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A GRAMMAR OF THE HAUSA
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
THE LANGUAGES OF WEST AFRICA.
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A linguistic survey of about three hundred
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KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & CO., LTD.
FREDERICK WILLIAM HUGH jMIGEOD
AUTHOR OF "THE LANGUAGES OF WEST AFRICA," " THE MENDE LANGUAGE,"
AND " MENDE NATURAL HISTORY VOCABULARY."
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & CO., LTD.
BROADWAY HOUSE, 68-74 CARTER LANE, E.G.
x\ THIS Grammar is primarily for students who have already
acquired some knowledge of the Hausa language.
In its compilation the Author has been at pains to
make the vocabulary as diversified as possible, so that
there are few words in common use that have not been
made use of.
All rules, too, have been fully illustrated, and, as re-
gards such as have only been slightly noticed by other
writers, the Author has for preference selected sentences
from texts to which all students of the language have
access. In this way the existence of the rules themselves
is more readily recognised.
The origin of the Hausa language is not inquired into
here, and etymologies are only occasionally examined.
Both of these subjects were discussed by the Author in
his recently-published work, "The Languages of West
Africa," and a repetition seemed somewhat unnecessary.
The same observation applies to the native script,
which is Arabic slightly modified. It would have been
of little use to give here the alphabet alone, unless ac-
companied by instructions for its use and by literary
specimens with transliterations, translations, and critical
notes; and to treat this subject adequately a great deal
of space would be required : hence its entire omission.
The proof-sheets of this work have been read by the
Author's brother, Mr Charles Migeod, 2nd class Resident
in Northern Nigeria.
F. W. H. MIGEOD.
GOLD COAST COLONY,
PREFACE . vii
Part I. ACCENT
Penultimate Ultimate Antepenultimate Movement of . 1
Part II. INTERCHANGEABILITY OF LETTERS
Consonants Vowels Omission of Syllables .... 3
Nature of 9
Part I. DERIVATION OF NOUNS
Simple Derived Description of Classes of Derived . . 9
Part II. GENDER
Remarks on Exceptions for Gender in Neighbouring
Languages Common Gender List of Nouns ending in
"a" which are Masculine . .16
Part III. NUMBER
Methods for forming Plural Terminations Plurals of
Simple Nouns of Verbal Nouns of Compound Nouns
Nouns without Plural Nouns without Singular Use
of Singular for Plural Plural Forms with Singular
Meaning . . . . . . . . .. . * . 20
Part IF". CASE
Remarks on Nominative and Accusative Vocative
Genitive Dative Ablative Locative . 44
General Remarks Simple Adjectives Compound Adjectives
Present Participle Past Participle Nouns used as
Adjectives Reduplication Syntax Predicative Use
Circumlocution to avoid Use of Adjectives Comparison
Personal Relative Demonstrative Final "n" with Nouns
Interrogative Indefinite Reflexive Emphatic
Reciprocal . . . . . . . ... 72
Part I. DERIVATION
Description of Classes of Derived Verbs ..... 101
Part II. DIVISION OF VERBS
Transitive Intransitive 116
Part III. AUXILIARY VERBS 119
Part IV. CONJUGATION OF THE VERB
Remarks on Conjugation Uses of the Tenses Passive
Voice Infinitive Present Participle Past Participle
Verbal Adverbs Use of Inverted Personal Pronoun
Impersonal Verbs . . . . . . . .125
Remarks on Adverbs of Place Time Manner Affirmation
and Negation Interrogation . . . . . .158
Simple Compound Examples of Uses Omission of .183
Co-ordinating Subordinating Nouns (with Particles) used
in Sense of Conjunctions Examples of Uses . . . 201
Nature of Examples Simple Compound .... 210
Simple, Nature of and Examples Compound Special
Notes on 211
Direct, Nature of, and Examples Double Indirect . .214
NATURE OF SENTENCES
Affirmative Negative Interrogative Compound . . . 216
COMMON IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS, ETC.
Salutations Seasons, Months, Days, Hours Che Chika
Chi Da Dama Damre Dau Kai Kara Maida
Sha Sa Samu Saura Yi Examples of Circum-
BIBLIOGRAPHY . 229
A GRAMMAR OF THE
ACCENT, POSITION OF
The stress accent is as a general rule 011 the penultimate
1. It is on the last syllable in some few words, as
" kadan," little.
2. In nouns taking the plural termination "ai."
3. In verb forms ending in "a" or "o" as vowels of
4. When final " s " is added to a verb for " voice "
purposes, as " zubas," from " zuba," to pour.
There are similarly a few words that take the accent
on the antepenultimate, as
Magani medicine Takalmi shoe Taberma mat
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
MOVEMENT OF ACCENT
1. When an objective pronoun follows the verb, joined
by " n," as in Present tense No. I., it takes the nature
of a suffix to the verb, and the accent is shifted to the
new penultimate syllable
Jna dubansa I am looking at him
2. When a word is reduplicated the accent usually
moves to the last syllable
Chiye-chiye plural of infinitive form of " chi " to eat
Maza-maza quickly ; but if not emphasised it remains
" maza-maza "
In reduplicated colour adjectives, however, the accent
does not move.
3. In some derived nouns the accent moves towards
the suffix ; in not a few, however, it remains unaltered
Sayowa selling from saye to sell
Jefawa throwing jefa to throw
In the latter the final vowel is long, and so rather
attracts the stress accent.
4. In some plural forms the accent remains on the same
syllable as in the singular form, though the rule is that it
should move towards the suffix
Watani months from wata
Hanaye hands ,, hanu
Hanua hands hanu
5. If "mai-" is prefixed to a noun or verb, it still
remains an accented syllable, and so the word it is prefixed
to does not change its accentuation
Maimagani doctor from magani
Maimagana a person speaking ,, magana
Maidoki horseman doki
Maigaskia man of truth gaskia
PHONETIC NOTES 3
1NTERCHANGEABILITY OF LETTERS
(1) Variation of Consonants
Some variations are merely local peculiarities.
L, R, T
These letters are interchangeable in Hausa, for phonetic
reasons, the same as they are in other negro languages.
The word in most common use subject to this variation
is the preposition "na," of. In the feminine gender it is
" ta," which is commonly shortened to " t," and " t "
in its turn may become " 1 " or " r." For instance
Ya-t-malam, Ya-1-malam, Ya-r-malam, the mallam's
daughter," are all equally correct.
Biar, bial, and biat, five, are all heard.
Halbi, harbi, to shoot ; and in Maiharabi for Maihalbi,
shooter, an exaggeration of the " r " sound is shown.
This emphasis of the " r " sound is also found in con-
nection with the preposition " of." chiefly if not entirely
in the Hausa spoken in the more northerly parts. It
is especially found after a long "a." For instance
Mine kamcriki ? What caught you 9
Kameriki = kamarki = kamaki
Saycr saycs sell
.Saycruwa saycsuwa selling
Arna asna heathen
Ycr yea throw away
llasso uk a bar so-uku up to three /////>
Zuchias?u znohia-1-su 'heir heart
4 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
N or another letter for S
Benne bisne burial
Muka tarad da yaki for Muka taras da yaki We joined in battle
P and F
Fashe pashe break
Tafshi tapshi (also tabshi, taushi) soft
F and H (H is Katsina dialect).
Fudu hudu four
Funtu huntu naked person
Tali tahi go
Bafellanchi bahillachi Fula
T, K, R
Tutut, tutuk, tutur, tutu for ever
N and M, the latter before a labial.
Kulun kulum always
Em bika ? for En bika ? Shall I folloiv you ?
T, Ch, S
Wotika, wochika wosika letter
Tasubi chasubi bead
It is often doubtful whether "ts" or "ch" should be
written, though any doubt that there may be vanishes
when the word is seen written in Arabic character.
In this connection it should be noted that the Arabic
"ta" or "tsa" is often written in Hausa for ' dal," and
" shin " for " cha."
Gb for B
A very few words admit "gb " for " b," some speakers
sounding the "g" where others do not. The "gb" is a
sound of pure negro origin
Gbache bache destroy
Gboye boye hide
(2) Vocalisation of Consonants
In some parts of the Hausa country two consonants
coming together are readily admitted. Elsewhere, especially
nearer other negro influences, such combinations are not
much found. Two alternatives exist either to insert an
intermediate vowel harmonising with the other vowels in
the word, or to vocalise the first consonant of the two.
Nearer Arabic or Berber influences the harder forms are
always found, but a negro of another tribe learning Hausa
invariably uses one of the softer forms.
It might possibly be supposed that it is the original
form of the word which has the intermediate vowelj
and that this vowel is eliminated to make the harder
form. That the reverse is the case is made clear by the
position of the accent, which is on the penultimate in the
shorter form of the word, and remains on the same syllable,
which becomes the antepenultimate, in the longer form of
The following are examples of the two processes
darime, daure, dore
It may here be noted that syllables ending in a consonant
occur more commonly in the middle of a word than at the
end, the tendency being, as here seen, to eliminate or soften
Sarki (sariki) chief
Tutuk (tutu) for ever
6 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
(3) Insertion of Semi-vowels after Consonants
" W " is commonly inserted after " k " and " g " when
followed by " o "
Akwoi for akoi there is
Gwonda gonda pawpaw
Kwoi koi egg
Kwomi (rare) komi everything
Kwoiya koiya teach
The semi- vowel "y" may be introduced after "k" and
"g" before "i" and " e." This usage seems due to the
influence of other negro languages. It is comparatively
rare in the purest forms of Hausa, if the more northerly
be taken as such, but it is found to be almost invariably
made use of in the speech of negroes of tribes to the south-
west when they speak Hausa. This is especially so in the
Gold Coast Colony.
Chauta, kyauta for keauta (written kauta) a present
Kyetu ,, ketu flint
Kyanwa kenwa cat
Gyero ,, gero corn
Nevertheless this introduction of a semi-vowel plays a
very considerable part in the formation of nouns derived
. from verbs in Hausa, indicating that this same influence
existed long ago, even if there has been an interval in which
it has ceased to operate.
For example, when the root of a word ends in " t," the
final vowel being " a " or " o," and for some grammatical
reason this vowel is changed to " e " or " i," a " y " sound
creeps in, with the effect of adding a sibilation
Sata sache = satye steal
Bata bache = batye destroy
Kotanta kotanche = kotantyi compare
This is very clearly seen in the participles
Batache = batatye destroyed
Batachia (f.) = batatyia
But Batatu (plu.)
PHONETIC NOTES 7
For the same reason are
Tarsa tarshe=tarsye help
llaii.su bahaushe = bahausye Hausa
Contraction of W and Y
These semi-vowels are often elided either in a derived
word or even when two words come together, the latter
applying to " y." It is often doubtful whether it is
more correct to write them or to omit them. It must,
however, be observed that their insertion seems preferable
in some words, and it is better to omit them in others
Tafowa = tafoa coming
Tafiy a = tafia going
Zanowa = zanoa cloths
Sunkai = sunka yi they did
The appearance of " w " or " y." in the verbal nouns
depends on the associated vowels; "a," " o," "u"
requiring " w " ; " i " requiring " y " ; and " e " either.
This interchangeability is seen in " na wuni " = " na yini,"
/ spend the day.
(1) Variation of Vowels
There is a great tendency in Hausa to use short vowels,
and many words are pronounced indifferently with long
and short sounds.
This practice may be possibly due to the former existence
of closed syllables now no longer recognisable. That they
have existed, however, may be seen from such words as
" tutuk," or " tutu," for ever.
" A " is in many words so short as to seem also " e "
or " u."
8 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
The prefix " mai- " is usually pronounced as " may " in
English, and not as the sound in the word " might."
Waje=woje side Wani = woni another Wannan = wonan this
A and U
Mamu = mumu to us Maku = muku to you
I and U
Filani (Hillani) = Fulani, Fulas Fukaf uke = fikafike feather
Rufe = riffe call Mutane = mittane men
(2) Omission of Vowels
Final " i " is the one most commonly elided. This
usually takes place when an objective pronoun is joined
to the verb
Ban san'shi ba Ba na sani shi ba I do not know him
Na gan'sbi Na gani shi I saw him
Ber'sbi Beri shi Let him
The first personal pronoun " ni " is shortened to " n "
in " zani"
Zan' for Zani / will go
Gareshi = garesa = garuss towards him
Masa = muss to him
Akasa = akass on the ground
Ya manche tagia tass He forgot his hat
Omission of Syllables
There are found both long and short forms of words.
The short forms are usually poetical
Dau, do, for dauka take up*
NOUNS are simple and derived. They have gender and
number, but are not inflected for case.
DERIVATION OF NOUNS
Simple nouns are those of which the origin cannot be
traced beyond the present form
Gona farm karifi strength
Derivatives are such nouns as can be traced to their
Mai-gona farmer Mai-karifi strong man
All infinitives may be used substantively without change
Kcdaya-n-sa da wuya To count it is difficult (lit., count-
ing of him with difficulty)
Chi-n-sa da dadi ft is nice to eat
Fade-fade ba yi ba (proverb) Talking is no good
Do-n-so, ya rasulu, domi-n-so- Because of love, Prophet, because
n-fiyaye of love of God (lit., Excellence)
(For further examples see under the Verb (Infinitive).)
Derivation of nouns takes place by means of prefixes
and suffixes, and sometimes by means of both together.
10 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Derived nouns are formed in the following ways :
1. Noun with personal particle prefixed.
2. Noun with material particle prefixed.
3. Verb with personal particle prefixed.
4. Verb with material particle prefixed.
5. Verb with prefix.
6. Noun with suffix.
7. Verb or adjective with suffix.
8. With suffix or unchanged.
9. Feminine nouns derived from masculine form.
10. Nouns ending in " ya."
11. Compound nouns.
12. Adjective used as noun.
13. Noun phrases.
Description of Classes of Derived Nouns
1 . Concrete nouns formed from other nouns with personal
particle prefixed. There are four particles relating to
persons : " ba," " da," " mai," " ma."
" Ba " means inhabitant of a country, and is compounded
with place names for the most part
Ba-haushe Hausa man Ba-hausa Hausa woman
Ba-kano Kano man Bature white man
(Further examples are given in the tables of plurals.)
Da (" ya " feminine)
" Da," meaning child, is compounded with place names
when it means native of. With other nouns it acts as
a diminutive. Unlike ' ; ba," the preposition " n," of, is
Da-n-Kano native of Kano Da-n-birni native of the city
Da-n-akwia kid Da-n-zunzua a little bird
Ya-l-Kano femal': native of Kano, daughter of Kano
Also in some idiomatic cases.
Da-n-zane a fragment of cloth Da-n-bindiga soldier
" Mai " means ovmer of or doer, and expresses the agent,
Mai-gona owner of a farm
Mai-gaskia a man of truth, or one speaking the truth
Mai-wayo a cunning person
Mai-shi the owner of it (shi is the 3rd personal pronoun)
NOTE. " Mai " also forms adjectives and the present participle,
" Ma " is a personal particle as well as a material particle.
It has a similar sense to " mai," as a personal particle,
but it is not compounded with nouns in their simple
Mafauta, butcher, from fauta, slaughter, itself derived from fawa,
Mafauchi, butcher, from fawa (fauchi is not found)
Makaranchi, scholar, from karanta, to read (karanchi is not found)
2. Concrete nouns with material particle prefixed. There
is only one prefix, " ma-."
As in the preceding class, it is prefixed, not to the pure
noun form, but to a derived form
Matsorachi, cowardice, from tsorachi, which is a derivation of tsoro,
to fear, but is not found alone
Mafauta, place of slaughter, from fauta, slaughter.
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
3. Concrete nouns formed from a verb with a personal
particle prefixed. These particles are " mai " and " ma"
one that shaves
she of the big eyebrows
halbi to shoot
koiyo to learn
aski to shave
The final vowel is " i " generally
Makami one that catches
Maso one that loves
Makiaji one who refuses to hear
from kama to catch
to love, to want
to tend cattle
to refuse, ji to hear
4. Concrete nouns formed from verb wiih material particle
prefixed. These are the particle " ma," and also the nouns
" abu," thing, and " wuri," place.
The final vowel of the verb changes to " i "
to look at
alight, to encamp
to sit down
The preposition " n," of, enters into the composition
of the word, and " abu " usually takes the form " obi,"
which is never found alone
a wonder, miracle
a thing to fear
a marvel (is
play (a noun)
This prefix also requires the preposition " of
to feed cattle
to alight, (i.e., from
horse or camel)
5. Abstract nouns formed from verbs with prefix " ma-."
The final vowel becomes " i "
6. Abstract nouns can be formed from concrete simple
nouns with the suffixes
-chi (m.) and -ta (f.)
-n-chi (m.) -n-taka (f.) " n " being the preposition of
is of Kano origin and " -n-taka " of Sokoto
-chi (m.) and -ta (f.)
slavery from bawa
present beauty , keao
-n-chi (m.) -n-taka (f.)
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
what belongs to
what belongs to
what belongs to
the white man
or zarmi body-guard
7. Abstract nouns formed from a verb or adjective with
suffix. The suffixes are " -chi " and " -ta."
This is never added to a verb alone. The prefix " ma- '
is added as well. Some of these words have a concrete
as well as an abstract meaning
labour and labourer aiki
slaughtering and butcher fawa
begging and beggar roko
Chiwuta sickness chiwo
Gajerta shortness gajere
Kasamta uncleanness kasami
Kuturta leprosy kuturu
Mugunta evil mugu
work (n. and v.)
to be greedy and
fear (n. and v.)
sick (n. and v.)
to be leprous
8. Verbal nouns are formed with the suffix " -wa." a
Many verbs do not take this suffix, but the infinitive is
used with the same sense. Verb forms ending in " -da ; "
for instance, do not admit of it.
A few nouns in this list have practically a concrete
sense. Their gender is feminine
to look at
to come out
1 See also under Derived Verbs, class 8, and Present Participle.
bringing (a present
to a chief)
to be idle
(For other examples, see under plural.)
It will be noticed that for translation into English the
present participial construction is used.
The verb form in " -as " also admits of this suffix
helping taycs (taya)
coming out fitas (fita)
to come out
9. A few nouns with a feminine meaning are derived from
the masculine by some slight modification of the word,
together with the addition of " a " as the terminal vowel.
Kane younger brother kanua younger sister
Da son dia daughter
Sariki king saraunia king's wife
Yaro boy yarinia girl
(For other examples, see under gender.)
10. " -Ya " is suffixed to a few verbs to make concrete
Kaya (m.) load kai to bring
Mashaya drinking -place sha to drink
11. There are no real compound nouns in the Hausa
language, but two nouns may be joined by the preposition
Kada-n-gari lizard (lit., crocodile of the town)
Ka-n-duki upper room (lit., head of room)
16 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
12. An adjective may be used as a noun.
Ko gida-n-sariki ko na talaka Whether the house of a chief or of a
13. Noun phrases or noun sentences, These are mostly
found in proverbs
Hauka-1-ba-ni magani-n-ta: (For) the madness of "give me,"
Ungo the remedy is : " take it "
Yao da gobe ke sa gini- " To-day and to-morrow " is likt
n-rijia da alura having a well dug with a needle
Magani-n-kada aji, kada The remedy for " let it not be
ayi heard " is " don't do it "
Also Ya tafo wurina do-n-gaishe-ni He came to salute me
Gender is grammatical. It is divided into masculine
and feminine, and there is no neuter. The names of males
are all masculine, and of females all feminine. The names
of things and abstractions are either masculine or feminine
according to their termination, the same applying to verbs
when used in a noun form. A noun cannot be feminine
except it ends in "a."
Nouns ending in " e," " i," " o," " u," and consonants
are with the few exceptions of nouns representing the
female sex, masculine.
Those ending in " a " are feminine, excepting those
which represent the male sex and a few others.
The gender of each noun is given later under the plural.
Gender could be ignored as having a separate existence
in a language if there were not other words, such as adjec-
tives and pronouns, modified to agree with the noun
according to the idea it represents. This is strictly so
as regards plural, for, as will be seen in the chapter on the
adjective, no distinction of gender is made in a noun when
in the plural number. For instance
Mutum nagari good man mache tagari good woman
Mutane nagargaru good men mata nagargaru good women
Exceptions for Gender
Although there is a gender to every noun, and nouns
ending in " a " are assigned to the feminine gender, there
is a great tendency to classify as masculine many nouns
ending in " a " which are not the names of human beings
or animals. This is especially common with those nouns
which are used for prepositions, and is usually put down
to carelessness in speaking. It is, however, a debatable
point whether carelessness is possible to any appreciable
extent with the mother tongue. It certainly exists with
the written language, but the written form of a language
always differs from the spoken form. The latter is the
mother tongue, and it is learnt naturally much the same
as the other functions of life, and accordingly varies but
little from century to century unless subjected to some
strong foreign influence.
It may therefore be taken that the apparent mistakes
in gender are in reality idioms of the language which admit
of perfect explanation, and their existence may be in
accordance with a more influential rule of the language.
Seeing that it is by the adjuncts alone that the gender
of a noun can be ascertained, the use of the masculine
form for the feminine naturally requires some explanation,
and it is in connection with the preposition " of " (" na,"
"n" for masculine, and " ta," " t," "1," " r," "t" for
feminine) that the greatest uncertainties are found. This
preposition as a copula, it may here be stated, plays a
very important part in the structure of sentences.
The reason for the apparent exceptions that are found
can only be ascribed to the more exigent rules of euphony.
It is a common feature in some languages for words in a
series to be made to agree with each other either in an
initial syllable or in some other way. In Hausa itself this
is found in the pronouns, in which " mini " is found for
" mani," " mumu " for " mamu," etc. ; and grammatical
gender is probably largely assignable to the same reason. 1
When, therefore, apparent mistakes in gender are made,
they must be put down to a rule of euphony over-riding a
rule of grammatical gender, the latter being but the offspring
of the former.
1 #ee Languages of West Africa chapter on Gender
18 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Gentler in Neighbouring Language.*
Hausa together with a few languages to the south and
east of it are the only ones in West Africa which indicate
masculine and feminine gender. In Hausa gender is
further developed than in Angas and Bolanchi to mention
only two of these languages and so far as is at present
known the latter only distinguish it in the pronouns, and
not in the adjective as in Hausa. To such an extent is
the gender idea developed in Hausa that adjectives, pro-
nouns, verbs, and prepositions are all under its influence.
A great many other languages in West Africa have a
neuter gender, Avhich distinguishes things from persons
effected by means of the 3rd personal pronoun singular,
but they do not in any way recognise masculine and
feminine gender. Hausa with its neighbouring languages
form, therefore, a little group by themselves as regards
The sex of living things is distinguished in three ways :
1. By different words for male and female
mistress of the house
ya or iya
(Other examples will be seen in the tables of plurals.)
2. By adding words representing male or female
Da-n-gari townsman ya-1-gari townswoman
Da-n-uwa brother ya-l-uwa sister
Zakara-zabi male guinea-fowl zabua female guinea-fowl
NOTE. " Zabi " is apparently the plural form of the word
" zabua." As the common form of many animals, birds, etc.,
is the feminine form, it is to this that the word " male "
(" na-miji ") is added when it is necessary to indicate
the sex. For birds " zakara," cock, is more generally
3. The feminine may be formed from the masculine by
a different termination to the same root. The masculine
may end in any vowel, but the characteristic termination
of the feminine is " a " in the syllable " ia," " ania,"
" nia," or " unia," as
son or free-
bauya or baiwa
daughter or free-
(See further under derived nouns, supra.)
To these may be added a number of abstract nouns,
which, if formed with the termination " -n-chi " (K) are
masculine, but if with the termination " n-taka " (S)
Yaranchi yarantaka youth
(See list of derived nouns in Part I.)
20 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Some nouns relating to persons are of both genders.
These include most nouns formed with the prefix " mai-,"
Mai-aiki worker Mai-karia liar Mai-gaskia speaker of the
Others with the prefix " mai- " so exclusively represent
the duties of men that they can only be of the masculine
Mai-yaki warrior mai-gona farmer mai-doki horseman
It is to be noted that nouns with the prefix " mai- " are
unchanged for gender, but those with the equivalent
prefix " ma- " take a gender termination.
List of Some Nouns ending in" a" which are Masculine
(Names of human beings and animals of the male sex
are not included).
day (m. and f.) 3
moon and month
ear of grain
under plural forms.)
There are two numbers in Hausa the singular and
plural. The plural is formed in a great variety of ways,
1 Commonly used as an adjective.
2 These nouns, though commonly masculine, are also met with in
the feminine gender. When used as prepositions the masculine
gender is commonly preferred.
8 Rana=ttw is fern.
and is extraordinarily rich in forms. Many nouns have
as many as four plural forms. Most of these forms were
originally, no doubt, of dialectic origin, but with the spread
of the Hausa language as a lingua franca they have come
to be used indiscriminately or so as to suit the harmony
of the sentence. Some are more commonly used than
others, and it is possible that there are slight distinctions
of meaning, which are now quite disregarded, or, at
all events, rarely paid any attention to. Among such
possible distinctions are the definite as against the indefinite
state, a collective sense as against one that preserves the dis-
tinctions of the individuals, or duality as against plurality.
In the present state of knowledge no etymology offers
itself for any of these plural suffixes.
The plural in any language has probably originated in
one of the following three methods l which, however, often
become greatly corrupted, and when adopted into another
language cease to be recognisable
2. Addition of an adjective meaning " many " or " all."
3. Addition of the word " they " or " them."
1 . The first method is found in Hausa both in its purity
and also modified. When modified the last syllable of the
word is duplicated, and some change is also made in the
final vowel, as
Iri-iri from iri kind, sort
Hainyaiyai hainya road
daki hut, room
The reduplication of the last syllable takes the forms
"(b)obi," "(d)odi," (f)ofi," "(g)ogi," (k)oki" (s)osi,"
"(t)oti" or "(t)oshi," " (w)owi," " (y)oyi," etc.
All these terminations must in reality be regarded as
one alone, for the last consonant in the word that is, the
one in the appended termination is made to agree with
the last consonant in the stem. This adaptation rather
recalls what is not dissimilar in Wolof and Temne, the
1 See the languages of West Africa chapter on Plural.
22 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
article in those languages being made to agree consonantly
with the radical consonant in the noun ; and a similar har-
monisation also exists in the Ba-Ntu languages.
2. As regards the second method, there is not a single
one of the many terminations that can be connected with
such words as " many " or "all."
3. As regards the third, the same may be said, though
this method is found in Angas. On the other hand,
in Bolanchi, a language similarly related to Hausa, the
plural forms are as varied almost as they are in Hausa.
The commonest plural termination is " ai," which is
substituted for the last vowel of the noun, as " haske,"
" haskai," light.
Almost all, if not entirely all, nouns taking this ter-
mination can take also the termination " (-)o(-)i," the last
consonant' of the noun which stands before " o " standing
also between " o " and '' i," as " haske," " haskoki."
Further, these same nouns can probably all take the ter-
mination " una," the last vowel of the noun being changed
to " u."
Other terminations are " ni " and " ki," usually added
to nouns ending in "a," as
wata watani month
rana ranaki day
kwana kwanaki day of twenty-four hours
Nouns ending in " a " will often change " a " into
" u," as
takarda takardu paper
fitila fitilu lamp
Some nouns add " aye " or " aje," changing the final
vowel to " a " if necessary, as
Sana sunaye name
Gida gidaje house
Hanu nanaye hand
Kifi kifaye fish
The foregoing are the commonest ways of forming the
plural number, but, as can be seen in the following lists,
there are a great many other methods, and some nouns
may have several different forms.
Use of Plural Terminations.
AND ABSTRACT NOUNS
found more frequently than ' je" but not so
commonly used as other terminations
ni used used used
Other plural terminations occasionally met with are
a," and " i," and other variations.
ai the accent falls on ai last syllable
una u as a rule, but sometimes on the ante-
SIMPLE NOUNS PLURAL
(The form in common use is marked with an asterisk.)
Persons Common Formation
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
FEM. AI -O-I UNA ENGLISH
kanua kanai kanoni and
shaidai shaidodi shaiduna witness
chief of a caravan
See also nouns with prefix " ba- '
young man (adult)
Marare or marania (f.)
stranger who refuses
to account for himself
wife or sister of a
shaidu, etc., see
Je and ye
barayi and barai
a person half Hausa
Gabro (gobro) gabrua
bachelor and spinster,
wifeless man, and so
either widower or
younger son of a
chief, also a large
white seed used as
uwaye and iyaye
mother and parent*
yaraye and yara*
yaraye, yara, and
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Nouns that admit of a broken stem or change of word
bayi,* bai. bawoyi
Da diya. dia, ya
yaya,* diya (S),
son, child, free
mutane * (S) mut-
youth under twenty
ubane (K), ubanai
barania barua, barori, servant
bakua baki, bakuna,
farori - n -
Machi ji l
ragogi raguna *
rakumomi rakuma *
" j " is soft here, and " z " is almost " sh."
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Not used with living things
Not used with living things, persons
Je and Ye
k iul a
a species of eagle
akuya (akwia) akuyai, akuyoyi,
awakai, awaki *
young of animals
(m. or f.)
Alama (f.) alamomi
(m. or f.)
Aljifa (m.) aljifai * aljifofi
or aljifi (m.)
Alura alurai * alurori
(m. or f.)
Awoza (f.) awozai
Bata (f.) batochi
Bindiga (f.) bindigogi
Buka (f). bukogi
Bulala (f.) bulalai
Bunu (in.) bunai
made of skin
whip of hippo-
grass for thatch,
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Danga (m. or f.)
or digga (f.)
a grass, a kind
or gerke (m.
ulcer on body
ear of corn,
a palm and the
a kind of sweet
Harufi (m.) harufai
Hainya (f.) hainyai also
Hatsi (m.) hatsai and
Haskc (m.) haskai (S)
Hiska (m. or f.)
Iri (m.) irai
lyaka (m. orf.)
Karufa (f.) karufai
Kasua (f.) kasuai *
Kilago (m.) kilagai
Kiriji (m.) kirijai
Kofa (f )
Kogi (m.) kogai
Kufita (m.) kufitai
Kumbu (m.) kumbai
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Kurada (m.) kuradai
Launi (m.) launai
Leferu (m.) leferai
Lotu (m.) lotai
Madafa (f.) madafai
Malafa (f.) malafai
large straw hat
Marede (m.) maredai
Muria (m. or f.)
rigogi also riguna *
Sanda (m. orf.)
Sarauta (f.) sarautai
sarautochi sarautuna *
Sefa (f.) and
Shekara (f.) shekarai
Sheria (f.) sheriai
Shia (f.) or
quarter of a
Surdi (m.) sur(a)dai
Sufadu (m.) sufadai
tanfasuai * (S) tanfasuwoyi
r ai and
Tumbi (m )
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
This list includes words of foreign origin
strip of cloth
large fish with red
Refi (m.) (refo)
Silia (m. or f.)
Gauta (m. or f.)
Je and ye
hanaye, haniia* (K)
seed used as a bead
ground nut (also geda)
Soro (tsoro) (m.)
Wuya (wiya) (m. or f.)
Waje (woje) (m.)
Ka, Ke, Ki
day of twenty-four hours
Nouns that admit of a broken stem
BROKEN STEM FORM OTHER FORMS ENGLISH
ayuka, ayuyuka, aikuna
woven fan or dish-
a j a a v s e o g r f ff*' oe
itatua (K) itshuna
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
SINGULAR BROKEN STEM FORM OTHER FORMS
red and black seeds
of a certain plant.
birane and birnua
foreign speech (in
a bad sense)
garurua, garu- garigaru
gatara, gatura gatarua
Gera (gira) (f.),
gigangani, gigin- giginai
( 1. gourd used as
I 2. walking-cane
abuse, secret signs
cloud of smoke
idanu (K) idanduna
pupil of eye
Kama (m. and
Kasa (m. and kasashc,* kasaisai
a tree producing
fibre for rope
VERBAL NOUNS PLURAL
The infinitive when used as a noun forms the plural by
reduplication with a change of form
Verbal Nouns in " -ia "
This form takes the plural termination " -o-i."
Tafia tafiyoyi travelling
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
PLURALS or COMPOUND NOUNS FORMED WITH PARTICLES
fulani (fulbe is
the Fula plural)
Gobir man (Gobir
is part of Hausa)
(Zabarimi is the
eastern part of
Ba-fadi l (or
1 The association of " ba-" with any other than a place name
ya-n-uwa (short brother
All are common gender in singular, and masculine in
plural, as are all nouns
Mai-doki masu-doki (masu-
Mai gona masu-gona
MASC. FEM. PLURAL
Suffix -chi (m.), -chia (f ). (The " ma-
Machiuchi machiuchia mdchiuta
Mafauchi mafauchia mafauta
Mahaukacbi mahaukachia mahaukata
Makofchi makofchia makofta
Makaranchi makaranchia makaranta
Marubuchi marubuchia marubuta
Masallachi masallachia masallata
Masunchi masunchia masunta
eater or big eater
speaker of truth
cultivator or owner of
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
MASC. and FEM.
Suffix -ta (singular), -tai (plural)
mafautai slaughter -place
place of sickness
place for mad people
Suffix -ta (singular), -tochi (plural)
(ch is in lieu of " t " before " i ")
Chiuta (f.) chiutochi sickness
Fauta (f.) fautochi slaughter
Haukata (f.) haukatochi madness
Karanta (f ) karantochi schooling
Sallata (f.) sallatochi worship
Sunta (f.) suntochi fishery
The foregoing are examples of three meanings derived
from the same stem the person, the place, the action,
the latter, however, being without a prefix. The plurals
of abstract nouns are rarely used in practice.
PLURALS OF OTHER ABSTRACT NOUNS WITHOUT PREFIX
Suffix -ncM (m.), -ntaka (/.)
The first is of Kano origin and the other of Sokoto origin.
Abstract nouns with these terminations can from their
nature be but rarely put in the plural
Sarkanchi sarkantochi sarkantaka sarkantakoki kingship
A list of some of these nouns is given under the deriva-
tion of the noun.
It is to be noted that both forms take the plural
termination "-o-i" adapted with the proper consonant.
PLUBALS or COMPOUND NOUNS
Compound nouns formed with this prefix do not usually
take a plural. The plural of " abi-n-tsoro " could be
rendered " abubua-n-tsoro " that is, things to fear ; but
this rather directs the emphasis to the word " thing," and
the compound practically becomes dissolved.
The words " abinchi," food, and " abinsha," drink, are
in such common use, however, that they have ceased to
be regarded as having component parts, and so the plurals
are formed on lines as if they were simple nouns, as
Abinchi abinchai, abintochi
If nouns compounded with this word are put in the
plural, " wuri- " takes its ordinary plural form, and, as
with " abi-n-, the compound noun becomes dissolved.
