Swahili Grammar

Welcome to the 8th lesson about Swahili 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 Swahili and English the preposition is [and] because it connects both words Swahili and English. The following is a list of the most used prepositions in Swahili.

Prepositions
Swahili
and
na Audio
above
juu Audio
under
chini ya Audio
before
kabla Audio
after
baada ya Audio
in front of
mbele ya Audio
behind
nyuma Audio
far from
mbali na Audio
near
karibu Audio
in
katika Audio
inside
ndani Audio
outside
nje Audio
with
na Audio
without
bila Audio
about
kuhusu Audio
between
kati ya Audio
but
lakini Audio
for
kwa Audio
from
kutoka Audio
to
kwa Audio

Preposition Grammar Rules

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

Prepositions + Rules
Swahili
I eat without a knife
[preposition + noun]
mimi hula bila kisu Audio
she lives near the church
[verb + preposition]
yeye anaishi karibu na kanisa Audio
he is taller than her
[adjective + preposition]
yeye ni mirefu kumliko Audio
he came with his small dog
[preposition + pronoun]
alikuja na mbwa wake mdogo Audio
can you come with me?
[preposition + pronoun]
unaweza kuja na mimi? Audio

Negation in Swahili

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
Swahili
I understand you
[affirmative form]
ninaelewa Audio
I don't understand you
[negation + verb]
siekuelewi Audio
this is not the correct word
[negation + adjective]
hili si neno sahihi Audio
don't leave me
[imperative negation]
usiniache Audio
no problem
[negation + noun]
hakuna shida Audio

Negative Sentences
Swahili
I don't speak French
[negation + present tense]
sielewi kifaransa Audio
she didn't visit Germany
[negation + past tense]
yeye hakuenda ziara ya ujerumani Audio
he cannot see us
[negative modal verb]
hawezi kutuona Audio
can't she play chess?
[interrogative negation]
hawezi kucheza saratanji? Audio
we will not come late
[negation + future tense]
je sisi si kuja mwishoni mwa Audio

Questions in Swahili

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

English
Swahili
how?
aje? Audio
what?
nini? Audio
who?
nani? Audio
why?
kwa nini? Audio
where?
wapi? Audio

More of the interrogative form, now in a sentence:

Questions + Rules
Swahili
where do you live?
[interrogative + verb]
unaishi wapi? Audio
does she speak Chinese?
[interrogative verb]
yeye huelewa kichina? Audio
how much is this?
[interrogative preposition]
ni kiasi gani hii? Audio
can I help you?
[interrogative modal verb]
ninaweza kukusaidia? Audio
what is your name?
[interrogative preposition]
jina lako ni nani? Audio

Adverbs in Swahili

It's time to learn the adverbs in Swahili. 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
Swahili
now
sasa Audio
yesterday
jana Audio
today
leo Audio
tonight
usiku wa leo Audio
tomorrow
kesho Audio
soon
hivi karibuni Audio
quickly
haraka Audio
slowly
polepole Audio
together
pamoja Audio
very
sana Audio
almost
karibu Audio
always
kawaida Audio
usually
kawaida Audio
sometimes
mara kwa mara Audio
rarely
mara chache Audio
never
kamwe Audio

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

Adverbs + Rules
Swahili
do you understand me now?
[pronoun + adverb]
mnanielewa sasa? Audio
I need help immediately
[noun + adverb]
ninahitaji usaidizi mara moja Audio
she is very intelligent
[adverb + adjective]
yeye ni mwerevu sana Audio
I will always love you
[verb + adverb]
nitakupenda daima Audio
can we learn German together?
[adverb in a question]
tunaweza kujifunza kijerumani pamoja? Audio

Pronouns in Swahili

We're almost done! This time we will learn the pronouns in Swahili. 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
Swahili
I
mimi Audio
you
wewe Audio
he
yeye Audio
she
yeye Audio
we
sisi Audio
they
wao Audio

Object Pronouns
Swahili
me
mimi Audio
you
wewe Audio
him
yeye Audio
her
yeye Audio
us
sisi Audio
them
wao Audio

Possessive Pronouns
Swahili
my
yangu Audio
your
yako Audio
his
yake Audio
her
yeye Audio
our
yetu Audio
their
yao Audio

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
Swahili
I am your friend
[1st pronoun + verb]
mimi ni rafiki yako Audio
you speak very fast
[2nd pronoun + adverb]
unaongea haraka sana Audio
he has three dogs
[3rd pronoun + verb]
ana mbwa watatu Audio
she can speak German
[3rd pronoun + verb]
anaweza kuonge kijerumani Audio
we will not come late
[1st plural pronoun]
hatutachelewa Audio
they bought milk and bread
[3rd plural pronoun]
walinunua maziwa na mkate Audio

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
Swahili
can you tell me your name?
[1st object pronoun]
unaweza kuniambia jina lako? Audio
I will give you money
[2nd object pronoun]
nitakupa fedha Audio
she wrote him a letter
[3rd object pronoun]
alimwandikia barua Audio
they visited her yesterday
[3rd object pronoun]
walienda kwake jana Audio
can she help us?
[1st pl. object pronoun]
anaweza kutusaidia? Audio
he gave them food
[3rd pl. object pronoun]
aliwapa chakula Audio

Possessive Pronouns
Swahili
my name is Maya
[1st possessive pronoun]
jina langu ni maya Audio
your brother lives here
[2nd possessive pronoun]
ndugu yako anaishi hapa Audio
her mother cooks for us
[3rd possessive pronoun]
mama yake hutupikia Audio
his hobby is reading books
[3rd possessive pronoun]
starehe yake ni kusoma vitabu Audio
our dream is to visit Paris
[1st pl. possessive pronoun]
tungependelea sana kuzuru paris Audio
their house is not far
[3rd pl. possessive pronoun]
nyumba yao ni mbali Audio

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

Demonstrative Pronouns
Swahili
this is my house
hii ni nyumba yangu Audio
that restaurant is far
mkahawa huo uko mbali Audio
these apples are delicious
haya tofaa ni matamu Audio
those stars are shiny
haya nyota yang'aa Audio

I hope you learned a lot about the Swahili grammar in this lesson. If you have any question about this lesson please contact me here. The next lesson is below, have fun!

Swahili Phrases   Swahili Phrases

Swahili Vocabulary   Swahili Vocabulary



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