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Yoruba Grammar

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

Prepositions - Yoruba
and ati
above loke
under nisale
before saaju
after lehin
in front of niwaju
behind lehin
far from jina si
near nitosi
in inu
inside ninu
outside ita
with pelu
without laisi
about nipa
between laarin
but sugbon
for fun
from lati
to si

Preposition Grammar Rules

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

Prepositions + Rules - Yoruba
I eat without a knife
[preposition + noun] mo maa njeun laisi obe
she lives near the church
[verb + preposition] o ngbe nitosi ile-ijosin
he is taller than her
[adjective + preposition] o ngbe nitosi ile-ijosin
he came with his small dog
[preposition + pronoun] o wa pelu aja re kekere
can you come with me?
[preposition + pronoun] nje o le wa pelu mi?

Negation in Yoruba

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 - Yoruba
I understand you
[affirmative form] oro re ye mi
I don't understand you
[negation + verb] oro re ko ye mi
this is not the correct word
[negation + adjective] eyi ki i se oro ti o ye
don't leave me
[imperative negation] mase fi mi sile
no problem
[negation + noun] ko si wahala

Negative Sentences - Yoruba
I don't speak French
[negation + present tense] nko le e so faranse
she didn't visit Germany
[negation + past tense] ko se ibewo si jamani
he cannot see us
[negative modal verb] ko le e ri wa
can't she play chess?
[interrogative negation] se ko le ta ayo olopon ni?
we will not come late
[negation + future tense] a ko ni pe de

Questions in Yoruba

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

English - Yoruba
how? bawo?
what? kini?
who? taani?
why? nitori kini?
where? nibo?

More of the interrogative form, now in a sentence:

Questions + Rules - Yoruba
where do you live?
[interrogative + verb] nibo lo ngbe?
does she speak Chinese?
[interrogative verb] nje o nso ede chinese?
how much is this?
[interrogative preposition] eelo ni eyi?
can I help you?
[interrogative modal verb] nje mo le ran o lowo?
what is your name?
[interrogative preposition] kini oruko re?

Adverbs in Yoruba

It's time to learn the adverbs in Yoruba. 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 - Yoruba
now nisisiyi
yesterday ana
today oni
tonight ale yi
tomorrow ola
soon laipe
quickly kiakia
slowly yo-kele
together wa-papo
very looto
almost ku-die
always nigbagbogbo
usually welewele
sometimes nigbamiran
rarely agbara-kaka
never beeko-lae

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

Adverbs + Rules - Yoruba
do you understand me now?
[pronoun + adverb] se oro mi ye o bayi?
I need help immediately
[noun + adverb] mo nilo iranlowo loju-ese
she is very intelligent
[adverb + adjective] o je ologbon
I will always love you
[verb + adverb] ma a ma feran re nigbagbogbo
can we learn German together?
[adverb in a question] se a le jo ko ede jamani papo

Pronouns in Yoruba

We're almost done! This time we will learn the pronouns in Yoruba. 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 - Yoruba
I emi
you iwo
he oun
she oun
we awa
they awon

Object Pronouns - Yoruba
me mi
you iwo
him un
her un
us wa
them won

Possessive Pronouns - Yoruba
my mi
your re
his tire
her tire
our wa
their won

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 - Yoruba
I am your friend
[1st pronoun + verb] emi ni ore re
you speak very fast
[2nd pronoun + adverb] o nyara soro
he has three dogs
[3rd pronoun + verb] o ni aja meta
she can speak German
[3rd pronoun + verb] o le so ede jaman
we will not come late
[1st plural pronoun] a ko ni pe de
they bought milk and bread
[3rd plural pronoun] won ra wara ati buredi

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 - Yoruba
can you tell me your name?
[1st object pronoun] nje o le so oruko re fun mi?
I will give you money
[2nd object pronoun] ma a fun e ni owo
she wrote him a letter
[3rd object pronoun] o ko leta kan si i
they visited her yesterday
[3rd object pronoun] won se abewo re lana
can she help us?
[1st pl. object pronoun] se o le ran wa lowo?
he gave them food
[3rd pl. object pronoun] o fun won lounje

Possessive Pronouns - Yoruba
my name is Maya
[1st possessive pronoun] oruko mi ni maya
your brother lives here
[2nd possessive pronoun] arakunrin re ngbe ibiyi
her mother cooks for us
[3rd possessive pronoun] iya re se-ounje fun wa
his hobby is reading books
[3rd possessive pronoun] ise ti o feran lati se ni akoko igbategun ni iwe kika
our dream is to visit Paris
[1st pl. possessive pronoun] ero wa ni lati se abewo si paris
their house is not far
[3rd pl. possessive pronoun] ile won ko jina

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

Demonstrative Pronouns - Yoruba
this is my house ile mi niyi
that restaurant is far ile itaounje jinna
these apples are delicious awon eso apu yi dun
those stars are shiny awon irawo yen ntan

I hope you learned a lot about the Yoruba 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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