Wuri-n-kwana wurare-n-kwana sleeping-place
OTHER COMPOUND NOUNS
Other compound nouns which do not take a plural to
the first part of the word are rare
Kandaki (kai-n-daki) kandakuna upper storey
NOUNS WITHOUT PLURAL
There are a great many nouns which do not admit of
1. Nouns denoting mass cannot form a plural
Zinaria (f.) gold Hazi corn Kura (f.) dust
Azurufa (f.) silver Alkama (f.) wheat Zumua (m.) or
Shinkafa (f.) rice Rua-n-zumua honey
42 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
2. Parts of the body
Jini (m.) blood Nama (m.) flesh Nono (m.) milk
3. Abstract nouns expressing faculties of the mind
Yirda (f.) belief, etc. Murna (f.) joy
Tsoro (m.) fear Tamaha (m.) hope
4. Most abstract nouns cannot form a plural (and others
Mugunta (f.) badness Keau (m.) beauty Tsarki (m.) holiness
Bauta (f.) slavery Gaskia truth
5. Nouns of position
Bisa (m. and f.) top Tsaka (m. and f.) middle
6. Designations of time
Safe (m.) or safia (f.) morning Mareche (m.) evening
Kama (f.) cubit Zaka (f.) land tax
NOUNS WITHOUT A SINGULAR
Nouns without a singular are rare. The following are
some of which no singular form can be traced
Dasashi (K), dasori (S) gums of the mouth
Kekarai swelling in the hand.t
Tuguai, tuguaye, taguaye twins
USE OF SINGULAR FOR PLURAL
There is a strong tendency among the Hausa people to
use the singular for the plural. In this tendency they are
only following the common practice of other West African
languages, in which the plural suffix is an independent
word or particle, and is movable to the last word in a
sequence of words, it being incorrect, and indeed impossible,
to affix it to more than one word. In such languages
the phrase "ten big things" becomes "thing big ten,"
or " thing bigs " for " big things." The numeral or some
similar word takes the place of the plural suffix, but
cannot accompany it.
In the chapter on the adjective it will, however, be seen
that Hausa does not fall in with these languages beyond
having the preference for the singular form over the plural
form, and in this respect it lies closer to European
languages in its construction.
It is only in very correct Hausa, indeed it might be
called pedantic, for the noun to be put into the plural
form when there are qualifying words. When the noun
stands alone it must of course be put in the plural number
to complete the sense. Otherwise it is correct to use
Mutum biu sun zo Two men have come
Sarakuna sun zo The chiefs have come
Hainya-r-nan da duchi (or da This road is rocky
Ya yi shekara biu ban ganka ba It is two years since I saw you
Kwana-mu goma muna tafia We have been ten days travelling
Ku dauki kaya Take up your loads
Andamre kaya duka ? Are all the loads tied up ?
Muka beri kaya-mu a wanigari We have left our loads in another
town (i.e., all together)
(If the plural were used here, it would refer to each one's individual
load separately. )
Shi ne ya fadi ku mutane dan He it is he tells (you) you sons of
Shekaru - n - ka nawa ? Saura How old are you ? In three months
wata uku en yi (or chika) / shall be twenty years old
Saura kwana uku ku gamma In three days more you will have
aikinku finished your work
Mugunta da suka yi ta komo The evil that they did came back
bisa kainsu upon their own heads
PLURAL FORMS WITH A SINGULAR MEANING
There are few plural forms of nouns in Hausa which
are used with a singular meaning in a slightly different
Mache woman mata women
44 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
but " mata " is commonly used as a term of respect in
addressing any woman
Sanu, mata ? How do you do, madam ?
" Mache " is never used in such a way.
" Mata " also means wife, as which it takes a plural,
Enna matanka ? Where is your wife ?
certainly not " Where are your women ? " But
Mata nan suna noma ; bayi ne These women are ploughing ; they
Wuri cowry shell kurdi cowries
but " kurdi " is commonly used meaning money or price.
There is no inflection of the noun for case.
As in English, the position of the substantive with
regard to the verb decides whether it is nominative or
accusative ; and what would be the genitive, dative,
ablative, or locative cases are indicated by prepositions.
It is under prepositions, therefore, that this subject is
in reality treated.
The following, however, is a brief outline of the
declension of the noun with appropriate prepositions :
Nom. mutum man
Voc. kai mutum you man
ke yarinia you girl
Ace. mutum man
Oen. -n-mutum ( = na mutum) of a (or the) man
Dot. ga mutum to a (or the) man
Abl. da mutum with a (or the) man
Loc. a bainya on the road
Nom. mutane men
Voc. ku mutane you men
kai mutane you men
Ace. mutane men
Gen. -n-mutane (na mutane) of men
Dat. ga mutane to the men
Abl. da mutane with men or with the men
SYNTAX OF THE CASES
The nominative and accusative are used in the same
position in a sentence as they are in English.
Mutum ya chi nama The man ate the meat
Mutane sun chi nama The men ate the meat
In the vocative the pronoun " you " precedes an
unqualified noun, and is distinguished for gender.
In the plural the singular pronoun masculine may be
used as well as the plural pronoun. This usage points to
the supposition that the pronoun has degenerated into
an interjection pure and simple
Kai yaro I ka zo 1 You boy I come !
Ke yarinia ! ki zo ! You girl t come I
Miji na 1 Mi ya sameka ? My husband ! What has happened to you ?
In formal address the Arabic interjection " ya " may
precede the pronoun or noun, as
Ya sidi ! sir !
Ya ku Israilawa ! you Israelites I
This case is formed by two substantives connected by
the preposition " na," of, the possessed object standing
first, the possessor last, or it may be formed by two nouns
in apposition in the same order but with no copulative.
The latter construction is perhaps less common on the
"Na" in the masculine becomes "ta" in the feminine.
These long forms are not very frequently met with,
1 See particularly under Preposition " na."
46 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
however, but are shortened and vary for euphony as
Masc. " Na " = " n," " m," " d," or omitted if the last
vowel of the noun preceding is "a."
Fern. " Ta" = " t," " r," " 1," according to dialect as well
as euphony. In Kano " r " and " t " are preferred, but
in Sokoto " 1." In Kano " n " is also used. Fre-
quently the " r " is scarcely heard, and so it seems as
if there were two nouns in juxtaposition, as is
common in other West African languages e.g.,
Yoruba, Igara, Nupe, etc. Also the masculine
form <; n " is commonly heard where the feminine
would be technically accurate.
Plural. In the plural " n " alone is used, in accordance
with the rule of the language that gender is not
recognised in the plural number.
Yaro-n-sariki the boy of the king
Yara-n-saraki the boys of the kings
Da-n-uwana The son of my mother i.e., brother, cousin, etc.
J ihe P riest ' 8
Yaya-n-malam the priest's daughters
Yaya-n-malamai the daughters of the priests
Akwia-r-bako the stranger's she-goat
Awaki-n-bako the stranger's she-goats
Mutume-n-sariki the chief's man
It is to be noted that the accent on the word represent-
ing the object possessed is changed, as
Yarinia the girl
Yarinia-t-sariki the chief's girl
Another way of expressing the genitive is the use of
a possessive pronoun.
Sariki matansa the chief his wife
Example of Nouns in apposition
Bako gari ba ka zo dadai ba A strange city to which you have
never before come
To express the dative the usual prepositions are " ga "
and " ma."
Ya fadi ga bature or Ya fadi ma bature He said to the white man
Ya bayes rua ga dokinsa He gave water to his horse
If a place name is mentioned the preposition is omitted
Ya tafia Kano He went to Kano
Otherwise it is inserted
Sun tafi ga wani gari They went to another town
After the verb " to give," the preposition is often
omitted and the position of accusative and dative inter-
Ba yaro keauta Qive the boy a present
Ba da uwalsa Give the child to its mother
If for a simple noun in the dative case there is sub-
stituted a series of nouns in apposition, the preposition
may still be dropped
Shi ne ya fadi ku mutane dan Adam He it is who speaks to you,
you sons of Adam
It is not always possible to express this case directly in
Hausa. In other West African languages the difficulty is
even greater, and from the English point of view a circum-
locution has to be made use of, as : " He took-it-out his
hand " f or " He took it from him " ; " He got up at Kano
he went Sokoto " for " He went from Kano to Sokoto "
Na fi to daga Bornu / come from Bornu
Yaushe ka samu wotsika gare-sa ? When did you receive the letter
from him ? lit., towards
him (the idea of motion
being represented by
" samu ")
Compare the contrary idea
Yaushe ka aike wotsika gare-sa ? When did you send the letter
to him ?
Anema dayawa gare-sa There will be required much
from (lit., towards) him
48 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
The equivalent of the locative is effected by many pre-
positions of place, but especially by "a"
Doki shina tsaye a huinya The horse stands in the road
Baya-n-gida behind the house
A baya-n-gida behind the house (but more emphati-
cally in one locality behind the
APART from numeral adjectives, which will be treated
separately, the adjective is of two kinds simple and
Simple adjectives show gender and number, but not
Compound adjectives do so also, except those com-
pounded with " da," which show neither.
The feminine gender is formed from the masculine of
simple adjectives by the addition of " a," " ia " (" iya "), or
" ua " (" uwa ") to the stem, the final vowel of the masculine
form, whatever it may be, being dropped.
In compound adjectives either the same rule may be
followed or there may be no change, but in the single
case of " nagari," good, there is an initial change.
In the plural there is no indication of gender at all.
The plural is formed in the same way as with nouns, but
there is a preference for the vowel " u " as a termination.
Simple adjectives are those which cannot be derived
from other parts of speech.
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Compound adjectives are formed from nouns with the
prefixes " na-," of, " mai- " = owner, " mai-ras" or "ma-ras,"
the contrary of "mai-," " da- " = with, and " babu-," without.
In addition to the foregoing the present and past
participles are treated as adjectives. The present
participle is formed by "mai-" or "ma-" being prefixed
to the verb stem. The past participle is formed by an
amplification of the stem.
babaku (S), babaki (K)
("baba" is in reality a noun meaning greatness)
banzaizai (S), banzayi (S)
dogaye (S), doguna (K)
farfaru or farfaru (S), farfare
(K), faraye, farare
kanana, kankana (K)
rawayu (S), rawayai (S)
yaranai, yaranoni (both S)
1. Formed with "na," o/, with a noun. These are very
few, but see, also ordinal numerals, which are formed also
by this method
2. Formed with "mai"=owwer of, and a noun. The
construction is obvious, and an unlimited number of
adjectives can be made in this way
anfani = wse
ar aha = cheapness
karifi = irow, strength
keao = beauty
tsada = dearness
3. The contrary of the foregoing class of compound
adjectives is formed by suffixing the particle " -rasa " to
" mai," and an equally large number of adjectives can
be formed in this way.
For " mai-rasa " " maras " x is often used, the meaning
being the same, but " mairasa " is not changed for gender,
whereas " maras " becomes " marashia " in the feminine
use. and FEM.
masu - rasa-
4. " Da," urith, compounded with nouns, makes adjectives.
These adjectives can only be used predicatively and never
attributively. They are without any idea of gender and
1 Often pronounced " mara."
52 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
number. An unlimited number of adjectives can be made
in this way
Da-keao fine Da-hankali careful
Da-anfani useful Da-nauyi heavy
Da-araha cheap Da-rai alive
Da-bam different Da-yungwa hungry
Da-yawa (shortened to diawa) many
The opposite of these meanings is effected by the use
of "babu," without (lit., " ba," not; "abu," a thing)
Babu-keao no good
The present participle (so - called) is formed by the
prefixes " mai- " and " ma-," the former being of Sokoto
origin, the latter of Kano. 1 With the former the verb
stem remains unchanged, but with the latter the stem
is changed for gender and number
This participle is further treated under the verb.
The past participle passive, as in all languages, can be
used as an adjective. Its formation is examined under
MASC. FEM. PLURAL ENGLISH
Arare araria ararit lent or borrowed
Ramtache ramtachia ramtatu
The formation of the feminine and plural is strictly
1 According to Mischlich.
USE OF NOUNS AS ADJECTIVES
Names of countries ending in " -chi " can be used as
adjectives, but unchanged for gender or number
Larabachi (K), Larabanchi (S) Arab
Magana larabachi Arab speech
Daki-n-sudanchi Soudanese hut
Dakuna-n-sudanchi Soudanese huts (houses)
Biga-1-hausa Hausa cloth
Riguna-n-hausa Hausa cloths
For living things these forms are not used. The personal
forms are used in apposition, and show gender and number
Doki ba-larabe Arab horse
Dawaki larabawa Arab horses
Rago ba-haushe Hausa ram
Raguna hausawa Hausa rams
Akwia hausa Hausa she-goat
Awaki hausawa Hausa she-goats
or awaki hausa
Simple adjectives can be reduplicated. Their meaning
may be in some cases emphasised thereby, but equally
the idea to be conveyed is " somewhat " or " something
like." This can be best seen from examples
Kadan kadan very little or very small
Yaro mugu mugu shi ke = Shina He is like a bad boy
kaman yaro mugu
Dogo dogo shi ke = = Shina He is tallish
Sabo sabo shi ke = Shina kaman sabo It is like a new one
Baki-baki blackish or dark bluish
Bakin kerrin very black
Fari-fari whitish or grey
Shudi-shudi light bluish
Kore-kore light green
NOTE. The masculine singular form seems alone to be used.
54 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Kul kusa very near
Ina da wata turuba keokeowa / have (know) another path, a
very good one
1. When the adjective is used attributively it may
either follow the noun it qualifies, agreeing with it in
gender and number, or it may precede the noun with the
copulative preposition " n " (" na "), of, agreeing in gender
and number. With the latter method, however, the
plural is less commonly found.
Examples of adjective following
Ta gani gida maikeao She saw a fine house
Kai mutum maigaskia ne You are a man of truth
Ta sa zane maizinaria ? Does she put on garments of gold ?
Minene dawa ? Wani iri-n-ja- What is guinea corn ? A small
n-kwaya kankane (Note con- kind of grain
struction with two adjectives)
Ta zuba rua kadan She poured out a little water
Suka sa ta chiki-n-wani daki They put her into an unpleasant
babu keao room
Mutum maras-kurdi kama- n- A poor man is like a king with-
sariki maras-karifi shi ke out power
Mache tagari tana kula da A good woman takes care of her
Ke dia takwarai che You are a good daughter
Mache mai-azume tana zamne A fasting woman sits yonder
Dia-n-itache ninanu anchiresu The ripe fruits are plucked
Ki ba su dia-n-durumi ninanu Give them the ripe fruits of the
" durumi " tree
Dawaki masugudu suna chan Yonder are galloping horses
Ga dawaki masugudu chan See the horses galloping there
Bature dayawa ya mutu (Note Many white men died
Examples of adjectives preceding noun :
Baba - n - mutum ba shi yi - n - A great man would not do so
Nauyi-n-kaya-n-nan ya fi kari- This heavy load is too much for me
Ni karami-n-yaro gara ka bani I am a small boy ; you ought to give
karami-n-kaya me a small load
Bani tafasashe-n-rua Give me boiled water
Ya kai su ga dogo-n-daji He led them to a large forest
Ya kasshie baba-n-bunsuru He killed a large he-goat
Karifi - n - mache sai yawa - n - The strength of a woman is much
magana (proverb) talk
Duka-n-mutane suka gan' shi All men saw him going
Wani iri - n - abinchi babake - n- What kind of food do black men
n i ut a in- su ke chi ? eat ?
2. The possessive pronoun is appended to the noun,
not to the adjective
Ta tafi ga wuri-n-ta dafari enda She went to the first place she
ta fito had come from
Ya che ga dia-r-sa baba He said to his eldest daughter (lit.,
he said to his daughter the big
3. " Duka," which has no feminine nor plural form, can
be attached to either a singular or plural noun
Ya fi gida duka It surpasses every house
Gari duka ya mutu The. whole town died
Abu duka da ni ke da shi ya He has received everything I had
See also example in par. 1.
Rana duka All day
Sun tafi duka They have all gone
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Predicative Use of the Adjective
The verb " to be " is employed, the form " ne " being
enclitic, as also is its feminine form " che " ; but the
form " ke " is used with a pronoun
Ni talaka ne
Daki-n-nan kankane ne
Karre da kurege ramamu su ke
Masa - n - nan antoya su ? ii,
Ba duka mutane su ke miagu ba
/ am poor
This room is small
The dog and the fox were lean
Are these cakes baked ? Yes, they
Not all men are bad
All adjectives formed with " da," being from their nature
only predicative, the verb " to be " is usually implied.
The form of pronoun that is used is that ending in
"na" for the most part. It is to be noted that in the
negative form the " na " is cast off
Shina da keao
Bisa tana da rai tukun
Shina da araha (tsada)
Doki maigudu shina da anfani
Ba ni da yungwa
Ba shi da nauyi kama-n-saura-
It is fine (lit., It is with fineness)
They are different
The animal is still alive
It is cheap (dear)
A horse which gallops well is of
I am not hungry
It is not heavy like the rest of the
Circumlocution to avoid Use of Adjectives
In most West African languages it is found that the
number of adjectives is very small.
They are numerous in Hausa, but, nevertheless, many
compound words which are treated as adjectives are
readily divisible into their component parts which are
not adjectives, and any idea that an adjective is being
made use of can be cast aside.
Besides the use of " da," the two commonest methods
in Hausa for expressing the equivalent of the adjective
is the use of the preposition "gare," to, towards, with
a noun, and to use the verb "yi " also with a noun. The
verb "ji," to hear, feel, is also so used, but to a more
limited extent :
Abinchi-n-nan zafi gare shi for
Abinchi-n-nan shina da zafi
Zuma dadi gare ta
Mutume-n-wofi ba ya taba fada-
n-gaskia ba, reshi - n - kumia
This food is hot
Honey is sweet
A worthless man never speaks the
truth ; he is shameless
Na yi murna
Ya yi mini kunche
Ruanga shina da zafi, bai yi
Na ji dadi
/ am glad (lit., I make joy)
It is (too) narrow for me
This water is hot, and not cold
I am happy (lit., I feel sweetness)
The degrees of comparison are expressed by a circum-
locution in Hausa the same as in other languages in West
1. Use of "fi," surpass, with an abstract noun.
Ya fi ni karifi
Ya fi ni da karifi
Doki ya fi rago girinia
Ya fi shi karami or ya fi
Ya fi kowa girima
Daki-n-nan ya fi daki-n-chan
Mi kuna so ya fi wannan ?
Riga-1-nan ta fi wachan keao
Dana ya fi naka tsawo, amma
naka ya fi nawa kauri
Mutum wand a ya bi ta gaskia
ya fi wanda ke
,-a fi wanda ke ratso hainya
Shi maifadda ne, amma matasa
ta fi shi yawa-n-magana
He is stronger than I (lit.,
surpasses me (in) strength)
(Not so good as the foregoing)
A horse is bigger than a ram
He is smaller than he (The latter
is the more correct usage, " kan-
kanta " being a noun, whereas
" karami " is an adjective)
He is greater than any one
This room is bigger than that
What do you want better than this ?
This coat is better than that
My son is taller than yours, but
yours is stouter than mine
The man who pursues truth is
happier than he who follows
He is a quarrelsome man, but his
wife can wrangle more than he
58 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Tafia da rana ta fi tafia da fari- Travelling by day is more tiring
n-wata gajia than travelling by moonlight
Minene ka ke so wanda ya fi What do you want better than this ?
In sentences where in English comparison is expressed
by adverbs, " fi " with an abstract noun is used in
Da-n-chiako-n-zabua ya fi da-n- The young guinea-fowl grows more
chiako-n-kaza samli-n-girima quickly than the young chicken
(sainli - n - girima =quickness of
Jiki ya fi kune ji (proverb) The body hears better than the ear
Ka fi shi yi-n-chiniki, don You trade better than he, for this
wannan na fi sonka da shi reason I prefer you to him
Allah akber da ku God is more powerful than you
2. To compare ideas, not things, the words " gara "
and "guma" ("gwoma") are used; also "gwanda" in a
similar sense in Kano principally
Gara hakka It is better so
Guma yao da jia Better to-day than yesterday
Da na yi karia gara en mutu / would rather die than tell a lie
Da na amre shi guma mugu-n- Rather than marry him may an evil
chiwo ya kama ni sickness seize me
Da babu wawa gwanda da wawa It is better to have a fool than no
3. " Better " as applied to health is expressed by the
nouns "dama" and "rongomi" with "ji," to feel.
Ka ji dama ya fi jia ? Do you feel better than yesterday ?
Na ji rongomi yao / feel better to-day
Na ji dama yanzu ; zazabi ya / feel better now ; the fever has left
sake ni me
Ka ji dama kadan ? Do you feel a little better ?
Shi talaka ne, ni ma, ina da He is a poor man, but I have
kurdi da dama money in moderation
4. To express the English "too" with an adjective
several methods are adopted :
(a) Combination of the material particle " ma "
with the verb " fi," to surpass
Mafi kunche Too narrow
(6) " Yi," to do, followed by the preposition " ma "-
Ya yi mini (for ma ni) wuya It is too difficult for me
Kurdi-n-sa ia yi mini yawa The price is too much for me
The meaning of " very " is equally conveyed
Tsia ta yi masa yawa He was very poor
(c) By the use of "fi."
Ya fi ni wuya It is too difficult for me
Nauyi - n - kaya - n - nan ya fi This heavy load is too much for my
(d) By the verb " faskare," overcome, etc.
Ya faskare ni dauka It is too heavy for me to lift (lit.,
It is beyond my strength (to) lift)
Babu abinda ya faskare mutane Nothing is too difficult for the
5. The verb "faye," exceed, is used as an equivalent
for " fi." It may also be translated " very " or " too "
Yara sun faye da worigi The boys were very fond of play
Gidanga ya faye kankanta This house is too small
Ka fayi barikonchi You jest too much
6. "Too" and "very" may also be expressed by the
preposition "gare," towards
Abinchi-n-nan zafi gareshi This food is hot (implying too
hot to eat)
It may here be observed that where in English words
of a comparative force are used, in African languages
exactly the same meaning is conveyed by merely making a
positive statement, of which the foregoing is an example.
7. " More " used absolutely in English can be expressed
by the noun " kari,' abundance.
Ba na so kari ; ya issa / do not want more ; it is enough
8. "Yi,"do, may also be used in the sense of "equal to"-
K m .1 ta fi (hum's. i karifi-n-jiki, The hyaena is stronger than the
amma ba ta yi ita hanzeri ba leopard, but is not equal to her
60 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
The superlative degree is expressed by :
1. " Fi," to surpass, followed by "duka," all
Ya fi duka karifi He is the strongest (lit., He excels
all (in) strength)
Mutume - n - nan ya fi duka This man is the cleverest of all
Allah yi fi duka girima God is the greatest of all
Wannan ya fi duka nauyi This is the heaviest
2. By " gaba-n-duka da," before all
Yana (or shi ne) gaba-n-duka He is the strongest
Shi ne gaba-n-su duka He is the greatest
3. By "gaba ga duka," before all
Amma Tebib shina da bara, shi But Tebib had a servant who was
ne baba gaba ga baruansa chief of all the servants
4. By " ga," to, only
Yana (or shi ne) da karifi ga He is strongest
5. A reduplicated form of "fi" is sometimes used in
forming either comparative degree or superlative
Wannan mafifichi daga wadanan This (is) the best of these
6. The word "very" in English maybe expressed by
" faye," and in other ways as seen under the comparative
Makafi sun faye talauchi Blind men are very poor
It may also be expressed by reduplication
Kadan kadan Very little
(Those given first are in commonest use)
1 Daia (pronounced generally " dea "), guda
4 Fudu (hudu in Katsina dialect)
5 Biar, bial, biat (in Sokoto)
7 Bokoi. Written bakoi
8 Tokos. Written takos
11 Goma sha daia or, in continuous counting, " sha daia " for short
12 Goma sha biu or sha biu
13 Goma sha uku or sha uku
14 Goma sha fudu or sha fudu
15 Goma sha biar or sha biar
16 Goma sha shidda or sha shidda
17 Goma sha bokoi or sha bokoi
18 Ashirin biu babu or ashirin gaira biu
19 Ashirin daia babu or ashirin gaira daia or babu daia
20 Ashirin, ishirin ; hauya ; laso (S) ; gomia biu
21 Ashirin da daia
22 Ashirin da biu
28 Talatin biu babu
29 Talatin daia babu
30 Talatin; gomia uku; laso da goma ; hauya da goma
40 Arbain ; gomia fudu
The foregoing decades can also be constructed with gomia, laso,
98 Dari gaira biu ; dari biu babu
99 Dari gaira daia or dari daia babu
100 Dari (deri) ; mia ; minya ; zangu
150 Mia wa hamsin or dari da hamsin
200 Metin; me tain (Not dari biu)
300 Dari uku
400 Arba mia ; arba minya
500 Hamsa mia ; hamsa minya ; dari biar
600 Dari shidda
700 Dari bokoi
800 Dari tokos
900 Alu gaira mia
1,000 Dubu ; alif ; zambar (rare) ; zangu goma
1,100 Alu wa minya
1,200 Alu wa metin
1,300 Dubu (or alif) da dari uku
1,400 Alu wa arba mia
1,500 Alu wa hamsa mia (or minya)
1,600 Dubu da dari shidda
1,700 Dubu da dari bokoi
62 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
1,800 Alfin gaira me tin
1,900 Alfin gaira minya (or mia) ; alfin gaira dari
2,000 Alfin; alfain ; zambar biu (Not dubu biu)
3,000 Talata ; zambar uku
4,000 Arba ; zambar f udu
5,000 Hamsa ; zambar biar
6,000 Sitta ; zambar shidda
7,000 Sebaa ; zambar bokoi
8,000 Tamania ; zambar tokos
9,000 Tessaa ; zambar tara
10,000 Zambar goma
100,000 Zambar dari
200,000 Zambar metin
1,000,000 Zambar dubu : zambar alif
(1) Notes on the Cardinals
Guda. The word "guda" means head or unit. It is
often used together with the .other numerals below ten, as
well as being used alone instead of "daia," as "guda
daia" or "guda" simply, 1; "gudu uku," 3; ashirin
da guda biar, 25. (See further under syntax of numerals.)
Goma sha daia, etc. In counting the "goma" is com-
monly omitted for brevity, a feature which is also found
in most other West African languages where the expres-
sion is too long or cumbersome.
Ashirin biu babu. The two numbers next below the
decades are expressed by using " babu," nothing or without,
or "gaira," less, as "talatin daia babu," 29; "dari gaira
biu," 98. This system is also applied to the two decades
below the hundreds after the first hundred, as "metin
gaira ashirin," 180.
Hauya. The meaning is a score, and it is only used in
counting cowries, as " hauya biu," 40 ; " hauya uku," 60.
Laso, 20, is also used in counting cowries.
Zangu, 100 Used in counting cowries.
Gomia. The pure Hausa plural form of "goma." It
was the form in use before the introduction and common
acceptance of the Arabic forms for all numerals between
20 and 100. It is still preferred among parts of
the population that have come less under the Arabic
influence and are uneducated. The merchants, educated
persons, mallams, etc., naturally affect the Arabic forms
Kororo. This word is used south and west of Zaria to
denote a bag containing 20,000 cowries.
Numerals of Arabic Origin. In some of the higher
numerals the Arabic form has so far taken the place of
the pure Hausa forms that it is quite incorrect to use the
latter, which are obsolete. This applies, amongst others,
to the numerals 200, 400, 900.
Compound Numbers. The rule for forming compound
numbers is to place the largest numbers first and connect
each succeeding numeral by inserting " da," and, as " dubu
da dari tokos da ashirin da daia," 1821. The only excep-
tion is that " sha " takes the place of "da " from 11 to 17.
Wa is the Arabic for " and." It is used when all the
numerals are of Arabic origin.
(2) Cardinal Numerals Gender and Number
The cardinal numerals do not vary for gender, but those
up to ten can take a plural form on rare occasions. The
plurals are :
Daia none Shidda shidodi
Biu biunai Bokoi bakoa
Uku ukoki Tokos takoshi
Fudu fudodi Tara tarori
Biar biani Goma gomia
(3) Combination of Cardinal Numerals with Personal
Daia-n-mu or daia-mu one of us
Biu-n-mu two of us
Uku-n-mu three of us
Fudu-n-mu four of us
Biani-n-mu five of us
Shidda-n-mu six of us
Bakoa- n-mu seven of us
Takoshi-n-mu eight of us
Tara-n-mu nine of us
Goma-n-mu ten of us
Ashirini-n-mu twenty of us
Hamsini-n-mu fifty of us
64 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Tissaini-n-mu ninety of us
Dari-n-mu or darini-n-mu a hundred of us
Alifi-n-mu a thousand of us
" Ku " you, " su," them, may be substituted for " mu " as necessary,
Daia-n-ku one of you daia-n-su one of them
Biu-n-su two of them
For the numbers above " two," however, it would seem
to be better, and certainly more usual, to use a more
extended phrase, as
Fudu daga chiki-n-ku four of you
Biu daga chiki-n-mu two of us
Daia-n-su shina chewa wannan One of them was saying this meat
na ma da kiba is fat
When the cardinal number represents the whole of the
assemblage instead of a portion, as above, the suffix " -di "
Daiadi-n-nan this one
Biudi-n-nan these two
Duka ukudi-n-nan all three of these
Fududi-n-su the four of them
Biardi the five
Shiddadi the six
Bokoidi the seven
Tokosdi the eight
Taradi the nine
Gomadi the ten
Daridi the hundred
Dubudi the thousand
(4) Syntax of Cardinal Numerals
The cardinal numerals usually follow the noun they
qualify. The noun as a rule takes the plural form, though
this is not invariably the practice, and the numeral " two "
especially almost invariably follows the noun in the singular
If the numeral precedes, it on>y does so in such cases as
those given hi the previous paragraph, and " n " is used as
Mutum biu two men
Shina da bindiga da baki biu He has a double-barrelled gun
Ka ani awaki talatin Give me thirty goats
Ki kawo mini moda zinaria Bring me a million gold cups
Ina tamaha mutane da suka / think the people who were caught
kama tare da ni ba su fi ba with me were not more than two
dari biu ko dari uku or three hundred
Na gani taguaye biu anyashie / saw two twin children thrown on
su bisa hainya suna kuka the road crying
Rakuminmu daia One of our camels
Su duka biu sun mutu The two of them died
After such nouns as those compounded with "mai" a
simple noun may be inserted before the numeral
Masu-gaskia mutum ashirin da daia Twenty-one righteous men
When the noun is qualified by both an adjective and a
cardinal numeral, the numeral may be placed immediately
after the noun with the adjective next, the latter being
treated as in apposition to the noun
Ido-n-sa daia, mai-girima, ga One of his eyes, a large one, was
tsaka-n-hanchi on the middle of the nose
Muka tafi da barua - n - Tebib We went with two of Tebib's servants,
biu, da bara-n-sariki tare da and with the king's servant, lo-
bawa-n-sa daia, kuruma gether with a slave who was deaf
Guda. The following are examples of the uses of "guda,"
Guda nawa ? How many ?
Kwoi guda nawa na sayerua ne ? How many eggs are there for sale ?
Guda . . . guda One , . . another
Shi do guda, guda ta tsire (//) he takes one, the other escapes
Guda guda = daia daia One at a time
Daia. " Daia," when used correlatively, corresponds with
the expression "the one . . . the other "-
Mache daia tana da dukia da- One woman had much property,
yawa, mache daia tana da the other woman had but little
dukia kadan property
" Daia " can also be translated " the same "
Mu duka muka zamna ga wuri daia We all sat at the same place
Su duka daia ne They are all the same
66 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
" Daia " can never be used independently as a noun as
it may be in English. A concrete noun must always
Mutum daia shina kora mutum One man is driving two before
The cardinals can be used as adverbs.
Ya yi kuka daia. Ya yi kuka He cried out once. He cried out
biu twice. This is literally He made
one cry, etc.
Na ji daia daia / understand a little
The verb " to be " is used with numerals as follows
Kurdinsa ba su dayawa ; zam Its price is not much ; it is
bar dari da hamsin ne 150,000 cowries
( 100,050 =zambar dari da guda hamsin)
5. Etymology of Numerals
Taking the languages of West Africa as a whole, the
commonest system of numeration is on a base of five,
more or less disguised or evident, with the higher numbers
on the basis of twenties (scores).
The Hausa numeration, on the other hand, is purely
denary, like several languages to the southward of it and
to the south-eastward. In Hausa, though the introduction
of the Arabic has dispossessed many of the purely indigenous
names, the older names are still used for counting cowries,
which it is more convenient to deal with in twenties that
is, the sum of all the fingers and toes, making " one man
The following are the etymologies of most of the
Daia. Uncertain and difficult to trace, as is the word
for "one" in very many languages.
Guda. Compare "gudio" in Doai; "gade" in Bode;
"gadsi" in Ngodsin.
Biu. Compare " ful " in Ron ; " vul " in Sura ; " bolo "
in Bolanchi ; " vuel " in Montol ; " vel " in Ankwe ; " flo "
in Gurka ; " bab " in Angas.
Uku. Compare "kun" (" kul ") in Sura "kun" in
Montol, Ankwe, and Gurka ; " kunu " in Bolanchi, Tangale,
and Awok; "kwan" in Angas ; "koan" in Ngodsin;
"akoan" in Bode; "ko" in Doai; "kuji " in Buta.
Fudu. Compare "fudu" in Ngodsin, Doai, and Bode;
"fudi" in Buta; "fodo" in Bolanchi ; "pu" in Ron;
"feir" in Sura; "fer" in Ankwe and Montol; "fier"
Biar. Compare " beddi " (" badi ") in Bolanchi ; " pad "
("pat") in Sura; "pad" in Montol, Ankwe; "pfad"in
Doai; "fad" in Ngodsin; "pate" in Angas; "puat" in
Tangale and Awok.
Shidda. Of Arabic origin.
Bokoi (bakoi). If the numerals seven and eight, as well
as sometimes six and nine, are examined in the languages
mentioned in connection with the foregoing numerals, it
is found that the following syllables represent " five " :
Sura, "po"; Bolanchi, "bau," "bo"; Montol, "pa";
Ankwe, "po," "pu"; Angas, "po." There is in these
syllables some similarity to "ba" in "bakoi," but this
syllable is not found in Hausa in any other numeral. As
to the second syllable in " bokoi," it seems to have no
Tokos. No sure etymology seems to offer itself for this
numeral either. "To" is the root for "five" in the
BaNtu languages, and "kos" may be connected with
"uku." It would require to be explained, though, how
a BaNtu root should have come in.
Tar a, . Nothing .
Goma. Compare "guma" in Ngodsin; "goma" in
Doai ; " guamo " in Tangale.
The decades twenty to ninety are all of Arabic origin,
but little changed.
Dari is a pure Hausa word.
Minya and mia. Both of Arabic origin.
Metin and metain. Arabic.
Dubuis also found in Kanuri as "dubu"; "debu" in
Teda, Bagirmi, Longone, Mandara ; and "thba" in Coptic.
Ziambar. Compare " diomber " in Songhay.
A Ifin. Arabic.
68 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
The ordinal numbers are formed by prefixing the
genitive particle to the cardinals, "na" for the masculine,
"ta" for the feminine (there being no plural), with one
This exception is " the first," and, as is customary in most
languages, West African included, it is not formed from
the word " one." In Hausa the word " na-fari " is derived
from the verb "fara," to begin
MASC. FEM. ENGLISH
na-fari ta-fari first
na-biu ta-biu second
na-uku ta-uku, etc. third
As in other West African languages, after "ten," when
the numerals become compound words, the ordinal form is
commonly dropped, and the cardinals are reverted to.
