Sponsored Links
Want to see your ad here? Read about Sponsored Links.

Verbs - Introduction

Verbs in Xhosa are fairly systematic. Even if you've just started browsing this dictionary, you may have noticed that all verbs begin with "uk-" and end with "-a". However, identifying verbs is different from actually using a verb, and there are a few tenses we would like to explain here.

Verbs: Summary
Category Rule Example
Infinitive uku-...-a ukuhamba
Present Tense -a sela
Passive -wa khuselwa
Negative a-...-i andifuni
Past -ile lambile
Past Negative a...-anga andijonganga


The infinitive can be thought of as the dictionary form of a verb, and corresponds to the English "to ___". To determine the infinitive of a verb add uku to the beginning of the stem.

In Xhosa, the infinitive form is the same as the gerund form, which can be thought of as the noun form of a verb. In fact, noun class 15 is made up of any nouns that come from a verb.

The stems of some verbs begin with a vowel, and in Xhosa there is a general rule against having two vowels next to each other. If the verb begins with either an "a" or "e", use "ukw-." If the verb begins with an "o", use "uk-". No verbs begin with the letters "i" or "u".

uku + hamba = ukuhamba
uku + aba = ukwaba
uku + enda = ukwenda
uku + oyika = ukoyika

Ndiyakuthanda ukuhamba. (I like to walk.)
Ndifuna ukufunda incwadi. (I want to read a book.)
Kunzima ukukumsha. (Speaking English is difficult.)
ukuphela kwenyanga (the end of the month)

Present Tense

The present tense is probably the next most basic form of a verb, as all you have to do is drop the "uku-" prefix. In its simplest form, a sentence in the present tense will consist of a subject indicator + "ya" + verb. If the sentence has a direct object (a recipient of the action), it can be placed between the "ya" and the verb.

Without a subject indicator, the present tense of a verb assumes the basic command form.

Ndi + ya + vuya = Ndiyavuya
U + ya + ozela = Uyozela
Ndi + ya + ku + thanda = Ndiyakuthanda

Ndiyavuya (I am happy)
Uyozela? (Are you tired?)
Inja iyabaleka (The dog runs)
Ndiyakuthanda (I love you)
Bayalungisa iinwele zakhe (They are doing her hair)
Jonga! (Look!)
Hamba kakuhle (Go well)

Home Instructions Articles Izaci About Us Thank You Forum
Contact Us Sitemap Phrases RSS Feeds Sponsors Resources Admin