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SWAHILI: UNIT 9 ASSOCIATIVES,

POSSESSIVES, AND OTHER MODIFIERS


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

Properly indicate association among items

Properly indicate possession between items

Recognize other complex modifiers

Master the following vocabulary: Swahili Unit 9 Vocabulary

POSSESSIVES AND ASSOCIATIVES


You may recall the introductory questions, jina lako nani? what is your
name? Lets break that question down into its grammatical components:
Jina: Noun meaning, name. Member of noun class 5
Lako: Lako is a possessive, meaning your in the second person singular. This
possessive is formed by combining the possessive stem -ako with the L-
the possessive marker for noun class 5. Put them together, and you get lako,
meaning your thing that is a noun in class 5
Nani: Question word meaning who. But you already knew that.
This question, jina lako nani, is a perfect introduction to the concept and
function of possessives my, your, his/hers, our, yalls, their.

In Swahili, possessives are formed by combining a possessive stem with


the appropriate possessive prefix for the noun class of the possessed noun. Each
personal pronoun has its own possessive stem:
First person singular: angu (my)
Second person singular: ako (your)
Third person singular: ake (his/hers)*
First person plural: -etu (our)
Second person plural: -enu (yalls)
Third person plural: -ao (their)**
*All singular nouns use the 3rd person singular possessive stem
**All plural nouns use the 3rd person plural possessive stem
Well get to the possessive markers for each noun class in a moment.

You can also express possession or association, using the associative.


When speaking Swahili, you will very frequently identify or describe an object
(or person) by associating it with something else. In Swahili, associatives are
easily translated to mean of, as in seeds of maize, or the name of 2Seeds,
or the crops of this season, or teachers of the school of primary of Magoma.
We form associatives by combining the associative stem -a with the
appropriate associative prefix for the noun being described (the seeds, in seeds
of maize, or name, in name of 2Seeds.)
The associative and possessive prefixes are the same, and are as follows:

Noun

Sample

Possessive/Assoc

Class

Noun

Prefix

mtu

w-

Possessives

Associative

Wangu, wako,

Wa

wake, etc.

watu

w-

Wangu, wako,

Wa

wake, etc.

mti

w-

Wangu, wako,

Wa

wake, etc.

miti

y-

Yangu, yako,

Ya

yake, etc.

tunda

l-

Langu, lako, lake

La

etc.

matunda

y-

Yangu, yako,

Ya

yake, etc.

kitu

ch-

Changu, chako,

Cha

chake, etc.

vitu

vy-

Vyangu, vyako,

Vya

vyake etc.

nyumba

y-

Yangu, yako,

Ya

yake, etc.

10

nyumba

z-

Zangu, zako,

Za

zake, etc.

11

ukuta

w-

Wangu, wako,

Wa

wake, etc.

14

upendo

w-

Wangu, wako,

Wa

wake, etc.

16/17

Nyumbani*

kw-

Kwangu, kwako,

Kwa

kwake, etc.

*Possessives and associatives for locative nouns take the noun class 17 prefix:
kw-. You will most commonly use these with nouns
like shambani or nyumbani, or the locative demonstratives (hapa, huko, kule,
etc.) Even though the demonstratives hapa or hapo actually refer to noun class
16, Swahili speakers almost always use the noun class 17 prefix to form
possessives and associatives for them.


Lets take a look at some examples of the possessive:
Noun classes 1 & 2
Mwalimu wangu: My teacher
Mke wako: Your wife

Watoto wetu: Our children


Wakulima wao: Their farmers

Noun Classes 3 & 4


Mti wako: Your tree
Mkate wake: His/her bread

Mikopo yenu: Yalls loans


Mitihani yao: Their exams

Noun Classes 5 & 6


Jina langu: My name
Shamba lako: Your shamba

Matunda yetu: Our fruit


Makosa yenu: Your mistakes

Noun Classes 7&8


Kitabu chake: His book
Kiti changu: My chair

Vitu vyao: Their things


Vitenge vyetu: Our pieces of fabric


Noun Classes 9&10
Nyumba yako: Your house
Chapati yake: His/her chapati

Mbegu zenu: Yalls seeds


Sukari zao: Their sugar

Noun Classes 11 & 10


Ufunguo wangu: My key
Ukuta wake: Its wall

Funguo zetu: Our keys


Kuta zao: Their walls

Noun Class 14
Upendo wetu: Our love
Ushirikiano wao: Their partnership/collaboration

Noun Class 16/17 (Places indicated by the suffix -ni)


Nyumbani kwangu: My home
Shambani kwake: His shamba (as a specific place)

Lets see how the associative looks in action now:


Noun Classes 1 &2

Mwanafunzi wa Kiswahili: A student of Swahili


Mzee wa Kwakiliga: An elder of Kwakiliga

Walimu wa kilimo: Agriculture teachers (Teachers of agriculture)