Connected with the ordinal numbers and formed in the
same way are some adjectives
MASC. FEM. ENGLISH
Na-baya ta-baya last
Na-gaba ta-gaba foremost
Na-tsaka ta-tsaka middle
Na-bisa ta-bisa upper
Na-kasa ta-kasa lower
Farko first Karshe last
Examples of Syntax of Ordinals
Na zamna ga wurina na-fari / sat down in my place first
Mutum uku su tashi, biu daga Let three men get up, two of them
chiki-n-su su dauko rua, na- to draw water, the third one to
uku-n-su shi nemo itache fetch wood
Farko-n-dawaki The first of the horses
Karshe- n-dawaki The last of the horses
Da sunka ketare daia, biu, a When they had crossed one, two, at
na-uku sunka issa wuri-n-kasa the third they reached dry land
Yaro ya yi sukua rakumi so- The boy galloped the camel three
uku, a na-fudu ya tafo ya times, at the fourth he came, he
dauki yarinia ya ajieta bisa took up the girl, he put her on
rakuininsa his camel
ADVERBIAL NUMBERS OR MULTIPUCATIVES
These are formed by prefixing to the cardinals "so,"
or, as it is sometimes pronounced, " sau "
So-daia once So-biu twice So-uku three times
So-goma ten times So-dari hundred times
This seems to be the same word as " sau," foot-print or
sole of the foot, and so in combination with the numerals
it acquires the idea of a step. Compare the corresponding
use in Twi of " peng," a stroke ; in Mende " heima," sitting
down; in Angas " shi," a foot : all of which go to prove
that " so " is a noun.
So-daia kuma Once again
So-nawa ka tafi Sokoto ? Na How often have you been to Sokoto ?
tafi Sokoto so-uku / have been to Sokoto three times
Uku-uku biu nawa ke nan ? Twice three are how many ?
The distributive numerals are formed by repeating the
Ya kedaya shilling goma gotna He counted them out by ten shillings
(Kedaya (S)=kirga (K))
Ya bada riguna biar biar ga He gave five cloths to each of the
yara-n-sariki chief's sons
Ya aikesu biu biu He sent them two by two
Ya bada daia daia ga kowane- He gave one to each of them
Kada ka kirga kurdinka shidda Do not count your cowries in sixes
shidda, kirgasu biar biar count them in fives
I'.iasn dubu dubu Pay them a thousand each
Nawa nawa ? How many each f
Guda nawa T How many f
Kwoi guda nawa na saycrua How many eggs are there for sale ?
Nawa nawa anasayerua T (or How much are they sold for each f
70 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Nawa anasayesda su ? How much are they (as a whole) ?
Ni kan ba ma-aikitana kurdi / give my servants two hundred and
metin da hamsin hamsin fifty cowries each daily
kwana daia daia
Massara kurdinsa goma sha bial Indian corn is fifteen cowries a-piece
sha bial ne kwanaki-n-damana in the wet season
Doiya guda nawa ka sayo ? Ta How many yams did you buy ?
dari uku a baki - n - hamsin Three hundred cowries' worth at
hamsin fifty (cowries each)
It will be noticed from the above sentences that in
repeating the numeral to form the distributive idea, if it
is compound only the latter part is repeated.
These are, with the exception of " a half," borrowed
from the Arabic, and are rarely used.
" Half " is expressed by " shashi," of which the etymology
is not known, or "rabi," from "raba," to divide. Each
of these words may be translated by " a part " instead of
an exact " half," and this is found to be also the case in
many other West African languages.
The fractions of Arabic origin are
Sulusi a third
Rubui a fourth, a quarter
Humusi a fifth
Sudusi a sixth
Subui a seventh
Sumuni or tumuni an eighth
Tusui a ninth
Ushuri a tenth
The plurals are " sulusai," " rubuai," " ushurai," etc.
All these numbers can be expressed by a circumlocution,
which is always resorted to for fractional parts smaller
than a tenth.
One-eleventh = daia (or guda) chiki-n-goma sha daia
One-twelfth = daia (or guda) chiki-n-goma sha biu
One- thirteenth = daia (guda) chiki-n-goma sha uku
Three-sevenths =subuai uku
" A tenth " as applied to a tithe or land tax is called
Ya bani sashi He gave me half
Sun bani sashi- n-uku They gave me the third part
Na raba shi uku, na ba kowa I divided it into three parts, I gave
rabo-n-sa each his portion. (Note, in this
the cardinal is used)
Mun yi tafia shashi-n-rana We travelled half the day
The pronoun is divided into the following classes :
1. THE PERSONAL PRONOUN
The personal pronoun shows gender, number, and case.
(1) Gender. This is distinguished in the 2nd and 3rd
persons singular only. All the other persons, singular and
plural, are of common gender.
(2) Number. The plural pronouns are indicated by
different words from the singular, and are not formed from
the singular by the addition of regular plural terminations.
The 2nd person is, however, possibly an exception.
(3) Case. The vocative is distinguished in the 2nd
person singular, as "kai!" masc., "ke!" fern., though
these are in reality only the disjunctive forms of the
personal pronoun. The objective case has different forms
from the nominative in the singular, but not in the plural.
The genitive case is formed in all persons except the 1st,
by the use of the preposition "of" "n" ("na") masc.,
" t " (" ta ") fern., with phonetic variation, as a prefix
to the objective form. The 1st person singular has a
separate form, as will be seen. The dative is formed
with the preposition "ma" to the objective form.
Special Uses of the Personal Pronoun
The 3rd personal pronoun is used in Hausa not only
as a substitute for the noun, but also as a necessary
complement to it when nominative. It thus assists to
identify the gender of the noun. The tense of the
verb is also dependent upon the pronoun, which takes
different forms, either with or without the assistance of
Tabular Statement of the Various Forms of Personal Pronoun
ni, nia 1
ka ; kai
shi ; sa ; i
ya; i (ye) ya,
shina ; yana ; :
naa, na; ni
sli ii, shi
munka ; muka 3 muu, mu also
kunka ; kuka kuu, ku also
sunka ; suka suu, su also sua,
1 " Nia" is interrogative. See under interrogative pronouns.
2 " Yana " is commonly written, but rare in conversation.
a " Munka" is of Sokoto origin ; " muka " of Kano origin.
-n-ka- -r-ka ; -1-ka or -t-ka
-n-ki -r-ki; -1-ki, etc.
-n-sa ; -n-shi -1-sa ; -1-shi
tawa mani, mini, mana
taka maka, ma
taki maki, miki
tasa ; tai. tashi masa; mashi;
mis hi ; mai
nasa; nashi; nai
m a m u ;
m u m u
maku ; muku
masu ; musu
I. "1," "t," "r," are interchangeable for euphony.
H and I. The copulative may be omitted.
3rd person " sa " is of Kano origin ; " shi " of Bornu
origin. Both are in general use, but " i " is more
commonly heard in Sokoto and Katsina.
In Kano "mass" is heard for "masa"; "tass" for
Uses of Foregoing Forms
Used in answer to question " who ? "
C. Used with aorist tense.
D. Used with past tense.
E. Continuous tense, usually present. It
special verb construction which is examined
P. Used with narrative perfect tense.
G. Used with future (i.).
H. Possessive inseparable, when thing possessed is
I. Possessive inseparable, when thing possessed is
J. Possessive separable when thing possessed is masculine.
K. ,, ,. feminine.
Example of Possessive Pronoun in Combination with Noun
(1) In "uwalka," etc., for "1" with other nouns "r" or
"t" may be used for euphony. In these forms "n" is
often substituted for " t " or its variants if the possessor
is a man. It seems as if there is an objection on the
part of a man to apply a feminine form to himself, however
correct gramatically. A similar disinclination is observ-
able in other languages, as in French when after " son
excellence" "elle" would be strictly correct, but the
tendency is to revert to " il " at the first possible
(2) Forms without copulative. These are in common
use, and are a reversion to the statement of the possessive
phase by words in apposition only, as has been discussed
Your (m.) father
Your (.) father
Your (ra.) mother
Your (t.) mother
II W. tiki
76 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
under the noun. Or it may be that both " n " and " t "
have been modified for euphony into "r," which after
long "a" is scarcely heard.
(3) The possessive pronoun is incorporated in the word,
and the accent is thus moved to the new penultimate'
as, "ubanmu," "uwasa," "ubanensu."
Syntax of Personal Pronouns Nominative
1. The pronoun agrees with the subject with which it
is in apposition in person, gender, and number
Yaro ya gani The boy sees
Yara ba su gani mutum ba The boys do not see the man
Mache ta tafo The woman comes
Mata ba su tafo ba The women do not come
2. The same rule is observed when there are more than
two predicates belonging to the same subject.
Kura ta tafo, ta kawo nama, ta The hycena came, she brought meat,
bayes ga dianta, da ita kua she gave it to her offspring, and
ta taba kadan she too tasted a tittle
Namiji ya kama babe, ya dar- The man caught a locust, he tied it
ime shi, ya aje up, he laid (it) aside
3. Two or more nouns in apposition are followed by
a pronoun in the plural
Yaroda ubansasuna zuafarauta The boy and his father are going
(lit., coming) hunting
Yarinia du uwata, su duka biu, The girl and her mother, both of
zuchiansu ta bache them, their heart was broken
The omission of the 3rd personal pronoun is very rare
except (1) in poetry or proverbs ; (2) before " na," i.e.,
"shina," etc., are shortened to "na"; (3) with the verb
"to be," "ke" or "ne"
Yaro-n-nanyache bawa-n-sariki The boy said the chief's slave had
ke (or shi ke) da doki the horse
Gama kafirawa kan yerda suabo Because the heathen believe in evil
Yarona na da mirda-n-chiki, ba My boy has gripes, he cannot ease
shi iya baya-n-gida himself
Wuyana na yi mini zogi My neck hurts me
Rashi-n-tuo kan chi wake ak Having no " tuo" one must eat beans
wana before going to bed (" Tuo "
is a sort of porridge of guinea
corn a staple dish.)
Wani machiji baki na nan A black snake was lying there
Combination of pronouns
Mu je da ni Let us go, you and I
Examples of Syntax of Possessive Pronoun
Diarku Your (plu.) daughter
Abi-na My thing (i.e., my property)
Ya-r-uwamu Our sister
Zuchiata ba ta so ba wari-n-rua (lit., my heart) did not like the smell
of the water
Mata-r-wanene ke nan ? Matata Whose wife is this ? She is mine
Enna abokinka ? Where is your friend ?
Ka zamna ga hanu-n-damana Sit at my right hand
Mugu-n-gatarinka ya fi sare ka A bad axe is better than an offer to
bani (proverb) cut (lit., Your bad axe is better
than the cutting you give me or
will do for me)
Garinsu ba da giritna ba Their town was not large
Kada ku kafa gida - n - zane - Do not pitch my tent there
Enna matanka ? Where is your wife ?
Although " mata " is feminine, "n" is commonly used.
The more correct use is " mata-ka " or " mata-r-ka." If the
meaning were " Where are your women ? " " mata," being
the plural of " mache," " n " would be correctly used. As
will, however, be seen under prepositions, there is a tendency
to use the masculine form "na" and to ignore the
Ya tasa His sister
Ka bani nawa Give me my own
Ni baka naka / shall give you yours
Suka che, na wani nc ? ta che They said Whose is it ? She said
masu, naau duka to them, For all of you
78 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Mache ta che, yariniata tana da The woman said, my daughter is
keao, taki ba ta da keao ba beautiful, (but) yours is not
Akwia nan tawa che The goat is mine
Gidanga naku ko nasu ne ? Ba 7s this house yours or theirs ? It
namu ba ne is not ours
Tamu che It is ours (i.e., a thing of feminine
Kowa ya chi shinkafa-r-ranche Whoever eats borrowed rice it is hit
tasa ya chi (proverb) own he eats
Suka tashi da ita da baiwa tata They arose both she and her slave
Instead of the possessive or genitive case the dative
may be found
Chiawa da ka rena ita ta kan The grass you despise may pierce
tsokane maka idanu (proverb) your eyes
Plural Possessive Pronouns
It has been seen that in the adjective there is no
distinction of gender in the plural number. The same
applies to the possessive pronouns. Nouns which are
feminine in the singular are therefore without gender
in the plural.
The following examples illustrate this
Mata tasa His wife
Mata-n-sa His wife and also his wives
Dokata My command
Dokokina My commands
Kafa tasa His leg
Kafafu-n-sa His legs
Mata tasa ta bata amre His wife spoilt her marriage, i.e.,
broke her marriage vows
Mata-n-sa suka beri shi His wives left him
Other examples of the possessive pronoun, and some
of its idiomatic uses, are given under the preposition " na."
The objective pronoun follows the verb
Ya ba ni He gave it me
Ka ba ni dana Give me my child
Na ba ka / give (it) you
Sai ya gani kai Until he saw you (with emphasis
on " you ")
Na son kai / like you
Mu kama shi We caught him
Muna kama-n-sa We are catching him
Kura ta bi shi The hycena followed him
Kura tana bi-n-sa The hycena is following him
Rana duka ina nema-n-sa, ban All day I am seeking him, I do not
same sa ba find him
The peculiar construction that follows the verbal pronoun
ending in " na " is to be observed. It is more fully
examined under the verb, but it may be here mentioned
that a noun form of the verb is produced thereby, which
requires for its full amplification that a possessive pronoun
be added. The above sentences are therefore literally
we (are) of-his-catching, or "on" for "of," etc.
The objective pronoun 3rd person singular is often
omitted where it can be readily understood from the
context, and also in poetry
Mache ta manche danta chiki-n- The woman forgets her child in the
daji; kura ta gani, ta dauka, bush; the hycena saw (it), took
ta kai, ta boye (it), carried (it), (and) hid (it)
Giso ya dauka sanda-sa, ya aje The spider took his stick, he laid
kiisa kansa (it) close to his head
Kawo kori-n-ka, kawo baka-n- Bring your bows and arrows if such
ka en ta wada ma (ma = maka) are your treasured possessions
Indirect Object for Direct Object in English
Ya bada mani = ya ba ni He gave me
Su bayes garesa = su ba shi They gave him
This is because these forms of the verb, as shown in
the chapter on the verb, only admit of an indirect object.
Combination of Personal Pronouns
When two pronouns are combined the first is in the
plural number, and they are connected with " da," and.
With the exception of the connecting link, this idiom is
found as far off as the Mende language
Gobe mu tafi da kai en gani To-morrow you and I will go and see
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
2. RELATIVE PRONOUNS
Simple form without copulative
m., f., and plu. da
,, with copulative
masc. and plu. -n-da,
The short and the long forms are commonly inter-
changeable to suit the euphony or emphasis of a sentence.
In the short form the copulative preposition "n," of, may
be inserted or omitted, euphony being here also the
Mutum wanda shina zua or The man who is coming
Mutume-n-da shina zua
Mache wadda tana zua or The woman who is coming
Mache da tana zua
Mutane wadanda suna zua or The people who are coming
Mutane-n-da suna zua
Doki da ya gudu ya fadi or The horse that ran away fell
Doki-n-da ya gudu ya fadi
For " abu wanda," the thing which, the abbreviated form
is the one in common use " abinda."
In the objective case a pronoun may or may not follow
Abinda na gani zani fadi or What I have seen I will relate
Abinda na ganishi zani fadi
Dakinda ankagina ya rushe jia or The house which was built collapsed
Dakinda ankagina shi ya rushe yesterday
Akwia da ka gani or Akwia-r-da The goat which you saw
Addition of Personal Pronoun
When the relative pronoun is used with a noun in the
nominative case it is followed by the personal pronoun
the same as is the simple noun
Yaro wanda ya gudu The boy that ran away
Exceptions are found
Ita che da ke yin hankali ga She it was who was kind to the
A clue to the etymology of the relative pronouns is
furnished by the optional use of the personal pronoun
in the objective case in such a sentence as
Mutum wanda ka nemeshi for The man whom you sought
mutum wanda ka nema
In most West African languages the relative pronoun is
absolutely non-existent, or at least very poorly indicated,
co-ordinate sentences being universally used. If, there-
fore, from this analogy " da " be no more than the con-
junction "and," Hausa furnishes an example of a language
in which the primitive construction is in use side by side
with the more advanced which has been developed from
it. Accordingly, the above quoted sentence can be trans-
lated in the form in which the objective pronoun is used
Mutum da ka nemeshi The man and you seek him
This is also shown in the following sentence
Da kaya da mu ke da su And the loads which we have
Mashi - n - nan da na soki The spear with which I pierced
ubanki da shi your father
What the " wa " in the longer forms may mean exactly
is obscure, but it is the same word as is found in the
lengthened forms of the demonstrative pronouns and in
the indefinite pronouns. That it has an independent
82 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
value is seen from studying the action of the genitive
copulative embodied in the words.
In "wa-n-da," the masculine form, "n," i.e., "na,"
remains unchanged as it must when following words
having a masculine meaning.
In "wa-d-da," "wa" seems to acquire a feminine
meaning from the word in the feminine gender which
it follows. The "n" therefore becomes a modification
of "t," as "1" or "r," etc. "Wadda" is therefore
derived from " wa-l-da," or " wa-t-da," etc., and the
intervening additional consonant has the effect of ensuring
that the vowel of " wa " shall be short as it is in " wadda."
In the plural, which is of course the same for both
genders, the same peculiar plural termination " da " is
found which is also found in the demonstrative pronouns,
"^adanda" is therefore composed of "wa-da (da=plu.
The plural form "wadanda" is contracted in Katsena
and Sokoto to " wa'anda," and in Kano and Zaria to
Nominative relative, long form, dependent
Fada wanda ba ka iya ba amaisai The fight which you find too much
wasa (prov.) for you turn into play
Abubua chan wadanda na ga The things that I see moving yonder,
motsinsu, ko birayi ne ko are they monkeys or dogs ?
Abinda na gani, wanda ya fi In my opinion the best thing for us
anfani sai niu tail to do is to go
Objective relative, long form, dependent
Abinchi wanda shi ke so The food he likes
Matatai daia wadda ya ke so One of his wives whom he loved
Ba su kashe mutume nan wanda They do not kill the man who stole
ya sache doki the horse
Dambaria ya chainye gutsiata The mouse has eaten my nuts which
wadda ni ke so-n-chi gobe / wanted to eat to-morrow
Short form nominative dependent
Abinda ba naka ba ne, kaka The thing that is not yours how
zaka bayes T can you give it away ?
Short form, objective, dependent
Wani gari ne da uwaka zata Where is the town to which your
kaika ? mother is going to take you ?
Riga-n-da ka bani ta tsofa The. coat which you gave me is old
Ya tafi gari-n-nan da ya soki He went to that town where he
sariki ya mutu stabbed the chief so that he died
Sun goda masa bayinda suka They showed him the slaves which
kama they had caught
Ba ni da rakuma da zan baka / have no camels to give you
Independent form nominative
Wanda kana yi masa alheri, shi He to whom you do kindness and
ko, ya kan ki yi - n - godia, he refuses to be grateful is a boor
butulu ne (prov.)
Wanda ya sayemu daga Bornu He who bought us in Bornu
Independent form objective
Ta basu rua da faraufarau She gave them water which was very
Ina so wanda uwaka ta ba ka / want that which your mother gave
Ba ni da wanda uwaka ta baka, / have not that which your mother
sai ina da wanda wana ya bani gave you, I have only that which
my elder brother gave me
Mata-m-Bornu aikinsu daia ko As to the women of Bornu there is
nan wanda na sani one kind of work they do which
Two co-ordinates sentences may be substituted for
the use of the relative
Ga jirigi, suanene suna chiki ? See that boat, who are in it f for
Who are in the boat which I see ?
Use of " mai- "
Mu masuaiki mugunta We who work iniquity
3. DEMONSTRATIVE 1*110 NOUN
The demonstrative pronoun has two forms. One stands
before the noun and the syllable " wa " enters into its
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
composition ; the other follows the noun and is the same
word less the " wa."
FORM STANDING BEFORE THE NOUN FORM FOLLOWING
MASC. FEM. MASC. FEM.
-n-nan, n-ga -1-nan, -1-j
This wannan wa-nan
These wada-n-nan wada-n-nan -n-nan, -nga -n-nan, -nga
That wa-n-chan wa-chan, -n-chan -1-chan,
Those wada-n-chan wada-n-chan -n-chan -n-chan
This horse wannan doki doki-n-nan
wanga doki dokinga
This mare wanan godia-1-nan
These horses wadannan dawaki dawaki-n-nan,
wadanga dawaki dawaki-nga
These mares wadannan godiyoyi-n-
That horse wanchan doki doki-n-chan
Litafi-n-nan, litafinga CHAN hainya-r-chan
Mutume-n-nan, mutumenga mutume-n-chan
"Nan," "chan," and "ga" are the equivalents of the
adverbs " here " and " there." That they are not adverbs
at all in Hausa may be deduced from their employment.
They are in fact nouns, and are treated as such. Hence
the copulative " n " ; so that literally translated
Litafi-n-nan, litafi-n-ga mean the book of this place
Litafi-n-chan the book of that place
Riga-1-chan ,, the coat of that place
The same construction is in " wa-n-nan," and " wa-n-ga,"
though what "wa" may be precisely requires further
As has been explained under nouns, the copulative may
be omitted, leaving the two nouns in apposition. Hence
the following equivalents are equally correct
Wanan for wannan Litafi nan for litafi-n-nan
Riga chan for riga-1-chan
When it sounds better the copulative is commonly
The fact that " nan " and " chan " are nouns is further
borne out by their uses with predicates.
" Shina nan." He is at this place. Compare " shina
gida." He is at home. It is to be noted that whenever
a verb has to be placed after the pronoun ending in " na,"
the verb becomes a substantive. This is explained under
That " nan " is not an adverb of place is still further
borne out in the phrase "shi ke nan," so it is.
These words " nan " and " chan " are probably in them-
selves compound words. The parts "na" and "cha"
represent present and distant position. " N " is a
formative suffix of some kind. It may be connected with
the locative suffix of Kanuri, also "n," or it may be the
preposition " n," of, with a somewhat different usage.
That the final "n" is variable and separable is borne
out by one example " miji-nal-mata " in a poem called
"Mutane zina " (footnote given in Charlton's "Hausa
86 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
From the foregoing it can be seen that any change for
gender depends on the copulative alone, but in the long
forms "wanga," "wa-ga," or "wa-r-ga" it is not quite
apparent why/ there should be any change, as the gender
of the copulative depends upon the unchanged preceding
syllable or word "wa."
Remarks on Usages, etc.
The longer are naturally more emphatic than the shorter.
" Nga " is a dialectic variation of " nan."
" Wanga," " waga" are Sokoto and Zanfara forms.
"Wainen" (masc.) and "wai'en" (fern.) are Katsina
forms of " Wannan," etc., to which place they are rather
" Wankai " is a Zaria form for " wanchan," without
inflection for gender used by the " talakawa Zaria."
Examples of Syntax
Wannan mutum talaka ne This man is poor
Ki koiya mani waka nan Teach me that song
Yaronga shina *yin fada That boy is fighting
Whilst "chan" expresses strongly distance "nan" is
Dokinga nika ba na iya sayinsa This horse of yours I cannot buy it
Ba na so-n-chi-n-tuo-n-nan / cannot eat that food
Masu-kaya biunga su sake ka- These two carriers have changed
yansu their loads
In the translation of the Lord's Prayer " nan " is given
an emphatic use, as, " Ka ba niu rananga abinchi-n-yao
da gobe." Give us this day our daily bread.
Mu wadanan uku anhaifc mu ga We three were born at the same
gari daia place
Da ya tashi dawuri wadanan Had he started early the horsemen
masudawaki dfi ba su tar- would not have overtaken him
(In the last sentence " wadanan " is essentially weak.)
Abubua nan These things
Yaranga suna yi-n-fada Those boys are fighting
Ya rasulu allahi deddi fadi shi prophet! it wa/ God's saying of
ke wada suka kada maulana old that those 'who despised the
Mu gani kaka aboki nan n?wa We see how this* my friend if he
en ya zo ya ji tsoro comes will be afraid
Kurdi kadan nan ne This money is not enough (is small)
Na baka dia nan tawa / give you this my daughter
In many of its usages the demonstrative "nan" has
very little demonstrating power as regards place. It is
more easily translated by the definite article in English.
In this way some compensation is made for an apparent
deficiency in the Hausa language. In Kanuri it is also
found that a weakened demonstrative does duty for a
Mutume-n-nan da ya manche The man who forgot his stick has
sandansa ya dawoyo come back
Ta dauki hazi nan She took the millet
Labaringa ke nan (Sokoto) This is the news
Labarin ke nan (Kano and Zaria)
Abinnan yana wurina The thing is with me
Amma Bitrus ya tashi tsaye But Peter stood up with the eleven
tare da goma sha daia-n-nan
" Wannan . . . wannan " and " -nan . . . -nan " ; are
equivalent to " this . . . that "
Ka so wannan litafi ko wannan 1 Do you like this book or that ? (
Wannan and nan for wannan . . . wannan
Wannan ba nan ba ni ke so This not that I want
Wannan mutum ba nan ba ni / want this man, not that
En wannan ba ya yi maka dadi // this does not please you, perhaps
ba, halama wanchan ya yi that will
Zabua nan ta yi kwoi goma sha This guinea fowl laid thirteen eggs
uku bar ta dena, wachan ma and has ceased ; that one how-
tana nema-n-guribi ever is seeking a place to lay in
88 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Wannan can be used independently as a noun
Wannan ya kare This has finished
Wannan ba na so shi ba This (man) I do not like him
Wannan ne wayo da na baki This is the advice which I give you
Wannan barao ne This is a thief
Wannan namiji ba mache ne This is a male not a female
Wanene wannan a kof a-r-dakina Who is that at the door of my
It may here be noticed that a final "n" is sometimes
added to nouns, especially at the end of a phrase or sentence.
It is not a firmly expressed "n," and is somewhat nasal.
It is possibly primarily euphonic, but it commonly has
the effect of expressing emphasis, and so puts the noun
into the definite state, or, in other words, it has the effect
of the definite article. Its use is optional.
This final "n"was not recognised by the older writers
on Hausa, possibly because it is more commonly used in
the centres of the Hausa country to which they had not
access, and because it is more apparent in writing than
As it is a detail of the language that has received much
discussion of late, it may be here stated that a not
dissimilar use of "n" is found in at least one other
West African language. In far distant Temne, for in-
stance, "ng" occurs at the end of some pronouns and
adverbs to make a convenient termination when they
are used at the end of a preposition or absolutely.
Also as an extension of this use it expresses emphasis.
It is, however, quite distinct from the article which is
a prefix in that language. If, therefore, this use of "n"
exists in one other language besides Hausa, there will
undoubtedly be found other languages which have a
This "n" in Hausa is not to be confused with the
preposition "of." The latter is often written at the end
of a noun when in reality it is connected with the
noun that follows. Writing it attached to the first of
two nouns is merely a convention. It must, however,
be added that in some instances it is hard to say whether
the "n" is really the preposition or the special "n"
here referred to
Uban ya che da keao The father said, all right
Ya che da uban He said to the (or his) father
Ya fita a garin He left the town
Daga bayan Musa ya yi yaki After this (or behind them) Musu
Ban sami maganin ba / did not find the medicine
Duka garin ba mache maikeao In the whole town there was no
kama tata woman as beautiful as she
Ya tafo ga wurin enda machiji He went to the place where the snake
shi ke was
Ya che da matan kun gama aiki- He said to the women, have you
n-abinchin ? finished preparing the food ?
Mutumen ya che da sariki The man said to the chief
With Words other than Nouns
Domin ta hanbare ka ga addini That it may kick you away from
Ku yi abinchi " iri-iri " kamin Make ready every kind of food
en zo before I come
Examples of the absence of final " n " are numerous
in this grammar.
4. INTERROGATIVE PRONOUN
The following pronouns are used in asking questions :
Etymology. The longer forms are made up with the
masculine and feminine forms of the verb " to be " suffixed
90 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
to "wa" and duplicated in the longest forms for
Plural. The plural of the independent forms is made
by the personal pronoun " su," they, prefixed to the stem
" wa." This use of "they" to form the plural of nouns, etc.,
is found in other languages in West Africa, and is dis-
cussed in the chapters on the plural and the pronoun in
" The Languages of West Africa."
Independent Forms. When used independently before a
verb they require the 3rd personal pronoun as if they
were nouns. Where the latter is omitted the reasons
are the same as those given for the nouns under personal
Examples of Syntax
Wa ke chan ? or Wane ke chan ? Who is there ?
Wa ka ke ? or Wane ka ke ? Who are you ?
Kai wanene ? Who are you ?
Wa ya yi wannan ? Who has done this ?
Wane ya yi wannan ? Who has done this ?
Mutume-n-nan, wanene ? Who is this man?
En ji wa Let me hear who! i.e , who says
so ? This is in answer to the
summons, " wai ka zo," you are
told to come
Wanene wannan ? Who is this ?
Wanene chiki-n-su ? Which of them ?
Wanene (or wane) shina iya Who can buy it ?
Chiki-n-ku wa ke zua farauta da Which of you is coming hunting
ni ? with me ?
Wa ya fada maka labari nan ? Who has told you this news ?
Wane maikiddi ? Who is the drummer ?
Wa je shiga rijia ? Who will enter the water-hole ?
Dan wanene 8onof"who-is-it"; son of so-and-so
Wa ke da litafi-n-sariki ? Who has the chief's book?
Wanene na ku duka ya chainye Which of you has eaten all the
nama duka ? meat ?
It will be noticed from the foregoing examples that the
different forms " wa," " wane," and " wanene "are largely
used to suit the euphony of the sentence.
The following are all equally correct
Wa ya che maka haka ? \
Wane ya che maka haka ? I Who said so to you ?
Wanene ya che maka haka ?J
Of these the first and the third are said to be the
commonest except in Zaria.
The difference between them depends on no more than
the pleonastic insertion of the verb " to be," which can also
be done in English, as, Who said so to you, or, Who is
it that said so to you ?
Idiomatic Use of " wane "
is it, may be used as a substantive in
the sense of " so-and-so "; as
Enna wane ? Where is so-and-so ? This is liter-
ally Where is " who -is -it" ? the
name not being known.
The corresponding word to " wane " in respect to things
is "kaza "
Na bashi abu kaza / give him such-and-such a thing
Muka yi kaza da kaza We did thus and thus
Independent Forms, Feminine
Wacho che chan ? Who is there ?
Wache ta yi wannan ? Who has done this ?
Wache chiki-n-su ? Which of them ?
Mache nan, wache che ? Who is this woman ?
Wacheche mache tafari ? Who was the first woman ?
Independent Forms, Plural
Suwa kc chan ? suwane ke Who are there ? The latter is the
chan ? more harmonious.
Suwanene ? Who are they ?
Wadanan mutanc, suwancnc ? Who are these men ?
The following is an irregular usage
Wane mutane ku nan ? Who are these men
(NOTE. Miller writes " woni.")
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Independent Form applied to Things
NO RENDER AND NO PLURAL
Mi ya fadi ? Mine ya fadi ?
Minene ya fadi ?
Kana yi-n-mine ?
Minene wannan ?
Mine ya sa ka zo ?
Minene shina chi tumaki-na ?
Mine da Engliz ?
Fada mani minene su ?
Mi ya faru ?
Mi zani yi yao ?
Minene wani abin-nan ?
Gudu-n-mi ki ke yi ?
Kuka-n-mi ku ke yi
What did he say ?
What is it he said ?
What are you doing ?
What is this ?
What has made you come ?
What is it that destroys my sheep ?
What is it in English ?
Tell me what they are ?
What has happened ?
What shall I do to-day ?
What is that other thing ?
What are you running away for ?
What are you shouting for ?
Forms coupled with the Noun Masculiue Singular
Wane mutum ya gudu ?
Wane yaro shi ke da hima ?
Wane launi tsuntsu shi ke da
Wane lokachi ya zo ?
Wane mutum ke nan wanda
akakama jia ?
Wane iri-n-hali garesa ?
Wane lokachi ne yanzu ?
Which man has run away ?
Which is the diligent boy ? lit.,
Which boy he is with diligence
What colour is the bird f
What time did he come ? or
When . . .?
Who is the man that was caught
What sort of character has he ?
What is the time now ?
Here " wane " is masculine to agree with " hali." If a
feminine word is substituted for "hali," "wane" takes
the feminine form.
An exception as to agreement occurs with the word
"iri," kind, in the phrase " what kind of." To all intents
and purposes its existence is ignored as to gender, and it
is treated as part of the interrogative pronoun itself
Wane iri-n-mutum ?
Wache iri-n-mache ?
What kind of man ?
What kind of woman ?
What kind of men f
Forms coupled with the Noun Feminine Singular
Wache yarinia ta ke da hima ? Which girl is diligent ?
Wache hainya ya tafi ? Which road has he gone ?
Wache mache che wanan What woman is this that comes ?
wadda ta zo ?
Wache iri-n-fitila ke nan ? What sort of lamp is this ?
Mutum maidukia, wache iri-n- As regards a rich man, what kind
riga shi kan sa ? of dress does he put on ?
Form joined to the Noun, Plural
Wadane mutane ke nan ? What men are these ?
Wadanan mutane, suanene ? What men are these ?
Wadane mata suna kuka ? Which women are screaming ?
Possessive Interrogative Pronoun
This is formed by putting "na," of, before the inter-
If standing alone the longer forms are used " na-
wane ? " " na-wanene ? " " na -wache ? " etc.
If accompanied by a noun the short form is commonly
used, " n-wa " following the noun.
If the object possessed is feminine the preposition " n "
becomes " 1," etc., as with nouns.
In the plural, " -n-wa " is found, of course, irrespective
Na-wanene ya bache ? Whose is lost ?
Doki-n-wanene ke nan? or Whose horse is this?
Doki-n-nan na wanene ?
Doki-n-wa ke nan ?
Dia-r-wacheche ki ko ? Whose daughter are you ?
Dia-l-wa ki ke ? ,,
Dia-t-wa ki ko ?
Yaya-n-wa sunka yi worigi nan ? Whose children have played here ?
Mata-n-wa ta kawa gishiri ? Whose wife was turned into salt ?
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Ban sani ba na wanene
Tumaki-n-wa ke nan ?
I do not know whose
Whose sheep are these ?
Interrogative 1st Personal Pronoun
The 1st personal pronoun has a special interrogative
form. It is chiefly used in answer to a question.
Nia na fada maka ?
Nia che ?
Is it I ?
Is it I who said so ?
Is it I ! (fern.)
5. INDEFINITE PRONOUNS
Someone, something, a wani wata
certain person or thing.
Used adjectivally and
Another wani wata
Any one, every one, each kowa, kowa,
one. Used as a pronoun kowane, kowache :
Any, every. Used as an kowane kowache
adjective, and it pre-
cedes the noun
Anything, everything komi,.
whatsoever it be, what- komine .
