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Xhosa Grammar

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

Prepositions - Xhosa
and futhi Audio
above ngaphezulu Audio
under ngaphantsi Audio
before ngaphambi Audio
after emva Audio
in front of phambi kwe Audio
behind emva kwe Audio
far from kude ne Audio
near kufuphi Audio
in phakathi Audio
inside ngaphakathi Audio
outside ngaphandle Audio
with kunye Audio
without ngaphandle Audio
about nge Audio
between phakathi Audio
but kodwa Audio
for ye Audio
from suka Audio
to kuya Audio

Preposition Grammar Rules

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

Prepositions + Rules - Xhosa
I eat without a knife
[preposition + noun] nditya ngaphandle kwemela Audio
she lives near the church
[verb + preposition] uhlala kufuphi necawe Audio
he is taller than her
[adjective + preposition] mde kunaye Audio
he came with his small dog
[preposition + pronoun] uzenenja yakhe encinane Audio
can you come with me?
[preposition + pronoun] ungahamba nam? Audio

Negation in Xhosa

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 - Xhosa
I understand you
[affirmative form] Ndiyakuva Audio
I don't understand you
[negation + verb] Andikuva kakuhla Audio
this is not the correct word
[negation + adjective] asilogama lichanileyo eli Audio
don't leave me
[imperative negation] ungandishiyi Audio
no problem
[negation + noun] akhongxaki Audio

Negative Sentences - Xhosa
I don't speak French
[negation + present tense] andithethi isifrench Audio
she didn't visit Germany
[negation + past tense] akatyelelanga eJamani Audio
he cannot see us
[negative modal verb] akanakusibona Audio
can't she play chess?
[interrogative negation] angakwazi ukudlala ichess? Audio
we will not come late
[negation + future tense] asinakubuya kuhlwile Audio

Questions in Xhosa

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

English - Xhosa
how? njani? Audio
what? intoni? Audio
who? ubani? Audio
why? ngoba? Audio
where? phi? Audio

More of the interrogative form, now in a sentence:

Questions + Rules - Xhosa
where do you live?
[interrogative + verb] uhlalaphi? Audio
does she speak Chinese?
[interrogative verb] ngaba uthetha isiChina Audio
how much is this?
[interrogative preposition] yimalini lento? Audio
can I help you?
[interrogative modal verb] ndingakunceda? Audio
what is your name?
[interrogative preposition] ungubani igama lakho? Audio

Adverbs in Xhosa

It's time to learn the adverbs in Xhosa. 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 - Xhosa
now ngoku Audio
yesterday izolo Audio
today namhlanje Audio
tonight ebusuku Audio
tomorrow ngomso Audio
soon kungekudala Audio
quickly ngokukhawuleza Audio
slowly kancinane Audio
together sonke Audio
very kakhulu Audio
almost phantse Audio
always soloko Audio
usually uqhele Audio
sometimes ngamanye amaxesha Audio
rarely hayi rhoqo Audio
never soze Audio

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

Adverbs + Rules - Xhosa
do you understand me now?
[pronoun + adverb] uyandiqonda ngoku? Audio
I need help immediately
[noun + adverb] ndifuna uncedo ngoku Audio
she is very intelligent
[adverb + adjective] unegqondo kakhulu Audio
I will always love you
[verb + adverb] ndosoloko ndikuthanda Audio
can we learn German together?
[adverb in a question] singafunda isiJamani kunye? Audio

Pronouns in Xhosa

We're almost done! This time we will learn the pronouns in Xhosa. 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 - Xhosa
I mna Audio
you wena Audio
he yena Audio
she yena Audio
we thina Audio
they bona Audio

Object Pronouns - Xhosa
me mna Audio
you wena Audio
him yena Audio
her yena Audio
us thina Audio
them bona Audio

Possessive Pronouns - Xhosa
my eyam Audio
your yakho Audio
his yakhe Audio
her yena Audio
our yethu Audio
their yabo 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 - Xhosa
I am your friend
[1st pronoun + verb] ndingumhlobo wakho Audio
you speak very fast
[2nd pronoun + adverb] uthetha ngokukhawuleza Audio
he has three dogs
[3rd pronoun + verb] unezinja ezintathu Audio
she can speak German
[3rd pronoun + verb] angasithetha isiJamani Audio
we will not come late
[1st plural pronoun] asuzubuya kuhlwile Audio
they bought milk and bread
[3rd plural pronoun] bathenge ubisi nesonka 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 - Xhosa
can you tell me your name?
[1st object pronoun] ungandixelela igama lakho? Audio
I will give you money
[2nd object pronoun] ndizakunika imali Audio
she wrote him a letter
[3rd object pronoun] wambhalela incwadi Audio
they visited her yesterday
[3rd object pronoun] bamtyelele izolo Audio
can she help us?
[1st pl. object pronoun] angasinceda? Audio
he gave them food
[3rd pl. object pronoun] ubaphe ukutya Audio

Possessive Pronouns - Xhosa
my name is Maya
[1st possessive pronoun] igama lam ndinguMaya Audio
your brother lives here
[2nd possessive pronoun] umtakwenu uhlala apha Audio
her mother cooks for us
[3rd possessive pronoun] umamawakhe uyasiphekela Audio
his hobby is reading books
[3rd possessive pronoun] uthanda ukufunda iincwadi Audio
our dream is to visit Paris
[1st pl. possessive pronoun] iphupha lethu kukutyelela ePerisi Audio
their house is not far
[3rd pl. possessive pronoun] indlu yabo ayikho kude Audio

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

Demonstrative Pronouns - Xhosa
this is my house yindlu yam Audio
that restaurant is far landawo yokutyela ikude Audio
these apples are delicious lama apile amnandi Audio
those stars are shiny ezonkwenkwezi ziyakhazimla Audio

I hope you learned a lot about the Xhosa 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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