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Grammar

Verbs are a necessary component of all sentences. Verbs have two important functions: Some verbs put stalled subjects into motion while other verbs help to clarify the subjects in meaningful ways. Look at the examples below:

My grumpy  teacher smiled at the plate of rice.

My grumpy  teacher = stalled subject; smiled = verb.

 

Verbs: Verbs are action words, “to eat, to sleep, to go, to walk, etc”. One of the toughest  aspects of learning any language is  learning  how to conjugate verbs. Conjugating verbs (or verb conjugation) refers to how you change a verb depending on who is talking – for example, “I go versus he goes.”

 

Luckily, Igbo language does not have strict conjugation rules like Spanish and French, to name a few. It is much simpler than verb conjugation in English. In this lesson you will learn the proper word order for making sentences in Igbo. The basic sentence structure is not always very similar to English: subject, verb, object.

 

For example, to say I eat food  in Igbo, I would say “E riri m nri”. In this simple sentence E  is the subject (I) , riri is the verb (eat) and “nri” is the object.

 

Ọ hụrụ nkịta ya na-anya. (He loves his dog.)

 

Anyị na-amụ Igbo. (W are learning Igbo.)

Nwamba na-ta azụ. (The cat eats fish.)

Ị ṅụrụ Coca-Cola. (You Drank a Coca-Cola.)

 

 na-aṅu mmiril/mmili ( You are drinking water)

 

 

 na-aṅu  mmili ( You are drinking water)

 

 

English verbs are divided into three main groups: 

Normal Verbs, Non-Continuous Verbs, and 

Mixed Verbs. The fourth group is called an 

Auxiliary Verb(a helping verb).

 

Group I Normal Verbs

Most verbs are "Normal Verbs." These verbs are usually 

physical actions which you can see somebody doing. 

These verbs can be used in all tenses.

 

Normal Verbs

to run, to walk, to eat, to fly, to go, to say, to touch, etc.

Examples:

  • eat dinner every day.       ( A na m eri nri abalị kwa ụbọchị)
  •                                             

                                                         

  • am eating dinner now.    (A na m eri nri abali, ugbu a)
  •                                            

 

Group II Non-Continuous Verbs

The second group, called "Non-Continuous Verbs," is smaller.

These verbs are usually things you cannot see somebody doing. 

These verbs are rarely used in continuous tenses. They include:

 

Abstract Verbs

to be (ịbụ); to want ( ịchọ); to cost(ida ọnụ); to seem (idịka); 

to need(ịchọ); to care (ileta), to contain(ịchịkọta); 

to owe(iji ụgwọ), to exist (ịnọ ndụ)...

 

Possession Verbs

to possess (inwe); to own (inwe), to belong(inwe)...

 

Emotion Verbs

to like (ịmasi); to love (ihụna anya/ịfụna anya); to hate(ịjọ njọ), 

to dislike (ịkpọ asị); to fear (itụ egwu), to envy (inwe anya ụfụ), 

to mind ( inọrụ onwe)...

 

Group III Mixed Verbs

The third group, called "Mixed Verbs," is the smallest group.

These verbs have more than one meaning. In a way, each

meaning is a unique verb. Some meanings behave

like "Non-Continuous Verbs," while other meanings

behave like "Normal Verbs."

 

Mixed Verbs

to appear (ịdịka), to feel (imetụ n’ahụ), to have (inwe),

to hear (ịnụ), to look (ịle anya), to see (ịhụ), to weigh (ịtụle)...

Group IV Auxiliary verbs ( The most commonly used verbs in Igbo language)

An auxiliary verb is a verb used to add functional or

grammatical meaning to the clause in which it appears

– for example, to express tense, aspect, modality, voice,

emphasis, etc. Auxiliary verbs usually accompany a

main verb, the main verb providing the main semantic

content of the clause in which it appears. An example

is the verb have in the sentence I have finished my

dinner – here the main verb is finish, and the auxiliary

have helps to express the perfect aspect.

Igbo language uses “na” as an auxiliary to many Igbo verbs.

In Igbo “na” also means a conjunction  ‘and”.

Do not confuse “na” as an auxiliary verb with “na” as a

conjunction.

There is a grammar rule to insert a “hyphen” between

an auxiliary verb and the main verb.

Example of “na” as an auxiliary verb is as follows (na- verb):

Auxiliary Verb

IGBO/ENGLISH 

Conjugation (pronouns)

na-eri

eating

M na-eri nri 

I am eating

Ị na-eri nri

  

You are eating

Ọ na-eri nri       

He/she/it is eating

------------------------

Anyị na-eri nri

We are eating

Unu na-eri nri

You are eating

Ha na-eri nri   

Fa na-eli nni    

They are eating

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

------------------------

1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

na-agụ

reading

M na-agụ akwukwọ 

I am reading

Ị na-agụ akwukwọ 

You are reading

Ọ na-agụ akwukwọ 

He/she/it is reading

------------------------

Anyị na-agụ akwukwọ  

We are reading

Unu na-agụ akwukwọ 

You are reading

Ha na-agụ akwukwọ

Fa na-agụ akwukwọ

They are reading

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

-----------------------

1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

na-amụ

Studying

M na-amụ Igbo   

I am learning Igbo

Ị na-amụ Igbo  

You are learning Igbo

Ọ na-amụ Igbo   

He/she/it is learning

Igbo

---------------------

Anyị na-amụ Igbo

We are learning Igbo

Unu na-amụ Igbo

You are learning Igbo

Ha na-amụ Igbo

Fa na-amụ Igbo

They are learning Igbo

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

-----------------------

1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

na-asa

washing/

brushing

M na-asa eze

   