It will be noticed that the indefinite pronouns which are
composed with the particle " ko " have the same forms
as the interrogative pronouns
Such and such a thing
The one . . . the other
Some . . . others
No one ivho
wani . . . wani wata . .
wasu . . . wasu wadansu
ba kowa, babu kowa
ba wanda, babu wanda
ba komi, babu komi
. . wadansu
"Kowane " is combined with the plurals of the personal
Kowache-n-mu each of us
Kowache-n-ku each of you
Kowache-n-su each of them
In the same way that the particle "ko" is prefixed
to the interrogative pronouns to form the indefinite
pronouns, it may further be prefixed to certain adverbs
taking away their interrogative force and substituting an
indefinite or distributive idea
Enna ? where Koenna anywhere, everywhere, wherever
Yaushe ? when Koyausho at any time, always, whenever
Yanzu now Koyanzu even now, immediately
Kaka ? how ? Kokaka anyhow however
It is to be noted that attached to "yanzu" which has
not an interrogative force, "ko " has a different force also.
Gender and Number
Gender and number are but secondary considerations
in the indefinite pronouns, especially when used as
Kowa, etc., pronominal
Kowa ya sani sarki Every one knows the chief
Akoi kowa chiki-n-daki ? Is there any one in the house ?
Kowa ya gane shi Somebody has seen him
Kowa ya zo nan gobe, en yi Any one who comes here to-morrow,
masa keauta / will give him a present
Kada ka fadi ga kowa, kadan na Do not tell any one, if I hear you
ji ka fadi ga wani ina buganka have told any one I will beat you
Kowa ba shi ganc shi ba No one has seen him
Babu kowa chan There is no one there
Ba kowansu (Sokoto) Not one of them
Ba kowa achikinsu (Zaria)
Kowane ya tafi hainya dabam Each one went a different road
Kowane-n-mu Each of us
Kowache ta tafi hainyanta Each woman went her way
Kowane da zaya zo nan gobe en Whoever comes here to-morrow 1
yi masa keauta will give him a present
96 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Kowane, etc., adjectival
Kowane yaro ya tafi hainya Each boy went a different, road
Kowache yarinia ta tafi hain- Each girl went her road
Kowache safia anadada muna Each morning blessings are added
albarka to us
Examples of Syntax
Wani, etc., adjectivally
Wani mutum ya yi karia Some man has lied
Wata mache ta yi karia Some woman has lied
Wasu mutane sun yi karia Some men have lied
Mu rubuta magana - n - wani Let us write the story of a man,
mutum da na ji daga Bornu which I heard in Bornu
Ban tafi wani wuri ba / did not go anywhere
Doki-n-wani mutum ya mutu Some one's horse is dead
Nan garin dai, ba wani mai- Here in this town, indeed, there was
saida zuma sai wane no one sold honey except so-and-so
Masallachi nan, akwoi wani That mosque, is there any one in-
achiki ? Aa, ba kowa side ? No, no one
Ni koiya ga wadansu / shall teach others
Wani ya tafo daga Hadija Some one has come from Hadija
W a ni = another, others adjectivally
Babu wani sarki dunia There is no other king in the world
Wata rana Another day
Wani, another, pronominally
Naka ba ya fi na wani ba Yours is not heavier than any other's
Ni koiya ga wadansu I shall teach others
Use of wani in singular for plural (Sokoto)
Wani mutane ya tafi gari-n- Some people went to the country
Bauchi tari tari of Bauchi in large numbers
Akoi komi chiki-n-rami I Is there anything in the hole ?
Ya fadi komi am ma ban ji ba He said something but I did not
Komine ta roko Allah, Allah Whatever it was she asked God,
ya bata God gave her
Komi da ka bani ni ke so Whatever you give me I like it
Komi ka yi na BQ Whatever you do I like it
Abinda ka ke yi duka . . . Whatever you do . . .
Babu komi chiki-n-rami Nothing in the hole
Ba shi fadi komi ba He said nothing
Ba shi yi maki komi He will do you no harm
Sarikin Kano ya fada masu babu The chief of Kano said nothing to
Ba su che ba komi They did not say anything
Ba ya beri komi sai gasusuka He left nothing but the feathers
This is literally " Who is it ? "
Enna wane ? Where is what's his name ?
Ya che, daga gari sarakin wane He said (/ come from) the country
of King Somebody. (" King "
is in plural)
Wani . . . wani, etc.
Wani farke ya tafi Kano, wani One trader goes to Kano, one to
ya tafi Sokoto Sokoto
Wata mache ta yi daria, wata One woman laughed, the other cried
ta yi kuka
Wadansu suna chi-n-nama, wad- Some eat meat, others do not eat it
ansu ba su clii ba
Wadansu mutane suna kiwo Some mind camels, others work the
rakuma, wadansu suna noma farms
Sundry Negative Idioms (see also under Adverbs)
Ba abinda babu There is nothing short
Babu daiansu. Babu daia Not one of them
Ba wanda for ba kowa
" Wanda," the relative pronoun, is made use of instead
of "kowa" in negative sentences. Such short sentences
as " Ba kowa chan," etc., are exceptions. With a
dependent sentence " ba wanda " is used.
Ba wanda zaya yi shi sai ni No one shall do it but me
Here " ba kowa " would be quite incorrect.
"Ba kowa" may be translated by "nobody," but "ba
wanda ya " = " there is no one who." In the latter
phrase in both English and Hausa there is a relative
idea instead of two co-ordinate sentences
Babu wanda ya san' shi There was no one knew him
Abinda fadawa sun fadi ba What the king's council orders no
wanda shi ke da iko shi sake one has the power to change
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
6. REFLEXIVE PRONOUN
The reflexive pronoun is formed with the aid of the
noun "kai," head.
Examples of Syntax
So kainka, wani ya kika; ki
kainka wani ya soka
Ba ya kula da kainsa ba, ya sa
kainsa (or ya maida hanka-
linsa) garin cheton wadansu
Ya bata kansa
Ta gamu da kuda suna dafa
Love yourself, others will _hate you ;
hate yourself, others will love you
He cared not for himself but he set
himself to save others
He destroyed himself
She met some flies who were cook-
ing for themselves (story)
7. EMPHATIC PRONOUN
These are, similarly to the reflexive pronouns, formed
with "kai," head, with the addition of the preposition
Ni dakaina / myself
Kai dakainka or kai dakanka you yourself (m.)
Ke dakainki or ke dakanki you yourself (f.)
Shi dakainsa or shi dakansa he himself
Ita dakainta or ita dakanta she herself
Mu dakaimu or mu dakainmu or mu dakanmu we ourselves
Ku dakainku or ku dakanku you yourselves
Su dakainsu or su dakansu they themselves
The objective forms of the foregoing only differ in
the 2nd singular and 3rd feminine singular, which are
"ka dakainka," "ki dakainki," "ta dakainta."
In syntax the personal pronoun follows the foregoing
when it is the subject of the verb
Ni dakaina na tali
Ke dakainki ki ke da laifi
Ko ni dakaina sai ina tafia ga
Su dakansu ba su so su sha- They themselves did not like to
rua nan drink of that water
"Kadai," only, alone, is also used with the personal
pronoun. Possibly " kadai " is derived from " kai,"
head, and "daia," one
Ni kadai / alone
Kai kadai you alone, (in.)
Ko kadai you alone (f.)
Shi kadai he alone
Ita kadai she alone
Mu kadai we alone
Ku kadai you alone
Su kadai they alone
8. RECIPROCAL PRONOUN
There is only one reciprocal pronoun, " juna."
It is unchanged for gender or number.
With the past tenses "juna" often stands alone at
the end of the sentence, but with present and future
tenses it is joined with the personal pronouns plural by
"n" or by "da," sometimes also by "ga."
" Juna " alone
Sun fada juna They spoke together
Sabada girimansu ba su iya They cannot pass each other on
wucho juna account of their size
Ba su so juna-n-su ba They do not love each other
Muna yi-n-fada juna-n-inu We are fighting amongst ourselves
Zaku yi-n-fada juna-n-su They will fight amongst themselves
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Mun yi murna da juna
Zaku yi-n-fada da juna
Muna soyeya da juna-mu, gama
kowa yana ba abokinsa gaskia
We rejoiced with one another
You will fight with one another
We are at fellowship with each
other because each trusts his
Suna raba kurdi ga junansu
the money among
There are in Hausa primitive and derived verbs.
The origin of the former cannot be ascertained from the
language itself. Amongst them are such verbs as " chi,"
eat; "sha," dnnk; "ji," hear.
Derived verbs are formed in a variety of ways. It is
always by the addition of a suffix, either with or without
some modification of the stem, never by means of a
An indeterminate root receives a final vowel expressing
rest, or motion to, or motion from, as
Dauki, take up ; dauko, take up and give me ; dauka, lake up and
Kawo, carry to me ; kai, carry or carry away.
Suffix "ta " to form verbs from nouns, as
Tsorata, to frighten one, from " taoro," fear.
102 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Reduplication to form frequentative or intensitive verbs,
Buge-buge, from " buga," strike.
Or by part reduplication, as
Raraba, scatter, from "raba," divide.
To an indeterminate root " che " or " ta " is added, the
former having rather present and future meanings, and
being frequently intransitive, and the latter having a past
meaning and a transitive sense, as
Manche and manta, to forget.
Certain primitive verbs take a number of suffixes. There
is practically little or no change of meaning attached, but
they have special uses, and may change the verb from a
transitive one to an intransitive one, and vice versa. As
each form can be conjugated, they can be treated as
separate verbs as much as are the verbs in Class 1.
The suffixes in question are : " -da," " -shi," " -yes,"
" -s," " -sda," as
Ba, bada, bashi, bayes, bayesda, to give.
Zuba, zubas, zubasda, to pour.
"Nye" may be added together with some slight
modification of the vowel of the root. It is an intensitive
Chi, to eat ; chainye, to devour.
A noun is seldom used as a verb, but many
verbs in English can only be translated into Hausa
by the use of a noun with "yi," make, or "ji," hear,
Yi girima, to grow, lit., make greatness.
Ji dadi, to be pleased, lit., feel happiness or sweetness.
Some derived verbs are nouns without change of form,
but it is always doubtful whether to assume that the verb
is derived from a noun or that the noun is derived from
Man, a blow or to strike. Tashi, rising or to rise.
So, love or to love.
To some verbs, but not all, the termination " -a " may
be added, the stem being unchanged. A sort of present
participial form is so produced, but though this form may
be translated as a verb in English it is in reality a noun,
and has, accordingly, been treated as such. See under
derived nouns, Class 8.
This termination may be written as " wa " after "a,"
"e," "o," "u," and "ya" after "i."
Derived Verbs- Class 1
The terminal vowels are modified to indicate change of
" A " = motion from the speaker. The accent is on the
"0"=motion to the speaker. The accent is on the
" I," "e," or " u " = indicate rest or uncertain direction,
but they are also interchanged for euphony.
Not by any means all verbs in the Hausa language
admit of these change of vowels. A knowledge of those
that do can only be acquired by practice.
This use of the termination " u " must not be confused
104 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
with the passive form, which will be explained in its
When the pronoun has the termination "na" it is
generally found that the verb ends in "a" also. (See
under this tense in chapter on verb.)
The following are examples of the foregoing changes
applied to a certain number of verbs
Ya bugi yaro He struck the boy
Bugi yaro ! Hit the boy !
Ya huge shi He beat him
Na huge duchi / struck a stone
Buga shi ! Beat him !
Na buga kafata ga duchi / struck my foot against a stone
ina bugu-n-yaro I am beating the boy
Ina bugu-n-sa (or bugu-n-shi) I am beating him
Buga kofa 1 Knock at the door
The termination " o " does not seem to occur with this
verb. In all the examples of " buga " given above it is
seen that the sense of direction scarcely applies. It must
therefore be assumed that the variations are all for
euphony, which will be apparent if an attempt be made
to use the wrong vowel.
Dauki I Take it !
Dauki riga ! Take the cloth
Na dauke ta I took it
Dauka ta ! Take it !
Ya dauka kaya He took up the load
Zani dauka-1-riga / am going to take the cloth
Dauko ! Take and bring it here
Dauko shi ! Take it down
Ya dauke shi He took it up
Dauke su ! Take them away !
Ku dauki kaya Take up your loads
Dauki sabuni mai-issa Take enough soap
Ya sami riga He received the cloth
Sami riga Accept the cloth
Na same shi I have received it
Sama ta !
Na samu doki
Na samu mutane
Accept it !
I have received the horse
I found the men
(" Hainya ta samu," there is a road, or the road is found, or now exists.
This is the passive verbal form, and has no connection with the
scale of vowels indicating direction, etc.)
Mi ya same ka
Komi ya sama se
Ba ya samu ya shiga
Ya samu wata guda
Na samu rongomi, na
dama, na samu sanki
What is the matter with you
Whatever befalls him
He could not enter
He spent one month
I feel better
Na kame doki
Na kama yaro a bisa doki
Ya kama hainya
Ba ni kama
Ya kamu kifi
Kifaye nawa munka kamo ?
Daga gari nan kishirua ta kamo
Ku mayes mamu rakumamu da
/ caught the horse
I caught the boy on the horse
Catch it and go !
Catch it and come I
He took his road
I would not believe (it)
He caught the fish
How many fish have we caught ?
In that land thirst seized the people
Na damre kaya
Na damra fit ila a bisa kaya
Adamra siliyu dama hauni
Andamre kaya duka ?
/ tie the load
I tie the lamp on the load
Chains shall be bound on their
right and left hands
Are all the loads tied up ?
Ya koma daki-n-sa
Ya komo dakina
Tun ba akoma ba
En in 11 komo mu futa rana daia,
kana mu tafi su
Come back !
Oo back I
He has returned to his house
He has come back to my house
Until there is no return
When we come back we will rest
one day, then we will go fishing
" Komo," " koma," being radically verbs of motion, it is
not possible for them to take the terminations "i," "e,"
106 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
or " u " ; and the same applies to other verbs which
cannot be dissociated from any idea of motion :
Dawoyo ! Return here !
Dawoya ! Return there I
Kadda ka gudu !
Ya fita da shi He went off with it
Bana ta fita The sun has risen
Ya fita nagari He has turned out well
Fito ! Come out I
Enda rana ta ke fitowa Where the sun comes out from
Bawana ya tafi nema-n-yaro, My slave has gone to look for the
ba ya same shi ba, kai ka tafi boy. He has not found him.
ka nemo shi Do you go and look for him
Suka che ku nemo masa mache They said find a wife for him
Na aiki wani Kano / have sent some one to Kano
Na aiko wani nan / sent some one here
Ya aikoni He sent me here
Ya aikini He sent me there
Sariki ya aiko agaishe ka The chief has sent to salute you
Koiya, teach Koiyo, learn
Allah shi koiya muna hainyansa May God teach us His way
Ya fada mani He told me
Ya fadi gaskia He spoke the truth
Muna fadi, ba mu boiye ba We tell you, we do not hide it
Kun ji fa, mun fadi ... Do you listen, we say . . .
Fadi, fada, fall
Ya fado daga bisa doki He fell off the horse
Sayt, to buy, sell, barter
Sell to me
Wanko Wash and bring it back
Ya che ya iya rubutu, ya rubuta He said he could write ; he wrote
The following are some other verbs that admit of
Some verbs appear in longer forms owing to the final
vowel not being changed
Bi biyo follow
ja jawo draw, towards
Kai kawo carry, bring
Kiraye kira kirawo call
Je (zhe) za-(-pronoun) zo go, come
Derived Verbs Class 2
Suffix " ta " to nouns. These verbs are few in number
Tsorata to frighten one from tsoro fear
Taurata to harden oneself tauri hardness
Shaworata to hold a consultation ,, shawora consultation
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Derived Verbs, Class 3
Reduplication to form intensitive or frequentative verbs.
Either the whole verb is repeated, or more commonly only
the first syllable
to beat much
to be gluttonous
to fill up
to grope for
gush out frequently
explain much, under-
tear to pieces
pick up or out
to shake up, walk
from buga to strike
chainye to devour
chika to fill
? fake to hide
to pierce with many
Ya bubugi yara
Mutane suka bubuge ta ta mutu
Munka soso ubane-n-mu
Zasu rurubuta takardu
Ku kakashe raguna
Ya kakashe su duka
Kaddadai ajita yi sagara raai-
Ku dadauka abinchi
Ina so-n-gagaida mainya
Shashafesu da tsuma
He beat the boys well
The men beat her till she died
We have loved our fathers
They are going to write letters
He exterminated them
Let her not be heard calling fowls
with a loud voice
Each one of you take some food
I wish to salute each of the elders
They see men
Wipe each of them with a rag
It is to be noted that whenever there is a reduplicated
form of the verb and the noun is in the plural, the noun
usually has an indefinite sense.
Derived Verbs. Class 4
In this class are verbs which may end either in "che "
or " ta," these terminations being added to the root which
has no separate existence as a word. The meaning in
either case is the same in English, but their uses are
The following are some verbs of this nature
Manche manta forget
Bache bata destroy, lose
Kwanche kwanta lie or lay down to sleep
Jiche- jita turn upside down
Lalache lalata (1) be idle ; (2) perish
Rubuchi rubuta write
Rikiche rikita (1) be confused ; (2) confuse
The form ending in " che " is more commonly intransitive.
This form is used for preference with present and future
meanings. The form in "ta" has for preference a
transitive and a past meaning.
Because a verb ends in "che" it does not invariably
follow that there is a form in " ta."
It is further to be noted that the "ta " form can never
be used as a substantive. The " che " form is commonly
used as such, however, as " lalachi," idleness.
Na jiche koria / turn the calabash upside down
Na jita koria a bisa-n-ta / turned a calabash upside down
Na rubuchi litafi / write a book
Na rubuta suna-n-sa a bisa litafi / wrote his name upon the book
Kada ka manta Do not forget
Abi-n-nan ya bache mani / have lost this thing
Su baohe tare They perish together
Malika ya batansu The angel shall afflict them
Ya bata hainya He lost the way
Derived Verbs. Class 5
To the terminations, "-da," " -shi," " -s," "-yes,"
" -yesda "it is not possible to assign any precise meaning
The effect of their addition to the primitive verb is to
make it transitive, intransitive, causative, or by making
the word itself longer to supply suitable words to make a
statement more formal or dignified.
All forms can be conjugated.
110 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Their effect upon the primitive verb can be best seen
Da. This may be the preposition "with." In any case
that rendering will satisfy the majority of instances of its
use quite clearly
Ba give Bada give up
Sayi barter Saida barter with = sell
Tara collect Tarda come up with, overtake
In monosyllabic verbs ending in " i," " da " is sharpened
to "ta," as
Ku yita aiki Get on with your work
Bita hainya nan Go by this road
See further examples under "yi" in chapter xii.
Yes gives an intransitive force
Bayes give up
If " da " is added to " yes " a transitive force is resumed.
Na bayes / give up Na bayesdashi / give it up
S gives intransitive force.
Shi gives a transitive force to an intransitive primitive
verb, but is added to transitive verbs without change of
meaning. It takes a pronoun only as direct object, not
Ba, give. Transitive
Ya bani kurdi He gave me the money
Ya bashi ita He gave her to him
NOTE. " Ba " is only followed by the recipient as a second direct
object if the latter is a pronoun. If a noun " bada " is used. The
relative position of the two objects is changeable.
" Bada " always requires a preposition before the indirect
Ya bada kurdi ga mutane He gave money to the men
Na bada kurdi ga kai / gave the money to you
Na bada ita gare shi 7 gave her to him
Na bada shi ga kai / gave him (or it) to you
Other phrases :
cause to laugh
Hainya ta badamu zua gari
Muka bada fuska ga garimu
bada girima honour
bada hainya make way
bada gaskia justify
The road led us to the town
We turned our face to our country
Examples of other forms of"ba"
Na bashe shi ga kai
Ya bayes (or bayas)
Na bayesda shi
Sariki ya che ka bashi abinsa.
To, na bayes
Ba ka bashi tufafinsa ba ?
bayes or na bayesda su
Ka bayes ga mutume chana
Za-abashieni sabada bashi
I give it to you
He gave (it) up
I gave it up
The chief says you must give him
his property. All right, I will
Have you not given him his clothes ?
I have given them
Give it to the man there
I shall be given on account of a
Saiya, barter, etc.
Various forms : " saida," " saishe," " sayes " (" sayas,"
"sayar," "sayer "), "sayesda" ("sayarda," "sayerda").
Before a pronoun "saiya" is usually found as "saiye."
"Saiyo" is to buy and bring back.
The forms " saida," " sayesda " (or " sayerda ") are
"Saiyes" ("saiyar") is intransitive. The other forms
may be both. "Saishe" is only used before a personal
Ina so en saye rnkumi, enna
Masu - i .ik ii in i euna chiki - n -
kasua, suna saye da sayerua
Na saida rago ga shi
Na saida shi ga shi
Ya saishe shi
Ya saida ita
/ want to buy a camel. Where are
they to be found
The owners of the camels are in the
market. They buy and sell
I sold the ram to him
I sold it to him
He sold it
He sold her
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Ya sayes (sayas)
Ka sayes abinda ba ka iya so
Da Kelowi sun saida ni
Sun saye ni wuri-n-wani mutum
Sun sayes ni ga Salah bin Omer
Ina so ka kai zane-n-nan wuri-
n-dilali, shi saida shi. Idan
ya sayer ka karbi kurdi ka
sayo mani rago, ka kawo
Doki-n-nan na sayerua ne ? Aa,
ansayesda shi jia
Ka tafi ga wani ka saiyo
Nawa nawa akesayesda su ?
Nawa anasayesda su ?
Suna sayesua dukiansu
Abubua duka ambayes gareni
He sold (it)
Sell (it) whatever you may not want
They sold me to the Kelowi
They sold me to a certain man
They sold me to Salah bin Omer
I want you to take this cloth to the
broker to sell. When he has sold
it take the money and buy for me
a ram. Bring back the rest of
Is this horse for sale ? No, it was
Go to some one else and buy
How much each ?
How much are they (in a lump) ?
They are selling their goods
All things are delivered unto me
NOTE. "r" is found as a phonetic variation for " s," but
always employed at the end of a sentence.
Bata, to lose, spoil
Ya bata da kurdinsa
Ya bata da shi
Ya batashe shi
Shi yaro ne, shina batasua
He lost his money
He lost him or it
He lost him (or it)
He lost (it)
He is a boy and will spoil it
Bache, to be spoiled
The various forms of " bata " are used for this verb, which in itself
admits of no variations
Abi-n-nan ya bache mani
Yaro ya bache mata
/ have lost the thing
The boy was lost to her
Fita, to take out, go out
Ya fita da mutum
Ya fita da shi
Ya fishe ni
Na fishe ka
Ya fitasda riga-sa
Shi fishe mu aiki mutane zina
Su sa fitasua kurkono. (" Fita-
sua " is " fitas " with the termi-
nation " ua ")
He pulled the man out
He freed him
He released me or pulled me out
He pulled (him) out
I dismiss you
He took off his coat
He separates us from the work of
They made the guinea worm come
Tashi, to rise
Other forms " Tada," "tashe," "tayes," "tayesda,"
Saidai shi tada haba yi jaki He would merely lift up his chin
berbera (poetic) and bray like an ass
Na tada manzo I sent a messenger
Ka tasheni da sasafe Wake me very early
En na tashe yaranku kua zo // / raise up your children, will
you come ?
Hadari ya taso masu a chikin The storm descended on them in
daji the forest
Ki cbl nama ! Eat meat (" you " is feminine)
Na chishe shi / gave him to eat, I fed him
Ya chida doki da dawa He fed the horse with guinea corn
Ya chida shi da dawa He fed him with corn
Ya chiyes He has fed, or eaten (it)
Na jefada abu / threw a thing
Na jefada shi / threw it
Na jefashe shi I threw it
Na jefas 7 threw
Other forms" jefshi," " jefasda," " jefda " = " jefada " ;
also found as " shepta " and " shebda."
Ajefo bar takardu-n-aiku namu We shall be placed according to the
(poetic) list of our deeds
Yas or yes, to throw away
Na yada shi (yada = ya-r-da = I threw it away
Na yashe shi 7 threw it away
Ya yas 77e threw (it) away
Ta yada zane She threw off her cloth
Ya tara mutane He collected the men
Ya tarasu He collected them
Suka tara gari They are of one town
Uwa in uka tara We have one mother
Ya tarda mutane He assembled the men
Ya tara da su He collected them.
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Ya tarshe su
Ya tarda chiwuta
Na tarda shi
Ka tarshi mu ji dadi (poetic)
Kadadai ka tara hanuka don
He assembled them
He will contract a disease (poetic)
/ overtook him
He collected (them)
Help us to feel happy
Although you put both your hand*
to it for fear of losing it
Other forms tsai, tsayi, tsaishie. tsaisa
Na tsaya daidai
Ni na tsaya ga litafi nan
Malaiku su tsaida zugazuganta
Da ya fara chewa sun tsaisa sa
Na tsaitse shi
Kowane zashi tsayesda wannan
mutum zaakasshe shi
Sun sani mi ya tsaishie ni haka
I stand upright
It is finished
I hit upon this book
The angels will lift up the bellows
When he began to speak they
I got before him
Whoever shall detain this man shall
They kneiv what delayed me so
Kauda (=kawo da) take away, abrogate;
Ya chirada mutum daga rua
Ya chirada ni daga rua
Ya chirashe shi
He saved the man from the water
He saved me from the water
He saved him
He saved (him)
Ya zubada rua
Ya zubada shi
Ya zubsh6 shi
Mu roke ta'ala shi bishemu
Issa, ishe, iyes, iyesda
He poured the water out
He poured it out
He poured it out
He poured (it) out or It gushed out
To expectorate violently
We beseech the Exalted One to
direct our steps
Gaji, gasda, gashi weary
Gama, gamshe fit, please, meet
Gaya, gaida, gaishe salut
Kawo, kauda, kawasda, kawas, carry
Kada, kayes condemn
Koshi, kosda, koshada satisfy
Kwanche, kwanta, kwantas lie down
Koiya, koiyas teach
Kada su koiyas chikin sunan That they should not teach again in
Isa the name of Jesus
Lasa, lasda, lashe lick
Murda, murshi twist
Sani, sanasda, sanda, sanaswa know
Shida, shishi descend
Zarana, samshi sit, set down
Ku samshisu kasa hamsinham- Make them sit down in fifties
Wohalla, wohalshi, wohalda trouble
Derived Verbs Glass 6
The intensitive particle u nye" is added to some slight
variation of the stem of a primitive verb
Sha drink shainye swallow greedily
Chi eat chainye, devour (as wild beasts)
Taya help tainye help
Derived Verbs Glass 7
Many nouns which have not a related verb form can only
be used as predicates with the aid of the verb " yi," to do,
or " ji," to hear. They can only take an indirect object
Muka yi zanche We conversed
Yi girima To grow
Further examples of the use of "yi" are given under
In Sokoto, Zanfara, and Katsina " wo " is commonly
used for " yi," as " wo takarda," send a letter , " wo yaki,"
116 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Use of "it'"
The verb " ji " is combined with substantives or
adjectives similarly to " yi," and must be equally regarded
as a form-word " Ji tsoro," to be afraid ; " ji haushi," be
angry ; " ji kumia," feel pity ; " ji dadi," be pleased.
The object which is indirect is expressed by adding the
possessive pronoun to the noun
Ba ka ji tausayi mu You felt no pity for us
Ba na ji-n-dadi-n-hawanki, I do not feel comfortable riding you,
Ka ji dadi-n-hawana ? Do you like riding me ?
Derived Verbs Glass 8
Nouns and verbs of same form
Ya fadi masu He said to them
Da ya kare fadi-n-sa When he had finished his speech
Duma ta lalachi The world perishes
Ba magana ! Do not talk !
Don Allah ya badamu so-n- Because God has given us a love of
Tambaye-n-nan da ka ke yi The question you ask (make)
Kana yi-n- magana Hausa ? Do you speak Hausa?
Koiya na Shaitan The teaching of Satan
Su dora kira They raise a cry
Ya kira shi He called him
Suna magana banza They talk nonsense
DIVISION OF VERBS
Verbs are of two kinds transitive and intransitive.
The transitive verb requires an object.
The intransitive verb denotes a state, feeling, or action
which terminates in the doer or agent.
Some verbs in Hausa are (1) only transitive ; others
(2) only intransitive ; (3) some, primarily one or the other,
may be used in the opposite sense without any change of
form ; and (4) yet others by taking an addition to the stem
can be recognised as transitive alone or intransitive alone.
This last feature is not found in the English language,
where there is in general nothing in the look or appearance
of a verb, unless its intransitive counterpart is known (e.g.,
raise, rise ; set, sit), which renders it possible to tell
whether it is transitive or intransitive.
Causative verbs are, of course, all transitive.
The following are examples of the different kinds of
transitive and intransitive verbs :
(1) Verbs only Transitive,
Gani, to see ; ji, to hear ; kawo, to bring
(2) Verbs only Intransitive
Zo, come ; tafi, go ; zamna, sit down
(3) Verbs both Transitive and Intransitive in Meaning
Kiwo, tend a flock, graze, feed
Boye, hide, hide oneself, be hid
Chika, fill, be full
(4) Verbs whose Form Indicate whether Transitive or
Verbs formed from nouns with suffix " ta " (see class
2 of derived verbs); also verbs ending with "ta" which
have corresponding intransitive forms ending in "che."
The termination "shi" (see derived verbs, class 5);
also the termination "yesda."
The termination " che " usually ; also the termination
" yes " ; also verbs ending in " u " which are formed from
transitive verbs by the change of the final vowel. Many of
the latter are usually found only in the 3rd person singular,
and so a middle voice may be said to be produced.
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
The suffix " wa " may be added to this form (see
examples under present participle).
This intransitive ending " u " must be carefully distin-
guished from the termination " u," which many transitive
verbs take, without ceasing to be transitive, either for
euphony or to indicate absence or neutrality of direction.
These are discussed in class 1, Derived Verbs.
Some Intransitive Verbs in "u"
Budu, to be open
Bugu, to be beaten
Dadu, to be increased
Dafu, to be cooked
Damru, to be bound
Faru, to happen
Fasu, to be broken
Furu, to be burning
Godu, to appear
Gamu, to meet
Haifu, to be delivered
Kaf u, to be fastened
Karu, to be added
Kasu, to be slain
Kuntu, to be loosened
Matsu, to be narrow
Mutu, to die
Nadu, to be rolled up
Niku, to be ground
Rabu, to depart
Ragu, to be decreasing
Retu, to be swinging
Rufu, to be shut
Sanu, to be known
Shimfudu, to be spread
Taru, to be assembled
Wazu, wasu, to be dispersed
Yiwu, yiu, to be done
Zubu, subu, to be gushed out
from bude, to open
buga, to beat
dafe, to cook
damre, to bind
fara, to begin
fashe, to break
fura, to kindle
goda, to show
gama, to join
haife, to beget
kafa, to fasten
kara, to add
kashe, to kill
kunche, to untie
rnatse, to squeeze
nade, to coil
nika, to grind
raba, to divide
rage, to lessen
reto, to shake to and fro
rufe, to shut
sani, to know
shimfude, to spread
tara, to collect
wasa, to disperse
yi. to do
zuba, to pour
This form is used in a reflexive sense, and also follows
the same verb in the passive voice for emphasis
Mutum ya bugu
Dundu ya dafu
Kofa ta budu
Kofa ta rufu
The man is beaten
The yam is cooked
The door stands open
The door is shut
Tukunia ta fasu The pot is broken, has broken
Jirigi ya rabu The boat is split
Ka tara mutane da zasu yi- Collect the men to work. They are
aiki. Sun taru collected
Ta ga wata akwia ta half u She saw a certain goat which had
just brought forth
Adamre shi, shi damru Let it be tied so that it is tied fast
or tie it tight
Abugashi shi bugu Let him be well beaten
Ayishi, shi yiwu Let it be done well
There are three forms of the verb "to be."
They have gender.
They refer to present and past time, but not to future.
Ke (m. and f.) Che (f.) Ne (common)
For the future the verb "zama," to become, is used.
There is no auxiliary " have," nor is " have " a possessive
verb. The place of the latter is taken by the preposition
The following is the conjugation of the auxiliary verbs
ni ne ni ke
kai no ka ke
ke che (f.) ki ke (f )
shi ne shi, ya, yi ke The negative forms are
ita che (f.) ta ke (f.) the same with " ba
urn ne mu ke ... ba."
ku ne ku ke
su no su ke
"Ke" is used both as an auxiliary to form one of
the present tense forms of other verbs, and also as a
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
substantive verb. In the latter capacity it usually
requires the complement to precede it
Da ka ke or Kai, da ka ke
Sania ta ke
Dana ke nan
Shi dana shi ke
Enna ku ke ?
Shi ke nan
Ba da ka ke ba
Jia ni ke nan ni daia
Yarinia da ka gani ita ke nan
Ka tafi ke nan har abada
You are a free man
It is a cow
This is my son
He is my son
Where are you ?
So it is
You are not a free man
Yesterday I was here alone
The girl you see it is she
You are leaving in fact for ever
This form is usually enclitic. If a pronoun is added it
may follow in its capacity of complement, but if the person
is the 3rd singular, it is commonly omitted
Da ne ni
Da ne kai
Kai ne sariki ? Ni sariki ne
Yaro ne or, less commonly Yaro
Kai dansa ne
Kano da gari karami ne.
Ni danfari ne, su ne na baya
It is I
I am a free man
You are a free man
Are you the chief?
It is a boy
I am the chief
You are his son or Are you his son ?
Kano was formerly a small town
I am the first born, they are after
In the following examples " ne
becomes enclitic to a
Gurubi-n-ido ba ido ba ne (prov.)
Allah shi ne ya ba ni
Wani mutum maihalbi ne shina
Ba zaka kai ni wurin malamin
nan ba ne !
Mu kuma duka shaidu ne ga
Compare the following
Allah shi nc abada
Allah shina kocnna
A substitute for the eye is not the
It was God gave it to me
A certain hunter had a wife
Will you not take me to this mallam?
We also are all witnesses of this
God is eternity (or for ever)
God is everywhere
This feminine form may be substituted for "ne," but
not for "ke"
Dia che ni / am a free woman
Dia che ki You are a free woman
Sania che ita or sania che It is a cow
Ba dia che ni ba / am not a free woman
Ita mache che It is a woman
Ni, fa, ba akwia che ba, mache As for me, I am not a goat, I am
che ni a woman
Kama da wani ba wani ba che Likeness to another it is not the
(prov.) same person
(The noun phrase " ba wani ba," i.e., not another, ends in
"a," and so is treated as feminine, probably by a very
" Ni che " is not found, but only " ni ne " of whichever
gender. In " Dia che ni " the feminine form is used after
" dia," " ni " being treated as a complement.
Emphasis on the Pronoun
If emphasis is required on the pronoun, it is placed at
the beginning of the sentence
Shi dana ne // is my son
Ita diyata che She is my daughter
Idiomatic Uses of'ne"
"Ne" is sometimes added almost pleonastically to the
end of an answering sentence for emphasis.
