Verbs In Swahili: A Complete Overview

July 29, 2023 No Comments
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You’ve mastered Swahili greetings and simple phrases, and now you’re ready to take your language skills to the next level. The key to unlocking fluency in any language is learning verbs, and Swahili is no exception. Verbs are the engine of communication, allowing you to describe what’s happening, what has happened, and what will happen. Once you’ve grasped Swahili verbs, you’ll find yourself speaking, listening, and understanding with newfound confidence and ease.

This article will introduce you to the basics of Swahili verbs, give you plenty of examples in context, and provide tips and tricks for memorizing them efficiently. Before you know it, you’ll be chatting, sharing stories, and making Swahili-speaking friends. The adventure continues!

The Importance of Swahili Verbs

Learning verbs is essential to gaining fluency in Swahili. Verbs are the engine of any language, and Swahili is no exception. Mastering verbs will allow you to create sentences that actually express what you want to say. Without verbs, you’re stuck with just nouns and phrases. Not very useful! Verbs empower you to describe actions, express emotions, and talk about the past or future. They open up a whole new world of expression.

The great news is that Swahili verbs are actually quite straightforward to pick up. Most follow a simple pattern of prefixes and suffixes to indicate tense, person, and number. The prefixes remain largely the same across verbs, so once you’ve learned a few, the rest come easily. Some examples to get you started:

  • Kula (to eat): Nilikula (I ate), Utakula (You will eat), Tulikula (We ate)
  • Penda (to love): Ninapenda (I love), Ulipenda (You loved), Tutapenda (We will love)
  • Cheza (to play): Nimecheza (I have played), Utacheza (You will play), Tulicheza (We played)

See the pattern? Master these prefixes, and you’ll be conjugating verbs in no time! Verbs really are the key that unlocks fluency in Swahili. Dive in, learn some essential verbs, and see how they change in different tenses and contexts. You’ll be chatting comfortably in Swahili before you know it! Practice every day, listen to native speakers, and don’t get discouraged if you make mistakes. You’ve got this! Now go start verbalizing!

Common Swahili Verb Classes and How to Identify Them

Learning Swahili verbs is key to gaining fluency! There are several common verb classes you’ll want to become familiar with. The first are subject-inflecting verbs. These change form based on the subject: – I go, you go, they go. In Swahili, verbs like enda (go) and soma (read) inflect the subject. Get used to identifying the base verb and knowing how it changes for each subject. Then there are tense-inflecting verbs that change form based on tense – I went, I go, I will go.

Swahili verbs like kula (eat) and panda (climb) inflect for tense. Master how they change in the present, past, and future. Object-inflecting verbs change based on the object they act upon. For example, kuona (to see) becomes kuona mtu (to see a person). Pay attention to the prefixes and suffixes added to verbs like these. Mood-inflecting verbs change to show possibility, obligation, or desire.

Verbs like taka (want) and weza (able to) inflect for mood. Learn the forms to express what you want, can, or must do! With practice, you’ll get the hang of Swahili’s verb classes in no time! Stay enthusiastic – you’ve got this! Keep a positive mindset, immerse yourself in examples, and verb conjugation will become second nature. Speaking fluently is within your reach if you learn verbs. Now go get started!

Must-Know Swahili Verbs for Beginners

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To start speaking Swahili, you need to know some essential verbs. Mastering common verbs is key to gaining fluency in any language. Here are a few of the most useful Swahili verbs to know:

Kuwa – To Be

Kuwa is used to say ‘I am’, ‘you are’, they, and so on. For example:

>Mimi ni mwalimu – I am a teacher

>Wewe ni mwanafunzi wangu bora katika darasa hili – You are my best student in this class

>Anatoka Mkenya – They is from Kenyan

Kusoma – To Read

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Kusoma is a very useful verb to know. Some examples:

• Nasoma kitabu – I am reading a book

• Umesoma gazeti leo? – Have you read the newspaper today?

Kupika – To Cook

If you want to talk about food and cooking, kupika is essential. For example:

• Mama anapika chakula – Mother is cooking food

• Nitakupikia chakula kesho – I will cook you food tomorrow

Kucheza – To Play

Kucheza is a fun verb to know. You can say things like:

• Watoto wanacheza ngoma – The children are playing drums

• Je, una cheza soka? – Do you play football?

Kusafiri – To Travel

Kusafiri allows you to talk about traveling and transportation. For example:

• Nitasafiri kwa basi mwakani – I will travel by bus next year.

