Afaan Oromo/Chapter 06

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Chapter 6: Adjectives
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Shopping Conversation[edit | edit source]

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Gurguraa: Maal isin gargaaru adde? About this sound play
Maamilaa: Jakkeettiin barbaade. Tokko kan naaf ta'u jira? About this sound play
Gurguraa: Lakkoofsa meeqa barbaadda? About this sound play
Maamilaa: Soddoma. About this sound play
Gurguraa: Bifa akkamii jaalatta? About this sound play
Maamilaa: Gurraachan jaalladha. About this sound play
Gurguraa: Isa kana ilaali. About this sound play
Maamilaa: Sirritti natti ta'e. Gaatiin saa meeqa? About this sound play
Gurguraa: Inni qarshii dhibba lama fi shantama. About this sound play
Maamilaa: Inni dooqeen kun hoo? About this sound play
Gurguraa: Wal qixxee dha. About this sound play
Maamilaa: Inni diimaan sun meeqa? About this sound play
Gurguraa: Inni sun qarshi dhibba lama qofa dha. Inni garu baayee isinitti guddata. About this sound play
Maamilaa: Tole, isa kanan fudhadha. About this sound play

[For translation see here]

Gender of Adjectives[edit | edit source]

Oromo adjectives can be male, female, or neutral. Masculine adjectives are used with masculine nouns, feminine adjectives modify feminine nouns, and neutral adjectives can be used with any noun. All non-neutral adjectives can be made masculine or feminine by attaching the appropriate suffix. Masculine suffixes for adjectives are: -aa, -aawaa, -acha, and -eessa. Feminine suffixes are: -oo, -tuu, -ooftuu, and -eettii. Standard morphology rules apply when attaching suffixes.

English meaning     Masculine Feminine
adorable jaallatamaa jaallatamtuu
beautiful bareedaa bareedduu
fast si'aawaa si'ooftuu
sweet mi'aawaa mi'ooftuu
fat furdaa furdoo
small xinnaa, xiqqaa     xinnoo, xiqqoo
messy boosacha booseettii
black gurraacha gurraattii
poor hiyyeessa hiyyeettii
skinny godeessa godeettii

Neutral adjectives (e.g., adii – “white”) use the same form for both masculine and feminine nouns.

Plural of Adjectives[edit | edit source]

When adjectives are used to modify a noun, typically the noun remains in the singular and number is shown by the adjective only. Plural adjectives are formed by repeating the first syllable.

English Singular Plural
white adii adaadii
beautiful     bareedduu     babareedduu
dry gogaa gogogaa

Some masculine adjectives will change their ending to -oo when pluralized. Some of these do not repeat the first syllable as a plural marker.

English Singular Plural
knowledgeable     beekaa beekoo
strong cimaa ciccimmoo
large guddaa guguddoo
high olaanaa     olaanoo

In written Oromo, the noun may be pluralized as well as the adjective, so that “nama sosoressa lama” and “namoota sosoressa lama” are correct ways to say “two rich people”. In conversational Oromo, the first method, keeping the noun in the singular, is more common.

The same method of repeating the first syllable is used in verbs for repeated actions. For instance, ciruu is “to chop”, while cicciruu is “to chop finely”.

Adjectives with Pronouns[edit | edit source]

To express an adjective with a pronoun, as in “the black one”, one can simply use the correct pronoun in front of the adjective, as in “isa gurraacha”. The pronoun used will depend on its role in the sentence, so that “The black one looks nice” would be “Inni gurraachi gaarii fakkaata”, while “I want the black one” would be “Isa gurraacha nan barbaada”.

Demonstrative pronouns are used to express “this”, “that”, “these”, and “those”, and are shown in the table below. Some dialects use feminine demonstrative pronouns for feminine nouns. The Wellega dialect uses the masculine form only for demonstrative pronouns.

Demonstrative Pronouns
This That These Those
Nominative kun(i) [f. tun(i)] sun(i) kunniin [f. tunniin] sunniin
Accusative kana [f. tana] sana kanneen [f. tanneen] sanneen

Demonstrative pronouns can be combined with pronouns and adjectives to express ideas such as “this one” or “that big one”.

