Swahili: Unit 6 (Part 2) – Direct Commands

Direct Commands

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:

Sikiliza!: Listen!

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!

Kula!: Eat!

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!”)

Nenda!: Go

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.

Some examples:

Pandeni mbegu hizi: Plant these seeds!

Amkieni wageni!: Greet the guests!

Subirini!: Wait!

Tokeni!: Go away!

For our two irregular commands, we just add the suffix “-ni”:

Njooni! : Come here!

Nendeni!: Go!

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!

4 comments

  1. Pierre Gaudissart · · Reply

    Phonetic number one “open that door” translated as phonetic “number four”
    Please check

    1. Thanks for pointing this out, Pierre. It’s been taken care of!

  2. where does tujifunze kiswahili come from?
    tu from we
    jifunza from learn
    no change from a to e
    no tense marker?

    and kapike? I heard that somewhere

    1. Hi Tony. Unfortunately we currently don’t have a system to give online assistance. Just to help you with this one (exception to the rule) tujifunze is a command and that’s why it has a particular grammar. You can learn more exactly in unit 6. Hope this is helpful.

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