In answer to such a question as " What do you want ? "
Na zo wurinka ne I have come to see you (lit., / have
come to your place, it is)
Na sani ne / know of course
Some of the examples given under "ne" above also
122 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
" Ne," preceded by the pronoun, sometimes stands before
the main sentence for the same purpose
Shi ne, shi ke shakka azaba-n- He it is, he doubts the pains of hell
Shi ne, na fada maka It is as I told you
Shi ne, uba na yara goma He it is, the father of ten boys
Omission of Pronoun
The 3rd personal pronoun singular is sometimes omitted
with " ne." This is common in negative sentences
Sariki ne da doki for Sariki shi The chief has the horse
ne da doki
Banza fari - n - ido babu gani A bright eye that cannot see is
Also omitted with " ke "
Enna ke yi maka zogi ? Where is the pain ?
Yao da gobe ke sa gini-n-rijia To-day and to-morrow are like
da alura (prov.) having a well dug with a needle
After the relative pronoun
Suna tareya da duka-n-abinda They were collecting everything they
ke garesu had
The verb " to be " itself is often understood
Akoi Allah, ba shi gabas, ba shi There is a God, he is not in the
yama east, he is not in the west
Gaskianki You are right (lit., your (f.) truth)
Da-n-zomo wayo gare-i (gareshi) The young hare is cunning
Enna sariki ? Where is the chief?
Kurdinsa nawa ? How much is it ?
Other Ways of expressing " to be "
The form of the pronoun ending in "na" is used, the
verb "to be " itself being understood.
For this " na," which is the same particle as the preposi-
tion "of," in all probability, in Sokoto and Katsina the
preposition "a" is sometimes substituted.
The conjugation is as follows
ina, nina l
ka na, kaina '
shina, yana, yina
tana, ita na ? *
ke-a (ki-a = ki-e)
In the negative the
This second form is distinct from the future (I)
It must here be noted that while the forms of the
pronoun with auxiliary " ina," etc., and " ni ke," etc., are
used for the present tense conjugation of verbs, the form
" ni ne," etc., is not so used.
-na " Forms
Bature na gida
Ba shi nan
He is here
He is at home
The white man is at home
He is not here
Ki-e wa ?
Da ki-e da wa ?
I-a gaba suna binsa
I-a daga chikin rijia nan
Mai-algeta i-a masa busa
Gari a nan
Sarki a da talakawa, ba
kawa a da sariki
" -A " Form
Who are you ?
And who are you with ?
He is before, they follow him
He is in that well
The bagpipeman, he was blowing
The town is there (Note omission
of pronoun as with " na.")
tala- The king owns the poor, not the
poor the king
He is a great man
1 In these the emphasis is on the pronoun,
in interrogation, nor in independent sentences.
They are not used
124 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
The following is obscure
Ki-e ma en zaki shiga ki shiga But you, if you are going to enter,
ki kawo enter and bring it
Use of "zama "
Ka zama da You will become free
Ki zama diya (f.)
Ba ka zama da ba You will not become free
Na zama mala mi / shall become a priest
Hausa agrees with all x West African languages of what-
ever group in having no auxiliary " to have."
To describe possession the preposition "da," with, is
used. The form of the pronoun which accompanies it is
most commonly that with the suffix " na." The auxiliary
" ke " is, however, also not uncommonly used
Ina da kurdi / have money
Su ke da su They have them or are with them
There is, however, a slight distinction in making use of
the foregoing. For instance, in " Ina da shi " and " Ni ke
da shi " the first is used in making a plain statement,
and the second for preference in answer to the question
" Who has it ? "
To express tense that is, point of tune adverbs are
Ina da shi yanzu / have it now
Wanda ya ke da shi da ya ba ni He who had it before gave it to me
Instead of " da " it is often possible to use some other
preposition such as "gare."
Other examples of the use of " da " may be found under
1 The author has not found a single instance of the contrary.
Meaning conveyed by use of two nouns in apposition,
one formed with "mai"
Da kishiyoyi nan babu mai-da And those rival wives had no
CONJUGATION OF THE VERB
There are two voices active and passive.
There is no change of form for mood, but two participles
Tense carries no inflection of the stem, but the pronouns
are subjected to some modification, and particles are added
in certain tenses.
The following is the conjugation of "so," to love, like,
It is to be noted that in the negative both " ba " are put
in in all tenses, but the second " ba " is often omitted in
AORIST OR COMMON TENSE
1 na so also ni so ba na so ba or ban so ba
2 (m.) ka so ba ka so ba
(f.) ki so ba ki so ba
3 (m.) ya so ba ya so ba
(f.) ta so ba ta so ba
1 mu so ba mu so ba
2 ku so ba ku so ba
3 su so ba su so ba
1 ina so ba ni so ba also ba na so ba
2 (m.) kana so ba ka so ba
(f.) kina so ba ki so ba
3 (m.) shina (yana, yina) HO ba shi, ya, i, so ba
(f.) tana so ba ta so ba
1 muna so ba mu so ba
2 kuna so ba ku so ba
3 suna so ba su so ba
126 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
1 ni ke so also na ke so ba ni so ba
2 (m.) ka ke so
(f.) ki ke so
3 (m.) shi (ya, yi) ke so
(f.) ta ke so
1 mu ke so same as negative of Present 1
2 ku ke so
3 su ke so
1 na so
2 (m.) ka so
(f.) kin so
3 (m.) ya so also shi so, shin so
(f.) ta so same as aorist
1 mun so
2 kun so
3 sun so
1 na so
2 (m.) ka so
(f.) ki ka so
3 (m.) ya so
(f.) ta so same as aorist
1 muka so (K), munka so (S)
2 kuka so (K), kunka so (S)
3 Suka so (K), sunka so (S)
1 naa so, na so ba na so ba
2 (m.) kaa so, ka so ka ka so ba
(f.) kii so, ki so ba ki so ba
3 (in.) shii so, shi so ba shi so ba
yaa so, ya so ba ya so ba
(f.) taa so, ta so ba ta so ba
1 muu so, mu so ba mu so ba
2 kuu so, kii so ba ku so ba
3 suu so, su so ba su so ba
Robinson gives "mua," "ma," "kua," "sua," "sa ;
1 zani so or zan so or za en so ba zani so ba
2 (m.) zaka so ba zaka so ba
(f.) zaki so ba zaki so ba
3 (m.) zashi (zaya, zai), so ba zashi (zaya, zayi) so ba
(f.) zata so ba zata so ba
1 zamu so ba zamu so ba
2 zaku so ba zaku so ba
3 zasu so ba zasu so ba
1 iii (or na) kan so ba ni kan so ba
2 (m.) ka kan so ba ka kan so ba
(f.) ki kan so ba Id kan so ba
3 (m.) shi (ya) kan so ba shi kan so ba
(f.) ta kan so ba ta kan so ba
1 mu kan so ba mu kan so ba
2 ku kan so ba ku kan so ba
3 su kan so ba su kan so ba
1 ni ka so ba ni ka so ba
2 (m.) ka ka so ba ka ka so ba
(f.) ki ka so ba ki ka so ba
3 (m.) shi (or ya) ka so ba shi (ya) ka so ba
(f.) ta ka so ba ta ka so ba
1 mu ka so ba mu ka so ba
2 ku ka so ba ku ka so ba
3 su ka so ba su ka so ba
This is a very doubtful tense. Robinson says " ka " is
an abbreviation of "kan," and also a poetical future.
Harris supports him that "ka" = "kan"; also Edgar.
Mischlich calls it a Sokoto variation of "ni ke so."
1 on so (n'so) kada en so
2 (m.) ka so kada ka so
(f.) ki so kada ki so
3 (m.) shi (ya) so kada shi (ya) so
(f.) ta so kada ta so
1 mu so kada mu so
2 ku so kada ku so
3 su so kada su so
128 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
2 (in.) so, ka so kada ka so
(f.) so, ki so kada ki so
2 ku so kada ku so
" Kar " is found for " kada " in Kano. " Ba " is also
sometimes substituted for "kada," but is not repeated
after the verb.
1 asoni ba asoni ba
2 (m.) asoka ba asoka ba
(f.) asoki ba asoki ba
3 (m.) asoshi, asosa ba asoshi, asosa, ba
(f.) asota ba a so fa ba
1 asomu ba asomu ba
2 asoku ba asoku ba
3 asosu ba asosu ba
1 anasona anakamnata ba anasona ba ba anakamnata
2 (m.) anasonka anakamnarka ba anasonka ba ba anakamnarka
(f.) anasonki anakamnarki ba anasonki ba ba anakamnarki
3 anasonsa anakamnatasa ba anasonsa shi ba anakamna-
anasonshi ba tasa ba
(f.) anasonta anakamnatata ba anasonta ba ba anakamnata-
1 anasonmu anakamnarmu ba anasonmu ba ba anakamnar-
2 anasonku anakamnarku ba anasonku ba ba anakamnarku
3 anasonsu anakamnarsu ba anasonsu ba ba anakamnarsu
1 a-ke-soni ba asoni ba
2 (m.) a-ke-soka
(f.) a-ke-sota same as aorist
PRESENT II. INVERTED
To correspond to the active form " ni, su ke so
(See note on Frequentative in Active.)
same as aorist
same as aorist
ba aasoni ba
ba aasoka ba
ba aasoki ba
ba aasoshi ba
ba aasota ba
ba aasomu ba
ba aasoku ba
ba aasosu ba
1 zaasona zaakamnata ba zaasona ba ba zaakamnata
2 (in.) zaasonka zaakamnarka ba zaasonka ba ba zaakamnarka
(f.) zaasonki zaakamnarki ba zaasonki ba ba zaakamnarki
130 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
3 (m.) zaasonshi zaakarana-tasa ba zaasonshi ba ba zaakamna-
(f.) zaasonta zaakamnatata ba zaasonta ba ba zaakamna-
1 ' zaasonmu zaakamnarmu ba zaasonmu ba ba zaakamnarrau
2 zaasonku zaakamnarku ba zaasonku ba ba zaakamnarku
3 zaasonsu zaakamnarsu ba zaasonsu ba ba zaakamnarsu
These are all noun forms after " zasu," etc. =they will go
to the loving of them. The possessive pronoun is masculine
after " so " and feminine after " kamna."
Compare " Zasu kamna-r-mu," They will love us ; " Zamu
kamna-r-su," We will love them.
The noun form is not always strictly adhered to, hence,
zaasoni, zaasoka, etc.
1 akansoni ba akansoni ba
2 (m.) akansoka ba akansoka ba
(f.) akansoki ba akansoki ba
3 (m.) akansoshi ba akansoshi ba
(f.) akansota baakansotaba
1 akansomu ba akansomu ba
2 akansoku ba akansoku ba
3 akansosu ba akansosu ba
SUBJUNCTIVE AND IMPERATIVE
SUBJUNCTIVE IMPERATIVE BOTH
1 asoni kada asoni
2 (m.) asoka asoka kada asoka
(f ) asoki asoki kada asoki
3 (m.) asoshi asoshi kada asoshi
(f.) asota asota kada asota
1 aaomu kada ascmu
2 ascku asoku kada asoku
5 asosu aaosu kada isosu
It ; s seen that these forms are the same as in the aorist.
NOTE. In the foregoing tenses " shi " and " sa " are commonly
interchangeable, the former being preferably Sokoto, the latter
USES or THE TENSES
This is an indeterminate tense. It is an unemphatic past,
a vague present, and, if the context permits, may have a
future significance. It is in common use both when pre-
cision is quite unimportant and also in narration
Ba ka ji ba ? Do you not hear ?
Na ji kishirua I feel thirsty? (lit., thirst)
Ba abinda ban yi ba There is nothing I do not do
Gobe da sasafe mu tashi We shall start very early to-morrow
Ban yerda ba / do not agree
Na ki, ba ya issa ba / refuse it is not enough
Rua ya tafassa ? Has the water boiled ?
Ya yi dimi amma ba ya tafassa It is hot, but it has not boiled yet
Ta che, to, mu je en ganshi She said, good, we will go so that
I may see him
Mu yi gara-n-fuska ; kana mu We wash our faces, then we bathe;
yi wanka ; mu sasa sababi-n- we put on new clothes
Mu je, mu gani, na magani-n- We go and see, that is proof of a
makariachi (prov.) lie (lit., medicine for a liar)
Gobe mu chi saura To-morrow we eat the remains
Yaro nan ya iya tafia ? ya tan" Can that boy do the journey ?
mans Certainly he will go
Kwana shidda mu gama aiki In six days we shall finish the work
This is both the simple present and the present con-
tinuous. In narration it may be translated by the
The verb itself acquires a substantival force, and if it
admits of it, takes the termination " wa " or " ya," though
sometimes exceptions are made. If the verb is defective
in the " wa " (ya) form it remains unchanged in appearance,
though not in force.
For this reason, when the verb is a transitive one the
direct object is attached by the copulative " n," being in
the possessive case; and if other verbs are added in
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
sequence they too assume a substantival force and are
joined with the copulative "n."
" WA " OB " YA " TERMINATION USED
Enna kana tafia ?
Shekara goma yana tafia har
ubansa ya hanashi
Enna ubanka ? Shina tafowa
Tana zua Kano
Muna soyeya da junamu
Da na ganshi shina tafia (or ya
Suna isowa gulbi
When are you going ?
He had been travelling for ten years
until his father stopped him
Where is your father ? He is coming
She is coming (going) to Kano
We are at friendship with one
When I saw him he was travelling
(As) They were getting near the river
In the following sentence the noun force is strengthened
by the addition of a personal pronoun
Shina tafia tasa sai ya gamu da
He travelled until he met the toad
Kulum gari ya waye ina addua
Saanda ka tada su suna fada da
juna ? suna yi
Enna shina zamne ?
Always at daybreak I pray
When you came upon them were
they fighting ? They were
Where is he staying ?
WITH DIRECT OBJECT
Ina gina rami (for Ina gina-r-
Mi kana yi ? Ina yi-n-aiki (or
Ina so-n-ubana. Ina so-n- Allah
Ina ji-n-yungwa da kishirua
Kana yi-n-aiki ?
Muna kamna-tasa gama ya ri-
gaya ya kamnachemu
Ina sonsa, da shi kua shina sona
/ am digging a hole
What are you doing ? I am working
1 love my father. I love God
I am hungry and thirsty
Are you working ?
We love Him for He first loved us
I love him and he loves me (Note
the possessive form in " so-na ")
Ina so-n-kawa malami (for ina
SUBORDINATE VERBS ADDED
/ want to become a mallam
In this sentence " so " is masculine, and " kawa," ending
in " a,'' feminine. Compare
Kana so ka kawa maimagani Do you ivant to become, a doctor ?
in which all the forms are pure verbs
Ina so-n-saye-n-turmi goma I want to buy ten cloth-strips
The "na" termination of the pronoun is dropped, but
the verb is still treated as a substantive
Kadan ba ka tsoro-n-allah ba shi // you do not fear God He does
sonka not love you
Ba su samu-n-abinchi They find no food
Mugu - n - mia ba ta karewa a Bad soup does not get finished in
tukunia (prov.) the pot
Gulbina ba shi chi - n - mutum My river does not eat a man in the
tsaka sai gefe. Wuka (riddle) middle but at the bank. A knife
(which cuts at the edge)
Kowa ya halbe zaki ba shi Every one shot at the lion but did
samu-n-sa not get him
Ba ka sona ; ni, ma, bani sonki You do not love me ; and I, I do
not love you
Compare, on the other hand
Har gari duka ya tashi sun yi, Then all the town arose, they try,
sun yi, ba su eamu ba they try, but they do not get him
The following are examples of pure nouns used after
pronoun in " -na," thus confirming the change of verbs
into substantives in this tense
Tun ina yaro Since I was a boy
Don sariki shina mugu-n-sheria J Because the chief is unjust in his
The following is an example of mixed idiom
Ina so-n en tambaye ka instead I want to tell you
of Ina so-n-tambayenka or ina
so en tamhaycka
1 See note, later, on omission of pronoun in this tenso.
134 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
As with nouns, the copulative may be omitted
Kulum kulura suna kashe mutane They are killing people without
(for kashe- m- mutane) cease
As with pure nouns, sometimes the copulative preposition
is not put into its proper gender
Ina kirra-n-ka for ina kirrarka / am calling you
Sai ya gani gawa anadaukansa Except he sees the corpse being
zua wuri-n-bizne taken to the cemetery
It is to be noticed that the pronoun in "na" cannot be
followed by any of the forms of the verb "to be," e.g.
Shina gida He is at home
Shina nan He is here
Suna baya They are behind
From this it is clear that the two words are not in the
same relation to each other as they would be if the con-
necting link of the verb "to be " were possible, but omitted
It might, therefore, be assumed that the syllable u na"
of the pronoun is no other than the preposition "of," not
readily translateable, however, uniformly into "of," as
indeed it is not in many other cases also.
USE OF PRESENT I. WITH FUTURE MEANING
Kadan na fushe ta, kuna ba ni // / pull her out, will you give me
ita en yi arime ? her in marriage ?
WITH PAST MEANING
Ina tamaha shl bani kurdinsa I thought he would give me all his
OMISSION OF PRONOUN
The personal pronoun is a necessary adjunct to the verb,
the latter being incomplete without it. If a noun precedes
the verb as the subject, the 3rd personal pronoun still
has to be employed.
In this tense, however, the 3rd personal pronoun is
commonly omitted when the noun-subject is mentioned,
which is a further indication that the verb has been changed
into a noun, rendering the pronoun superfluous. This is
seen from studying such a phrase as " the hat of the chief."
The Hausa would not say " hat he of the chief," but simply
" hat of chief."
Hence the sentences
Malami na sha-n-gia munafiki ne The mallam who drinks beer is a
Doki nan na sayerua (or sayesua) Is this horse for sale ?
Abega na tamaha . . . Abega thinking , . .
Kowane na sha-n-taba . . . Whoever smokes tobacco . . .
Wata na bada haske The moon is giving light
Da hiska na busawa, rairai na When the wind blows the sand goes
shiga ga idanunka into your eyes
Kadan k^iganigemida-n-uwanka When you see your brother's beard
na chi-n-wuta, shafa naka rua catch fire, pour water on your
If the pronoun " shina " were in any of the foregoing
sentences used, the noun must be treated as out of the
sentence, standing in apposition by itself, and having no
connection with the predicate.
The uses of "shina" and "yana" are not always
in terchan geable .
"Shina" is preferred before a noun and verbs with
Abokin mijinta shina bisa itache Her husband's friend was up a tree
yana kallon abinda ta ke yi watching what she was doing
This tense is only very rarely interchangeable with the
foregoing. It is purely a verb form, and it has none of the
complexity of construction which the foregoing has. It is
used in asking questions, and especially in answering them.
It is precise as to tune, otherwise the aorist is used. In
136 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
narration it is often convenient to translate it by the
The object usually precedes the sentence
Mi ku ke yi ? Aiki mu ke yi What are you doing ? We are
If the latter statement had not been made in answer
to a question, it would be in the form of " Muna yi-n-
Mi su ke yi yanzu ? Suna chi- What are they doing now ? They
n-abinchinsu are eating their food
From this example it is seen that the idea of continuity
is stronger in Present I. than in Present II.
Mi ku ke kawowa ? Abinda What are you bringing ? What we.
muka samu chiki-n-kasua found in the market
Suka che, domi muke fasawa ? They said, Why are we delaying ?
In the foregoing the noun form of the verb is used.
Ubana ni ke so or ubana ni ka so / love my father
Shi ni ke so or shi nika so I love him
Shanu ya ke kashe or shanu He kills oxen
Da na ganshi ya ke tafia When I saw him he was travelling
Kowa ya ke yi shi Whoever shall do it
Abinda na ke so The thing which I want
Mi ya sameku, ku ke kuka What is the matter with you that
you are howling
A perfect sense may even be found
Tun da, bar kwanaki nan, For a long time back till this day,
mutane-n-Rimo su ke pesshi- the people of Rimo have plundered
n-hainya the road
Also a future sense
Chiki-n-wannan lokachi ka ke At this season wilt thou then restore
mayar (mayas) wa Israila da to Israel their kingdom
This is the tense that indicates simply past time, and it
is often best translated by the perfect in English
Daga enna mutume nan ya taf o ?
Ya fada mani ya fito daga
Kano. Ban san' abinda ya
kawo shi ba
Kun rataye tufafi ?
Ta che da mu : kun gamu da
wani azne maidauka-n-nama ?
Muka che, mun gamu da shi
Na so shi, shi kua shina so na
Ni, na yi murna
Kin gani ?
Kin san abinda ya kawo ni garin
Whence has this man come ? He
told me he came from Kano. I
do not know what has brought him
Have you hung up the clothes ?
She said to us : did you meet a
certain pagan carrying meat ?
We said: we met him
I loved him, he too loves me
Did you see it ?
Did you know what brought me to
this country ?
This past only differs from the preceding in the plural
forms, and in the 2nd person singular feminine. It is to
be noticed that in past tense I. the 2nd person singular
feminine also takes a termination. There are four uses
of this tense (1) in questions; (2) in matters of fact; (3)
in narration; (4) for emphasis.
There is no negative form, that of the Past I. being
Enna magani-n-da kika debo ?
Mi kika gani ?
M ut 11 MI daia sunka buga
Dakuna nawa sunka gina ?
Enna mutane sunka kwana ?
Fulani sunka chi Kano
Mu munka buge shi
Ku kunka yi aiki
Su sunka yi sata
Saanda muka komo muka ga
kayanmu duka sun bache
Muka tafi kasua, muka zamna,
muka yi chiniki, muka komo
Yaushe sunka zo ?
Where is the medicine you helped
yourself to ?
What have you seen ?
They have beaten a man
How many huts have they built ?
Where have the men slept ?
The Fulani captured Kano
We have beaten him
You have worked (well)
It is (indeed) they who have stolen
When we came back we saw that
all our loads were spoilt
We went to the market, we sat down,
we did trade, we have returned
When did they come ?
138 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
In dependent sentences there may be a future signi-
!dan suka zo gobe // they come to-morrow
Tyayenta sunka gane ta suna Her parents seeing her rejoiced and
murna da kuka shouted
Future I. and II
There are two future tenses with the same meaning.
In one the verb remains and is treated as a verb through-
out. In the other the verb stem becomes a substantive
in the same manner as in Present I.
Future I. is formed by a reduplication of the vowel
of the pronoun, though some writers consider that it is
an "a" that is appended throughout.
Future II. is formed by employing the verb <: zani," etc.,
/ will go. As one says " zani Kano," / am going to Kano,
so the Hausa also says, "zani zamna," / am going to sit
down. The idea of actual motion is modified to that of
Other tenses may also have a future significance from
the context. It is the practice when two future tenses
follow each other to use Future II. first, followed by
Examples of Future I. without Object
Kaa zama talaka You will become poor
Gobe da sasafe mfi tashi We will start very early to-morrow
Komi zaayi masu ba sua beri ba Whatever may be done to them,
they will not give it up
Kadan ba ka zuba mai chiki-n- // you do not pour oil into the
fitila ta mutu lamp it will go out
Ni tafi ga sariki da ni che masa / shall go to the chief and say to
Babu abinda zaya sa sua tabani Nothing he could do would make
them touch me
1 See " The Languages of West Africa," chapter on the verb.
Ina tamaha ni same sa da rai
Idan ka tafi wurinsa ya fada
Idan ka so na yi kokari
To, na kara shi
Kadan na bashi takarda sh!
Yi hankali, shii huge ka
Kadan na yi shiri ni kirrawo ka
/ think I shall find him alive
If you go to him he will tell you
If you like I will try
All right I will add to it or increase
If I give him the book he will tear
Take care or he will hit you
When I am ready I will call you
Examples of Future II
Chiki-n-Bida zamu kwana da
Da zata mutua, ta che . . .
Mi zamu yi ?
Zata je ta gani
Ba zaya kwana nan ba sai
... en zasu tafowa Aghat
Yanzu za en je en sai sabo
Zani tafia en gani abokina
Zani en fara waka
Zaka hadu chiki
Kaka Sariki ze zamna goburo ?
With Direct Object.
They go to eat or they will eat
You will die
We are going to sleep in Bida
When she was about to die, she
said . . .
What shall we do
She will go and see
He will not sleep here but at
. . . with the intention of coming to
Now I will go and buy a new one
I am going to see my friend
I am going to begin my song
You will be swallowed up inside
(Note. Hadu is a verb with a
How can the King remain wifeless ?
Insertion of preposition ''of,'' "n"
Babu abinda zashi samu-n-ka
Ya kan rika nemi yada zashi
samu-n-riba a wurina
En zasu chi-n-tuo-n-su suna
Da komi zaka tambaye-n-su ka
che kadan ka yerda
Zani saye-n-wannan bunsuru
/ will take the shirt. Lit., / am
going to the taking of the shirt
Nothing shall happen to you
He is always trying to find a way
to make a profit out of me
When they go to food they strike
a big bell
And whatever you ask them for,
you say, if you please
I will sell this he-goat
140 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Examples of Use of Verb Stem Form of Verb when Noun
Form in Existence
Mata chan ta che ba zata tafi That woman said she will not go
ba sai mun zo before we come
Ba zaka iya dauka-n-ta (for You cannot take it up quickly
Amma abokina yaushe zashi But when will your friend come ?
Yaushe zamu tafi ? When shall we go ?
If the verb itself has a prepositional termination, " n "
is omitted. This applies to the derived verbs in "da."
There is also no " n " if there is an indirect object, either
preceded or not by a preposition
Zashi gaida sarakunansa He is going to salute his chiefs
Talauchi ba zaya kauda yauchi Poverty ought not to take away
Wata rana da zamu tafia ga One day as we were going to the
Zasu yi masu . . . They will do to them . . .
Wani iri-n-magani zaka ba ni What kind of medicine will you
give to me
Kowani zashi tsayesda wannan Whoever stops this man will be
rautum zaakassheshi killed
The copulative " n," being often omitted in the genitive
case, is also omitted with this tense, commonly with
Zashi halaka dunia He will destroy the world
Fulani ba zasu fada-mu ba The Fulani will not fight us
(Commonly Fulani ba zasu yi fada da mu ba.)
After "yi," do, it is usually omitted.
Babu itache, kaka zan yi wuta ? There is no wood, how can I make
Zaka yi tafia You are going to travel
This is so, especially if the simple verb stem is used
and a pronoun is the direct object. It seems as if the
maintenance of the substantival idea were too much of
an effort and the construction too cumbersome.
Mi zai kai-mu Hausa ? What will take us to the Hausa
Ya che zashi wanke ta He said he will wash it
In the following examples the personal pronoun is
repeated after " zasu " in order to ensure a pure verb
Da Fulani suka gani ba zasu When the Fulas saw that they were
samu-n-nasara, suka che, ba not going to get the victory, they
zasu su yi fada ba said, they would not fight
Zashi ya koiya masa karia He will teach him falsehood
This is formed by the insertion of the particle "kan"
between the pronoun and the verb. It has (1) a fre-
quentative or habitual use ; (2) a subjunctive or con-
cessive sense ; (3) a sense of necessity or certainty or
Shi kan yi hakka He is in the habit of doing so
Biri ya kan yi banna, halinsa ke A monkey always does mischief, it
nan t* his nature
Alkema bisa ducbi Allah shi A grain of wheat on a rock God
kan ba ta rua gives it water
Ki kan tafi, ki kan kunche su You can go and loose them
Wanda ya kan chi amana ba ya He who plays false with friendship
issa ache da shi aboki ba is not worthy to be called a friend
Uwa ta kan ki danta ? Can a mother hate her child ?
Wanda ya chi giginia, chikinsa Who eats the (fruit of the) fan-
ya (or shi) kan yi chiwo palm, his belly will be sure to be
sick (after it). (Note. This is
not a fact.)
Wa ya ka shiga (ka = kan) Who can enter? (See previous
note on the tense)
MiscbJich considers that "kan" is in all probability
an abbreviation of "kana," then, before
En na gani mache, kana ni // / see a woman I want her
BO ta = ni kan so ta
En ya gani kura kana ya gudu // he sees a hyaena it runs away
= ya kan gudu
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Subjunctive Mood and Tense
There is no separate form for the subjunctive mood in
any tense except the 1st person singular, which carries
generally rather a future sense. Its principal usage is
concessive or interrogative. The other persons are the
same as in the aorist tense
Ina so en tafi
Ina so shi (or ya) tafi
Ka yi nufi ka tafi ?
Na yi kokari en komo
Na aike shi shi kawo doki
Na che, en tafi en kawo shi ?
Ni ma en zo en kwanta
Uwata ta che en tafi en wanketa
Ta che ta tafi ta wanke
Kana en tafi en chi nama-na
Ya che zani en gani makari-n-
Ya che masa shi gina masa
Ea na so en passa kanka ba
Kada su mutu
Kada nama ya tashi
/ want to go
I want him to go
Did you intend to go ?
I shall try to come back
I sent him to bring the horse
I said may I go and fetch him ?
Me too, let me come and lie doivn
Mother said I must go and wash her
She said let her go and wash (it)
Then I would go and eat my meat
He said I will go and see the end
of the earth
He told him to go and dig a grave
I do not want to break your head
That they should not die
Lest the game should start
In the singular the pronoun is omitted when a second
verb is there, but not usually otherwise
Tafi ka chi
Ka tafi. Ku tafi
Kada ka buga
Kada su tafi tukuna
Ba magana !
Go and eat
Go ! (sing, and plu.)
Do not strike
They must not go yet
Do not talk !
The verb "beri," leave, let, is largely used for giving
Let us go
Let me see first where she is
Sometimes, for emphasis, the pronoun precedes as well
as follows the verb
Ka j i ka !
Ki je ki gurin sariki
Hearken thou f
You, go to the chief, or you, go to
where the chief is
This tense or mood has no independent existence in
Hausa. The requisite idea is conveyed by making use
of the particle " da " = formerly, with the meaning of
unfulfilled intention given" to it
Da zani tafia
Da na sani da ban yi haka ba
Da ni kai ne da na halbe gada
Da ba ya yi muna dabara ba,
da mun fadi chiki-n-rami
Da safia ya yi muka tashi
See also under "
/ intended to go or would have
gone. Lit., formerly I was going
Had I known I would not have
If I had been you I should have
shot that deer
Had he not warned us we should
have fallen into the hole
When it ivas light we started
da " adverb of time.
Can, to be able
There is no special mood or tense. The verb " iya "
is used. For "to be unable physically " the verb " kasa "
Ya iya dauka-r-kaya nan ? Ya
kasa dauka tasa
Shina iya yi-n-sa
Kana iya kai ni ?
Ina iya kaiki, ba na iya kawoki
Ba shi yiuwa ba (from " yi," do)
Babu abinda zasbi iya rabasu
daga wanan abuta
Ba na iya ba en shiga kwogin
Can he lift that load ? He cannot
He can do it
Can you take me ?
I can take you there, 1 cannot
bring you back
Nothing could break their friend-
I cannot enter the stream of fire
A general survey of the languages of West Africa reveals
the fact that all of them are without a passive voice. The
3rd personal pronoun plural is commonly, if not invariably,
used with the verb in the active voice, as " They beat him,"
for " He was beaten."
The Hausa language seems to have acquired somehow
144 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
the notion that a passive was necessary, and to produce
it merely made use of the natural method, as stated
above, but with the aid of an obsolete form of "they"
This is as it appears from the present-day point of view.
What actually took place, probably, is that a foreign influx
of population which possessed a passive voice in their own
language, and also the word "su" for "they," brought
in these new elements with as little disruption to the
existing language as possible. " Su " attached itself to
the active voice, and the obsolescent " a " maintained
its existence only in an artificial usage.
Regarding "a" as "su" simply, the translation of the
various passive forms is seen to run harmoniously with
the active voice :
Anasona = suna sona
Ba asoni ba = ba su so ni ba
Anasonka = suna sonka
Anakamnarka suna kamna-r-
Akesoka = su ke so ka, or
Akesonka = su ke sonka
Akekamnaka = su ke kamna
ka, or Akekamnarka = su ke
kamnarka they love you
Shi akeso = shi, su ke so they love him
Shi akaso = shi, suka so they love him
Ansomu = sun so rau they loved us
Ba ansomu ba = ba sun so mu ba they did not love us
Akasoku = suka so ku they have loved you
Ankasoku=sunka so ku they have loved you
Ba asoku ba = ba su so ku ba they did not love you
Aasosu = sua so su they will love them
Zaasonsu=zasu son su ,,
Ba zaasonsu ba = ba zasu son su ba they will not love them
Akansosu=su kan so su they are all laved
Asoshi=su so shi (let them) love him
Kada asoshi=kada su so shi let them not love him
In place of a pronoun as direct object (in the active
rendering) a noun may be substituted
Anabugu-n-yaro don mugunta- The boy is beaten on account of his
1-sa bad deeds
Gari akechi yanzu The town is being taken now
If "by whom " is added the active voice is reverted to
Tonawa suke chi-n-gari The Ashantis are taking the town
If the following sentence from Mischlich is correct the
passive may be adhered to in the Past II. tense.
Anka chi gari da tonawa The town was taken by the Ashantis
There is a great tendency to use the forms " anka "
(aka) instead of the active voice in
Yaushe ankabugeka ? When were you beaten ?
Enna ankaganeku ? Where were you seen?
Domi ankasache doki ? Why was the horse stolen ?
2 and 3
Jia ankabugesu They were beaten yesterday
Jia akayi wannan abu Yesterday this thing was done
Tundadewa ankasache doki The horse has been stolen a long
Akayi sansani; da safia ta yi, T he camp was pitched ; when morn-
akatashi ; akayi ta fada har ///;/ came they arose and fell to
akekasshe mutane wojen tala- fighting until about 3000 men
ta ; kana akadena were killed ; then they ceased
146 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
It will be noticed in the last example that it is impossible
in English to keep to the passive construction throughout.
The active must be resorted to.
Passive with Intransitive Verbs
The passive form can also be used in Hausa with in-
transitive verbs. The origin of the passive form as stated
above is thus fully emphasised
Anazua da su They are being brought
=Suna zua da su They are coming with them
Anje Kano They went to Kano
Special Uses of Passive Form
The passive is often used in an imperative sense
En kawo rua ? akawo Shall I bring water ? Bring it or
let it be brought
Asa su tafichan,adauko kayamu, Let some one go there and take our
azo da su wurinmu loads and bring them here
A real noun may be used with a passive prefix in those
tenses where the verb acquires a substantival idea
Ban debo wani ba don anarua / did not take any out on account
of the rain
Zamanin nan anayungwa In those times there was hunger
Anshekara biu bai rua ba For two years there was no rain
Bayan anshekara dunia tai dadi After a year there was peace
Ana -nan Thereupon
In the passive as well as in the active voice the verb
root is occasionally reduplicated in the plural. This gives
a distributive force
Ankasosu They have been loved (all of them
Ankasososu They have been loved (i.e., each one
with special attention)
Sundry Examples of Use of Passive
Akahaifeni a birni-n-Katsina
1 A A, yanzu andauka rua
1 Da dam ana anarua deri da
1 Sal ankwana biu
1 Yanzu afara sabo
Akanrena aiki-n-gwoni ? su kan
Ba asan garinda zaasuba
Ni za-a-aikeni ga Bornu ?