• Umesafiri nje ya nchi? – Have you traveled outside the country?

Keep practicing these verbs and try using them in sentences. Listen to them in Swahili media and music. Before you know it, you’ll be fluently speaking Swahili! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Tips to Memorize Swahili Verbs Quickly

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Memorizing verbs is key to learning Swahili fluently. Here are some tips to quickly memorize common Swahili verbs:

Focus on frequently used verbs first.

Learn verbs like ‘to be’, ‘to have’, ‘to go’, and ‘to do’ that you’ll use all the time. These include verbs like ‘kuwa’ (to be), ‘kufanya’ (to do), ‘kwenda’ (to go), and ‘kuwa na’ (to have). Master these and you’ll be conversing in no time!

Group verbs by subject.

Study verbs with the same subject together, like all the verbs meaning ‘to go’ or ‘to eat’. This makes them easier to remember. Some examples are:

  • Go: kwenda, kusafiri, kutembea
  • Eat: kula, kunywa, kumeza

Learn Swahili verbs roots and patterns.

Many Swahili verbs are formed from roots and follow set patterns. For example, the root -soma means ‘read’ so you have:

  • Ninasoma – I’m reading
  • Umesoma – You have read
  • Amesoma – They have read

Once you know the pattern, you can apply it to many verbs!

Use mnemonics and songs. Create rhymes, acronyms, flashcards, or songs to help memorize verbs. For example, ‘Ninaenda, Unaenda, Yeye anakwenda, Sisi tunakwenda’ to the tune of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ is a fun way to learn the verb ‘kwenda’ (to go).

Practice every day. Consistent practice and repetition are key. Use apps, online tutorials, books, audio lessons, or work with a tutor. Try writing sentences, having conversations, or keeping a journal using the verbs you’re learning.

Staying dedicated and having fun while you learn will make Swahili verbs a breeze. Focus on frequently used verbs, learn patterns and roots, group verbs together, and use mnemonics for the best results. With regular practice, you’ll be speaking Swahili in no time! Keep it up!

Practice Swahili Verbs With These Useful Phrases

Learning Swahili verbs is key to becoming fluent! Verbs are action words that give life to the language. Focus on common verbs and practice using them in everyday phrases. Some useful verbs to know are:

  • Kuwa (to be)
  • Kusoma (to study)
  • Kula (to eat)
  • Kununua (to buy)
  • Kupika (to cook)
  • Kusikia (to hear)
  • Kucheza (to play)

Once you’ve memorized these verbs, put them to use! Try phrases like Mambo vipi? (How’s it going?)Sina shida, ninasoma Kiswahili. (I’m fine, I’m studying Swahili.)Unapenda kula nini? (What do you like to eat?)Ninapenda kula mchuzi na ugali. (I like to eat stew and ugali.)Je, unaweza kunisaidia kununua kitabu hiki? (Can you help me buy this book?)Hakuna matata, nitakusaidia ukinunue kitabu hicho. (No problem, I’ll help you buy that book.)

Kucheza na marafiki yako ni muhimu. (Playing with your friends is important.)Ndiyo, tunapenda kucheza ngoma na kuimba pamoja. (Yes, we like to play drums and sing together.)

The more you practice, the more fluent and confident you’ll become in using Swahili verbs and phrases in conversation. So get out there, start talking with others, immerse yourself in the language, and most importantly – have fun while you learn!

Speaking Swahili can open you up to new friendships and cultural experiences. Keep up the good work! With regular practice of common verbs and useful phrases, fluency in Swahili is within your reach.


What are you waiting for? Now that you have the tools to master Swahili verbs, it’s time to start practicing. Speak, listen, read, and immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. Make flashcards, find a language partner, watch Swahili TV shows, and change your phone settings to Swahili.

The more you actively engage with the language, the faster you’ll be speaking fluently. Before you know it, conjugating verbs and understanding nuanced tenses will become second nature. You’ll be dreaming in Swahili and thinking in Swahili. The key is to dive in fully and have fun with it. What an exciting journey you have ahead of you. Pole pole ndio mwendo. Go slowly, that is the best way to go. Now get out there, be bold, and unleash your inner polyglot! The world of Swahili awaits you.

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I'm an elementary school teacher who loves what she does! I enjoy creating resources in my Native language "kiswahili". My goal is to spread the beautiful language of "Kiswahili" inside and outside the classroom. Thanks for stopping by! Read More

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