Zulu Grammar

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

Prepositions
Zulu
and
bese Audio
above
ngaphezu Audio
under
ngaphansi Audio
before
ngaphambi Audio
after
ngemuva Audio
in front of
ngaphambi Audio
behind
ngemuva Audio
far from
kude kune- Audio
near
eduze Audio
in
e- Audio
inside
ngaphakathi Audio
outside
ngaphandle Audio
with
no- Audio
without
ngaphandle Audio
about
mayelana Audio
between
phakathi Audio
but
kodwa Audio
for
ye- Audio
from
kusukela 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
Zulu
I eat without a knife
[preposition + noun]
ngidla ngaphandle kommese Audio
she lives near the church
[verb + preposition]
uhlala eduze kwesonto Audio
he is taller than her
[adjective + preposition]
mude kunaye Audio
he came with his small dog
[preposition + pronoun]
ufike nenja yakhe encane Audio
can you come with me?
[preposition + pronoun]
ungahamba nami? Audio

Negation in Zulu

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
Zulu
I understand you
[affirmative form]
ngiyakuzwa Audio
I don't understand you
[negation + verb]
angikuzwa Audio
this is not the correct word
[negation + adjective]
akusilo igama elifanele leli Audio
don't leave me
[imperative negation]
ungangishiyi Audio
no problem
[negation + noun]
ayikho inkinga Audio

Negative Sentences
Zulu
I don't speak French
[negation + present tense]
angisikhulumi isifrench Audio
she didn't visit Germany
[negation + past tense]
akavakasheli ejalimani Audio
he cannot see us
[negative modal verb]
akasiboni Audio
can't she play chess?
[interrogative negation]
akakwazi ukudlala i-chess? Audio
we will not come late
[negation + future tense]
ngeke sifike emuva kwesikhathi Audio

Questions in Zulu

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

English
Zulu
how?
kanjani? Audio
what?
ini? Audio
who?
ubani? Audio
why?
ngobani? Audio
where?
kuphi? Audio

More of the interrogative form, now in a sentence:

Questions + Rules
Zulu
where do you live?
[interrogative + verb]
uhlala kuphi? Audio
does she speak Chinese?
[interrogative verb]
ukhuluma isishayina? Audio
how much is this?
[interrogative preposition]
kuyimalini loku? Audio
can I help you?
[interrogative modal verb]
ngingakusiza? Audio
what is your name?
[interrogative preposition]
ubani igama lakho? Audio

Adverbs in Zulu

It's time to learn the adverbs in Zulu. 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
Zulu
now
manje Audio
yesterday
izolo Audio
today
namuhla Audio
tonight
namuhla ebusuku Audio
tomorrow
kusasa Audio
soon
maduze Audio
quickly
ngokushesha Audio
slowly
kancane Audio
together
ndawonye Audio
very
kakhulu Audio
almost
cishe Audio
always
njalo Audio
usually
ngokujwayelekile Audio
sometimes
ngesinye isikhathi Audio
rarely
ngokungavamile 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
Zulu
do you understand me now?
[pronoun + adverb]
uyangizwa manje? Audio
I need help immediately
[noun + adverb]
ngidinga usizo ngokushesha Audio
she is very intelligent
[adverb + adjective]
ukhaliphe kakhulu Audio
I will always love you
[verb + adverb]
ngiyohla ngikuthanda Audio
can we learn German together?
[adverb in a question]
singakwazi ukufunda isijalimani ndawonye? Audio

Pronouns in Zulu

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

Object Pronouns
Zulu
me
mina Audio
you
wena Audio
him
yena Audio
her
yena Audio
us
thina Audio
them
bona Audio

Possessive Pronouns
Zulu
my
okwami Audio
your
okwakho Audio
his
okwakhe Audio
her
okwakhe Audio
our
okwethu Audio
their
okwabo 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
Zulu
I am your friend
[1st pronoun + verb]
ngingumngane wakho Audio
you speak very fast
[2nd pronoun + adverb]
ukhuluma usheshise Audio
he has three dogs
[3rd pronoun + verb]
unezinja ezintathu Audio
she can speak German
[3rd pronoun + verb]
ukwazi ukukhuluma isijalimani Audio
we will not come late
[1st plural pronoun]
ngeke sifike emuva kwesikhathi Audio
they bought milk and bread
[3rd plural pronoun]
bathenge ubisi nesinkwa 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
Zulu
can you tell me your name?
[1st object pronoun]
ungangitshela igama lakho? Audio
I will give you money
[2nd object pronoun]
ngizokunikeza imali Audio
she wrote him a letter
[3rd object pronoun]
umubhalele incwadi Audio
they visited her yesterday
[3rd object pronoun]
bamuvakashele izolo Audio
can she help us?
[1st pl. object pronoun]
angasisiza? Audio
he gave them food
[3rd pl. object pronoun]
ubaninkeze ukudla Audio

Possessive Pronouns
Zulu
my name is Maya
[1st possessive pronoun]
igama lami umaya Audio
your brother lives here
[2nd possessive pronoun]
umfowenu uhlala lapha Audio
her mother cooks for us
[3rd possessive pronoun]
umama wakhe uyasiphekela Audio
his hobby is reading books
[3rd possessive pronoun]
uthanda ukufunda izincwadi Audio
our dream is to visit Paris
[1st pl. possessive pronoun]
iphupho lethu ukuvakashela eparis Audio
their house is not far
[3rd pl. possessive pronoun]
umuzi wabo awukho kude Audio

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

Demonstrative Pronouns
Zulu
this is my house
indlu yami lena Audio
that restaurant is far
i-restaurant ayikho kude Audio
these apples are delicious
lamahhabhula amunandi Audio
those stars are shiny
lezo zinkanyezi ziyabenyezela Audio

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

Zulu Phrases   Zulu Phrases

Zulu Vocabulary   Zulu Vocabulary



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