Ina ji-n-motsi chan, mi anayi
(or akcyi) ?
Kurdi-n-dokina, sai da nono-
Ina so en tambayc shi ko
ambashi abinchi ? ya che
ambashi kurdi, amma ba
abashi abinchi ba tukuna
Daga rana nan anasukuan doki
da anabuga bindiga
Kada su ji tsoro, ba zaa korcsu
Wani lokachi zaayenka sa chikin
_ kasua kuma ?
Abersu su tafi ? Idan sariki ya
cho abersu, abersu
Amma ku zaayi maku baptisma
/ was sent to you
At the time when I was brought
I was born in the city of Katsina
in Musa's house
It is the call to prayer
You are called
It is raining
No, now the rain has stopped, lit.,
been taken away
In the wet season it rains day and
Goodbye. Lit., Until slept twice
We will now begin again
Is the work of an expert despised ?
They do indeed (despise it)
The town they were going to pour
down on was not known
Shall I be sent to Bornu ?
I hear a noise over there. What is
being done ?
As to the price of my horse, it can
only be bought with a woman's
I want to ask him if they have given
him food ? He says he has been
given money but not food yet
On that day there were horse races
Let them not fear ; they will not be
At what time will they kill a cow
again in the market ?
Will they be allowed to go ? If the
chief says let them go they will be
Hut you yourselves will be baptized
The use of " ke " for " na " might possibly be called a
hybrid, being a transfer into the passive form of the
1 In these sentences the purely passive idea is more prominent,
id the substitution of "su" would be difficult.
148 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
present tense form " ke " just as if it were " na." To
complete the analogy " n " is inserted
Ina fada maka kamada akeyin- / will tell you how " tuo " is made
A-ke-samunsn They were caught
If the verb has the termination "da," the "n" is of
Har ya zo wurinda a-ke-saida Until he come to the place where
bayi they sold slaves
The fact that the infinitive is a noun is not lost sight of
in Hausa. In rendering such sentences as
1. To sleep is pleasant
2. I wish to go
the infinitive may be employed, though in the second
example a circumlocution may be adopted.
The above may be translated as follows
1. Berichi ya yi dadi
Berichi da dadi ya ke
Berichi yana da dadi
2. Ina so-n-tafia
Ina so en tafi
The following sentences furnish examples of pure nouns,
or verbs used as nouns, in the same position
Su tafi halbi They go to shoot
Su tafi gida They go home
Muka tafi farauta We went hunting
Sun tafi chi-n-tuo-n-su They have gone to eat their food
Sometimes the preposition "ga," to, is added
Kai, ba ka girima ba ga aiki You are too small for work
(or ga yi-n-aiki)
Mn tafi ga sha-n-hiska We go to take the air
Examples of Infinitive in Nominative Case
Gudu, gado - n - matsorachi ne ; To run is the inheritance of a
tsayawa, na maikarifi - n - coward; to stand (lit., standing)
zuchia that of a brave man
Gani, em ba chi ba, karre (shi) To see if not to eat means the dog
kan kwana da yungwa (prov.) will sleep hungry
Gani-n-sa da keao It is beautiful to see (lit., The seeing
it is beautiful)
Na samu wani abu da kamsi, / found something sweet smelling
chinsa babu dadi but not good to eat
Chiye - chiye ya fi chanyewa To eat a little at a time is better
(prov.) than to devour
Infinitive as Direct Object
Zaki ya ji kukanta The lion heard her cries
Halbi a wutsia ya fi kuskure It is better to hit the tail than to
Ina so- n- tafia / want to go
Infinitive as Indirect Object without Preposition
Mun tafi chi-n-abinchi We went to eat food
Ya tafi nema-n-doki He has gone to search for the horse
Na zo tambaya-r-ka ne / come to ask you
Infinitive as Indirect Object with Preposition
Na aike shi gari-n-kawo-n-doki I sent him to bring the horse
In Future Tense II. it is, of course, the infinitive that
is used after " zani," etc.
Na rassa abinda zan yi / do not know what to do. Lit.,
/ am without the thing I shall do
Ya yi terko da zaya kama He made a trap and he will catch
kurege a weasel
In such a sentence as " He heard us come," the Hausa
construction is " He heard our coming," keeping "come "
strictly as a noun
Ya ji mosi-mu He heard us move
Na same shi zamne / found him sitting down
150 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
The following are examples of the use of the subjunctive
mood instead of the infinitive either with or without a
Ina so shi (or ya) tafi I want him to go
Ya soki sarikin da mashi-n-nan He pierced the king with that spear
da ubangidansa ya ba shi riko which his master gave him to
Ka yi nufi ka tafi ? Did you intend to go ?
Na aike shi shi kawo doki I sent him to bring the horse
Fadi en ji Let me hear (lit., Speak so that 1
Na aike shi don shi kawo doki / sent him to bring the horse
(For " don," " domin" or " garin" may be substituted)
Instead of a subordinate sentence two co-ordinate
sentences may be employed
Sun tafo gidansu suna rabawa They came home to divide it
Ba naku ne da zaku san zamanu It is not for you to know the times
Ta shigo gari tana nema-n-miji She entered the town looking for a
ta yi amre husband to marry him
Use of the Future Tense
Na aike (mutum) wanda zashi / sent some one to bring the horse
(or zaya) kawo doki
Na koiya masa yada (or kanda / taught him how to clean the gun
or wada) zashi (or zaya) wanke
Ni, ba ruana ba ne, su ne zasu It is not my business. They are
yishi the people to do it
Use of Prefix "mai"
Kana da mutum maitaya maka ? Have you any one to help you ?
Note also f ollowing
Mun ji tausayi en rabua da shi We were sorry to leave him
There are two forms of present participle, both sub-
stantival. One can be used adjectivally in apposition to
another noun, but the other is never anything but a noun.
In reality neither is a true participle, but they are the
equivalent renderings of two uses of the verb in English
with the termination " -ing."
Adjectival forms are produced by the use of "mai"
and " ma " prefixed. The resulting adjectives take gender
and plural variations as follows :
MASC. AND FEM.
Mai j if a
NOTE Moat of the foregoing are from Mischlich
152 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Various Examples of Syntax
Mutuin mairufe kofa A man who shuts the door, i.e.,
Malami mairubutu yana zamne A mallam is sitting yonder writing
Muka nema mutane ma-isu tafi We looked for one who would (lit.,
Hal ma capable of) go to Balma
Noun Form l
The other form of the present participle is as used in
English in the sentences, " I am coming," "He is killing,"
etc. It is formed by adding "wa" to the verb stem.
This produces a noun form, and not every verb is capable
of taking it. Being a noun form, the pronoun that pre-
cedes it is the one ending in " -na," which suffix is dropped
in the negative. In the 3rd person the form of pronoun
"shina" is preferred to "yana"
Zo zuwa coming
lya iyawa being able
Sayas (of saye) sayaswa selling
Shina fitowa He is coming out Ba shi fitowa He is not coming
(actually now) out (actually now)
These have, besides, supplementary meanings.
Ina zuwa or ni ke zua / am coming or I will come
Ina tafiata / am going my journey. (This is
the possessive pronoun at end of
Suka che ba mu bayesua They said we will not give (it)
(2) Possibility or Ability
Shina yiuwa ? ba shi yiuwa Can it be done ? It cannot be done
Gulabe suna ketaruwa ? Can the rivers be crossed ?
1 See derived nouns, class 8.
Ba ta amrua or aurua
Ba na damua
Abi-n-nan ya fasu ba shi
Iri-n-nan ba shi geruwa
Yana yenkan rua da lauje shina
damrewa shina ajiyewa sai
rua ya yi sarari
She is not marriageable
I am not to be annoyed or astonished
This thing is broken, it is not
This kind cannot be improved
He cut the water with a sickle he
tied it up and set it aside until
the water made an open space
If the present participle is not used a series of co-
ordinate sentences may be found
Suka kama hainya, suna waka,
suna yebo-n- Allah
They took the road singing (and)
The past participle is a pure adjective formed from the
verb stem by a reduplication of the last syllable for the
blow a fire
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Examples of Syntax
A Kano akoi takardu rubutatu
A Kano akoi rubutatu-n-ta-
Kada ka tafi wuri-n-sariki, sai
ka ga kofa budadia or Kada
ka tafi wuri-n-sariki sai ka ga
Doiya nan dainye che, wadanga
kua dafafu ne
Lemu da ka kawo mani ba
nunanu ba ne
Yara nan lalatatu ne, da suna
samari akakialisu, shi ne ya sa
Ya damra fitila juyaya a bisa
Zakara ya zamna adaki matache
At Kano are many written books
Do not go to the chief until you see
his door open
This yam is fresh those however
The limes you brought me are not
These boys are corrupted, when
they were young they were ne-
glected ; that is what caused it
He has tied the lamp on the box
The cock lay in the room dead
These are formed from the verb stem with the prefix
"a," which may perhaps be the preposition "on," and
the final vowel is changed to " e," as
Abude from budu
Adarime , damre
Afalke , falka
Afifike , fifika
Ahadie , hade
open Ajefe fr<
jm jefa thrown
kwanta laid down
Arubu- from rubutu
These forms are not all translatable into English in
the same way
Na ga kaza afifike
Na ga kofa abude
Na ga mutum azaye
Na ishe shaifu Usman asoye ga
Ya tashi tsaye a chiki-n-tsaka-
I saw the chicken flying away
I saw the door ajar
I saw the man had come
I met the sheikh Usman the beloved
of the Fulas
He got up and stood in the midst of
(In this the prefix "a" is dropped.)
Na ganeshi akewaye ga yara
Sai ga mutum biu daura da su
Suka iske kogi achiko
Sun gan'shi azona kaman da
("azona" euphonic for
" azone " = " azamne ")
Ga sauran zuma a-ajiye
Na bar mashi chan akafe a
I saw him surrounded by many
But two men were standing by them
They found the river full
They saw him seated as before
See the rest of the honey is put down
I left the spear there fast in his body
USE OF INVERTED PERSONAL PRONOUN
There are only three verbs in Hausa that are exceptions
to the rule that the subject pronoun precedes the verb.
They are all defective, and only appear in the forms given
1 Zani / will go. Used in the future tense
2 (m.) zaka
3 (in.) zashi, zaya, zai
plu. 1 zamu
156 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
" Za " is the reverse of " zo," come, and so means " go."
Yaka (m.), yaki (f.) come here ) T
Yaku come here (plu.) ( Operative
Jeka (m.), jeki (f.) qo / T
Jeku go \ Operative
"Je" is also used in the ordinary way preceded by
Zani Kano / go, or will go, to Kano
Na biku bar wurinda zaku / will follow you to the place you
are going to
Ke je ki 60 thou ! (f.)
Ni ma za en je ni en rama abinda And I will go and revenge myself
ubana ya yi mini on my father
Ya tafi ya je sari oban He went and killed his father
There are two impersonal verbs in Hausa "akoi"
(akwoi) and " wai " (wae).
" Akwoi " means there is. There is no change for tense,
time being indicated by adverbs
Tun a mafari akoi Allah God has been since the beginning
or There is a God ever since the
Sometimes the 3rd personal pronoun plural follows in
answer to a question, as " Akwoi su " There are.
Akwoi su dayawa, ba arasasu There are plenty, they are not
" Wai " = " ya che," he says. It is always used when the
speaker is not speaking on his own authority. It is not
universally interchangeable with "ya che."
Wai ku tafi He says you must go or you are
Wani yaro ya zo wai shi Audu A certain boy has come, he says he
NOTE. Miller says this is a Zaria idiom.
Under the head of impersonal verbs may also be
mentioned the use of the noun " saura," remainder.
Saura kadan muu gama aikinmu In a short time we shall finish our
Saura kwana uku In three days or There is left three,
The verb " yi " is often used as an impersonal verb.
Ya yi kusa It is near
See in chapter on idioms under " yi "
ADVERBS may be divided as follows :
4. Affirmation and Negation.
Most adverbs are either compound words made up
wholly or partly from other parts of speech, or, in regard
to adverbs of place in particular, some nouns are used
without any change of form.
There are some words which are classed under adverbs
of manner and time of which it is hard to decide whether
they are not better classed as conjunctions, a doubt which
is equally common to other West African languages.
Some West African languages, among which may be
mentioned Yoruba, Efe, and Mende have long lists of
intensitive adverbs. These words are very commonly
attached to certain verbs alone, and cannot be used with
other verbs. Hausa is quite deficient in this respect, but
seeing that many of these intensitives have an approxima-
tion to the root of the verb to which they are attached
when needed, it may be assumed that they are derived
from that verb. If that be confirmed, a germ of the
same idea lies in Hausa in the use of the neuter form
ending in " u " following the principal verb (see under
division of verbs).
1. ADVERBS or PLACE
here, there. (For etymology see under
here. (Not in colloquial use)
together. (Related to " tara," to collect)
where (relative) For "enna?" where? ste
under interrogative adverbs)
Da nisa, daga nisa
Da kusa, daga knsa
hence, from here
thence, from there
far, from afar. (Nisa is a noun)
here, at this place
where, the place which
Nouns used as Adverbs
near, nearly, almost
Verbs used as Adverbs
across Ketare across
Examples of Uses
Nan, chan, daga chan, wuri-n-nan, etc.
Shi ke nan
nan, bar ka yishi
Tana chan. Tana chana
He is here, or there not far
It is so. This phrase is used as n
sort of mark of punctuation in
Since I have told you, so it is, you
must do it
She is yonder
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Ba shi nan
Aje bindiga nan
Ba shi daga nan
Tumaki duka suna nan ? Ba su
duka nan ba
Mi zaki yi nana ?
Daga chan na ganiabi-n-mamaki
He, is here
He is not here
Put the gun here
He is not here
Are all the sheep here ? They are
not all here
What will you (f.) do here ?
There I saw a wonderful thing
Note- that the adverb precedes for emphasis
Daga nan muka tashi, muka issa
Daga nan bar chan
Daga chan har nan
Abokina shina (or yana) nan
Tun yaushe kana nan zamne ?
From there we started
we reached here
There or from there or from that
From here to there
From there to here
My friend is here
How long have you been sitting (or
NOTE. // " wuri-n-nan " were used it would follow " zamne "
Suna nan zamne da shi
Ina tamaha kwanaki shida
nan zua ga Bornu
They are sitting there with him
I think it is six days from here to
Mutane duka suna tafia tare All the people are travelling together
" Tare " is distinct from " tari " =very many
Suka tambaye sa enda (or wur-
inda) uwasa ta ke
Enda hali, muni keao ne; enda
ba hali ba, keao muni ne
Ba enda ban tafi ba
Tali enda zaka
They asked him where his mother
Where there is character unfavour-
able appearance counts for
nothing; where there is no
character good looks are of no
There is nowhere I have not been
Go to your destination
Nisa, da nisa, etc.
Bature shina nisa tukun
Bature ba shi nisa
Na gan' shi daga nisa
Ya tsaya daga nisa
The European is still far off
The European is not far
I saw him afar off
He stood afar off
Kadan ku tafi nisa daga garemu,
kada ku shida nisa daga uban-
Mu tafi wuri da nisa
Ban gan' su ba, suna da nisa
Rua nisa ya ke daganan
Dengina sun tafi nisa duk' sun
rabu da ni
Ya yi nisa
Suna tafia sun yi nisa
Let us go to a far place
I have not seen them, they are a
long way off
The water is far from here
My countrymen have gone far away,
they have all parted from me
It is far
They went a long way
Kusa, da kusa, etc.
Shi ne kusa gareni
NOTE. " Kusa gare
Ba ka gani ba ya kusa gareka
Ya kusa chika da rua
Shina kusa da shi
Ga shi tsakanin kulkusa
Kusa da juna
Ya kusa inutua
Hani ya kusa zakua
Runa ta kusa fadowa
Aikinsa ya kusa karewa
Ya kusa fadua
He is near me
really makes a preposition.
You do not see hi is near you
It is nearly full of water
He is near him. (Preposition here)
He is near him. (Noun here)
See him in the middle very close
Close to each other
He was nearly dead
The dry season is near
The sun is nearly setting
His work is nearly finished
He almost fell
The last five examples show that the fact that " kusa "
is always a noun is not lost sight of. The succeed-
ing verb takes a noun form (in "wa"), and "kusa" and
the verb are thus two nouns in apposition
Ya yi kusa
Ku yi kusa
Allah shina koenna.
Koenna sun sha gia sun koshi
It is near (not he is near)
Koenna, wuri duka
Allah shina Ood is everywhere
Koenna ka tafi Allah shi nana
Wherever they drink beer, they get
Wherever you go God is there
Su jeru daidai ba na so su taaya
daura da juna
Let them fall in properly. I do
not want them to stand one
(slightly) in front of another
162 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Suna tafia gaba ina binsu daga They are, walking in front, I am.
baya following them behind
Ki wuche gaba, rua-n-Madina Pass on, the water of Medina is
ba kusa ba not near
Ba shi iya shi dauki kayansa He cannot carry his load on
Bisa, Tcasa, kalkas, etc.
Shi ne daga bisa, ni ne daga He is on top, I am underneath
Ya shido daga bisa He came down from aloft
Kadan ka kai shi bisa, ka kawo- When you have carried it up, bring
shi kasa it down again
Kai bisa ! Carry it up
Tainya shi ! shi dauka kaya a Help him to carry it up
Mu fadi kasa We fell down
Zamna kasa Sit down
Ku aje kasa Put it down
Safko kalkas daga itache Come down from the tree
Ya fito waje He came outside
" Waje " might equally well be called a noun here in the
objective case after "fito"
Sun fita waje sun yi yaki They went outside and fought a
Aje tsakani Put it between
Muka samu yara suna worigi We found some boys playing inside
Sa chiki Put it inside
Gfangare. Used with hills
Gangare duchi Across the mountains
Ketare used with water as well as land
Ketare gulbi-n-nan Across this river
Ketare chan That side
Ketare duchi Over the rock
2. ADVERBS OF TIME
Those marked * are also conjunctions,
are also prepositions.
before that, until, then
Those marked f
*Kana (K), kan, kanda
Tuni (K), tuntuni
Abada, hal abada
Tutur, tutut, tutuk. tutu
while, since, while as ye
long ago, already
yet, not yet
Take (S) = koyanzu, and, nan da nan
day before yesterday
day after to-morrow
the third day ahead
fourth day ahead
Saa-n-da, lotunda, lokachinda,
Nan da nan
thereupon, after that. From "a"
the prep. = on, al, and "nan"
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Saa-nan, lotu-nan, lokachi-nan,
Saa duka, lokachi duka, lotu
Da wuri, Dauri (S)
Da fari (S)
Chikin da-farko (K)
Gaba daia (S)
Baki daia (K)
When ? see interrogative adverbs)
at any time, immediately, always
now, these days
at any time
ever. Usually with negative ; ~
of old, formerly
after a little time
often, many times
after. (Prep, really)
later on, in the future
henceforth, in future
Kuma, again, more, also
Derived from Tcoma, to return
Babu nisa kuma
Ba ni da kurdi dayawa kuma
A-kan-yi-su da kasa, a-kan-yi-
su da itache kuma
Wani lokachi za-a-yenka sa a
Audu ya yi sata ; Mahma ya yi
I have no more money at all
They are made of earth, they are
made of wood also
When will they kill a bull again in
Audu has stolen ; Mahma has also
stolen. (This does not imply
that Mahma has stolen again,
i.e., a second time)
Kana, kan, kanda. See also below under "before"
kan tafi ni kan chi Then I used to go, I used to eat
Dafari na gani sariki, kana
galadima, da karshe sariki-n-
First I saw the chief, then the
minister, lastly the head butcher
Hario ya kirani so-biu, kana na Again he called me twice, then I
Ina son Allah, kana abokina / lave God before (then) my friend
Kan su gama Before they have done
Kanda ta rabika (poetic) Before it part you
Kanda na je daga nan Before I go from here
Dada = Kana
Suka fide nama dada suna bida- They skinned the animal, then they
n-wuta (began) to look for fire
Kamin rua shi taso Before the rain started
Sai ka shiria kamin na zo You must get ready by the time I
Shiga daki kamin masugayya Go into the room before the assem-
su zo blage comes
Har rana ta fadi Until the sun sets
Har yao Until to-day
Yana tafia bar yanzu ; ba ya He was travelling until now, he
gama ba did not meet him
Tsaya bar ya tafi Wait till he has gone
Ka jira ni bar en zaka Wait till I come
Ya tambaye ta bar so uku He asked her three times
Ya jira bar ruaye su zuba kasa He waited until the rain came (lit.,
Waters pour on the earth)
Na rike asiri - n - nan bar ga / have kept this secret until now
yanzu (yao) (to-day)
Kada ka maide mani dana bar You need not return my son to me
na gamu da kai daga chiki-n- until I meet you in the other
Hario mutume-n- nan, ko ubanta, Again the same man, or perhaps it
ya zaka ya maishieta was her father, came (and) made
See example under " kana "
Tun bara Since last year
Tun da safe Since morning
Tun jia bawa sbi ke, amma yao Only yesterday he was a slave, but
da no to-day he is free
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Tun a mafari akoi Allah
Ubanka yana da rai ? Aa, ya
mutu tun ina yaro
Ku tuba tun ba ku mutu ba
Tun da akoi daki
Tun da babu sai Allah
God has been since the beginning
(lit., Since in the beginning there
Is your father alive ? No, he has
been dead ever since I was a boy
Repent before you die
Since a long time back. This is
distinct from " tunda," while,
From the first there has been a hut
From the beginning nothing but God
Compare " tun a mafari " above
Tunda =tun lokachinda
Tun da ni ke, kulum na fadi
Ever since I was born (lit., I was)
I have always spoken the truth
Tunda ankahaifeni ban ga bature Ever since I was born I have never
seen a white man
Tunda suna chika bindigansu
dorina ta tan* nisa
Ina son chi tuona da safe tunda
ba shi yi ba sainyi
Tunda ba shi kare maganansa
Tunda ya mutu birni ya zama
Tuni, tuntuni, tundadewa.
Ya tafi Kano tuni
Na rabu da gida tuni
Na yi shi tuntuni
Karifi tara ne, antafi makaranta
Ka shimfida tufa tuni ?
Ka toya gurasa tuni ?
Ina jira-n-ka tundadewa
Ya mutu tundadewa
Whilst they are loading their guns
the hippopotamus went far away
I want to eat my food in the early
morning before it gets cold
Before he had finished talking
Since he died the city has become
The last is a stronger form
He has already gone to Kano
I left home long ago
I did it very long ago
It is nine o'clock, everybody has
gone to school long ago
Have you spread the cloth yet ?
Have you baked bread recently ?
I have been waiting for you a long
He died long since
Tukuna, as yet ; not yet (in negative sentences)
Abinchi ya kare ? Tukuna, ba Is the food (lit., finished) ready ?
ya nuna ba sarai Not yet, it is not properly cooked
Ban chi komi ba tukuna / have not eaten anything yet
Ba ya zo ba tukuna He has not come yet
Anzo da mutane ? Tukuna Have they brought the men ? They
anazua da su are just bringing them now
Yina chan tukuna, ya ki zua He is over there just now, he refuses
Ku zamna tukuna Sit down for the moment
Ba doki rua tukuna, kana ka Give the horse water first, then go to
tafi kasua the market
Sai tukun shi damre maikarifi Except he bind the strong man first
Ya zakua tukun He will come first
Ba ya ji tsoro ba kama-n-nada He was not afraid as before
Litafi nan duka daine (daia ne) This book is all the same as before
Ta waza wukanta kama-nada She sharpened her knife as before
Abada, hal abada
Allah shi ne abada God is for ever, i.e., eternal
Iblis shina chiki-n-wuta har Satan is in the fire for ever
Ku sani dunia ba ta zama tutut You know the world will not last
(poetic) for ever
Kulum suna kashe mutane They never ceased killing men
kul 11 in kulum
Da, of old
Kano da gari karami ne Kano was formerly a little town
Da ni talaka ne, yanzu na samu Formerly I was poor, now I am
dukia da dama better off
Mutane-n-da suka zamna nan, Men of old lived here, without work,
ba aiki ba, ba komi sai abinchi without anything but plenty of
tari food (lit., food-abundance)
NOTE. " The men who " would be " mutanenda = mutane da "
Tasunia kwanaki-n-mutane da A story of the days of men (of) old
Mu tuna da Let us recall former times
Da, when (relative)
Da ta gane ni ta tambayeni : When she saw me she asked me :
enna ubanka ? Where is your father ?
Da suna yi-n-inagana Bornu As they were speaking the Bornu
ban sani ba abinda su ke language I did not know what
chewa they were saying
168 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Da suka dauka abu duka chiki- When they had taken everything out
n-gari sun sa wuta of the town they set fire to it
Da sa lia ya yi muka tashi When it was daylight we started
Da mareche ya yi When it was evening
Da gari ya waye When the dawn had come
Saanda, (Saa'da) lokachinda, lotunda, wokachinda
= when (relative)
Saanda na samu dama When I am better
Lotunda na tashi ba na ji lafia When I started I did not feel well
Kun zo da safinga ? I, muka Did you come this morning ? Yes,
zo, amma kwanakinda muka we came, but when we came you
zo kana karatu were reading
Saa-nan, lotu-nan, lokachi-nan, zamani-nan, kwanaki-nan (or saa-
n-nan, etc.)=Then, at that time
Lotu nan ina tamaha shekarata / think I was eleven years of age
sha daia then
Saa nan Musa ya tafo Then Musa came
Daga rana nan anasukua-n-doki On that day there were horse races
da anabuga bindiga and shooting
Wani lotu, etc.
Wani lotu shi kan kawo labari Sometimes he brings good news,
nagari, da wani lotu mugu sometimes bad
(See example under " Kana ")
Yao, gobe, jia, etc. Usually at beginning of sentences
Yao ba mu tafi ba makaranta To-day we did not go to school
Jia na ji labari da ni ke so To-day I heard the news I liked
Ananan da safe After that, in the morning . . .
Yanzu-yanzu Now at once
Hal ya zua yanzu Up till now
Ya che Bature shi tafo yanzu He said, Let the white man come
Koyanzu na yi koda na gaji / will do (it) at once though I am
Koyanzu na tafi Lokoja Just now I go to Lokoja
Ina tunawa koyaushe 7 am always remembering it
See other ways of expressing " never " under " never."
Mutume kama-n-wannan dadai 7 have never seen a man like this
ban gani ba
Bako gari ba ka zo dadai ba A strange city to which you have
never before come
Dadai ban gani ba anadafa 7 never saw dates cooked before
Ban yi sata dadai I have never stolen
Nan da nan. (Usually in narration)
Ka yi shi nan da nan Do it at once
Daganan sariki yache After that, or thereupon, the king
Na ji magana nan dawuri / have heard that before
(See example under " kana ")
Da safe, da mareche, etc., points of time. " Da " is the
preposition " with "
Muka tashi da dere We started at night
Ina tamaha sun aike wadansu 7 /////// they sent some persons awiy
daga chiki-n-dere nan during the night
Gobe da safe mu tashi To-morrow we start
170 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Zama-zama or sama-sama
Ban ji ba sai sama-sama / only heard a little
Baya ga (a preposition in reality)
Daga baya ga wannan After this
Baya ga beri-n-gidansa After leaving home
Baya ga mutua-r-kanuata na ji After the death of my younger sister
labari-n-yaki / heard rumours of war
Allah ya sa kwanakinsa agaba God prolonged his life
Gaba- ma shi zama da Later he will be free
Gaba- ma ina da kurdi In the future I shall have
Nan gaba ba kana kara Henceforth do not do it again
Gaba-daia, baki-daia, gabadai
Masukaya su zo gaba daia, ba The carriers must all come together,
daia daia ba not one by one
Kana gani dari suna tafia gabadai You might see hundreds walking
about at one time
Domi ba ka zo wurina gabadaia Why did you not come to me at
ba ? once ?
Ku beri ataru atafi gaba daia Let them assemble and go all
Baki daia mu tashi We will start all at once
Idiomatic expressions and circumlocution.
Some adverbs of time in English may in Hausa be
expressed idiomatically, or a circumlocution may be
adopted. There may also, however, be a corresponding
adverb in Hausa, and the two modes of expression may
be used indifferently.
Besides using "dadai" the verb "taba" to touch, may
Ban taba gani mutume-n-nan / have never seen this man until
ba sai yao to-day
Ka taba zua Kano ? Have you ever been to Kano ?
" Before " besides being expressed by " kana," " tunda,"
etc., may be translated by means of the negative, an
idiom which is the standard one even as far as in the far
distant Mende language
Shekara-n-birni-n-Daura alfina The age of the city of Daura wax
da dari Filani ba su tafo ba 2100 before the Fulani came
" Tun " may also be used with a negative
Ya rabu da gida tun abokina He left home before his friend came
ba ya zo ba
Also by special verbs
Na rigaya shi zua nan / reached here before him (lit., /
Na fara zua nan ya bini a baya / reached here first (lit., / began to
come here he followed me behind)
Since. Expressed with " not," etc., when " tunda " not used
Ya yi shekara biu ban gan'ka ba / have not seen you for two years
Sai kaka : ba ya fi wata biu ba Xot till autumn : it is not more
anshipkata than two months since it was sown
Ya yi shekaru dayawa da zuansa It is several years since last he came
Bakoi uku ke nan da uwana ya It is three weeks since my brother
yenke yatsansa cut his finger
(See example under Sundry Expressions of Time below)
For, duration of time
Kwana uku ko nan da na ke yi For three days I have had dysentery
Na shekara f udu ina chikin karatu For four years I was learning to
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Wa zaya yerda wani ya chi Who will agree to another's taking
sarota tasa, shi ko yana da rai his kingdom whilst he is still alive
See under preposition " chiki-n "
Dufu ya yi kusa
It will soon be dark. (Lit., Dark-
ness makes near)
Sundry Expressions of Time
Dare-n-jia ansache kaya guda On the previous night a load was
Yao kwana uku ban chi komi It is now three days since I have
ba eaten anything
Daga chiki-n-shekara nan In that year
Sun yi masa aiki kwana shida They worked for him six or three
ko uku days
Kadan sun kwana dere uku ko When they had stayed three or four
Muka zamna daganan kwanaki We remained there many days
Gobensa ( = gobe-n-sa) On the next day
Yao shekara-n-mu'goma sha biar / have had that jar for exactly
da ni da buta nan fifteen years
3. ADVERBS OF MANNER
Those marked * are also used as conjunctions.
Bale (S), bale-fa (S), barshema
(K), balantana (Zanf.), bal-
anta, barshe (K)
Dole (S) = tilas (K)
Gaya (K) = kwarai
much, more, much less
properly, equally, together, uni-
much less, however (? fa and verb
"to be" (f.))
Kadan o little (also an adjective)
Kama (noun), kamada, karaanda how, like as
*Ko even. See under conjunctions
Kwarai (S) exactly, properly
Lale in any case, of necessity, of a surety
Mana then, do ! A command of urgency
*Sai alone, except, etc. Also preposi-
tion and conjunction
Tari many. (A noun = abundance)
Tilas (K) with force
Wada (S), yada (K), awa (Zanf) how, the, manner in which,
Wajib of necessity
Na yi murna doki daia balefa I rejoiced for one horse much more
biu over two
Ba ya tafi Masar ba bale Makka He did not go to Egypt much less
Bale fa mu dada It is much better for us to wait
This is possibly not the same word as " daidai " a
contraction of " daia daia "
Maida tana motsi, ba ta tsaya The table moves it does not stand
daidai ba evenly
Suna gina dakuna biu daidai They build two houses alike
Ban ji daidai ba / did not hear correctly
Daia ne ( = it is one, unity)
Sun yi aikinsu daia ne They did their work completely
Dakir na samu hainya I found the road with difficulty
174 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Oaya (K) = kwarai
Ya gudu gaya He ran well
Girshi na gani kura Suddenly I saw the hyaena
Girshi ya mutu Suddenly he died
Gara haka or Guma haka Better so
Haka shi ke It is so. (In reply to a question
or as a sort of punctuation in a
Ko ba haka ba ? Or is it not so ? (Used at end of
Ya che haka He said so (or thus)
Ina fada maka haka shi ke / tell you ; it is so
Wani iri-n-sanda ke nan da What kind of stick is this, it is so
nauyi haka ? heavy
Haka da girima So big
Hakanan shi ke It is so (in reply to a question)
Nan da nan ya mutu, ashe ! ii, He died immediately ; ah, yes, that
hakanan ne is so
Mu nemi halama muu samu Let us look, perhaps we shall find it
Kamada, kamanda (Kama-n)
Ina fada maka kamada akeyishi / will tell you how it was done
Obangiji ya bashi ya komo The Lord granted to him that he
kamanda shi ke da should become as he was before
The noun " kama," from which " kamanda " is made up (kama-
n-da), is used with an adverbial sense with the copulative " n "-
Yare ya yi kama-n-uwansa The boy is like his mother
Da rana ta fara tashi ina ganinta When the sun began to rise I saw
kama-n tana fita daga chikin it as though it was coming out of
gulbi the sea
Kama-n ya shiga gari As he enters the town
Kama-n ba su san'ka ba As if they did not know you
Ko (see conjunctions also)
Ban gani ko daia ba / have not seen even one
Kawoshi kokaka Bring it anyhow
Kada daia na gani kadai / saw only one crocodile
(See also under " sai")
Sariki ba rago kadai ya ba ni The chief gave me not only a ram
ba, da akuya but a goat
A llali u shi kadai shi ba ka God alone does good to you to-day
Kadan kadan !
Sai anjima kadan
Shina yin aiki kadan kadan
Bana ta ye kwarai
Ya chi dayawa kwarai
Doki shina gudu kwarai
Babu nisa kwarai
Lale ina zua da mareche
Yao lale ya zo
Tafi ! mana !
Ku zo mana
Ka fada masa shi zo mana
Mana ! mana !
Ku t.tli maza-maza
Wait a little
He works very little
The sun is very hot
He ate a great deal
The horse trots well
Not very far
In any case I shall come in the
He comes to-day in any case
Go I do I
Tell him he must come at once
Come along I or Wake up I
Go very quickly
(See below, other ways of saying "quickly")
Sai, also a conjunction
Sai gobe Until to-morrow. A parting salu-
Sai da-safe Good night. (Lit., Until the
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Sal anjima kadan
Salbarka = . ? sai albarka
Sai ankwana biu
Sai kada daia na gani
Sai ka dawo
Babu bawa ko daia daga chiki-
n-gida sai ni
Sai ubana ya che mani
Kafa-ta duka sai jini
Sai mutume daia akesashi ya
hawa bisa itache
Ya che masa sai ya aika wuri-
n-sariki-n-Sokoto ya tambay'-
Ya che mani babu komi sai
Shi ne, shi ke shaka azaba-n-
lakhira ; sai ya gamu da wuta
ya kan che kaitaro (poetry)
En ba ka da kurdi ba ka da
komi, sai kare
Abinda ki keso sai en baki
Good-bye for the present. (Lit.,
till you have waited)
Wait a little. In a little while
Quite well. A reply salutation
Nothing but thanks. No thank you
Nothing but thanks. Lit., only a
( Wait) till you are sent for
Good-bye for an indefinite time
Lit., Until you have slept twice
I saw only one crocodile
Until you return
There was not a single slave in the
house except me
But my father said to me
My feet were nothing but blood
Only one man was made to climb
He said to him he must send and
ask the king of Sokoto first
He said nothing to me except that
all was well
He it is he doubts the pains of hell.
