Giving a direct command to a single person is probably the simplest thing to do grammatically in Swahili. To give a direct command, all we need to do is say the basic, unconjugated form (verb root + verb end) of the necessary verb. When giving direct commands with monosyllabic verbs, we keep the monosyllabic “-ku-.”
Some examples of direct commands:
Toka!: Leave / go away!
Acha!: Stop what you’re doing!
Endelea!: Continue! / keep going!
Soma kitabu!: Read the book!
Ongeza sukari!: Add more sugar!
Nunua maembe hayo!: Buy those mangoes!
You will often hear (or use) commands given along with the modifier “tu,” meaning “just.” As in:
Fanya tu! Just do it!
Sema tu!: Just say it!
Chukua tu!: Just take it!
There are two key “irregular” commands that you will use all the time:
Njoo!: Come here! (We don’t say “kuja!”)
Direct Commands to Multiple People
When giving commands to multiple people, we follow these rules:
1) Just as in the direct command to a single person, we do not use a subject prefix or tense marker
2) If the verb end is “-a”, we change the verb end to “-e,” just as we do in the subjunctive tense
3) We attach the suffix “-ni” to the verb end.
Pandeni mbegu hizi: Plant these seeds!
Amkieni wageni!: Greet the guests!
Tokeni!: Go away!
For our two irregular commands, we just add the suffix “-ni”:
Njooni! : Come here!
Let’s now combine our knowledge of commands and demonstratives. How would you say the following? Check your answers against the audio:
Open that door!
Use that toilet!
Open these windows!
Come back here (this exact place) later!