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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. 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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