Wait till he meets the fire and he
will say, Alas !
If you have no money you have
nothing, you are only a dog
Anything you (f.) like I will give it
Mun kira ka saidai ba ka jimu We called but you did not hear
Sanu. See also under salutations
Ya tafi sanu (sanu sanu) He went slowly (very slowly)
Ya yi magana sarai
He speaks correctly
Tilas (a noun by origin)
Seize him by force
But you drink this water from
Ya ki zakua, don wannan ya sa He refused to come so he forced
shi tilas him to
Kama shi tilas
Amma ka sha rua nan da tilas
Ya karaata maihankali da dere
ya yi shi zamna wuri daia, shi
ber'yawo sai tilas, ko wani ya
mutu, ko wani ya kiraka tilas
A prudent man ought to stay at
home at night. He should not go
out except forced to, say, by some-
body dying or calling you im-
Tari (a noun)
Turawa suna tara soja gabas da The white men are collecting soldiers
Kukawa tari tari east of Kuka in vast numbers
Wotakila obanka shi zo kuwa Perhaps your father will come too
Wajib mu do haiyasu (poetry) We ought to take their road
Wada, yada, awa (these are nouns)
Yada ankayi zani fada maka
Ka iya gaya mini yada mutume-
n-nan ya mutu
How ( the way) it was done I will
Are you able to tell me how this
Formation of Certain Adverbs
Many adverbs are formed from adjectives in English
with the addition of the suffix " ly." In Hausa correspond-
ing adverbs which may also equally be adjectives are
formed from nouns with the preposition "da," with.
The following are a few :
Bugashi da karifi
Ya tafi da kafa
in the very early morning
Da hankali carefully
Da wuri of old
Da kafa on foot
Da gudu with running
Beat him well
He went on foot
178 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
The use as adverbs of simple adjectives or others of
different formation from the foregoing is not unknown
Ya fita nagari He has turned out well
Enda ya shiga duka ka bishi Wherever he enters you follow him
Enda zaka duka a dunia Wherever you go in the world
There is also the use of the intransitive verb form in
" u," usually in the 3rd person. It accompanies its
parent verb, and is probably an indication of the origin
of those intensitives in other languages, so many of which
have the same root as the verb they accompany
Adamreshi shi damru Tie it tight
Other examples are given under the verb.
There are some adverbs in English, such as "very,"
"too much," etc., which are rendered in Hausa in a
variety of ways :
Farifari, very white Maza maza, very quickly
Kadan kadan, very little
With colours the second part may be modified.
Fari-fet, fet-fet (S) very white
Fari fer, fer-fer (K)
Lafia lau or lau-lau very well
Ja-wur, wur-wur very red
Baki kirin, kirin-kirin very black
Uwata tana da rai amma ta My mother is alive but she is very
tsofa da gaske old
See also examples under "kwarai."
Too, too much
Na fayc chi / ate too much
Na chi na faifaye
Kada ka dedi ka yi hanzeri Do not delay, make haste
En ka komo da samli em baka // you come back quickly I will
lada give you a reward
Like as. (See " kama ")
Ya bada keauta sarki-sarki
Like a dog
Like a slave
Like a king
He presented the gift like a king
E, eye (K)
La, la la
Ba . . . ba
Babu ( = ba-abu)
Of Affirmation and Negation
yes. Only used in answer to a roll call or
summons. Means " I am here "
certainly, no doubt
It is true
no. Instead of a single word reply simple
sentences are often preferred.
No (Arabic). Used as an exclamatory " No "
rather than negativing another person's
no, not, without (prep.)
Examples of use of " ba "
Ba ka ji ba ?
Ban sani ba
Ba ni da komi da ni ko ba su
Ba daia da kiba
Ba kowa da ya zaka nana ?
Ba namu ba nc
Kad" Allah kashc ka ba mumuni
Baba-n-da ba wuri yaro ne
Jini ba ya magani-n-kishirua ba
He did not go
Do you not hear (understand)
I do not know
I have nothing to give them
Not one was fat
Has no one come here
It is not ours
Lest Ood slay thee because of thy
unbelief. (Lit., You not a believer)
The big man who is penniless if a
boy (ba wuri = not a cowry)
Blood is not a cure for thirst
180 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Fadawa sunka che, la, ba ka ba The councillors said, No, do not
shi give it him
Ba abinda zan chi There is nothing for me to eat
11 Ba " is sometimes used as a negative form of
Ka ji ba ? Do you not hear ?
Sometimes one " ba " is omitted, especially if several
co-ordinate sentences follow each other
Ba ni da kurdi, ba ni da karifi ba // / have no money I am powerless
With pronouns is often interchangeable with "ba"
Babu komi or ba komi ba Nothing at all
Ba kowa or babu kowa Nobody
Babu kowa da ya yirda da shi There is no one who believed in him
Babu nisa Not far
Babu ruanka (idiom) It does not concern you
Babu abinda kana iya yi There is nothing you can do
Babu maitafia ga rijia da dcre No one goes to the well at night
Babu mutum da ya taya masa No one helped him
Ba abinda babu There is nothing short
Babu daiansu or babu daia Not one of them
Da babu wawa gara da wawa It is better to own a fool than
Komi ya bache hankuri a babu Everything goes wrong where
or ne babu (proverb) patience is wanting
Don babu na uwansu chiki Because their mother's (food) was
not amongst the other (dishes of
Example of " babu " for " ba" with Verb
Sariki nan babu shi da da That king had no son
En ka tafi babu ina gaferta maka // you go I will not pardon you
Munche masu, mu babu zamu We said to them, We will not drink
sha nono wurinku milk with you
5. INTERROGATIVE ADVERBS
Kaka ? (K) How ? In what manner ? This word is
not coupled with other adverbs as in the
English phrases, " How far ? " " How
soon ? "
Since when ?
What time ?
How many ? How much ?
Why ? On account of what ?
Why ? On account of what ?
Not ? (See under Affirmative and Negative
Tun yaushe ?
Wani lokachi ?
Domi ? ( = do-n-mi)
Daga enna ?
Kaka ka ke ? Kaka ki ke ?
Kaka iyalinka ?
Kaka sunanka ?
Da kaka zaka tafia yaki babu
Ka gani kaka su yi gina ga
Kaka zan yi en sami wannan
How are you ? (m. or f.)
How is your family ?
What is your name ?
And how will you go to war with
Do you see how they dig under
ground? (Kaka is not directly
How shall I be able to find this
Yaushe (usually with present and future)
Yaushe ka zo nan ?
Yaushe sariki shina gida ?
Yaushe zamu tafia ?
When did you come here ?
When will the chief be at home ?
When shall we go ?
Tunyausho barao ya beri gari ? Sincewhenhas the thief left the town ?
Wani lokachi ? also wani saa ? wani lotu ?
Wani lokachi zaayenka
Yaro nan shekarunsa nawa ?
Nawa shekaru-n-doki-n-nan ?
Guda nawa ?
What time will they kill a cow in
the market again?
How old is this boy ?
How old is this horse ?
How many ?
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Nawa nawa ?
Kwoi guda nawa na sayerua ne ?
Nawa nawa anasayerua ?
Nawa anasayesda su ?
Ku nawa kuka tafi wuri-n-sata ?
How much each ?
How many eggs are there for sale ?
How much are they sold for each ?
How much are they all ?
How many of you went to the place
where the theft took place ?
Domi ka che haka ?
Domi ka zo ?
Gari-n-mi sunka bache ?
Domi, don mi
Why do you say so ?
Why have you come ?
Why are they lost ?
Enna shi ke ? Enna ta ke ?
Daga enna kun tafo ?
Enna ka fito ?
Enna hankalinka ?
Enna danka ?
Enna zaka ?
Enna ka ke ?
Enna kana zamne ?
Enna hainya-r-gida ?
Enna marabi - n - wannan da
Babu marabi tsakaninsu
Ka tambayesa, Enna uwasa ?
Enna sunanka ( = kaka sunanka)
Enna ruanka da wannan ?
Enna azenchi-n-wannan ?
Where is he ? Where is she ?
Where have you come from ?
Where have you come from ?
Where is your sense ?
Where is your son ?
Where are you going ?
Where are you ?
Where are you staying ?
Which is the way home ?
What is the difference between this
and that ?
There is no difference between them
Ask him where his mother is ?
What is your name ?
What have you got to do with that ?
What does this mean ?
For Adverbs. Interrog.
Besides being translated by " nawa " or " kamada " various
circumlocutions are necessary to represent this English word
Daga Kano zua Katsina na da
Daga nan kingi-n-mu (or, saura-
n-mu) nawa mu issa Kwara ?
Is it far from Kano to Katsina ?
How long before we reach the
Kwara (Niger)? How many weeks
before . , .
Har (K), hal (S)
Na (m.) n'
Ta (f.) t, 1, r
up to, until (also adverb)
except (also adverb)
Formed from a noun or verbal noun with the preposition
" of " varying according to the gender of the foregoing.
Very commonly the masculine form "n" is used for the
feminine "t," "1," or "r" for euphony. The copulative
may also be entirely omitted, as is often the case with
nouns not used with a prepositional force, the two thus
standing in apposition.
Zua-r- (more commonly Zua-n-)
1 Kai-n- (kan)
1 Bisa-r- (also bisa-n-)
on account of (verb do " dauka,"
" doka," to take
on account of
on account of
towards. ("Zua " = coming)
on top of
on top of
under, bottom of
1 A=ow, may or may not be prefixed to these.
184 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
1 Gaba-n- in front of
1 Baya-n- behind
Tsaka-r- (also tsaka-n-) in middle of
1 Chiki-n- in
1 Woje-n- beside, outside of, towards
Abaki-n- in exchange for
Kama-r- (Kama-n-) like
Kusa-r- (kusa-n-) near. See also ". Kusa da "
Gu-n- to, at the place of
Bigiri-n- (K) instead of
Batu-n- with reference to
Compound Prepositions formed with " da," with
Barn-da different from
Dabara da in front of and near one another
Garni da together with
Kusa da near to
Tare da together with
Saba-da on account of
Other Compound Prepositions
This preposition can be combined with many others, as,
" Daga chikin " for " chikin," etc., etc.
A, at, on
Muka beri kaya-mu a wani gari We have left our loads at another
Tafia a hankali Slow travelling
Ahmadu ya sarnu miki a hauu- Ahmadu has a boil on his right
Tun a mafari akoi Allah God has been since the beginning
Da sunka ketare daia, biu, a When they had crossed one, two, at
na-uku sunka issa wuri-n-kasa the third they reached dry land
Mi ku ke yi a-nan What are you doing there ?
1 A on, may or may not be prefixed to these.
Azaba-1-allahu a rana-1-lakhira The pains of Ood on the day of
Na tura mutum a rua 7 pushed the man into the water
Ya fadi a rua He fell into the water
Ya fada rua (Robinson) He flung himself into the water
Halbi a wutsia ya fi kuskure To hit the tail is better than to miss
Ya fi su duka a dauka-n-kaya He was better than they all in carry-
ing a load
Ya koma a chan a Bornu He returned yonder to Bornu
Da ankasheka a banza You would have been killed for
Da, with. Also by, of, etc.
Ya buge shi da bulala He beat him with a whip
Ya yenke shi da wuka He cut it with a knife
Ka chika shi da rua Fill it with water
Tafi da shi Take him away or go with him
Ya zo da shi He brought him or came with him
Sun saidani da kelowi They sold me to the Kelowi, i.e.,
they traded me with the Kelowi
Possession (see also under auxiliary verb)
Suna da bindiga They have a gun
Ba mu da abinchi We have no food
Ina da shi and Ni ke da shi / have it
En ba ka da da, ba ka da favi- // you have no son you have no
Ina da kafa (idiomatic) 7 have a (bad) leg
Tafo da gudu Come quickly, i.e., come running
Da mi akanyi su ? Of what are they made ?
Miscellaneous other Examples
Ta fada mani da Hausa She told me in Hausa
Mine da Engliz ? What is it in English ?
Na gaji da sukua bisa lakuini 7 was tired of riding on the camel
Ka yi hankali da dunia Be careful of the world
Suna fada da mutane chiki-n- They were fighting with the people
kasua in the market
Ka gai mani da ubanka Salute your father for me
186 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Da dadi-n-chi Nice to eat
Sun kira ni da sunana, or, sun yi They catted me by my name
Sai da nono-n-mache anasayensa Only for the breast of a woman is
it to be sold
Da babu wawa gara da wawa Eather than to be without (even) a
(proverb) fool, it is better to have a fool
Ya che da shi He said to him
Na lura da halinka I will look into your character
Ku yi kama da sariki You are just like the king
Ya komo da baya He returned back
Ban sani da guba a chiki ba I did not know that there was
"guba" poison in it
Ka yi murna da gani-n-ubanka ? Are you pleased to see your father ?
Kare ka mutu da haushi-n-kura Dog, you will die of hatred to the
Ina murna da ganinka / am pleased to see you
Da is used instead of daga
Kudu da Kukawa South of Kukawa
Gabas da rua sunansa Shari East of the river called Shari
Da is used in comparative statements
Yao mun fi na jia da biu To-day we have (done) more (than)
[of] yesterday by two
Nasa ya fi nawa da shidda His exceeds mine by six
Ya fini da keao He was more beautiful than I
Na fiso wannan da wannan / prefer this to that
" Da " is used with nouns to make adjectives and adverbs, as
Da hankali careful or carefully
Ga, to, etc.
It is found in company with other prepositions, as " bisa ga,"
" baya ga," etc.
Sun tafi ga wani gari They went to another town
Ya fadi ga sariki He said to the chief
Ya fadi ga shi He said to him. (More usual
" ma ")
Ga maidauka - n - kaya tafia a
hankali ta ii dadi
Ya zama sanane ga duka - n -
mazamna a Kuddus
To the carrier to travel slowly is
It became known to all the in-
habitants of Jerusalem
Tafi ka fada Allah
Ga " omitted
Go and tell God
Ga rana aljima
Ya che, ga chiki-n-gulbi
Gulbi-n-nan shi kan kaffe garani
Yana (or shina) da karifi ga duka
Doki shina tsaye ga hainya
En mun issa ga wani wuri enda
akoi chiawa mu kan yenka
mu dora ga baya-n- rakuma
Ba mu dade ba ga gari nan
She said, in the river
This river generally dries up in
He is stronger than all
The horse is standing in the road
When we came to some place where
there was grass, we used to cut it
and tie it on our camels' backs
We did not delay at that town
Ga mi ? Of what ?
Ga hakarikari na jiki-n-Adamu Of the ribs of Adam's body
Wache ga chikinmu ? Which of us (f.) ?
Mata sunka tafi rijia ga dauka- The women have gone 'to the well to
n-rua draw water
Muka yi shiri ga zua Gushiba We made ready to go to Gushiba
Na ishe shaifu Usman asoye ga / met the Sheikh Othman beloved of
Filani the Fulas
Wannan na ji ga yaro da shina / heard this from the boy that
ji magana-m-Bornu speaks Bornuese
The preposition is omitted when the name of a town is mentioned
and in a few other cases
Ya tafi Kano
Ya tafi gari
Ya komo kasua
He went to Kano
He has gone to the town
He has come back to the market
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Only used before pronouns
Mutume-n-nan fari-n-jiki gare-i
Su saye su gareku
Bature nan, shi ne za-abashieka
Oo to him
This man is popular
They buy them from you
This is the white man to whom you
will be given
Ear, to (see also adverbs)
Na sa mutume-n-nan aboki-n-
tafia - r - ku, shi kai ku har
/ appoint this man your travelling
companion, he will take you as
far as the city of Kano in safety
NOTE " Birni Kano " is also found, the two nouns being in apposition.
Ma, to, for
" Ma " may become " mi " or " mu " for euphony (S)
Ya fada mani
Ya fada maka (m.) ; maki or
Ya fada masa, mashi, mishi, mai
Ya fada in at a
Ya fada mamu, mumu, muna
Ya fada maku, rnuku
Ya fada masu, musu
Ya fada ma sariki
Na gode maka
Kawo mani rua en sha
Ya gaya mani labari
Kada ka fada ma kowa labari
He said to me
He said to you
He. said to him
He said to her
He said to us
He said to you
He said to them
He said to the chief
I thank you (formal)
Bring me water to drink
He told me the news
Do not tell any one the news
Meaning " for"
Ka rike mani
Na dakanta ma sariki
Ka yi mani shimfida-r-gado
Ka gai mani da abokinka
Kawo mani doki
Hold (it) for me
I waited for the chief
Spread my bed for me
Salute your friend for me
Bring my horse
Akadaurawa masa dawaki surdi They were saddling the horses for
Bature ya kashe masu mutum The while man killed many of them
tari da doki with their horses
Sun kashe ma Turawa mutane They killed of the Arabs many men
Achikin wani gari anache masa In a certain town called Danga-
Ta bida masa mdgani She sought medicine from them
This is probably another form of " ga " ; compare " guri "
for " wuri."
Only used before nouns, not before personal pronouns,
and usually with verbs to tell (K)
Na dakanta wa sariki I waited for the chief
Kada ka gaya wa kowa Do not tell anyone
Ya yenke wa sariki kune He cut off the chiefs ear
Kafa-r-wani ba ta yi wa wani The foot of one man cannot walk
tafia (prov.) for another
Suka saiyo wa dumma nan baiwa They bought a slave for the pumpkin
Na(n; or d, m for n) (m.) -\
Ta (t ; or 1, r for t) (f.), and modified often to any letter of the I of
alphabet which may begin the following word J
This preposition is of two genders, and that form is used
which agrees with the gender of the first word. If, however,
the first word is plural, the masculine form is used.
When the short form is used, which is generally the case,
it is enclitic to the first word in enunciation but not in
Da-n-sariki (dan sariki) The chiefs son
Ya-1-sariki (S) The chiefs daughter
Ya-r-sariki (K) ,,
1 In ordinary text the " n," etc. is written as part of the first
word. This work, however, being a grammar, it is necessary to
distinguish it clearly, and so it is joined with hyphens to each word
190 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Yaya-n-sariki The chiefs children
Yarinia-t-sariki The chief's girl
Mata-r-sariki The chief's wife
Mata-n-gari The women of the town
Mata-n-sa (for mata tasa His wife
Aboki-n-tafia-ta My travelling companion
Da-n-uwansa His brother (because " danuwa "
Da matansa saura shi daia And of his women (wives) there
was left one to him
Sarari-d-dunia (rare). (Poetic) The plain of the earth
Daki-d-dunia (rare). (Poetic) The house of the world ( = the world)
Wuta-1-kiama. (Poetic) The fire of the day of judgment
Ra-1-kiama. (Poetic) The day of judgment
"N" is joined to many nouns to make prepositions, as,
" wuri-n," " kai-n," " chiki-n," of which examples are given
It is used when adjectives precede the noun, thereby
making them in reality nouns.
Baba-1-kaza for kaza baba A big fowl
As "baba" ends in "a" it has to be treated as a
feminine word. When, however, the second word is one
of importance, especially a person, it seems to have a
dominating effect upon the preposition ; so
Baba-n-sariki The big chief
Baba-n-rago The big ram
Sabo-n-wata New moon
Shashi-n- garina zani bashi / will give him the half of my
Allah shi baka yawa-n-rai May God give you a long life
11 Yawa-r-rai " is also found, and is correct, as " yawa " is
a feminine word ; it is less frequently heard, however, not
being so euphonious.
The long form is used (1) in poetry, (2) when "na"
is the first word in the sentence, (3) when a pronoun
intervenes, (4) with the cardinal numerals to form the
ordinal, (5) for emphasis or clearness, and (6) when the
previous word is not a noun
Namu ne It is ours
Na sariki ne It is the chiefs
A kafata ta hagun ina da kur-
Na biu (m.), ta-biu (f.)
Na-baya (m.), ta-baya (f.)
Na-bisa ya fi na-kasa riba
Mu je kasua ta Zerma
Ya wo gaiya ta yaki
Ko gida-n-sariki ko na talaka
Allah ka bani haifua ko ta
Ba shi da chin yao, ba shi da
In my left leg I have a guinea
The person above has the advantage
over the one beneath
We went to the market of Zerma
He made a war camp
Whether it be the house of a chief
or of a poor man
God, grant that I bear something,
even a gourd
He has nothing to eat to-day and
Quasi compound nouns are made witjh the use of this
Lizard, i.e., crocodile of the town
Enemy, i.e., friend of the front
In the following examples there is rather a different
idiom from the English
Ba ni iyansa ba
Ba na ji-n-tsoronsa
En tali sha-n-rua
Ka aiko muna wotika kaka suna
yi-n-gerdamanka, da kai kana
gerdamansu har ka kasho su
/ am not equal to the doing of it
We are able to do it
I am not afraid of him
That I may go to drink water
You send us a letter (to say) how
they dispute with you, and how
you also dispute with them until
you have convinced them
The following use of " na " as a substitute for the verb
" to be " in English is very idiomatic. In the second
example this usage is partly abolished and a reversal
made to a verb, with the result that the subject that
begins the sentence is replaced by another
Hauka-r-kaza amre-n-musuru It is madness for a fowl to marry a
cat. Lit., Madness of fowl,
marriage of cat
Karambuni - n - akwia ta gaida It is forward for a goat to greet a
kura hycena. Lit., Forwardness of
goat, she greets the hycena
192 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
If this proverb were formed like the preceding, for "ta
gaida kura " there would be " gaisua-r-kura." " Karam-
bani," which begins the sentence, is not continued with,
and " ta " pertains to " akwia "
Gaskianki You have spoken the truth
Kariansu They have lied
"Na" is sometimes found instead of "shina." See
under personal pronouns.
Examples of"of" omitted
Lafia jiki arziki ne Health of the body is prosperity
Laifi baba rowa, laifi yaro kiawa The fault of age is meanness, the
fault of youth is laziness
Gida biu magani gobara (prov.) Two houses are a remedy against
Yanmata gidanmu da fari baki. The daughters of our house have
Taberia a white mouth. Fufu - slick.
(Riddle.) The fufu-stick being
in constant use with pounding
corn has always its end whitened
Ba su chi abinchi kowa ba They do not eat the food of any one
Ku mutane yamma You men of the west
Mutane zina Adulterers
Kwana-mu goma muna tafia We have been travelling ten days
Muka beri kaya-mu We have left our loads
This seems to be commonly so when final " a " is long
Shi fishe mu aiki mutane zina He separates us from the work of
Examples of use of Masc. for Fern.
Uwansu Their mother
Uwan matansa Mother of his wife
Zuchiansa ya yi biu He was in doubt
Dere rigan mugu Night is a cloak for the evil man
It is commonly found that when there is a series of
linked nouns, some have the copulative and others stand
in apposition, usually alternately
Zani gurin dia sariki / will go to the place of the daughter
of the king
Sunan sariki garin Wandara The name of the chief of the country
The following is an example of the use of the particle
"mai" as a substitute for "na"-
Ta zo kusa da wani gida mai- She came near a certain goat's
Sai, except (see also adverbs). Pronounced " se " (say)
Sai wannan Only this
Sai lafia Only health, i.e., quite well
Shi kua dan sariki nan ba shi And he the chiefs son had no
da wani chiniki sai sha-n-gia other business but to drink beer
Don (K), Aomin (S), garin (Zanf). See also conjunctions
This preposition takes either a direct object or a sentence
Don bawa daia sun yi yaki On account of one slave they mad
Ya ragu don kainsa It is diminished of itself
Ya taf o wurina don gaishe ni He came to me to salute me (because
of saluting me)
Riki karenka don kare-n-wani Hold your dog on account of the
(prov.) other man's dog
Mahmadu ya dauki kaya guda Mahmadu has taken one load for
don kansa himself
Na je Kano domi-n-gani-n- I went to Kano to see my friend
Domin hakanan On account of this
Ya che do-n-mi bai yi aure ba ? He said why is he not married?
Domi-n-shina mutum kirki Because he is a virtuous man
Kuka da na yi domin ganinka The cry I made in order to see you
Domin mi ? What for ?
Garin (see also interrogative adverbs)
Ya tafi gari gari-n-saye-n-nama He went to the town to buy meat
Ya tafi gari-n-yawo He has gone to take a walk
Zua-r or ya zua ( = he is coming) or zua ga, to
Sun tafi zua-r-Kano They went to Kano
Sun tafi ya zua Kano They went to Kano
Muna godia zua ga Allah We give thanks to God
Hal ya zua yanzu Until now
Na komo zua-r-gidana / came back home
194 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Ya tafi zua-r-gabas He went east
Zua-r-mutua-r-Ahmedu ya yi On the death of Ahmedu he became
Daga Kano zua-r-Katsina na da Is it far from Kano to Katsina ?
In the foregoing the "r" is very commonly omitted
after <; zua." Its existence is, however, supported by the
alternate rendering of "ga."
Kai-n, kan, on top of
Doki shina tsaye kan (or akan) The horse is standing in the road
Muka gamu da shi kai-n-hainya We met him in the road
Sa tukunia kain wuta Put the pot on the fire
Joined with other prepositions
Bisa-r-ka-n-doki/or a kai-n-doki On horseback
= 0n the subject of
Akain mi ku ke zanche ? What are you talking about ?
Manzani - n - Allah suna waazi The messengers are talking about
akan atuba da beri-n-zunufi repentance and forsaking sin
Ya sa dan uwansa akain abo- He puts his brother before all his
kainsa duka friends
Ya bani wannan kain alkawali He gave me this according to a
da ya yi mani da promise he made me long ago
Dan sariki ya yi fada da sariki The young chief fought with the
akan sarauta chief over the kingdom
Bisa-r, also bisa-n or bisa alone
Doki shina tsaye bisa-r-hainya The horse is standing in the road
Yara duka sun tuma bisa-r- All the boys jumped up on their
Lokachinda anadaukanka bisa When you are carried on a man's
kai head (as a corpse)
Shimfida tufa bisanta Spread the cloth on it
Kana bisana You are on top of me
Gidansu bis' ga ishi Their houses upon posts
Ya kwanta bisa ga gadona He slept on my bed
With other prepositions
Ya sabko daga bisa-r-kai-n-doki He got off his horse
Meaning " concerning " or " about "
Bisa-r-zanche-n-uan Concerning this conversation
Mi ka che bisa gareni ? What do you say about me ?
Bisa yerda-n- Allah By the will of God
Kasa-n, kalkashi-n, under, beneath
Kada ka sa fitila kalkashi-n- Do not put the lamp under the
Ta aje danta kalkashi-n-itache She put her son under the tree
Yaro ya fito daga kalkashi-n-
Ta tan har ga kalkashi-n- dusi
Gaba-n, in front of. (" Gaba " is mostly masculine gender)
Ya tsaya gabana He stands before me
Ya tsaya agabanka He stands before you
With other prepositions
Ya tsaya gaba ga kai (or gareka) He stands before you
Shina gaba da Allahu He is opposed to God
Baya-n, behind, back of
Also baya ga, baya gare. " A " can also be prefixed
Baya is mostly masculine by gender
Baya na Behind me, my back
A bayana At my back
Bayansa, baya ga shi Behind him or in his absence
Ya tafi bayan gari He went outside the town
Ya tafi bayan gida He has gone to ease himself (a
Baya-n-wannan ba ya kara yi- After this he denied no more
Daga baya-n-wannan After this
Karatu Ar'bi ya fi karatu duka. Arabic literature is before all
Baya ga Ar'bi Turanshi ya fi literature. After Arabic Euro-
Bafilashi. Baya garesu Hausa pean is above the Fula. After
ya fi Baribari them Hausa is above Bornu
Shi ne gaba gareni da ni ga He is before me and I am behind
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Tsaka-r and Tsaka-n, middle of (mostly masculine)
Tsaka-n-woje akoi rijia There is a well in the middle of the
Tsaka-n- dere In the middle of the night
Suka tafo tsaka-r-daji They came into the middle of the
Ya zamna tsakaninmu
Amana ke tsakaninmu da shi
Tsakani - n - dakuna masallachi
Babu marabi tsakaninsu
Kofofi - n - Zaria tsakaninsu da
Ba shi tsakani gabas da kudu
Domin babu gaba tsakaninmu
Tsakani na da ubanka ka sare
He sat down between us
There is friendship between him
Between the houses stands a mosque
There is no difference between them
There is a long distance between
the gates of Zaria
He is not between east and south
For there is no enmity between us
Decide between me and your father
Chiki- n- chikinta
Dai a chikinsu
Chiki-n-wannan lokachi ka ke
mayar wa Israila da mulki
In her belly
In the hut or room
His belly or inside it
In the month Shawal
I shall walk in the water
One of them
At this season wilt thou restore
to Israel their kingdom
Joined with other prepositions
Biu daga chikinmu
Ta fita daga chiki-n-rua
Ta che, ga chikin gulbi
Note the following
Suna chikin dubawa
Two of us
She came out of the water
She said, In the river
Whilst they were looking
Woje-n, shiya-l (S), beside, outside, towards
Ya waiwaia wojensa (or wurinsa)
Sun tafi wojen Kano
Shina daga woje (adv.)
Towards the east
Towards that land
He turned towards him
They went Kano-way
He is outside
Woje-n-nan On this side
Daga woje-n-chan On that side
Ina tafia woje (adv. and noun) / am walking outside
Woje-n-dama, woje-n-hauni On the right side, on the left side
Woje-n-dari da ashirin ne They were about 120
Kama-n, like (see also adverbs). Mostly masculine
Kama-n-kwana uku yatambaya After about three days he asked the
Yaro ya yi kaman uwansa The boy is like his mother
Kaman dakin chan Like that house
Tamka-r, like. Also tamka-n
Sunyi ma sabo-n-malam tamka- They did to the new mallam like
n-tsofo-n-malam the old
Kusa-r, near. Also kusa-n. See also kusa da
Ta kusa mutua da daria She nearly died of laughter
Kusansa Near him
Kusa-n-nan Near here
Wuri-n, at the place of. Almost invariably used with a person
Zo wurina Come to me
Gudu wurinsa Bun to him
Na zo wurinka / come to see you
Abinnan yana wurina The thing is with me
Ban che laifi yana wurinka / did not say that the fault was yours
Alhakinda ka dauka ya komo The sin you committed has returned
wurinka upon you
Ansa wani wurinsa Another was put in his place
Ba ya bude ido ba tukuna wuri- He is ignorant as regards religious
Allahu ya bada dunia wuri-n- God has given the world to the
bature white man
Wanda kuka ji awurina What you heard from me
Ya koma wuri-n-ubangiji Allah He returned to the Lord God
Ya ji kumia wurin ubangi ji He felt ashamed before Qod
Na ji labarinka wurin Mahmadu / heard of you from Mahmadu
Gu-n (H) = wurin, which in the northern dialects is sometimes
found as " guri "
Mostly used with a person
Zo guna (!<> a, < to me
Gu-n-chan Over there
Gudu gunsa Run to him
A gun fure nan At the place of the flower
198 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Bigiri-n (K), Ourbi-n (Zanf), Mamaki-n (S), instead of
Ya tafi Kano bigiri-n- Sokoto He went to Kano instead of Sokoto
Ba ni rago gurbi-n-akwia Give, me a sheep instead of a goat
Abaki-n, in exchange for
Ya tafi Kano baki-n-Sokoto He went to Kano instead of Sokoto
Batu-n, with reference to
Batu-n-mi ? With reference to what ?
Kafi-n-shekara nawa goro shi In (before) how many years does
ke yin yaya the Kola bear
Bamda, different from, apart from
Bam da Allah ba ni tsoro-n- Except God I fear nothing
Bam da wannan ba ni da wani Except this I have nothing
Mi kana so en sawo maka bam What do you want me to buy for
da shinkafa you besides rice
Dabara da, daura da, near to, alongside
Su tsaya daura da juna They stand alongside each other
Ya tsaya dabranka He stands next beyond you
Itache-n-nan shina tsaye dabra- The tree stands next to that tree
Sai ga mutum biu daura da su But two men were standing by
Garni da, together with
Derived from " gama," to join, finish.
Ya tube wandonsa garni da shi He took off his trousers together
Kusa da, kusa gare, near to (see also kusa-r)
Shina kusana He is near me
Shina kusa ga ni ,,
Shina kusa gareni
Shina kusanka He is near you
Shina kusa ga ka
Shina kusa gareka
Kusa ga gida
He is near you
He is near you
Near the house
Ya zo tare da ni
Tare-da, together with
Derived from " tara," to assemble
He came with me
Saba da, on account of
Na gode masa sabada keauta
da ya aiko HIM ni
Domin sabada tsoro
/ thank him for the present
On account of this
Daga, from, at, etc.
This preposition is very commonly joined with others.
Ya tafo daga Kano
Ya tafo daga chikin Kano
Daia daga chikinsu
Shina binsu daga baya
Ya kubche daga hanuna
Ya fito daga chikin gari may be
said for Ya fito gari simply
Zomu ba shi kamuwa daga
Wonga wochika ta fita daga
hanu mallam Musa
He comes from Kano
He has come out from Kano
From afar or far (simply)
One of them
He follows them behind
It slipped from my hand
He came from the town
A hare is not to be caught from
your seat, i.e., unless you get up
This letter is from the hand of
Mallam Musa. (A common
beginning to a letter)
NOTE. " Wuri-n" may be used in the meaning of "from " with verbs
of motion. See under " wurin,'"
200 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
OMISSION OF PREPOSITIONS
In a great many cases certain prepositions are omitted,
though they are necessary in English.
Locality. At, in
The two nouns are then in apposition
Na tafi kasua Lokoja da laasar / went to the market at Lokoja
in the evening
Babu wani sariki dunia There is no other king on the earth
(" Sariki dunia " is an expression also meaning king of a big
country, "sariki" being chief of a town, market, head-
Ba shi sama He is not in heaven
Sun sa barao jaru, ya mutu They put the thief in gaol, and he
died. (Jaru is probably a cor-
ruption of the English " gaol ")
Yanmata gidanmu kulum The daughters of our house always
wanka. Moda. (Riddle) wash. A dipper
Garinku, kadan yaro ya yi In your country when a boy grows
girima, minene anayi masa up, what is done to him
Shina Kano He is at Kano
Suka kwana jeji They slept in the bush
Point of Time
Kwanakin-nan ban yi girima ba In those days I was not grown up
Chiwuta nan ba zata worike ba This sickness will not heal in one
kwana, daia ko kwana bial ba day, even five are not enough
su issa ba
The noun " saura" = remains, may be used.
