Haitian Creole/Basic Grammar
Possession is indicated by placing the possessor after the item possessed.
|"their house" or "their houses"|
|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.
|group of children|
|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.
Konn or konnen means "to know" + a noun (cf. French connaître).
|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).
|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.
|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|
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.
|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.
|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.|
|A worksheet covering this material is available at Wikiversity.|
"This" and "that"
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):
|jaden sa (a) bèl||This garden is beautiful.|
As in English, it may also be used as a pronoun, replacing a noun:
|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".
|M bezwen sa ki nan bwat sa a||I need what's in that box.|