I am brushing teeth

Ị na-asa eze

      

You are brushing teeth

Ọ na-asa eze

  

He/she/it is brushing

teeth

--------------------------

Anyị na-asa eze

We are brushing teeth

Unu na-asa eze 

You are brushing teeth

Ha na-asa eze  

Fa na-asa eze 

    

They are brushing

teeth

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

-----------------------

1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

na-aga

na-eje

going

(substitute “eje”

with :aga” for same

meaning)

M na-aga akwụkwọ 

I am going to school

Ị na-aga akwụkwọ 

You are going to school

Ọ na-aga akwụkwọ    

 He/she/it is going to school

--------------------------

Anyị na-aga akwụkwọ

We are going to school

Unu na-aga akwụkwọ 

You are going to

school

Ha na-aga akwụkwọ  

Fa na-aga akwụkwọ  

They are going to

school

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 -----------------------

1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

na-ekpe

     

M na-ekpe ekpere

I am praying

Ị na-ekpe ekpere 

           

You are praying

Ọ na-ekpe ekpere 

He/she/it is praying

--------------------------

Anyị na-ekpe ekpere 

We are praying

Unu na-ekpe ekpere       

You are praying

Ha na-ekpe ekpere

Fa na-ekpe ekpere

 

 

They are praying

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

 

 

 

 

-----------------------

1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

 

An alternative way of making the above sentences without using the auxiliary verbs

are common with 1st singular and 3rd person plural pronouns

(notice the emphasis in blue bold):

 

VERB

 

IGBO/ENGLISH 

 

Conjugation (pronouns)

Iri/eri

eat

A na m eri nri     

I am eating

Ị na-eri nri 

 You are  eating

Ọ na-eri  nri 

He/she/it is eating

-----------------------------

Anyị na-eri  nri

We are eating

Unu na-eri  nri

You are eating

A  na ha eri  nri

A  na fa eli  nni

They are

eating

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

------------------------

1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

chọro

want

A choro m iri nri  

I want to eat food

Ị choro iri nri        

You want to eat (food)

Ọ choro iri  nri  

He/she/it wants to eat

 

igụ/imụ

Read

imụ

Learn

A na m agu akwukwọ

I am reading a book

Ị na-agụ akwukwọ 

You are reading

Ọ na-agụ akwukwọ

He/she/it is reading

--------------------------------

Anyị na-agụ akwukwọ 

We are reading

Unu na-agu akwukwọ 

You are reading

A na ha agụ akwukwọ     

A na fa agụ akwukwọ     

They are reading

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

-----------------------

1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

amụ

Studying

imụ

A na m amụ Igbo 

I am learning Igbo

Ị na-aimụ Igbo    

You learning Igbo

Ọ na-amụ Igbo

He/she/it is learning Igbo

--------------------------

Anyị na-amụ Igbo  

We are learning Igbo

Unu na-amu Igbo 

You want to learn Igbo

A na ha amụ Igbo   

A na fa amụ Igbo   

They want to learn Igbo

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

-----------------------

1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

asa

Isa

washing/

brushing

A na m asa eze

I am brushing teeth

Ị na-asa eze 

 You are brushing teeth

Ọ na-asa eze

 He/she/it is brushing teeth

--------------------------

Anyị na-asa eze 

            

We are brushing teeth

Unu na-asa eze

  You are brushing teeth

A na ha asa eze

A na fa asa eze

  They are brushing teeth

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

-----------------------

1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

Aga

Eje

going

(substitute “eje”

with :aga” for same

meaning)

A na m aga akwụkwọ  

        

I am going to school

Ịna-aga akwụkwọ   

You are going to school

Ọ na-aga akwụkwọ

 He/she/it is going

to school

--------------------------

Anyị na-aga akwụkwọ  

We are going to school

Unu na-aga akwụkwọ 

You are going to school

A na ha aga akwụkwọ   

A na ha eje  akwụkwọ   

They are going to school

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

-----------------------

 1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

Ekpe/ikpe

Pray/judge

A na m ekpe ekpere 

I am praying

Ị na-ekpe ekpere 

  

You are praying

Ọ na-ekpe ekpere

He/she/it is praying

--------------------------

Anyị na-ekpe ekpere

 We are praying

Unu na-ekpe ekpere

You are praying

A na ha ekpe ekpere

A na fa ekpe ekpele

They are praying

1st person singular

2nd person singular

3rd person singular

-----------------------

 1st person plural

2nd person plural

3rd person plural

 

It should be emphasized that each student should try to adapt to the version

that is convenient.

Example (1st person singular):

A na m agba oso   (I am running) or

M na-agba ọsọ     ( I am running)

Example (3rd person plural):

A na ha agba ọsọ  (They are running) or

Ha na-agba ọsọ     (They are running)

A na fa agba ọsọ  (They are running) or

Fa na-agba ọsọ     (They are running)

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