Swahili: Unit 8 – Negations

UNIT OBJECTIVES

By the end of this unit, you should be able to:

  • Negate verbs in all basic tenses for subjects in all noun classes
  • Form compound verb constructions
  • Master the following vocabulary: Unit 8 Vocabulary

NEW CONTENT

Here’s the lecture audio, if you’d like to listen along:

STROVE: NEGATIONS

Now that you are experts of conjugating verbs in affirmative tenses, it’s time to learn how to negate verbs. To say, “I am not, I did not, I have not, and I will not.” Negations are built upon the same STROVE structure as affirmative verb tenses, but with some new “building blocks” for each section. We’ll break down the transition from affirmative to negative by each STROVE component:

Subject Prefix (S)

When negating verbs, we modify our subject prefixes in the following way:

Subject

Affirmative Prefix

Negative Prefix

Mimi Ni- Si-
Wewe U- Hu-
Yeye A- Ha-
Sisi Tu- Hatu-
Ninyi M- Ham-
Wao Wa- Hawa-
Noun class 1 A- Ha-
Noun class 2 Wa- Hawa-
Noun class 3 U- Hau-
Noun class 4 I- Hai-
Noun class 5 Li- Hali-
Noun class 6 Ya- Haya-
Noun class 7 Ki- Haki-
Noun class 8 Vi- Havi-
Noun class 9 I- Hai-
Noun class 10 Zi- Hazi-
Noun class 11 U- Hau-
Noun class 14 U- Hau-

You’ll see an obvious pattern here: to negate nearly all subject prefixes, you simply add “ha-” before the affirmative subject prefix. The only true exception is the first person singular (mimi), where the subject prefix “ni-” turns to “si-”. In the cases of the second and third persons singular (wewe + yeye), the basic rule technically applies, but in common speech the double vowel sounds of “hau-” and “haa-” are slurred into the single vowel “hu-” and “ha-.”

Tense Marker (T)

Tense Affirmative Marker Negative Marker
Present -na- -(-)-
Simple Past -li- -ku-
Past Perfect -me- -ja-
Future -ta- -ta-

When negating verbs in the present tense, you drop the tense marker, so the subject prefix flows right into the verb root. Tense markers are used in the other basic tenses. Note the new markers for the simple past and past perfect tenses.

For monosyllabic verbs (kula, kuja, kupa) the rules are as follows:

Present tense: Drop the -ku-

Simple Past tense: Drop the -ku-

Past perfect tense: Drop the -ku-

Future tense: Keep the -ku-

Verb Root (V)

This never changes!

Verb End (E)

In the present tense (and only in the present tense), the verb end “-a” changes to “-i” in negated verbs. Verbs ending in “i”, “u”, and “e” do not change. There are no changes to the Verb End in other tenses.

So lets break down some examples of negated verbs:

Present Tense

Ninataka :: Sitaki // Ni-na-tak-a :: Si-(-)-tak-i

  • · Subject Prefix: “Ni-“ turns to “Si-“
  • · Tense marker: “-na-” disappears (-)
  • · Verb root: “-tak-” is unchanged
  • · Verb end: “-a” turns to “-i”

Unasoma :: Husomi // U-na-som-a :: Hu-(-)-som-i

  • · Subject Prefix: “U-“ turns to “Hu-“
  • · Tense marker: “-na-” disappears (-)
  • · Verb root: “-som-” is unchanged
  • · Verb end: “-a” turns to “-i”

Anaenda :: Haendi // A-na-end-a :: Ha-(-)-end-i

  • · Subject Prefix: “A-“ turns to “Ha-“
  • · Tense marker: “-na-” disappears (-)
  • · Verb root: “-end-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” turns to “-i”

Tunafika :: Hatufiki // Tu-na-fik-a :: Hatu-(-)-fik-i

  • · Subject Prefix: “Tu-“ turns to “Hatu-“
  • · Tense marker: “-na-” disappears (-)
  • · Verb root: “-fik-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” turns to “-i”

Mnapanda :: Hampandi // M-na-pand-a :: Ham-(-)-pand-i

  • · Subject Prefix: “M-“ turns to “Ham-“
  • · Tense marker: “-na-” disappears (-)
  • · Verb root: “-pand-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” turns to “-i”

Wanasubiri ::  Hawasubiri // Wa-na-subir-i-::  Hawa-(-)-subir-i

  • · Subject Prefix: “Wa-“ turns to “Hawa-“
  • · Tense marker: “-na-” disappears
  • · Verb root: “-subir-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-i” does not change

