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Consonant Changes

Most of the rules for modifying words in Xhosa are pretty straightforward. The passive of a verb is formed by adding "-wa" to the end (bhatala means pay, bhatalwa means paid). To say "at" or "in", you add an "e-" to the beginning of a noun and and "-eni" to the end (umoya means wind, emoyeni means in the wind). No problem, right?

In Xhosa, certain consonants change when words get modified. I would expect the passive of bamba (catch) to be bambwa, but it is actually banjwa (caught). This can be confusing at first, but if you learn five rules, it will help you out a lot. Here are those rules, and some example phrases / sentences that may help.

Original Becomes Example
m ny phakamisa (lift) ==> maluphakanyiswe (may it be lifted)
mb nj umlambo (river) ==> emlanjeni (by the river)
b ty khaba (kick) ==> khatywa (kicked)
bh j korobha (mop) ==> korojiwe (mopped)
ph tsh iphepha (paper) ==> iphetshana (small paper)


(X): Kuhanjwa ngesiko
(E): It is done according to custom

Words Used: hamba; isiko;

(X): ibhola ekhatywayo
(E): soccer

Words Used: ibhola; khaba;

(X): Inxila liqhutywa butywala
(E): The drunk was influenced by the alcohol

Words Used: inxila; qhuba; utywala;

(X): Ukukhatywa yinkawu
(E): to be hungry

Words Used: khaba; inkawu;

(X): Kuyabanda ebusika, kodwa kushushu ehlotyeni
(E): It's cold in the winter, but it's hot in the summer

Words Used: banda; ubusika; kodwa; shushu; ihlobo;

(X): Waqutywa lizulu
(E): He was hit by lightning

Words Used: quba; izulu;

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