Afaan Oromo/Chapter 04

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Chapter 4: Present-Future Tense Verbs
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Daniel: Haloo? About this sound play
Etana: Eessa jirta? About this sound play
Daniel: Manan jira. Maal barbaadde? About this sound play
Etana: Kaameraa qabdaa? About this sound play
Daniel: Eeyyeen qaba. Maaliif? About this sound play
Etana: Naaf ergistaa? Mana barumsaatti footon kaafadha. Kaameraa hin qabnu. About this sound play
Daniel: Tole. Siifan fida. About this sound play
Etana: Kan biraa, galmee Ingliffaa qabdaa? About this sound play
Daniel: Hin qabu. Amiin tokko qabdi. About this sound play
Etana: Tole. Ishee nan gaafadha. Galatoomi. About this sound play
Daniel: Rakkoon hin qabuu. About this sound play


[For translation see here]

Verb Groups for Conjugation[edit]

Most Oromo dictionaries will list verbs in their infinitive (e.g., beekuu - “to know”), and all infinitives end in -uu. The verb stem is this infinitive form with the final -uu dropped. The stem of beekuu is therefore beek-, and the verb is conjugated by adding suffixes to this stem (e.g., beekti - “She knows”). Oromo verbs fall into one of four groups based on their stem ending.


Group 1: Regular Verbs[edit]

Most verbs in Oromo are “regular”, that is, they attach the regular person- and number-based suffix to their stem without any changes to the stem or suffix. These are verbs with stems that do not end in: a double consonant, ch, a vowel, y, or w. The present-future conjugations for deemuu are shown below as an example with suffixes in bold.

Deemuu – 'to go'
ani deema     nuti deemna
ati deemta     isin deemtu
inni deema     isaan deemu
isheen deemti    

Verbs that don't fall into one of the other three categories follow this pattern of conjugation.


Group 2: Double-consonant Ending Stems[edit]

If the verb stem ends in a double consonant, a slight modification of the regular verb conjugation must be made because Oromo does not allow three consonants to occur in a row. For nuti, ati, isin, and isheen forms, an i is added to the regular suffix. The example of arguu is given below with suffixes in bold.

Arguu – 'to see'
ani arga     nuti argina
ati argita     isin argitu
inni arga     isaan argu
isheen argiti    

Other verbs that follow this pattern include: gadduu, rommuu, and gorsuu.


Group 3: -chuu Verbs[edit]

Many verb infinitives end with -chuu. For these verbs, the ch changes to dh in the ani form and to t for all other forms. Then the standard suffixes are applied. The example of nyaachuu is given below with stem changes and suffixes in bold.

Nyaachuu – 'to eat'
ani nyaadhaa     nuti nyaanna
ati nyaatta     isin nyaattu
inni nyaata     isaan nyaatu
isheen nyaatti    

Note that the t changes to n for the nuti form. This morphology is covered in the next section of this chapter.

Other verbs in this group include: jirachuu, fudhachuu, argachuu, guddifachuu, barachuu, and gubachuu.


Group 4: Vowel-Ending Stems (Irregular Verbs)[edit]

Infinitives that end with -a'uu , -o'uu, -u'uu, -e'uu, and -i'uu behave as regular verbs for ani, inni, and isaan froms. However, for the other forms, the stem and/or suffix will deviate from regular conjugations. Irregular verbs are discussed in more depth in the grammar appendix. Below are examples of the main patterns of irregular verb conjugation.

Du'uu – 'to die'
ani du'a     nuti duuna
ati duuta     isin duutu
inni du'a     isaan du'u
isheen duuti    
Haasa'uu – 'to talk'
ani haasa'a     nuti haasoofna
ati haasoofta     isin haasooftu
inni haasa'a     isaan haasa'u
isheen haasoofti    
Boo'uu – 'to cry'
ani boo'a     nuti boonya
ati boosa     isin boosu
inni boo'a     isaan boo'u
isheen boosi    
Danda'uu – 'to be able to'
ani danda'a     nuti dandeenya
ati dandeesa     isin dandeesu
inni danda'a     isaan danda'u
isheen dandeesi    


The Verb “To be”[edit]

The verb for “am/are/is” in the present tense is expressed by dha, which does not conjugate. Often, it is left off for simple sentences. One can say, for example, “nuti duwwattoota” or “nuti duwwattoota dha” to mean “we are visitors”. Sentences and questions where the subject is left off typically use dha, as in “fayyaa dha?” and “gaarii dha”. Questions using interrogative pronouns do not typically include dha.

