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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. 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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