pronoun] zita rangu ndimaya
your brother lives here
[2nd possessive pronoun] mukoma wako anogara pano
her mother cooks for us
[3rd possessive pronoun] amai vake vanotibikira
his hobby is reading books
[3rd possessive pronoun] anonakidzwa nokuverenga mabhuku
our dream is to visit Paris
[1st pl. possessive pronoun] tinoshuva kushanyira paris
their house is not far
[3rd pl. possessive pronoun] imba yavo haisi kure

One more thing you need to know is the demonstrative pronouns. They're very easy to learn.

Demonstrative Pronouns - Shona
this is my house iyi ndiyo imba yangu
that restaurant is far restorendi iyo haisi kure
these apples are delicious maapuro aya anonaka
those stars are shiny nyeredzi idzo dziri kutaima

I hope you learned a lot about the Shona grammar in this lesson. Please check out our main menu here for more lessons: homepage. The next lesson is below, have fun!

Inspirational Quote: First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. Epictetus

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