Introductory Shona Language
lesson 1 lesson 2 lesson 3 lesson 4
front page solutions other shona resources
- Maryland Arts Supplies Listing

Lesson 2: Sentences Vocabulary Exercise

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)'

So… 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 going.
5. Now you can add an 'object' to the sentence. This is pretty similar to English: some verbs take a 'direct' object, others need to use a preposition (see list). So…

Ndiri kuTAKURA badza……I am carrying the hoe. A direct object.

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:
-enda…go -takura…carry -tora…bring, take
-chera…dig (hole) -famba…walk, go -tenga…buy
-ona…look, see -taura…speak -gara…sit,stay

Personal pronouns:
Ndi-…I u-…you a-…he or she
Ti-…we mu-…you (plural) va-…they

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.
ku…to, from pa…on, around, by mu…in

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!

badza… hoe musika… market bhazi… bus
bhegi…bag miriwo…vegetables nyika…land, country, world

EXERCISE 1: Translate the following
   - solutions here (or click ? to see answer)

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  1. Ari kuenda ku musika
  2. Tiri kutenga miriwo
  3. Vari kuchera
  4. You are walking
  5. I am going by bus
  6. Take the bag
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Introductory Shona Language

© Cameron Smith 2000 - feel free to copy as long as its not for profit

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