Haitian Creole/Basic Grammar

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Possession[edit]

Possession is indicated by placing the possessor after the item possessed.

Haitian Creole English
lajan li

"money him/her/it"

his/her/its money
fanmi m

"family me"

my family
kay yo

"house them"

"their house" or "their houses"
papa ou

"father you"

your father
zanmi papa Jan

"friend father John"

John's father's friend
papa vwazen zanmi nou

"father neighbor friend us"

our friend's neighbor's father

Any "of" relationship is expressed in the same way.

Haitian Creole English
bann timoun

"group child"

group of children
kontinan Afrik

"continent Africa"

continent of Africa
  • The word Dayiti means "of Haiti", as in peyi Dayiti ("country of Haiti"). Peyi Ayiti ("country [of] Haiti") is sometimes seen as well.

"to know"[edit]

Konn or konnen means "to know" + a noun (cf. French connaître).

Haitian Creole English
Èske ou konnen non li?

"[Yes-or-no question partcle] you know name him/her/it?"

Do you know his/her/its name?

Konn or konnen also means "to know" + a fact (cf. French savoir).

Haitian Creole English
M pa konnen kote li ye

"I not know where he/she/it is"

I don't know where he/she/it is.
  • Note: pa = negative

The third word is always spelled konn. It means "to know how to" or "to have experience". This is similar to the "know" as used in the English phrase "know how to ride a bike": it denotes not only a knowledge of the actions, but also some experience with it.

Haitian Creole English
Mwen konn fè manje

"I know make food"

I know how to cook
Èske ou konn ale Ayiti?

"[Yes-or-no question particle] you know go Haiti?"

Have you been to Haïti?
Li pa konn li franse

"He not know read French"

He can't read French

"That"[edit]

When "that" or "which" is used as a relative pronoun, it can be either ki or ke. Ki can only be the subject of the relative clause; ke is only the object. Ke can be omitted, but not ki.

Haitian Creole English
Bagay ki bezwen èd la

"Thing that need[s] help the"

The thing that needs help
Bagay ke mwen bezwen an

"Thing that I need the"

The thing that I need
Bagay mwen bezwen an

"Thing I need the"

The thing I need
  • Note: la and an are definite articles. You will learn about them in the next lesson.

"That" can also be a conjunction. In that case, it is either ke or is not used at all.

Haitian Creole English
Mwen pa kwè ke li gen li

"I not believe that he/she/it have him/her/it."

I don't believe that he/she/it has him/her/it.
Mwen pa kwè li gen li

"I not believe he/she/it have him/her/it"

I don't believe he/she/it has him/her/it.
Extra Practice
A worksheet covering this material is available at Wikiversity.

"This" and "that"[edit]

There is a single word sa that corresponds to French ce/ceci or ça, and English "this" and "that". As in English, it may be used as a demonstrative, except that it is placed after the noun it qualifies. It is often followed by a or yo (in order to mark number):

Haitian Creole English
jaden sa (a) bèl This garden is beautiful.

As in English, it may also be used as a pronoun, replacing a noun:

Haitian Creole English
sa se zanmi mwen this is my friend
sa se chien frè mwen this is my brother's dog

Sa can be used with ki or ke/Ø to mean literally "that which".

Haitian Creole English
M bezwen sa ki nan bwat sa a I need what's in that box.