Saura kwana uku mun tashi or In three days more we shall start
kana mu tashi
Period of Time
Kwanarmu goma muna tafia For ten days we have been travelling
Omission of " with "
Ina ji-n-haushinsa / am angry with him
" Without " is rendered by " babu."
Ba ka iya sayensa babu kurdi You cannot buy it without money,
lit., You cannot buy it ; no money
NOTE. Some conjunctions are often classed as adverbs and vice versa.
Amma, ainana (not colloquial)
Da ... da
Da ... da
Gara, goama, guma
Ko . . . ko
both . . . and
had I ... I should (not}
therefore (about ; usually inter-
either or even
either, whether ... or
as well as, like as
also (not colloquial)
again. See under adverbs
Don (S) Domin (K)
Don kada, don en
Don wannan, don haka
En, idan (S), kan, 1 kam, 1 kadan
(K) kur (Z)
because, in order that. (See also
for this reason
in order to, that
if. Inda . . . da, Had I . . .
/ should (not)
1 See also Adverbs of Time.
202 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Kada (S) kar (K) Do not, lest
Koda although, when, even if
Sabada on account of
Sai except, and, etc.
NOUNS USED (WITH PARTICLES) IN SENSE
Kama-n-da in the same way, as soon as, like as
Kama-n- like, the same
Ina dubensa, amma ban gane shi / looked for him but I did not
ba see him
Da uwata kua tana kuka, amma And my mother also was crying
kanena ba shi sani ba komi but my younger brother did not
"Da . . . da,," both . . . and, neither . . . nor in negative
sentences, whether ... or, in conditional sentences.
" Da " connects words as well as sentences
Rago da akwia The ram and the she-goat
Ba naku ne da zaku san zamauu It is not for you to know the times
Ni tafi ga sariki da ni che masa / shall go to the chief and I shall
say to him
Da kaka zaka yaki babu fadawa ? And how will you go to war with
no officers ?
Ta che mu biu da ni da barao She said both of us both I and the
Da ni da shi mu duka muna tafia Both I and he were walking on
chiki-n-kaya the thorns
Ina so mu yi gana da ni da kai I want to have some conversation
Da ya sha bami, da ya sha barasa, Whether he drinks palm wine or
duka daia ne he drinks spirit, it is all the same
" Da " may be omitted in narration
Mutum ya tashi, ya dauka sanda, The man arose, he took a stick, fie
ya gudu, ya tafo ga wurin enda ran, he came to the place where
machiji shi ke, ya kashe shi the snake was, he killed it
Ina chi, ina sha / eat and drink
Two verbs in the imperative mood have no conjunction
between them, only a personal pronoun
Duba ki ga yawa-n-dawaki nan Look and see the multitude of
Da . . . da, Had 1 ... I should (not)
This idiom is usually found with one of the sentences
in the negative
Da na sani, da ban yi shi ba
Da kana nan da kanena ba ya
Da en yi wannan gara en mutu
Had I known, I should not have
Had you been here my young
brother would not have died
I would rather die than do this
Inda . . . da
Inda ba ha ka ba da na gaya maka // it were not so I would not have
Inda ka zo wurina da lotu, da mu If you come for me in time, we will
tafi tare kasua go to the market together
Dai, de. It is never first word in a sentence
Dila de ke nan This is the jackal (the beginning
of a story). See here is the
Ni de . . . As for me ...
Shi fa ?
What about him ?
Gara, guma, goama
Kada ka sayas shi, amma goama Do not sell it but rather give it to me
ka ba ni
Gara haka It is better so
Ko, either, or
Bani rago ko kurdi
Hario mutume nan ko ubanta ya
zaka ya mashie ta
Give me the ram or the money
Again this man or her husband
came and made her return
Ko ka bashi kurdi, ko ka bashi Either give him the money or give
him the ram
Ko Audu ya zo ko Mahma ya zo Either Audu comes or Mahma
204 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Angaya mani wannan labari, ko / was told this news, whether it is
gaskia ne, koko tasunia che, true, or whether it is a tale, I
oho ! don't know !
Suna che ko na mutu They asked if I was dead
Amma ban ji ba ko daia ya mutu, But I have not heard if anybody
ko, wani ya halbi kibia died or whether any one shot an
Ko = even, indeed (an intensive)
Na gani ko sariki / have indeed seen the chief
Ba mu samu ba ko aluransu daia We did not find even one of their
Ko ni dakaina ina tafia da kafa Even I myself was travelling on
Da babu rairai ko kadan There was no sand there, not even
Bature ba shi tsoro mutua ko The white man does not fear death,
anakasheshi ba i kula ba even if he is to be killed he does
Ko da babu daki nan Formerly there was no house at
" Ko da " here is distinct from " koda," although
" Ko " may be used at the end of a sentence as an
Mutum ya tafi, ko ? Did the man go ?
Here " ko " is elliptic for " ko ba hakka ba," or is it
not so. "Ko" may also be used in the middle of the
sentence, even splitting the verb
A ko nuna inaka talauchi ? Shall poverty be shown you ?
Na sani sariki- n-Kano koka / know the chief of Kano as well
sariki-n-Sokoto as the chief of Sokoto
Usually found with " da," and. Compare use of " kuma."
Gobe ubanka shi zo kua Tomorrow my father will also come
Audu ya yi sata kua Audu has also stolen
Ina sonsa da shi kua shina sona / like him and he also likes me
Ko kua mu ya-n-Africa niuna Even we Africans also eat raw
chi-n-nama dainye meat
Ni zani tafia ga kasua da kai kua / shall go to the market and you
zaka tafia ga kasua also will go to the market
Kuma (conjunction). See also under adverbs
Audu ya yi sata, Mahma ya yi
Audu has stolen, Mahma has also
Enclitic to the word it refers to
Ni ma ina tafia en nema dukia
Su ma ba su da yaya
/ too am going in search for riches
They too had no children
Bamda. See under Preposition
Bamda Allah ba ni tsoro-n-komi Except God I fear nothing
Don. See also under Preposition
Ya yi kuka don mun buga shi
Kira shi don en biya shi
Don ba ka ji ba
Na sani Hausa kwarai don ni
Suna zo bisa dawaki don su
Yao na tafi ga makaranta don en
gani abinda zasu goda ga yan
Ya bani duka don wannan na ya
Don kada su gani wuta da dere
He howled because we beat him
Gall him so that I may pay him
Because you do not understand
I know Hausa correctly because I
am a native of Tuntume
They are coming on horses to
I went to school to-day to see what
they were going to show to the
They gave me all therefore I was
Lest they should see the fire by
En, idan, kadan, etc.
En ya yi karia abugeshi
Asamu en anjima kadan
Ya kamata mutum zashi tafia shi
nema guzuri en shina yi hankali
En ba ka da kurdi ba ka da gaskia
Idan kana son sarota em ba ka
Kadan ban che ba karia
Kadan wanga mutum ya yi gudu
Kadan anarua ba zamu tafia ba
Kadan na tafi garesa shi facia
Kan na sakeki
Kan na yi muku rana, kada ku yi
mini dere (prov.)
// he lies he will be beaten
They will be got if you wait a little
It behoves a man who is going a
journey to lay in provisions if he
If you have no money you have no
truth, i.e., only a rich man is
If you want the kingdom I will
give it you
If I am not telling a lie
If this man runs he will fall down
If it rains we will not go
If I go to him he will tell me the
If 1 set you free
If I make day for you, do not
make night for me
206 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
" //" understood from context
Akoi laya, kana sa ta ga wuya, There is a charm, (if) you hang it
kana yi sata babu maigani on your neck, you can steal and
no one will see you
.Era = in order to, that
Ya tambaye en su Fulani ne He went to ask if they were Fulanis
Ta tafi gari en dauka kashia She went to the town to take her pay
Inda . . . da
Inda ba haka ba, da na gaya It it were not so I should have
maka told you
Ban so tafi ba gama ban ganshi / do not want to go for I have not
ba tukuna seen him yet
= because not. Compare don
Kada ka tafi Do not go
Kada su tafi Let them not go
Gudu maza kada shi wucheka Bun quickly lest he pass you
Na tambaye su domi mutane / asked him why the men should
kada su tafi not go
Ya aiko mani wata budurua kada He sent to me a certain girl (to
en tafi bar ya-n-makaranta su say) that I should not go until
fita the school children came out
Koda shi ke yaro shina da karifi Although he is a boy he is very
Koda ya mutu shi yi rai Even if he dies he shall live
Koenna ka tafi Allah shinana Wherever you go God is there with
tari da kai koda dere koda rana you whether by night or by day
This preposition is used with a noun or with " wannan,"
and the phrase may be translated by such a conjunction
as " because "
Ni kua ina yi-n-kuka sabada / too cried because I was tired.
gajia Lit., on account of fatigue
Or " haka " may be used
Ba ni ba ta kurdi sabada haka ta / did not give her money so she
See also under adverbs
Sai suna yawo chikin gari All they did was to walk about the
" Sai " is used in narration at the beginning of sentences meaning
little more than " and "
Sai ya bubuge ta da sanda a kai, And he continued beating her with
sai ga kafoni sun fito a stick on the head until the
horns came out
Zama Kafirawa kan yerda da sabo Because the heathen are addicted
(NOTE. " Su " is omitted before " kan " by poetical license)
Sun yi inasa kwatamshi-n-wan- They did to him the same as to the
Aa exclamation of astonishment. It is in a different
tone from aa = no, which has a low, falling tone
Af, Ap oh ; an exclamation of recollection
Aha exclamation of satisfaction
Arr(K), irr(S) be off
Ara go on
Asha, hasha an exclamation of pain or grief
Aya up I or it does not matter
Gasa expression of disgust, surprise
Hakika true !
Habba, hubba expression of astonishment or indignation
Kai hi I you !
Kaito, kaicho alas
Ko exclamation of surprise
Labada true !
Madilla exclamation of joy, also used as a reply salutation,
or on receiving an acceptable gift
Oho it does not concern me, (See example under con-
junction " ko ")
Sanu softly, also a salutation. An expression of sym-
To all right. Used on receiving an order and signifying
acceptance. Also as an informal expression of
Ungo take it I
Us used in driving sheep and donkeys
Tir alas. An expression of sympathy
Wai exclamation of doubt, hesitation
Ya 0. Arabic
Yowa (K) yes, all right
A mugum bara ! Ah bad servant !
Kai yaro You boy I
Kai ! YOU
Kai wadanan yara ! You boys I
Aya mu tafi ! Up I let us go !
Ya sidi ! Ya ku mutane ! air 1 You, men !
Ungo mashi-n-nan Take this spear
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF
The subject may be composed as follows :
i. pronoun, personal.
ii. noun or other substantive + personal pronoun
(never noun alone),
iii. demonstrative + noun + personal pronoun ; or,
noun + demonstrative + personal pronoun,
iv. noun + possessive pronoun + personal pronoun.
v. noun + adjective or numeral + personal pronoun.
vi. two nouns in apposition + personal pronoun,
vii. two nouns, one in genitive case + personal pronoun,
viii. infinitive + personal pronoun,
ix. relative sentence + personal pronoun.
From this list it can be seen that, whatever the nature
of the subject, its predicate must be preceded by a personal
pronoun. The only cases in which its omission is per-
missible are in poetry and proverbs.
i Ya tafi He went
ii Mutum ya tafi The man went
iii. Wannan mutum ya tafi "\ m -, .
Mutume-nan ya tafi ) ^s man went
iv. Dansa ya tafi His son went
v. Yaro karami ya tafi The small boy went
Yara uku sun zo Three boys have come
vi. Yaro, dana, ya tafi The boy, my son, went
vii. Da-n-mutum ya tafi The man's son went
viii. Dauka-n-yaro ba da wuya ba To carry the boy is not difficult
ix. Mutum da ya zo jia ya tafi The man who came yesterday has
The subject need not necessarily be a noun ; other sub-
stantives or a substantival phrase may be substituted
Na-baya ya kuka The one behind howled
Mai-doka-n-kaya ya zo The man to carry the load has
Bature mai-ji Hausa ya zo The white man who knows Hausa
The compound subject consists of one or more simple
subjects, to all of which one predicate belongs
Mutume da mache da yaro sunka The man the woman and the boy
The predicate may be simple or compound.
The Simple Predicate
The simple predicate may consist of
i. a simple verb,
ii. auxiliary verb,
iii. or, may be understood.
\. Aiki ya karc The work is finished
ii. Yaro karami no The boy is small or it is a small
212 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
iii. (a) With " mai "
Gari mainesa The town is far
(b) With the pronoun compounded with " na "
Shina baya He is behind
(c) With " da,." with (the substitute for " have ")
Aiki da wuya The work is hard
These predicates may be expanded in various ways with
Aiki ya kare duka The work is all finished
Ya ji sarai He understands perfectly
Miji-n-ta shi ne inaisaida-n-zinaria Her husband is a seller of gold
Yaro ba shi da karifi The boy is not strong
The Compound Predicate
A compound predicate consists of two or more simple
predicates belonging to the same subject. The personal
pronoun has to be repeated with each
Yaro ya gudu ya fadi chiki-n- The boy ran and fell into the hole
Special Notes on the Predicate
By idiomatic usage the number of the predicate does
not agree with that of the subject.
A singular noun will take a plural predicate when the
former has a collective sense
Kasua duka sun hauka The whole market went mad drunk
Dokinsa dubu ishirin da biar His cavalry was 25,000 men
Mutum duka ya gudu They have all run away
Wani mutane yatafi garin Bauchi Some men went to the Bauchi
taritari country a great many
Also two subjects may have a singular predicate
Kowa ya rinaka yaro da baba
kafiri da Musulmi duk ya
Ban ji ba ban gani ba ta rabaka
da zaure-n-tara (proverb)
Every one despises you, boy and
grown-up, heathen and Musul-
man, all revile you
/ did not hear I did not see
keeps you out of the hall of
fines, i.e., proves an alibi
In connection with these the following sentences may be
Ya tafi gari baba ya yi aiki da su
Bature ya kashe masu mutum
tari da doki
He went to a big town he made
war on it (them)
The white man killed of them many
men and horses
Verbs of saying, thinking, seeing, etc., generally intro-
duce direct speech and are not followed by any con-
Na sani ka ba ni abinda ni ke so
Ina tamaha shina da rai bar yanzu
Da inuka zamna na ji suna so-n- When we halted I heard that they
/ know (that) you will give
what I want
/ think he is still alive
Da muna gani suna gudu
wanted to go to war
Aa we, looked they ran off
There are a few instances in which the predicate precedes
the subject. The verbs are ' akwoi," "za," "je," "ya"
(see under the Verb)
Akwoi mutane dayawa a chiki-n- There are many people in the
Gobe zaka Kano
There ia a God
We will go home
Tomorrow you will go to Kano
Be off /
214 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
The object is of two kinds
The nature of the object is the same as that of the
The following are examples of the direct object follow
ing the classification of the subject
i. Mutum ya huge shi The man beat him
Na ba wani I gave (it) (to) another
ii. Mutum ya buga yaro The man beat the boy
iii. Mutum ya buga wannan )
yaro > The man beat this boy
Mutum ya buga yaro nan )
iv. Mutum ya buga yaronsa The man beat his boy
v. Mutum ya buga yaro mugu The man beat the bad boy
Mutum ya buga yara uku The man beat three boys
vi. Mutum ya buga yaro dansa The man beat the boy his son
vii. Mutum ya buga da-n-uwansa The man beat the son of his
mother, i.e., his brother
viii. Mutum ya tafi dauka-n-kaya The man has gone to take his load
ix. Mutum ya buga wanda ya The man beat him who carried the
dauki kaya load
Don ba ka samu ba ya fi Because you cannot find better
wannan than this
Example of Compound Direct Object
Mutum ya buga yaro da yarinia The man beat the bad boy and
In Hausa a direct object in the form of an objective
phrase is used where in English a subordinate sentence
Allah shi sake taramu da lafia May God grant we meet in health,
lit., May God bring about "our
meeting in health "
Ya gani anashiga gida-n-Muham- He saw them enter the house of
madu da bame Mohammed with palm wine
NOTE. // " anashiga " is treated as the equivalent of " suna shiga "
the verbal aspect becomes more prominent than the substantival.
In the following example a verb although treated as a noun
yet takes a direct object. It must, however, be observed
that the direct object begins the sentence as an interroga-
tion, and the rest of the sentence in following loses its
strictly grammatical sequence
Mi ki ka zo gari-n-nema ? W hat have you come to look for ?
Some verbs take two direct objects, one of the person
the other of the thing
Sariki ya ba mu shanu biu The chief gave us two cows
Ba ina tamaha ba shi ba ni abinda / do not think he will give me what
ni ke so / want
Anaba kowa nasa Every one was given his share
Shi ya gode Allah don bai haliche- He thanks God because he has not
shi karre ba created him a dog
Da-n-zaki ya dauka dan mutum The lion's child took the human
aboki child for his friend
Ya daura dokinsa surdi He saddled his horse
Lokachinda anazuba maka kasa When they pour earth upon you
bisa kai (i.e., bury you)
Example of Nouns in Apposition
Ya hau dokinsa zaki He mounted his horse a lion
This is very varied in its nature.
It usually follows the predicate
Ya tiifi ga gida-n-maimagani He went to the house of the
Or it may stand first
Da sanda na buge shi With a stick I beat him
Wanene ka ke kira biri Whom are you calling a monkey ?
When there are both direct and indirect objects the
indirect stands first
Ta bids masu magani She sought medicine from them
Wani ya kawo ma sariki labari Some one brought the news to the
216 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Some verbs take " da " with the indirect object
Na gaji da sukua bisa rakumi / was tired of riding on the camel
Ta tuna da mijinta She remembered her husband
Ta mutu da yungwa She died of hunger
Ni ban yirda ba da shi I do not believe in him
NATURE or SENTENCES
The affirmative sentence is a simple statement in any
mood or tense. The negative sentence is formed from the
affirmative sentence by the addition of " ba . . . ba "
before and after the verb. (See under adverb.)
Yaro nan shi ke karami Yaro nan ba shi ke karami ba
Yaro nan shina karami Yaro nan ba shi karami ba
Yaro nan shina da wayo Yaro nan ba shi da wayo
English. This boy is small ; This boy is cunning, etc.
In sentences containing a command, if direct the subject
pronoun may be omitted in the singular, but not in the
Tafi or ka tan Go
Ku tafi Go (pi.)
Ga shi See him
Ba ni rua Give me water
Inverted subjects are found in " Yaka," come; " Jeka,"
go; "Jeku," go (pi.)
Ta che mata, ki kunchesu She said to her loose them
Ban sani ba ; fada man! en ji / do not know, tell me about it,
lit., so that I may understand
Interrogative sentences are formed in three ways
1 . Change of tone in an affirmative sentence.
2. With interrogative pronouns.
3. With interrogative adverbs, such as " ko," for
indirect questions especially ; " ba ? " not? "Fa ? "
then ? " De ? " indeed ?
Ni ne ? Is it I ?
Kai ka ke yi mani magana haka ? Do you speak so to me. ?
Ka gani abin-nan ? Have you seen this thing ?
Akoi rua chiki-n-rijia ? Is there water in the well ?
Wanene ka ke kira biri ? Whom are you calling a monkey
Mi zaka yi da shi ? What will you do with him ?
Kurdinsa nawa ? How much is it ?
Enna ubanka ? Where is your father ?
Yaushe zaka komo ? When will you come back ?
Ya tambaye shi ko shi zo ko ba He asked him if he was coming or
shi zo ba not
Ta che ko daganan rua Madina She said, is thia the water of
shi ke ? Madina here f
Na tafo ko nan ne rua Madina / came to see whether this is the
water of Madina
Ko ni ne ? Or is it I ?
Ko ba haka ba ? Or is it not so ? (Often used
after another question when a
negative answer is possible)
Ka ji ba ? Did you not hear ?
Ni ne ba ? Is it not I ?
Shi fa ? What about him ?
Ansa kowa aikinsa, shi yaro nan Every one has been given his work,
fa ? but what about this boy ?
Amba kanena rabonsa, ni de ? My younger brother has been given
Ba zaabani ba ? his portion, what about me f
Shall I not be given any ?
218 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Compound sentences are of two kinds co-ordinate and
Kurichia ta zaka, tana yi-n-kuka, The dove came, she was crying out,
tana chewa ga mache yi kun- she was saying to the woman
unki ki sha make your gruel, drink it
Sunka tafi ga baki-n-rijia, ya che They went to the mouth of the well,
masti . . . (and) he said to them . . .
Amma mu ba mu iyawa mu yi But we, we cannot work
Ba ni ne zan yi shi ba ? Is it not for me to do it ?
Subordinate sentence first
Kadan ka bani kurdi-n-nan m // you give me the money I shall
baka tagia give you the cap
Kadan na tafi, kadan ka rule When I have gone, when you have
kofa, kadan wani ya zaka. kada shut the door, if any one comes,
ka bude do not open
Subordinate sentence last
Rairai ya shiga ga idanumu don The sand goes into our eyes
hiska ta busa da karifi because the wind blew strong
COMMON IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS
1. Sanu sanu
2. Sanu ka dai (de)
3. Kana lafia ?
4. Lafia lau
6. Madilla (Arabic)
1. Sanu da aiki
I. Sanu da gajia
1. Sanu da zua
2. Sanu ka dai (de)
Sanunka da kaya
1. Ka kwana lafia ?
2. Lafia; Madilla
1. Kana lafia ?
2. Lafia lau, na godi
1. Analafia ?
2. Muna lafia
1. Enna gajia ?
2. Babu gajia
2. Gajia da sauki
1. Enna gida ?
1. Kaka gida ? *
2. Lafia lau
How do you do. Lit., Softly
How do you do
Are you well ?
Thanks be to God
Said when meeting a man at
Said when meeting a man tired
Said when meeting a man coming
How do you do ?
Said when meeting several per-
sons, and also in reply
How do you do ? Lit., Your
" sanu "
Said when meeting a man with
Have you slept well ?
Very well, thanks (Madilla=
What has Ood shown ?)
Are you well ?
Quite well, I thank (you)
Are you well ?
We are well
I hope you are not tired. Lit.,
Where is the fatigue ?
Not at all tired
How are all at home ?
* NOTB. It it impolite to say, How is your wife if
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
3. Da iyali suna lafia ?
4. Lafia lau, muna lafia
1. Enna labari ?
2. Sai lafia
1. Maraba, maraba (Arabic)
2. Sanu, sanu madilla
1. Maraba da zua
1. Enna zamnan gari ?
2. Sai alheri
1. Marhabi, marhabi (Arabic)
2. Sanu, madilla
2. Albarka de
1. Madilld \
2. Alhumdillilahi (Arabic) /
1. Salaam alaikum (Arabic)
2. Alaikum salaam
1. Berka (for albarka)
2. Berka da zua
Sai wata rana
Allah shi dade da ranka
Gafara dai !
Kaka ka ji da sainyi ?
Lafia, sainyi da godia
Kaka ka kara ji da jiki ? Na
ji sauki (K and Z)
Allah shi kara maka sauki,
Na ji dama. Na samu sauki
Allah shi anfana-shi (or -ta)
Allah shi keauta
Ka gaishe shi da yini
Gai mini da ubanka
Sai ka komo
And are all the family weU ?
Quite well, we are all well
What is the news ?
It is good. The invariable for-
Used after long absence
Softly, i.e., thank you
How is your stay in the town ?
It is going well, prosperous
Salutation on returning from a
I am well, thank you
Thank you for your welcome
Praise be to God
Peace be with you
With you be peace
How do you do
You are saluted. Hoio do you do
Reply salutation to an important
Good-bye till to-morrow
Good-bye till another day
Good-bye for a short time
May God give you long life (to a
/ beg your pardon
How do you feel this cold weather ?
Quite well in spite of the cold
How are you feeling ? I am
May God increase your health,
I feel better or am well again
May God prosper it (on birth of
Say good-night to him
Salute your father for me
Good-bye till you come again
COMMON IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS 221
NAMES or SEASONS, MONTHS, DAYS, AND HOUBS
Funturu, or Lokachin dari Cold season, the season of the
Harmattan December and
Rani Hot season March
Basara Hottest part of the hot season;
tornado season April and
Damara Wet season June to August
Agajere Hot season after rain September,
Kaka Harvest season October, Novem-
These are the Arabic months, with the names more or
Ramadan, ramalan, or wata-n- The fast month
Shauwal, wata-n-karama-n-salla Month of the little prayer
Zulhaji, wata-n-baba-n-salla Month of the big prayer
The corresponding months in the Julian calendar vary
from year to year.
Days of the Week
Ran'aljimua, aljima Friday
222 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Hours of the Day
Jijifi First sign of dawn
Kiran salla nafari Call to the first prayer
Gari ya waye Dawn
Sasafe Very early morning
Safe Morning (generally)
Hantsi About 8 a.m.
Walaha About 10 a.m.
Rana Day time generally
Rana tsaka Midday, noon
Zowall Time soon after midday
Azuhur About 2 p.m.
Laasar About 5 p.m.
Lisha About 7 p.m., just after sunset
Kwana Sleep. A day of 24 hours
Verbs : etc., used idiomatically
Akache da shi It was called a ...
Yache da su He said to them
Chika bindiga Load a gun
Wotsika ya chika The letter is finished
Chika mini alkaweli Fulfil your promise to me
Chi gari Conquer the country
Chi kasua To market
Anachin kasua Market is on
Kasua ta clii
Fataki sun chi riba The merchants made a profit
Na chi / take it (in gambling) or / win
Ku chi gaba kadan Go a little in front
Chi sarota Succeed to the sovereignty
Chi lafia To get into safety : enjoy peace
Chi a ma na Misappropriate a trust. Lit., Eat
Chi lava Swear on the Koran
Chi ado Adorn oneself
COMMON IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS 223
Da (summary of various meanings)
Da Eelative pronoun, short of " wanda "
Da Native of, as in " da-n-Kano "
Da Diminutive, as " da-n-zane," a piece of cloth ; " da-n-
kasua," a little market ; " da-n-tumkia," lamb
Da Of old, formerly
Da When ( = saanda)
Da ... da Had I ... I should (not)
Hanu-n-dama Eight hand
Da da ma A little more
Ya yi da ma It were better
Da dama dama Moderately
Na ji dama kadan I feel a little better
Gobe ina zua idan na samu dama I shall come to-morrow if I get the
Ka yi abinda ka ga dama Do whatever you think best
Ba ni da dama / have no time to . . .
Dama mun so zua birni bale sariki We wished all the more to go to the
ya aiko city now that the chief sent for us
Ka ji dama ya fi jia ? Do you feel better than yesterday ?
Da ni talaka ne, yanzu na samu Formerly I was poor, now I am
dukia da dama better off
Daura kuka liaise a cry
Daura ido Frown
Daura gudu Take up running
Daura magana Keep one's word
Dau, do=dauka. Mostly used in Poetry
Dau Allah, dau Anabi ! By God and the Prophet !
Wajib mu do hayasu ( = hainya) We must take their road
Ba -Iii ka i ba It will not do
Ba shi kai hakanan ba This will not do
Jibi mua kai gida The day after to-morrow we shall
Allah ya worike cbiniyansa ta kai God cured his thigh, it became
THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Kowa ya nomi hatsi (ya) kai
Gobe da safe na kaika wurinda
suna bi suna yawo
Every one who sows corn (i.e., good
deeds) reaches the great city
To-morrow I will take you to the
place which they went to to take
(" Kai " does not necessarily mean to actually carry)
Enna rana ta kai kana rau kai
Kano ? Zata kai chan
Suka iske gulbi, ya kawo
rua achikin daji
Where will the sun be when we
reach Kano ? It will be there
They came to a water course in the
bush, it had water in it
Ina kara daia
Ban kara ba zakua
Ba ya kara ba chewa
Sun che jirigi-n-kasan ba shi kara
tafowa daga Iku
Allahu shi kara maka alberka
Zaki ya yi kuka so-daia, ba shi
kara ba, ya mutu
Ba shi kara ganinsa
Ba ya kara tashi ba bar . . .
Ba ta kara koma garesa
/ add one
I shall not come again
He said no more
Their work shall be increased
They said the train shall not come
again from Lagos
May God increase his blessing on
The lion cried once, he did not do
so again, he died
He saw him no more
He did not get up again until . . .
She did not return to him again
NOTE. The noun form of the verb is required after " kara."
Ma maida kansa
Ya maida kamna gareta
Ya mayesda magana
Suka mayar ( = mayas) da mag-
ana, suka che masu
Ina mayesda wane
Ya maishe shi
Yungwa ta ke maida yaro tsofo
He liked him
They replied and said to them
Bring (it) back
I became like so-and-so
He transformed him
Hunger turns a boy into an old
Take the air
Enjoy the shade
Get into trouble
COMMON IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS 225
Ya sa masu wuta
Na sa ka dilalina
Ni sashi tafi chikin jirigi, koda
shi yerda ko ba yerda ba
Shi ya sa na tashi
Ya sashi chikin sanfo
Na sa wando baki
Sariki ya sa akadaura doki surdi
He set fire to them
I make you my agent
I will make him get into the boat
whether he is willing or not
He made me get up
Put it down
He placed it in the basket
I wore black trousers
The chief made them saddle the
NOTE. " Sa " has a causative force which may be translated in
English " make " or " do." " Ti " is not used in this sense.
Hainya ta samu There is a road
Na samu lafia 7 am better
Har su samu amsa Until they reply
Na samesa shina karatu wotikanka I found him writing your letter
This is a noun meaning " remainder," " rest."
Ya yi saura kadan
I, saura igia biu adamre
Da matansa saura shi daia
There is a little left
Yes, it still wants two ropes to tie
And of his wives there was only
left one to him
Ba sauran kwanaki dayawa nan In not many days' time
Various uses of " Yi," do, make.
Some of its uses are very idiomatic. One variation of
form is found namely, " yiwu."
Suna fada da juna ? Sun a yi
Ku yi ta yi
Mu yi ta yi
Ku yi ta tafia
Kaka zaka yi ?
Kamada shi kc yi
Rana ta yi
7 did it
He did it or it will do, it is
Are they fighting amongst them-
selves ? They are
Go on with what you are doing
We will get to work
How will you manage ?
How it is done
It is daylight
226 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
\\'lth Direct Object
Na yi shi / have done it
Mun yi shi da kasa We made it of earth
Kana yi magana Hausa ? Do you speak Hausa ?
Mun yi abuta da ni da shi He and I have become friends
Har ya yi sainyi Until it gets cool
" Yi " joined with nouns is often translatable by a
single verb in English, as
Yi magana to speak
Yi zanche to converse
Yi aiki to work
Yi munafiki to deceive
Yi godia, to thank
Yi tafia to journey
Yi girima to grow
Yi alheri to rejoice
Yi sata to steal
All of these phrases take indirect objects with preposi-
tions. The indirect object is placed between " yi " and
the noun it is attached to if the preposition in question
is "ma," to, but after if the preposition is "da," with.
Without Indirect Object
Zuchiana ya yi fari My heart rejoiced
Zua mutua Ahmadu ya yi sariki On the death of Ahmadu he
Ya yi girima He has grown up
Ya yi arziki It is fortunate
Ya yi keao It is good : that is all right
Ya yi nauyi It is heavy
Yaro ya yi kama-n-uwansa The boy is like his mother
Ya yi karatu wonga wochika He wrote this letter (double object)
With Indirect Object
Ya yi mani munafiki He cheated (betrayed, deceived)
Na yi masa alheri / treated him kindly
Ya yi mani alkawali He made me a promise
Sun yi masa sata They stole from him
Sariki ya yi masa kaliye The king gave him an order
Ya yi mani gudumawa He came to my help
COMMON IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS 227
Giwa, anyi mata rauni a kafa The elephant was only wounded in
guda one leg
Karia ka ke yi mani You are lying to me
Ya yi mani takarda He wrote me a letter
Kada ka yi mani karia Do not lie to me
Ku yi magana da su Talk to them
Ya yi mantuwa-r-suna-n-da He forgot the name that the hare
zomo ya fada masa told him
" Yi "with Nouns used as Prepositions and Adverbs
Ku yi kusa Come near
Ya yi nisa It is far
Yi massa Make haste or do it quickly
" Yi " with Expressions of Time
Lokachi ya yi mu tashi It is time, let us start
Da rana ta yi ya mutu When it was daylight he died
Shekarunsa nawa ? ya yi shekara How old is he ? He is five. Oh
bial. Aa, ba ya yi ba no, he is not
Rana ta yi It is daylight
Ya yi shekara biu It is two years
Ka yi rana You are late
Ya yi kwana bokoi A week passed
" Yi " with the sense of " too much "
Ya yi mani yawa They are too many for me
Rafi nan ya yi masa fadi That river is too broad for it
Riga nan ta yi mani kadan (or The coat is too small for me
Gidanga ya yi kankane This house is small (or too small)
Kun yi yawa You were very many
Zuchiansa ya yi biu Doubt was in his heart
Yi itache Cut or get firewood
Wannan ya yi wanchan This equals that
Anayi da shi He is being set upon
Beri kashi chikin chiki ba shi yi To leave excrement in the belly is
maganin yungwa (prov.) not food for hunger
Funtu ya yi darial maitsuma The naked man laughs at the
(prov.) ragged man
228 THE HAUSA LANGUAGE
Example of the Form " yiwu "
Ta'ala da ya yiwota The exalted one who made it
" Yi " takes what seems to be the suffix " da " (see
derived verbs, class 5) in the sharpened form " ta." If
this etymology be correct, it is not in accordance with the
common phonetic rules of the language.
Ku yita yi Go on with what you are doing
Ku yita tafia ! March !
Ku yita tuba ! Repent I
Yita aiki Accomplish the work
Ku yita kanku Do that which appertains to you
or do as you like
In Sokoto, Zanfara, and Katsina "wo" is commonly
used for "yi," as "wo takarda," send a letter; "wo
yaki," wage war.
Examples of Circumlocution
Sariki ya rassu The chief is dead
but, Doki ya mutu The horse is dead
Abokina ba shi da lafia My friend is ill
Wazirin Sokoto ba ya gani yanzu The vizier of Sokoto is blind
Abokina ba shi da kafa My friend is lame
but, Guragu ne In speaking of a horse being lame
Kaka iyalinka ? How is your family ? (instead of
asking after a man's wife)
SCHOEN, J. F.
Vocabulary of the Hausa Language and Grammar (1843).
Grammar of the Hausa Language (1862).
Dictionary of the Hausa Language (1876).
Appendix to Dictionary of the Hausa Language (1888).
Magana Hausa (1885).
Hausa Language, 1st edition (1897).
2nd edition (1909).
Hausa Dictionary, 1st edition (I. 1899 and II. 1900).
2nd edition (1906) (Hausa-English only)
Specimen of Hausa Literature (1896).
MILLER, W. R. Hausa Notes (1901).
MISCHLICH, A. Lehrbuch der hausanischeu Sprache (1902).
Km. AH. F. Litati na tatsuniyoyi na Hausa (1911).
HARRIS, H. Hausa Stories (1907).
CHARLTON, L. A Hausa Reading Book (1908).
The Edinburgh Press
9 and II Young Street.
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