Accusative (direct object) Nominative (subject)
the red one isa diimaa inni diimaan
the red ones isaani diimaa isaan diimaan
the (many) red ones isaani didiimaa isaan didiimaan
this one isa kana inni kun(i)
this red one isa diimaa kana inni diimaan kun(i)
these ones isaani kanneen isaan kunniin
these red ones isaani diimaa kanneen isaan diimaan kunniin
that one isa sana inni sun(i)
that red one isa diimaa sana inni diimaan sun(i)
those ones isaani sanneen isaan sunniin
those red ones isaani diimaa sanneen isaan diimaan sunniin

Case and Definiteness Expressed by Adjectives[edit | edit source]

Adjectives show the same case as the noun they modify. Adjectives modifying a subject noun will undergo the same suffix patterns as described in Chapter 5.

“How much is that red one” — “Inni diimaan sun meeqa?”
“The 2nd horse went” — “Fardichi lamaffaan deeme” or “Fardi lamaffichi deeme

For definite nouns, either the noun or the adjective may take the definite suffix, but not both (as in the example above). This suffix will also show case.

“The rich man came” — “Namni sooressichi dhufe” or “Namachi sooressi dhufe
“The rich man's brother came” — “Obboleessi kan nama sooressicha dhufe” or “Obboleessi kan namicha sooressa dhufe

A noun modified by more than one adjective will have only the first adjective showing case and definiteness. The other adjectives will appear in their dictionary (accusative) form.

“The big black spear is missing” — “Eeboon guddichi gurraacha bade.”

Participles[edit | edit source]

Participles, as known as verbal adjectives, modify nouns based on actions. In English, examples include “the sleeping lion” (sleeping being a present participle), and “the fallen leaves” (fallen being a past participle).

Present Participles[edit | edit source]

Oromo has no direct equivalent to the English present participle. “The sleeping lion lay under a tree” would be more literally translated from Oromo as “The lion lay under a tree while sleeping” or “Sleeping, the lion lay under a tree”. This construction is formed by adding an -aa suffix to the root of the dependent verb while the main verb is in its natural tense. The present participle is used like an adjective and comes after the noun it modifies, but it does not show case, gender, or number. The given example would thus be translated as “Leenci rafaa muka jala ciise” (“The lion, sleeping, lay under a tree”). In the Wellega dialect, present participles of -chuu verbs end in -chaa, while eastern dialects use -taa.

More examples:
Inni nyaachaa (nyaataa) deema” — “He goes while eating” or “Eating, he goes”
Dubbachuun makiinaa oofaa gaarii miti” — “Talking while driving a car is not good”

Past Participles[edit | edit source]

The past participle can be constructed in Oromo by using kan plus the simple past verb form (simple past discussed in Chapter 7). Thus, “the married couple went to Asela” would be “namoonni lamni kan fudhani gara Assella deemani”. For related actions (e.g., “the couple, having married, went to Asela”), see Chapter 15 for use of the gerundive. The past participle can be used to form adjectives from verbs. For example, “to be angry” is aaruu, while “angry (adj.)” is expressed by kan aare (see Chapter 12 for more on using verbs to express emotion).

More examples:
Verb Adjective (past participle)
baratuu – to learn kan barate – educated, learned
fuudhuu – to marry kan fudhe – married
wal'aanuu – to treat kan wal'aane – treated
ta'uu – to become kan ta'e – existing
leenji'uu – to train, develop kan leenji'e – trained, developed, civilized
galma'uu – to register kan galma'e – registered

To express past participles in the negative, the verb is in the simple past negative (e.g., “uneducated” is kan hin baranne).

Chapter Vocabulary[edit | edit source]


Mr., sir


Ms., ma'am


size, number


appearance, style


to help


to see


to try


to weigh, measure


to try on


to take, receive


for me


on me

wal qixxee

equal, same amount



asi, addana





any, none

hunda, cufa, cufti, mara

all, every

tokko tokko


tokkoon tokkoon


lachuu, lamaanuu



other, another

guddaa, guddoo


xiqqaa, xiqqoo, xinnaa, xinnoo




dhiphaa, dhiphoo

narrow, tight



gabaabaa, gabaabduu


gurraacha, gurraattii








booraa, keelloo














bareedaa, bareedduu, miidhagaa, miidhagduu


fokkisaa, fokkistuu






hedduu, baay'ee

a lot

muraasa, maddee, bicuu

a little, few

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