Mjomba wa baba: Fathers uncle (The uncle of father)

Noun Classes 3 &4


Mkate wa ngano: Wheat bread (bread of wheat)
Mkopo wa kilimo: Agricultural loan (loan of agriculture)

Miti ya matunda: Fruit trees (trees of fruit)


Mitihani ya Kiswahili: Swahili tests (tests of Swahili)

Noun Classes 5 & 6


Jiko la nyumba: The stove/kitchen of the house
Jina la baba: Fathers name/surname (Name of father)

Mashamba ya mahindi: Maize farms (Farms of maize)


Mavuno ya maharagwe: Bean harvest (Harvests of beans)

Noun Classes 7&8


Kitabu cha shule: School book (book of school)
Kitu cha umuhimu: An important thing (thing of importance)

Vyoo vya nyumba yangu: My houses toilets (Toilets of my house)


Viti vya nyumba yake: His/her houses chairs (Chairs of his house)

Noun Classes 9&10


Mbegu ya mahindi: Maize seed (seed of maize)

Bustani ya mtoto wangu: My childs garden (The garden of my child)

Nyumba za watu: Peoples houses (houses of people)


Kazi za shamba: Farm work (work of the farm)

Noun Classes 11 & 10


Ufunguo wa mlango huu: This doors key (The key of this door)
Ukuta wa nyumba hio: That houses wall (The wall of that house)

Funguo za milango hii: These doors keys (The keys of these doors)
Kuta za nyumba hizo: Those houses walls (The walls of those houses)

Noun Class 14
Upendo wa mungu: Gods love (Love of God)
Umoja wa wakulima wa Lutindi: Union (Oneness) of Farmers of Lutindi!

Noun Classes 16 &17 (Places indicated by the suffix -ni)


Shambani kwa Mzee Abbasi: The shamba (as a specific place) of Mzee
Abbasi
Nyumbani kwa Mama Kitojo: The home of Mama Kitojo
A final note on syntax: You will often hear and use possessives and associatives
together within the same phrase, as in My seeds of maize. In these kinds of
phrases, the possessive relationship comes before the associative.

So the correct translation of my seeds of maize would be mbegu zangu za


mahindi.
A couple other examples:
Bustani zao za mbogamboga: Their gardens of vegetables
Vitabu vyetu vya Kiswahili: Our Swahili books

For the particularly ambitious, heres an example of correct syntax for a


sentence combining all the parts of speech weve covered in this unit:
Miti yangu manne ya matunda: My four fruit trees.
So the order here is: subject + possessive + adjective + associative.
Well have more fun with syntax in later units!
ADDITIONAL MODIFIERS
-ote and -o-ote
Lets turn our attention to the commonly used modifiers -ote (all) and -oote (any/some).
We use the pronomial prefix to shape -ote and -o-ote. The pronomial prefix is
what shapes possessives and associatives; when we use it with -ote and -o-ote,
we also make some phonetic adjustments. So, we get the following modifiers
for each noun class:

Noun

Sample

Pronomial

-ote

-o-ote

Class

Noun

Prefix

(all/full)

(any/some)

mtu

w-

yeyote*

watu

w-

wote

wowote

mti

w-

wote

wowote

miti

y-

yote

yoyote

tunda

l-

lote

lolote

matunda

y-

yote

yoyote

kitu

ch-

chote

chochote

vitu

vy-

vyote

vyovyote

nyumba

y-

yote

yoyote

10

nyumba

z-

zote

zozote

11/14

upendo

w-

wote

wowote

16

mahali

p-

pote

popote

17

mahali

k-

kote

kokote

*Note that class 1 yeyote is irregular, beginning with ye despite taking the
pronomial prefix w-. This is a legacy of the archaic Bantu prefix yu- for
noun class 1.
A note on syntax: we use these modifiers after the nouns that they modify.
Lets look now at these modifiers in action:
Mtoto yeyote anaweza kuenda shule. Any child can go to school
Wanakikundi wote watalima mashamba yao: All group members will
cultivate their shambas
Nunua mkate wowote tu: Just buy any bread!
Miti yote imezaa matunda: All trees have produced fruit
Usitumie jembe lolote: You shouldnt use any hand hoe.
Hatujauza mahindi yoyote: We have not sold any maize
Kitabu chochote kitafaa: Any book will be suitable
Tulielewa vitu vyote: We understood everything
Chukua vyovyote!: Take any of them!
Nitaandika na kalamu yoyote: I will write with any pen
Nitapanda mbegu hizi zote: I will plant all these seeds

Tutakaa popote!: We will stay anywhere!


Watalima kokote huku: They will cultivate anywhere in this general area
EXERCISES
Note: Questions for the listening exercises are within the dialogue itself.
Answers are in the written exercises doc
Swahili Unit 9 Worksheet
Swahili Unit 9 Worksheet Answers