Kinafaa :: Hakifai // Ki-na-fa-a :: Haki-(-)-fa-i

  • · Subject Prefix: “Ki-“ turns to “Haki-“
  • · Tense marker: “-na-” disappears
  • · Verb root: “-fa-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” turns to “-i”

A monosyllabic example:

Unakunywa :: Hunywi // U-na-(ku)-nyw-a :: Hu-(-)-(-)-nyw-i

  • · Subject Prefix: “U-“ turns to “Hu-“
  • · Tense marker: “-na-” disappears
  •   Infinitive “-ku-“: Drops!
  • · Verb root: “-fa-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “a-” turns to “-i”

Simple Past

Niliambia :: Sikuambia // Ni-li-ambi-a :: Si-ku-ambi-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “Ni-“ turns to “Si-“
  • · Tense marker: “-li-” turns to “-ku-”
  • · Verb root: “-ambi-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Uliona ::  Hukuona // U-li-on-a :: Hu-ku-on-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “U-“ turns to “Hu-“
  • · Tense marker: “-li-” turns to “-ku-”
  • · Verb root: “-on-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Alisikiliza :: Hakusikiliza // A-li-sikiliz-a :: Ha-ku-sikiliz-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “A-“ turns to “Ha-“
  • · Tense marker: “-li-” turns to “-ku-”
  • · Verb root: “-sikiliz-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Tulituma :: Hatukutuma // Tu-li-tum-a :: Hatu-ku-tum-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “Tu-“ turns to “Hatu-“
  • · Tense marker: “-li-” turns to “-ku-”
  • · Verb root: “-tum-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Mliacha :: Hamkuacha // M-li-ach-a :: Ham-ku-ach-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “M-“ turns to “Ham-“
  • · Tense marker: “-li-” turns to “-ku-”
  • · Verb root: “-ach-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Waliweza :: Hawakuweza // Wa-li-wez-a :: Hawa-ku-wez-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “Wa-“ turns to “Hawa-“
  • · Tense marker: “-li-” turns to “-ku-”
  • · Verb root: “-wez-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Lilifaa :: Halikufaa // Li-li-fa-a :: Hali-ku-fa-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “Li-“ turns to “Hali-“
  • · Tense marker: “-li-” turns to “-ku-”
  • · Verb root: “-fa-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

A monosyllabic example: Alikula :: Hakula // A-li-(ku)-l-a :: Ha-ku-(-)-l-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “A-“ turns to “Ha-“
  • · Tense marker: “-li-” turns to “-ku-”
  •   Infinitive -ku-: Drops!
  • · Verb root: “-l-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Past Perfect

Nimesema :: Sijasema // Ni-me-sem-a :: Si-ja-sem-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “Ni-“ turns to “Si-“
  • · Tense marker: “-me-” turns to “-ja-”
  • · Verb root: “-sem-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Umevuna ::  Hujavuna // U-me-vun-a :: Hu-ja-vun-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “U-“ turns to “Hu-“
  • · Tense marker: “-me-” turns to “-ja-”
  • · Verb root: “-vun-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Amezoea :: Hajazoea // A-me-zoe-a :: Ha-ja-zoe-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “A-“ turns to “Ha-“
  • · Tense marker: “-me-” turns to “-ja-”
  • · Verb root: “-zoe-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Tumetafuta :: Hatujatafuta // Tu-me-tafut-a :: Hatu-ja-tafut-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “Tu-“ turns to “Hatu-“
  • · Tense marker: “-me-” turns to “-ja-”
  • · Verb root: “-tafut-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Mmejifunza :: Hamjajifunza// M-me-jifunz-a :: Ham-ja-jifunz-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “M-“ turns to “Ham-“
  • · Tense marker: “-me-” turns to “-ja-”
  • · Verb root: “-jifunz-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Wamepokea :: Hawajapokea // Wa-me-poke-a // Hawa-ja-poke-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “Wa-“ turns to “Hawa-“
  • · Tense marker: “-me-” turns to “-ja-”
  • · Verb root: “-poke-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Imepita:: Haijapita: I-me-pit-a // Hai-ja-pit-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “I-“ turns to “Hai-“
  • · Tense marker: “-me-” turns to “-ja-”
  • · Verb root: “-pit-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

A monosyllabic example: Wamekufa :: Hawajafa // Wa-me-(ku)-f-a :: Hawa-ja-(-)-f-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “Wa-“ turns to “Hawa-“
  • · Tense marker: “-me-” turns to “-ja-“
  •   Infinitive “-ku-“: Drops!
  • · Verb root: “-f-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “a” stays the same

