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The key thing to understand about this is the verbs, which unlike English
add pronouns, objects, tense and adverbs into one long word which seems
unpronounceable. However the rules for doing this are very straightforward.
1. All verbs in shona start from a stem, which ends in'a'. For
the examples which follow, I'll use the stem 'enda' which means 'go'.
If you say it on its own it's an order, so don't use it like this except
for children: for adults add an 'I' to the end: 'endai'. From now on I'll
write the stem in capitals,so you don't get it mixed up with the other
parts of the verb, but you say it as normal.
2. Next, by putting 'ku' in front of the stem we get an infinitive and
a participle, so:
kuENDA means going or to go.
3. All we need to make a sentence is the word 'ndiri' which means'I
am (doing something)'
ndiri kuENDA means I am going.
To use other verbs just use the stems at the bottom of this page,so
'ndiri kuCHERA' means 'I am digging'.
4. To change the 'person' who is doing something just use the personal
pronouns at the bottom plus '-ri': so:
Tiri kuENDA means we are going, ari kuENDA means he/she is
Ndiri kuTAKURA badza
I am carrying the hoe. A direct
Ndiri kuENDA kuGuruve ..I am going to Guruve. An indirect object.
6. Try making a few sentences: don't worry if you're not sure exactly
which prepositions to use: people will get the idea.
Some verb stems:
Prepositions: there are three main ones, each of which has quite a variety of meanings, so keep your ears open to see how they are used.
There is also 'na', which can mean 'with'. Both pa and na are sometimes said 'pe' or 'po' depending on the word that follows: this can be confusing, so listen!
Introductory Shona Language
© Cameron Smith 2000 - feel free to copy as long as its not for profit
Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments, suggestions, or complaints about this page.