Examples:
Maal inni?” — “What (is) it?”
Maqaan kee eenyu?” — “What [lit. Who] (is) your name?”
Gatiin saa meeqa?” — “How much (is) it's price?”
Akkam ati?” — “How (are) you?”



Morphology[edit]

Certain consonants will change when placed before or after other particular consonants. These morphological changes are predictable and follow the table below. The most common changes are: 1) an initial t in a suffix will change to d if the stem ends in b, g, d, and 2) an initial n in a suffix will change to an r or l if the stem ends in r or l, respectively.

Morphology Table
original morphed
bt bd
gt gd
dt dd
xt xx
qt qx
tn/xn/dn/dhn nn
dht tt
st ft
sn fn
rn rr
ln ll

Examples:

verb stem suffix final verb   English meaning
qab + ta qabda 'you have'
bit + na binna 'we (will) buy'
jir + na jirra 'we are'
ilaal + na ilaalla 'we see'
nyaat + na nyaanna 'we eat'
fix + ti fixxi 'she finishes'
baas + tu baaftu 'you (pl.) remove'



Verbs in the Affirmative[edit]

For the first person singular (ani) form, the suffix -n (or -an to a consonant) must be added to the word preceding the verb, or the preverb nan must be used to express the verb in the affirmative. In speaking, the first method is the most common.

Examples:
“I live in Jimma” — “Jiman jiraadha” or “Jima nan jiraadha
“I want to eat” — “Nyaachuun barbaada” or “Nyaachuu nan barbaada
“Yes, I have” — “Eeyyeen qaba” or “Eeyyee, nan qaba

For other forms, an optional preverb ni[1] may be used. Typically, if there is no object in the sentence, the ni is mandatory.

Examples:
“Do you want a bijaj [motorcycle taxi]?” — “Baajajii ni barbaadda?” or “Baajajii barbaadda?”
“He works” — “Inni ni hojjeta” (but not “Inni hojjeta”)
“It's enough” — “ni ga'a



Verbs in the Negative[edit]

To express “not/don't/doesn't” in Oromo the word hin is added before the verb (either as an attached prefix or as a separate word), and the last vowel in the verb conjugated in the affirmative changes as follows: au, iu, uan. Deemuu is given as an example below.

Deemuu – 'to go'
ani hin deemu     nuti hin deemnu
ati hin deemtu     isin hin deemtan
inni hin deemu     isaan hin deeman
isheen hin deemtu    

Examples:

Affirmative Negative
Ani nan beeka – “I know” Ani hin beeku – “I don't know”
Isaan ni deemu – “They go” Isaan hin deeman – “They don't go”
Isheen ni dandeessi – “She can” Isheen hin dandeessu – “She can't”
Isin ni haasoofta – “You (pl.) will talk” Isin hin haasooftu – “You (pl.) will not talk”

The exception to this is the negative form of dha, which is miti meaing “am not/are not/is not”. Like dha, miti does not conjugate for person or number.

Examples:
Rakkoo miti — “It's not a problem”
Sun kitaaba koo miti — “That is not my book”
Ani lammii Itoophiyaa miti — “I am not Ethiopian”



Chapter Vocabulary[edit]

jiruu

to be present

nyaachuu

to eat

jirachuu

to live

deemuu

to go

dhufuu

to come

barbaaduu

to want

jaalachuu

to like, love

qabuu

to have

ergifachuu

to borrow

ergisuu

to lend

kaafachuu

to take a picture

fiduu

to bring

gaafachuu

to ask, inquire

galmee jechoota

dictionary

kan biraa

also, in addition

rakkoo

problem

rakkoon hin jiru”, “rakkoo hin qabu

“no problem”



Notes[edit]

  1. The ni is often pronounced “in”, which unfortunately sounds very similar to the negative marker hin. For instance, ni ga'a for “it's enough” is typically pronounced in ga'a. One must listen to the conjugation of the verb to determine if it's in the affirmative or negative (e.g., hin ga'u “it's not enought”).


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