Perfect Tense

Nitalima :: Sitalima // Ni-ta-lim-a :: Si-ta-lim-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “Ni-“ turns to “Si-“
  • · Tense marker: “-ta-” does not change
  • · Verb root: “-sem-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Utalala :: Hutalala // U-ta-lal-a :: Hu-ta-lal-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “U-“ turns to “Hu-“
  • · Tense marker: “-ta-” does not change
  • · Verb root: “-lal-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Atafanya :: Hatafanya // A-ta-fany-a :: Ha-ta-fany-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “A-“ turns to “Ha-“
  • · Tense marker: “-ta-” does not change
  • · Verb root: “-fany-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Tutafundisaha :: Hatutafundisha // Tu-ta-fundish-a :: Hatu-ta-fundish-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “Tu-“ turns to “Hatu-“
  • · Tense marker: “-ta-” does not change
  • · Verb root: “-fundish-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Mtaendelea :: Hamtaendelea // M-ta-endele-a :: Ham-ta-endele-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “M-“ turns to “Ham-“
  • · Tense marker: “-ta-” does not change
  • · Verb root: “-endele-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

Wataishi :: Hawataishi // Wa-ta-ish-i :: Hawa-ta-ish-i

  • · Subject Prefix: “Wa-“ turns to “Hawa-“
  • · Tense marker: “-ta-” does not change
  • · Verb root: “-ish-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-i” does not change

Zitachukua :: Hazitachukua // Zi-ta-chuku-a :: Hazi-ta-chuku-a

  •  Subject Prefix: “Zi-“ turns to “Hazi-“
  • · Tense marker: “-ta-” does not change
  • · Verb root: “-chuku-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” does not change

A monosyllabic example: Itakupa :: Haitakupa // Ha-i-ta-(ku)-p-a :: Hai-ta-(ku)-p-a

  • · Subject Prefix: “i-“ turns to “Hai-“
  • · Tense marker: “-ta-” stays the same
  •   Infinitive “-ku-“: Stays!
  • · Verb root: “-p-” does not change
  • · Verb end: “-a” stays the same

When you used a negated verb in a sentence, nothing changes but the verb being negated. So to say “I want to buy mangoes” in Swahili, you’d say “Ninataka kununua maembe.” To say, “I don’t want to buy mangoes” in Swahili, you’d say, “Sitaki kununua maembe.”

**Note for budding grammar purists: there are several verbs used as examples here whose verb ends are not actually the simple “a” as we pretend here. Note the similarities between the verbs “sikia” (hear) and “sikiliza” (listen) and “enda” (go) and “endelea” (continue). “Sikiliza” and “endelea” both utilize modified verb endings to create new meanings from their verb roots. This is an exciting part of Swahili grammar that we will get to later.

NEGATING KUWA AND KUWA NA

As you might have expected, the negation for the verb “kuwa” and verb phrase “kuwa na” are irregular in the present tense. In the present tense, the negative conjugation of kuwa for all noun classes is simply “si”:

Mimi si mkulima: I am not a farmer

Yeye si mwanakikundi: He/she is not a group member

Sisi si wataalamu: We are not experts

In all other tenses, we negate “kuwa” just as we do other monosyllabic verbs:

Safari haikuwa ndefu: The trip was not long

Mkate hautakuwa mzuri kesho: The bread will not be good tomorrow

Mavuno hayajawa mazuri: The harvests have not been good

To negate “kuwa na” in the present tense, we simply attach the “na” to our full negative subject prefix:

Mimi sina tatizo: I have no problem

Juma hana mke: Juma has no wife

Sisi hatuna mbegu: We don’t have seeds

Nyumba haina mlango: The house does not have a door

Matango hayana soko: Cucumbers do not have a market

In all other tenses, we separate our standard conjugation of “kuwa” and “na” into two words:

Tutakuwa na kikao leo: We will have a meeting today

Nimekuwa na wageni tangu jana: I have had visitors since yesterday

Bustani zetu hazijawa na magonjwa: Our gardens have not had diseases

Hawatakuwa na kazi  kesho: They will not have  work tomorrow

EXERCISES

Listening comprehension questions for Unit 8 dialogues are in the worksheet.

Swahili Unit 8 Worksheet

Swahili Unit 8 Worksheet Answers

Unit 8 Dialogue:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: