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Zulu

The current, editable version of this book is available in Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection, at
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Zulu

Permission is granted to copy, distribute, and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.


Lesson 1

Lesson 1[edit | edit source]

This introductory lesson provides a simple conversation with a table of all the vocabulary used. Then the ways to say your name or the names of others is provided.

Hello[edit | edit source]

UPhilani ubingelela umngani wakhe, uNandi.

uPhilani: Sawubona Nandi.
uNandi: Sawubona Philani.
uPhilani: Unjani?
uNandi: Ngikhona (ngiyaphila), wena unjani?
uPhilani: Nami ngikhona (ngiyaphila). uhambe kahle.
uNandi: Ngiyabonga. Usale kahle.
isiZulu isiNgisi
Sawubona Hello
Unjani? How are you?
Ngikhona I'm fine
Wena You
Nami Also (and me)
Sala Stay
Hamba Go
Kahle well
Ngiyabonga Thank you.

The first exchange illustrates a fairly casual or familiar tone. It is both more formal and more polite to use the plural forms, e.g.:

uJacob: Sanibonani
uNjabulo: Yebo, sanibonani.
uJacob: Ninjani?
uNjabulo: Sikhona/Siyaphila, nina ninjani?
uJacob: Nathi sikhona/siyaphila.
isiZulu isiNgisi
Sanibonani Hello
Ninjani? How are you?
Sikhona/Siyaphila We're fine/well
Nina You (plural)
Nathi Also (and us)

It would normally be considered somewhat rude and abrupt to say goodbye just then. An exchange of pleasantries would normally follow such greetings, but in large cities, since people are often busy, this short conversation is sufficient.

A very polite way of saying farewell would be:

uJacob: Nihambe kahle.
uNjabulo: Nisale kahle.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Sanibona(ni) where the final ni may or may not be used

Introducing people[edit | edit source]

Philani introduces his friend Thabo to Nandi.

uPhilani: Nandi, Lo umgani wami, uThabo.
uNandi: Ngiyajabula ukukwazi!
uThabo: Nami, ngiyajabula ukukwazi!

Thabo introduces himself to Nosipho.

uThabo: Igama lami nguThabo!
uNosipho: Ngiyajabula ukukwazi! NginguNosipho.
uThabo: Ngiyajabula ukukwazi!
isiZulu isiNgisi
Igama Name
-mi my
Lo (Lona) This
Nina You (plural)
Ngiyajabula ukukwazi I'm pleased to know you.
Umngani Friend
Ngingu- I'm

The above table says that -mi means my but la- that is added to it is for agreement. Lami agrees with igama. The same is true for wami: the wa- agrees with umngani .

How are you?[edit | edit source]

Philani sees his friend Thabo in the street.

uPhilani: Sawubona Thabo!
uThabo: Yebo, sawubona Philani!
uPhilani: Unjani?
uThabo: Ngiyaphila, wena unjani?
uPhilani: Angiphilile.
isiZulu isiNgisi
Angiphilile I'm not well.

Surname[edit | edit source]

Nandi tells Thabo her surname.

Nandi: Isibongo sami uNdlovu.
uThabo: NgingowakwaKhumalo.
isiZulu isiNgisi
Isibongo Surname
Ngingowakwa- I'm of the family of

Summary[edit | edit source]

  • We can say hello: Sawubona, Sanibona or Sanibonani
  • Ask people how they are: Unjani?, Ninjani?.
  • Say how you are: Ngiyaphila, ngikhona, angiphilile.
  • Introduce yourself: Igama lami ngu-, Ngingu-.
  • Introduce others: Lo ngu-.
  • Say your surname: Isibongo sami, Ngingowakwa-.

Next step[edit | edit source]

Try the Exercise or go the next Lesson 2.



Lesson 2

Talking about yourself[edit | edit source]

In this lesson, we learn how to say where we stay, where we come from and whether we work or study. The conjugating of the verbs involved is also explained.

Ngihlala eThekwini[edit | edit source]

uNandi: Sawubona Philani!
uPhilani: Yebo sawubona Nandi!
uNandi: Unjani?
uPhilani: Ngisaphila, wena unjani?
uNandi: Nami ngikhona.
uPhilani: Wena uhlalaphi?
uNandi: Ngihlala eThekwini, uhlala kuphi?
uPhalani: Mina ngihlala eGoli.

Before explaining the dialogue fully, the verb -hlala with its pronoun prefixes is given. Mina, Wena, Yena, Nina, Thina, Bona are used for emphasis, just as we can say, "Me, I live in Durban" in English. This means that Zulu is a pro-drop language like Spanish, Greek, and many others.

Pronoun isenzo isiNgisi
Mina ngiyahlala I live
Wena uyahlala You live
Yena uyahlala He/She lives
Thina siyahlala We live
Nina niyahlala You(pl) live
Bona bayahlala They live

Every verb is used in this manner, so for instance -sebenza means work so 'Ngiyasebenza' means I work. It needs to be noted here that ya is added in between subject concord, the ngi part, and the verb stem. This is only done when there is no expressed object or adjunct. It should be noted that writing 'Yena ngiyahlala' in Zulu is the same as writing "He stay" in English. Leaving out the subject concord, for instance, 'Mina hlala', is the same as "Me, stay!" in English, where the second word is a command. If the pronoun is used it must always agree with the subject concord. One way to remember the names of the pronouns is to think of them as Aunts, Thina (Tina), Mina, Nina. Say "Mina ngi, Thina si, Nina ni" aloud to yourself a few times.

isiZulu isiNgisi
Uhlalaphi? Where do you stay?
Uhlala kuphi? Where do you stay?
eThekwini At/in/from Durban
eGoli At/in/from Johannesburg

The above table introduces the -phi affix which means where. It cannot stand alone so it is either added to the end of the verb or ku- is prefixed to it. Words in Zulu beginning with 'e' mean at somewhere. A list of places in South Africa is provided below.


isiNgisi Pretoria Cape Town Johannesburg Durban Pietermaritzburg Ladysmith
isiZulu iPitoli iKapa iGoli iThekwini uMgungundlovu uMnambithi

In principle, if we want to create the name of a place that we do not know the actual name for, we can take the English word for it and add an 'i' to the beginning of it. So London would be iLondon. To turn this into the place of/at/in London we change the 'i' to an 'e'.

Ngiphuma eFlansi[edit | edit source]

Jean starts talking to an older man. So to show respect he uses Sanibona and plurals.

uJean: Sanibona baba.
uNjabulo: Yebo sawubona.
uJean: Ninjani?
uNjabulo: Ngikhona, wena unjani?
uJean: Ngisaphila.
uNjabulo:Igama lami uNjabulo. Ungubani?
uJean: NginguJean.
uNjabulo: Ngiyajabula ukukwazi.
uJean: Nami ngiyajabula ukukwazi.
uNjabulo: Uphuma kuphi?
uJean: Ngiphuma eFlansi. Niphumaphi?
uNjabulo: Ngiphuma eKapa

Here in this example eFlansi is once again a locative and means in France. We have also introduced how to ask someone's name. Ubani means who? Ungu- means you are. So Ungubani means you are who or Who are you?

Another way to ask someone's name is Igama lakho ngubani?.

In general, this is the best way to express where you come from. Below is a list of countries.

Amazwe

Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Flag of England.svg Flag of Scotland.svg Flag of Wales (1959).svg Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg
Umbuso Uhlanganisile iNgilandi isiKotilandi iWayelshi iShayina
Flag of Spain.svg Flag of France.svg Flag of Germany.svg Flag of Italy.svg Flag of Russia.svg
iSpeyini iFlansi iJalimani iTaliya iRashiya
Flag of the United States.svg Flag of Canada.svg Flag of New Zealand.svg Flag of Australia.svg Flag of South Africa.svg
iMelika iKhanada iZilandi Elisha i-Ostreliya iNingizimu Afrika1
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg Flag of Angola.svg Flag of Botswana.svg Flag of Namibia.svg Flag of Mexico.svg
iZimbabwe iAngola iButswana iNamibhiya iMekisiko

1 uMzansi is also used it is a loan word from Xhosa.

Also note that depending on where you are it might be acceptable to say iFrance or iSpain. This is true of large cities. But it will always be correct to use the terms above.

Ngiyafunda/Ngiyasebenza[edit | edit source]

The above conversation continues.

uNjabulo: Wenza msebenzi muni?
uJean: Ngingumfundisi.
uNjabulo: Singudokotela.

Ngingudokotela[edit | edit source]

isiZulu isiNgisi isiZulu isiNgisi
udokotela doctor unesi nurse
umkhandi repairman uthisha teacher
umfundi learner/student umama mother
ugogo grandmother umkhulu grandfather
ubaba father usisi sister
umgane friend umpheki cook
umzali parent usisi sister
umfundisi preacher ubhuti brother
udadewethu my/our sister umfowethu my/our brother
umyeni husband umntwana child
yebo yes cha no

If we remember one of the ways to say our name, NginguPhilani means I am Philani. The same applies for saying you are a doctor or teacher.

uThabo: Ngingudokotela.
uNosipho: Hhayi mina ngingunesi!
uZodwa: Wena ungudokotela na?
uThabo: Yebo, ngingudokotela. Umyeni wakho ungumpheki?
uZodwa: Cha, yena ungumfundisi.

This above dialogue illustrates that the pronouns and concords apply here too with -ng-. The na at the end of Zodwa's first sentence turns it into a question. So the sentence means: 'Are you a doctor?'. 'Umyeni wakho ungumpheki?' uses tone to indicate the question. -kho means your and wa- is for agreement. So the sentence means: 'Is your husband a cook?'.

Note The words that are underlined need to be learned for the lesson and the exercises.

Summary[edit | edit source]

  • We say where we live - Ngihlala eHillbrow.
  • We can ask someone where they live - Wena uhlalaphi? or Uhlala kuphi?
  • We know words for various cities in South Africa - iGoli iKapa etc or eGoli.
  • We can form synthetic names for cities that we do not know the real name for - iLondon or iParis.
  • We can ask someone what they do - Wenza msebenzi muni?
  • We can say what we do - Ngingudokotela.
  • We have learn various nouns for certain professions - unesi, umpheki etc.

Next step[edit | edit source]

Try the Exercise or go the next Lesson 3. Or alternatively, go back to the Index.



Lesson 3

How many years[edit | edit source]

In this lesson, we learn how to say how long we've been working for, how old we are.

Ngineminyaka engu-5 ngisebenza[edit | edit source]

uNandi: Sawubona Philani!
uPhilani: Yebo sawubona Nandi!
uNandi: Unjani?
uPhilani: Ngisaphila, wena unjani?
uNandi: Nami ngikhona.
uPhilani: Uneminyaka emingaki, usebenza?
uNandi: Ngineminyaka engu-5 ngisebenza. Wena, uneminyaka emingaki ufunda eWits?
uPhilani: Ngineminyaka engu-2 ngifunda.
uNandi: Sala kahle.
uPhilani: Hamba kahle.


Pronoun iSenzo isiNgisi
Mina ngineminyaka I have years
Wena uneminyaka You have years
Yena uneminyaka He/She has years
Thina sineminyaka We have years
Nina nineminyaka You(pl) have years
Bona baneminyaka They have years

"Nginonyaka ngisebenza eKPMG" is used for one year. As said before this has the same pattern as the other verbs. To express how old we are, we use the same construction but with no verb after it or 'ubudala' may be used, which means years since birth. Note on the numbers, engu-5 should be read as engu-'five'. So the number is read as it would be in English. Thus engu-10 would be read as engu-'ten'. This is done because Zulu numbers are cumbersome particularly for numbers above 5.

Uneminyaka emingaki ubudala?[edit | edit source]

uNandi: Sawubona Philani!
uPhilani: Yebo sawubona Nandi!
uNandi: Unjani?
uPhilani: Ngiyaphila, wena unjani?
uNandi: Nami ngisaphila.
uPhilani: Uneminyaka emingaki ubudala?
uNandi: Ngineminyaka engu-25. Wena, uneminyaka emingaki?
uPhilani: Ngineminyaka engu-22 ubudala. Usebenzaphi?
uNandi: Ngisebenza eNedbank. Ubhuti wakho uyasebenza na?
uPhilani: Yebo, yena usebenza eCrispy Chicken. Umama wakho usebenza kuphi?
uNandi: Yebo, yena usebenza eChris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
uPhilani: ungudokotela?
uNandi: Cha, yena ungunesi. Umama wakho uneminyaka emingaki?
uPhilani: Uneminyaka engu-37.
uNandi: uMama wami uneminyaka engu-41.
uPhilani: Sala kahle!
uNandi: Hamba kahle!

Here wakho means your again. The interrogative suffix -phi can also easily be used with sebenza. The characters inquire about age with or without ubudala. Notice how simply a question about someone else's age can be formed.

uGogo uya eKhaya[edit | edit source]

Remember these nouns from last lesson. We are going to make simple sentences with them. In Zulu, the subject has to provide a concord that is attached to the beginning of the verb. The words in the table below all belong to the first noun class. Unlike many other languages that just use the verb conjugated in the third person all the time. Ironically, this would be the case if all the nouns belonged to the first class. But this is not the case. The noun always determines the concord that the verb has attached to the front of it.

isiZulu isiNgisi isiZulu isiNgisi
udokotela doctor unesi nurse
umkandi repairman uthisha teacher
umfundi learner/student umama mother
ugogo grandmother umkhulu grandfather
ubaba father usisi sister
umgane friend umpheki cook
umzali parent usisi sister
umfundisi preacher ubhuti brother
udadewethu my/our sister umfowethu my/our brother
umyeni husband umntwana child

Examples

  • Udokotela usebenza eChris Hani Baragwanath.
  • Ugogo uya ekhaya.
  • Umngane wami usebenzela eWits.
  • Umpheki usebenzela iMacDonalds.
  • Umfundi ufunda eGoli.
  • Umyeni wami usebenza eNedbank.
  • Umkhulu uhlala eNaturena.
  • Uthisha uya esikoleni.
  • Nina nisebenza eStandard Bank.
  • Thina sihlala eHoughton.
  • Wena usebenzela iDeloite.
  • Yena ufunda eWits.
isiZulu isiNgisi
sebenza work
uya going
sebenzela work for
funda read/ study

So if we look at the sentences, we can see that all the nouns use the subject concord 'u'. This is the same subject concord that is used by 'yena' and 'wena'. The formation of one of these sentences can be summed up as follows: Umyeni u + sebenza eNedbank. So all we have to do is attach 'u' to the front of various verbs. Take note of the fact that the 'e' to form places is not used with sebenzela but it is always used with sebenza.

Summary[edit | edit source]

  • We can tell people how old we are. Nginemiyaka engu-31.
  • We can say how long we have been working. Nginemiyaka engu-11 ngisebenza.
  • We can form simple sentences with nouns as the subject. Ugogo uhamba eKhaya.
  • We have further illustrated the use of pronouns and their subject concords.

Next Step[edit | edit source]

Try the Exercise or go the next Lesson. Or alternatively, go back to the Index.



Lesson 4

Uyazi eGoli?[edit | edit source]

In this lesson, we learn to talk about people and places we know. In addition to this we learn how to introduce multiple people.

Laba abangane bami[edit | edit source]

uNandi: Sawubona Philani!
uPhilani: Yebo sawubona Nandi!
uNandi: Unjani?
uPhilani: Ngisaphila, wena unjani?
uNandi: Nami ngiyaphila.
uPhilani: Laba abangane bami, nguNjabulo noXolani.
uNandi: Ngiyajabula ukunazi!
uNjabulo noXolani: Nathi siyajabula ukukwazi!
uNandi: Nihlalaphi?
uNjabulo: Ngihlala eGoli. Uyalazi iGoli?
uNandi: Angilazi iGoli.
uXolani: Ngihlala eKapa. Uyakwazi eKapa na?
uNandi: Yebo, ngiyazi eKapa.
uNjabulo noXolani noPhilani: Sala kahle.
uNandi: Hambani kahle.
Zulu English
ukunazi to know you (plural).
Uyazi You know it
Angiyazi You do not know it

We can use a similar form to ask someone if they know other places, for example, "Uyazi iTheweni?", "Uyazi iSoweto?" and even "Uyazi iLondon?". "Na" may be used to indicate a question in spoken language and in writing but when the language is spoken, generally questions are indicated with tone. This form cannot be used to ask if someone knows a person. This is because the of "uyazi" part of the verb. The y refers to the place iGoli basically u+i+azi becomes uyazi. Zulu does not allow vowels to be placed immediately alongside each other. The concept of object being attached to verbs is explained fully in a later lesson. We now introduce how to ask if you know someone.

Uyamazi uNelson wakwaMandela?[edit | edit source]

Dialogue

uXolani: Uyamazi uNelson wakwaMandela?
uNjabulo: Yebo, ubani ongamazi? Uyamazi uLucky wakwaDube?
uXolani: Yebo, ngiyamazi.
Zulu English
Uyamazi you know him
akamazi he does not know him
uLucky wakwaDube Lucky Dube

Once again the m in "ngimazi" refers to him/her.

  • Yena uyamazi uDesmond wakwaTutu.
  • uMngane wami uyazi eNew York.

Ngilikhohliwe![edit | edit source]

A few days later, Xolani and Njabulo are at the mall when they see someone that they think they know.

Dialogue

uXolani: Uyamazi? (Nodding at her)
uNjabulo: Yebo, kodwa ngilikhohliwe!
uXolani: Igama lakhe uNandi, angithi?
uNjabulo: Hhayi yebo!

Here the li in ngilikhohliwe refers to igama. '-khe' means her/his. It is used like -mi and -kho.

Summary[edit | edit source]

  • We can ask people if they know people. - Umazi uNelson wakwaMandela?
  • We can ask people if they know places. - Uyazi iNaturean?
  • We are able to introduce multiple people. - Laba abangane bami.
  • We can say if we have forgotten someone's name. - Ngilikhohliwe

Next step[edit | edit source]

Try the Exercise or go the next Lesson 5. Or alternatively, go back to the Index.



Lesson 5

Nginabantwana[edit | edit source]

In this lesson, we learn how to tell people what family members we have. We also introduce plurals for all the professions that we learnt in isiFundo esibili. In addition, we introduce name of various other professions.

Ngiyimaneja[edit | edit source]

uNandi: Sawubona Philani!
uPhilani: Yebo sawubona Nandi!
uNandi: Unjani?
uPhilani: Ngiyaphila, wena unjani?
uNandi: Nami ngikhona kodwa angiphilile.
uPhilani: Uphethwe yini?
uNandi: Ngiphethwe ngumkhuhlwane.
uPhilani: Ube ngcono!
uNandi: Ngiyabonga kakhulu, Philani.
uPhilani: Ubaba wakho wenza msebenzi muni?
uNandi: Ubaba wami uyimeneja.
uPhilani: Ubaba wami uyi-Accountant.
uNandi: Hamba kahle.
uPhilani: Sala kahle.
Zulu English
iMeneja Manager
i-Accountant Accountant
Ngiyabongo kakhulu! Thank you very much!
Uphethwe yini? What are you suffering from?
umkhuhlwane flu or a cold
Ube ngcono! Get well!

The above dialogue illustrates how a conversation changes if someone is not feeling well. In the table below, we provide a short list of what someone might be suffering from. Note the use of words that have been borrowed from English, these words for profession all begin with an 'i'.

Zulu English
Ngiphethwe yisisu. I have stomach ache.
Siphethwe ngumsebenzi I suffering from work/ I'm stressed.
Uphethwe yikhanda. I have a headache.
Yena uphethwe ngumkhuhlane. I have a cold/flu.

Plurals[edit | edit source]

Class 1/1a Class 2/2b
Zulu English Zulu English
Singular Plural
udokotela doctor odokotela doctors
umkandi repairman abakandi repairmen
umama mother omama mothers
umfundi student abafundi students
ubaba father obaba fathers
umngane friend abangane friends
umzali parent abazali parents
umfundisi preacher abafundisi preachers
umyeni husband abayeni husbands

In English, we form plurals, in general, by adding 's' to the end of words e.g. mother becomes mothers. In Zulu, this is done by changing the prefix of the word for example umzali becomes abazali.

The nouns in the above table belong to class 1 or 1a in singular and 2/2b in plural. Class 1 is all nouns that have singular um/umu- and plurals of Class 2 aba/abe- whereas Class 1a is all nouns that have singular u- and plural of Class 2b o-. This may seem unimportant presently but each noun class has its distinct subject concord i.e. umfundisi uyahamba and abafundisi bayahamba. Class 1/1a and 2/ 2b have different prefixes but the same subject concords. This is why they are grouped into the same class.

The table below has nouns from class 5 and plural of Class 6 that correspond to various borrowed words from English. These are by no means the only words in Class 5/6 but they are introduced here for your convenience.


Class 5 Class 6
Zulu English
iConsultant Consultant amaConsultant Consultant
iKholigi Colleague amaKholigi Colleagues
iMeneja Manager amaMeneja Managers

Note that there is a true Zulu word for manager it is umphathi (um/aba). But borrowed words may and are often used especially in city centre or when speaking to second language speakers. Nouns of Class 5, have subject concords i- so 'iKholigi isenbenza eVodacom futhi'. In the plural form ,Class 6 , has a- for its subject concord 'amaKhogili ayasebenza.'

Nginabantwana[edit | edit source]

uZandile

Sanibona! NginguZandile wakwaKhoza. Nginabantwana. Ngihlala eYeoville. Ngineminyaka engu-32 ubudala. Nginemoto. Nginomyeni. Igama lakhe uSipho. Sineminyaka engu-12 sihlala khona.

Zulu English
imoto car
lakhe your
eYeoville in Yeoville
Nginabantwana. I have children.

Use of na[edit | edit source]

In Zulu, when vowels come together one of three possibilities occurs. The three possibilities are:

  • If i or u is placed on another vowel it becomes y or w.
  • One of the vowels is deleted.
  • Vowel merge to form a new vowel, this called coalescence.

Coalescence simply mean a + a = a, a + i = e and a + u = o.

When we use 'na' as it is used in the short passage above, coalescence occurs. So if look more closely at some of the phrases above. For instance, 'Nginomyeni' the word umyeni means husband so Ngi + na + umyeni coalescence occurs a + u = o so we get Nginomyeni. If we examine the rest of the passage, we seeing coalescence happening five times.

Summary[edit | edit source]

  • We can ask someone what they are suffering from. Uphethwe yini?
  • We can form plurals of Class 1/1a and Class 3. uMama; oMama; umzali; abazali; iKholigi; amaKholigi.
  • We are able to use 'na' to express have. Yena unemoto.



Lesson 6

Ngithanda ukudlala ibhola[edit | edit source]

In this lesson, we learn how to express likes and dislikes. To this end, we introduce and explain how to use infinitives e.g. 'to play'. A number of verbs are also introduced.

Ubhuti usebenzela i-Eskom[edit | edit source]

uNandi: Sawubona Philani!
uPhilani: Yebo sawubona Nandi!
uNandi: Unjani?
uPhilani: Ngisaphila, wena unjani?
uNandi: Nami ngiyaphila.
uPhilani: Unobhuti angithi?
uNandi: Yebo, nginobhuti.
uPhilani: Ubhuti usebenzaphi?
uNandi: Ubhuti usebenzela i-Eskom.
uPhilani: Eish, yena uyasebenza kakhulu angithi?
uNandi: Yebo, manje uyasebenza kakhulu. Wena unobhuti?
uPhilani: Cha, anginaye ubhuti.
uNandi: Hamba kahle.
uPhilani: Sala kahle.
Zulu English
angithi isn't it
anginabhuti I do not have a brother
Eish wow
sebenzela work for

When "na" is used in the negative, we just drop the first letter of the noun then add the na. So, to say I do have not a sister: Angi+na+sisi becomes 'Anginasisi'. We have also introduced the word angithi, which also be used instead of na or intonation.

Ngithanda ubisi noshizi[edit | edit source]

Funda

Sanibona! NginguThato wakwaNdlovu. Ngineminyaka engu-21 ubudala. Ngingumfundi. Ngifunda eWits. Ngifundela ukuba i-Accountant. Ngineminyaka engu-3 ngifunda. Ngifunda ngokuzimisela,futhi ngithanda ukudlala ibhola. Ngiphuza ubhiya newayini kodwa ngithanda ubisi noshizi futhi. Ngiyajabula ukunazi!

Zulu English
umfundi student
iWits Wits (University of the Witwatersrand)
ukuba to be
thanda like
dlala play
ibhola soccer/ ball
phuza drink
ubhiya beer
iwayini wine
ubisi milk
ushizi cheese

Notice the use of uku- as a prefix, it means 'to' so if we want to say I like to play, for instance, we simply put uku- onto the second verb as its prefix 'Ngithanda ukudlala'. Also notice the use of na-, it links two nouns with coalescence - merging - and means either 'with' or 'and'.

In the above table, we have introduced additional nouns. The nouns beginning with u- below to class 1a and those with i- to class 3. At this stage, you should be able to understand the whole passage.

Negation[edit | edit source]

Funda

Ugogo wami akathandi ukubhema. Yena akalithandi ikofi newayini. Akaluphuzi ubisi kodwa uyawudla ushizi. Akawudli utamatisi. Ngiphuza ubisi namanzi kodwa angiphuzi ubhiya. Obhuti bathanda ukuphuza umqombothi. Abaphuzi iwayini.


Zulu English
bhema smoke
amanzi water
umqombothi traditional beer

The passage above illustrates how to form negatives in the present tense. We add an 'a' before the subject concord and change the final letter of the verb to an 'i'. But this still raises questions, what happens when the first letter of the subject concord is a 'u'? Well in that case, it becomes a little more complicated. The table below show a summary of what happens.

What happens with u
Mina angiphuzi ijusi. Thina asiphuzi ijusi.
Wena awuphuzi ubisi. Nina aniphuzi ubisi.
Yena akadli ushizi. Bona abadli ushizi.
Ugogo akaphuzi iwayini. Ogogo abaphuzi ibhiya.
Umzali akaphuzi amanzi Abazali abaphuzi amanzi.
iKholigi alidli ushizi. amaKholigi awadli ushizi.

Summary[edit | edit source]

  • We can say that we don't have a family member or an object. Anginagogo.
  • We can say what we like and dislike. Ngithanda/angithandi
  • We can tell people what we like to do and what don't like to do. Ngithanda ukudlala/ Angithandi ukudlala.
  • We have learnt how to negate verbs in the present. Akathandi ubisi. Awuthandi ushizi.



Exercise/Lesson 1

Welcome to the exercises related to Lesson 1.

Click "▼" to check your answers.

Hello![edit | edit source]

How would you respond to:

Sawubona bhuti!
Sawubona sisi!
Sawubona sisi!
Sanibona gogo!
Sawubona mntwana!
Sawubona mntwana!
Sawubona Nandi! (Speaking to uPhilani)
Sawubona Philani!
Sawubona Philani!
Unjani?
Ngikhona, wena unjani?
Ngikhona, wena unjani?
Ninjani? (If part of a group, speaking to a single person.)
Sikhona, wena unjani?
Sikhona, wena unjani?
Ninjani? (If part of a group, speaking to another group.)
Sikhona, Nina ninjani?
Sikhona, Nina ninjani?
Sala kahle!
Hamba kahle!
Hamba kahle!

Names[edit | edit source]

Translate the following Zulu sentences into English:

NginguSipho.
I'm Sipho.
I'm Sipho.
Unjani?
How are you?
How are you?
Igama lami nguThembu.
My name is Thembu.
My name is Thembu.
Isibongo sami nguNdlovu.
My surname is Ndlovu.
My surname is Ndlovu.
NgingowakwaMthembu.
My surname is Mthembu.
My surname is Mthembu.

Translate the following English sentences into Zulu:

This is Nandi.
Lo nguNandi.
Lo nguNandi.
I am pleased to meet you.
Ngiyajabula ukukwazi.
Ngiyajabula ukukwazi.
I am feeling unwell.
Angiphilile kahle.
Angiphilile kahle.
I am ok.
Ngikhona.
Ngikhona.

Dialogue[edit | edit source]

Try translating the following dialogue:

uThabo: Sawubona sisi!
Thabo: Hello sister!
Thabo: Hello sister!
uZipho: Sawubona bhuti. Unjani?
Zipho: . Hello brother! How are you?
Zipho: . Hello brother! How are you?
uThabo: Ngisaphila, Wena unjani?
Thabo: I'm still alive, how are you?
Thabo: I'm still alive, how are you?
uZipho: wazalwa nini.
Zipho:ngazalwa mhlaka.
Zipho:ngazalwa mhlaka.
uThabo: Igama lami nguThabo, ngiyajabula ukukwazi.
Thabo: My name is Thabo, I'm pleased to meet you.
Thabo: My name is Thabo, I'm pleased to meet you.
uZipho: Nami, ngiyajabula ukukwazi. Sala kahle!
Zipho: I'm also pleased to meet you. Stay well (Goodbye)
Zipho: I'm also pleased to meet you. Stay well (Goodbye)
uThabo: Hamba kahle!
Thabo: Go well!
Thabo: Go well!

Next steps[edit | edit source]

  • If you would like, review this lesson: Lesson 1
  • Otherwise, continue to the next lesson: Lesson 2



Exercise/Lesson 2

Welcome to the exercises related to Lesson 2.

Click "▼" to check your answers.

Where do you live?[edit | edit source]

How would you respond to: (Assume for these questions that your name is Sipho Tshabala and that you're a doctor who works at Johannesburg Hospital, in Johannesburg. But you come from Durban.)

Wena uhlalaphi?
(Mina) Ngihlala eGoli.
(Mina) Ngihlala eGoli.
Igama lakho ngubani?
Igama lami nguSipho.
Igama lami nguSipho.
Wena uphuma kuphi?
(Mina) ngiphuma eThekwini.
(Mina) ngiphuma eThekwini.
Wenza msebenzi muni?
(Mina) ngingudokotela.
(Mina) ngingudokotela.
Sawubona mkhulu!
Yebo sawubona mntwana!
Yebo sawubona mntwana!
Wena ungunesi na?
Cha, ngingudokotela.
Cha, ngingudokotela.

Fill in the missing letters.

Mina ___yahlala.
ngi
ngi
Thina __hlala eKapa.
si
si
Yena _hlala eGoli.
u
u

Spot the error.

Yena nihlala ePitoli.
ni doesn't agree with Yena. It should be Yena uyahlala.
ni doesn't agree with Yena. It should be Yena uyahlala.
Mina ngihlala.
There is no ya.
There is no ya.

Professions and Places[edit | edit source]

Translate the following Zulu sentences into English:

Wena ungubani?
Who are you?
Who are you?
Yena unguthisha na?
Is he/she a teacher?
Is he/she a teacher?
Ngiyajabula ukukwazi!
I'm pleased to meet you!
I'm pleased to meet you!
Wena uhlala eKapa.
You stay in Cape Town.
You stay in Cape Town.
Ngiphuma eKhanada.
I come from Canada.
I come from Canada.

Translate the following English sentences into Zulu:

You are a teacher.
Wena unguthisha.
Wena unguthisha.
My surname is Smith.
Isibongo sami nguSmith.
Isibongo sami nguSmith.
What do you do?
Wenza mbsenzi muni?
Wenza mbsenzi muni?
My husband is a repairman.
Umyeni wami ungumkandi.
Umyeni wami ungumkandi.
Where do you come from?
Wena uphumaphi/ uphuma kuphi?
Wena uphumaphi/ uphuma kuphi?


Odd one out:

Which one of the following is not in Europe: iJalimani; iNgilandi; iSpeyini; iMelika; iFlansi.
iMelika (America).
iMelika (America).
Which country does not speak English: iNingizimu Afrika; iNgilandi; iSpeyini; iMelika; iZimbabwe.
iSpeyini (Spain).
iSpeyini (Spain).

Fill in the blanks

Nina __phuma kuphi?
ni
ni
Wena __phuma eKapa.
u
u

Spot the error. Fill in the blanks

Mina ngiphuma iPitoli?
i should be e.
i should be e.
Nina siphuma kuphi?
si should be ni as it agrees with Nina.
si should be ni as it agrees with Nina.

Dialogue[edit | edit source]

Try translating the following dialogue:

uSipho: Sawubona baba!
Sipho: Hello father!
Sipho: Hello father!
uNjabulo: Yebo sawubona mfana. Unjani?
Njabulo: . Hello boy! How are you?
Njabulo: . Hello boy! How are you?
uSipho: Ngiyaphila, Wena unjani?
Sipho: I'm alive, how are you?
Sipho: I'm alive, how are you?
uNjabulo: Nami ngikhona. Ngubani igama lakho?
Njabulo: I'm here too. What is your name?
Njabulo: I'm here too. What is your name?
uSipho: Igama lami nguSipho, ubaba ungubani?
Sipho: My name is Sipho, Who is father?
Sipho: My name is Sipho, Who is father?
uNjabulo: NginguNjabulo, ngiyajabula ukukwazi.
Njabulo: I'm Njabulo. I'm pleased to meet you.
Njabulo: I'm Njabulo. I'm pleased to meet you.
uSipho: Nami, ngiyajabula ukukwazi!
Sipho: Me also, I'm happy to meet you!
Sipho: Me also, I'm happy to meet you!
uNjabulo: Uhlalaphi?
Njabulo: Where do you stay?
Njabulo: Where do you stay?
uSipho: Ngihlala eGoli. Wena uhlala kuphi?
Sipho: I stay in Johannesburg. Where do you stay?
Sipho: I stay in Johannesburg. Where do you stay?
uNjabulo: Mina ngihlala eSoweto futhi wena uphuma kuphi?
Njabulo: I stay in Soweto also where do you come from?
Njabulo: I stay in Soweto also where do you come from?
uSipho: Mina ngiphuma khona eGoli.
Sipho: I come from here Johannesburg.
Sipho: I come from here Johannesburg.
uNjabulo: Ngiphuma eThekwini. Sala kahle!
Njabulo: I come from Durban. Stay well!
Njabulo: I come from Durban. Stay well!
uNjabulo: Hamba kahle!
Njabulo: Go well!
Njabulo: Go well!

Next steps[edit | edit source]

  • If you would like, review this lesson: Lesson 2
  • Otherwise, continue to the next lesson: Lesson 3I



Exercise/Lesson 3

Welcome to the exercises related to Lesson 3.

Click "▼" to check your answers.

How long have you been working for?[edit | edit source]

How would you respond to: (Assume for these questions that your name is Zipho Mtembu and that you're a student in Cape Town in your 3rd year. But you come from Johannesburg. You are 23 years old. Your brother works at Crispy Chicken as a cook. Your mother is a nurse. Your sister is teacher.)

Uneminyaka emingaki usebenza?
Cha, ngiyafunda.
Cha, ngiyafunda.
Uneminyaka emingaki ufunda?
Ngineminyaka eng-3 ngifunda.
Ngineminyaka eng-3 ngifunda.
Wena uphumaphi?
(Mina) ngiphuma eGoli.
(Mina) ngiphuma eGoli.
Isibongo satho ngubani?
Isibango sami uMtembu
Isibango sami uMtembu
Ngihlala kuphi?
Sawubona mntwana!
Sawubona mntwana!
Ungubani?
NginguZipho.
NginguZipho.
Wena unjani?
Ngikhona/ ngisaphila/ ngiyaphila.
Ngikhona/ ngisaphila/ ngiyaphila.
Ubhuti wakho usebenzaphi?
Ubhuti wami/Yena usebenza eCrispy Chicken.
Ubhuti wami/Yena usebenza eCrispy Chicken.
Uneminyaka emingaki ubudala?
Ngineminyaka engu-23.
Ngineminyaka engu-23.
Usisi wakho ungunesi?
Cha, usisi wami/ yena unguthisha.
Cha, usisi wami/ yena unguthisha.
Ubhuti wakho wenza msbenzi muni?
Ubhuti wami/ yena ungumpheki.
Ubhuti wami/ yena ungumpheki.


Age and Where do you...[edit | edit source]

Translate the following Zulu sentences into English:

Ngifunda eGoli.
I study in Johannesburg.
I study in Johannesburg.
Wena Uneminyaka emingaki ubudala?
How old are you/ (How many years do you have since birth)?
How old are you/ (How many years do you have since birth)?
Sihlala eNaturena.
We stay in Naturena.
We stay in Naturena.
Yena usebenza kuphi?
Where does he/she work?
Where does he/she work?
Yena uphuma eMeliki.
He/She comes from America.
He/She comes from America.
Umyeni wami usebenzela iNedbank.
My husband works for Nedbank.
My husband works for Nedbank.

Translate the following English sentences into Zulu:

How long have you been working for?
(Wena) uneminyaka emingaki usenbenza?
(Wena) uneminyaka emingaki usenbenza?
My name is Simon Hlope.
NginguSimon wakwaHlope.
NginguSimon wakwaHlope.
The teacher is coming from school.
Uthisha uphuma esikoleni
Uthisha uphuma esikoleni
We come from South Africa.
(Thina) siphuma eNingizimu Afrika.
(Thina) siphuma eNingizimu Afrika.
Where do you all stay?
(Nina) nihlalaphi/ nihlala kuphi?
(Nina) nihlalaphi/ nihlala kuphi?
I have studied for three years.
(Mina) ngineminyaka engu-3 ngifunda.
(Mina) ngineminyaka engu-3 ngifunda.

Odd one out:

Which one of the following is not a correct sentence: Uthisha uphuma esikoleni; Ngisebenzela eCrispy Chicken; Bona bahlala eNaturena; Yena uphuma eMelika.
Ngisebenzela eCrispy Chicken. (e cannot be used with sebenzela)
Ngisebenzela eCrispy Chicken. (e cannot be used with sebenzela)
Which of these nouns is not a possible family member: umama; umkhulu; usisi; umkandi; ubhuti.
umkandi (repairman).
umkandi (repairman).


Dialogue[edit | edit source]

Try translating the following dialogue:

uSipho: Sawubona Njabulo!
Sipho: Hello Njabulo!
Sipho: Hello Njabulo!
uNjabulo:Yebo, sawubona Sipho. Unjani?
Njabulo: Hello Sipho! How are you?
Njabulo: Hello Sipho! How are you?
uSipho: Ngiyaphila, Wena unjani?
Sipho: I'm alive, how are you?
Sipho: I'm alive, how are you?
uNjabulo: Nami ngisaphila.
Njabulo: I'm still alive.
Njabulo: I'm still alive.
uSipho: Uneminyaka emingaki ubudala?
Sipho: How old are you?
Sipho: How old are you?
uNjabulo: Ngineminyaka engu-48. Uneminyaka engu-17?
Njabulo: I am thirty two. Are you seventeen?
Njabulo: I am thirty two. Are you seventeen?
uSipho: Cha, Ngineminyaka engu-16 ubudala!
Sipho: No, I am sixteen years old!
Sipho: No, I am sixteen years old!
uNjabulo: Ubaba wakho usebenza kuphi?
Njabulo: Where does your father work?
Njabulo: Where does your father work?
uSipho: Yena usenbenza eFNB. Usenbenzaphi?
Sipho: He works at FNB. Where do you work?
Sipho: He works at FNB. Where do you work?
uNjabulo: Ngisebenza eNaturena kodwa ngiphuma eThekwini. Ufundaphi?
Njabulo: I work in Naturena but I'm from Durban. Where do you study?
Njabulo: I work in Naturena but I'm from Durban. Where do you study?
uSipho: Ngifunda eParktown Boys.
Sipho: I learn at Parktown Boys.
Sipho: I learn at Parktown Boys.
uNjabulo: Umama wakho uyasebenza na?
Njabulo: Does your mother work?
Njabulo: Does your mother work?
uSipho: Yebo, yena ungunesi.
Sipho: Yes, she's a nurse.
Sipho: Yes, she's a nurse.
uNjabulo: Sala kahle!
Njabulo: Stay well (Goodbye)
Njabulo: Stay well (Goodbye)
uSipho: Hamba kahle!
Sipho: Go well (Goodbye)!
Sipho: Go well (Goodbye)!

Next step[edit | edit source]

  • If you would like, review this lesson: Lesson 3
  • Otherwise, continue to the next lesson: Lesson 4



Exercise/Lesson 4

Welcome to the exercises related to Lesson 4.

Click "▼" to check your answers.

How long have you been working for?[edit | edit source]

How would you respond to: (Assume for these questions that your name is Lebohang Ndlovu and that you're a student in Pretoria in your 3rd year. But you come from Johannesburg. You are 22 years old. Your mother is a cook. Your brother is teacher. You have two friends called Sipho and Mfanafuthi. Sipho stays in Cape Town.)

Igama lakho ngubani?
Igama lami nguLebohang.
Igama lami nguLebohang.
Laba ngobani?
Laba abangane bami nguSipho nonguMfanafuthi.
Laba abangane bami nguSipho nonguMfanafuthi.
Wena uphumaphi?
(Mina) ngiphuma eGoli.
(Mina) ngiphuma eGoli.
uSipho uhlala kuphi?
uSipho uhlala eKapa.
uSipho uhlala eKapa.


Do you know...[edit | edit source]

Translate the following Zulu sentences into English:

Uyamazi uNelson wakwaMandela?
Yebo, ngiyamazi. noma(or) Cha angimazi.
Yebo, ngiyamazi. noma(or) Cha angimazi.

Translate the following English sentences into Zulu:

How long have you been working for?
(Wena) uneminyaka emingaki usenbenza?
(Wena) uneminyaka emingaki usenbenza?
My name is Simon Hlope.
NginguSimon wakwaHlope.
NginguSimon wakwaHlope.
The teacher is coming from school.
Uthisha uphuma esikoleni
Uthisha uphuma esikoleni
We come from South Africa.
(Thina) siphuma eNingizimu Afrika.
(Thina) siphuma eNingizimu Afrika.
Where do you all stay?
(Nina) nihlalaphi/ nihlala kuphi?
(Nina) nihlalaphi/ nihlala kuphi?
I have studied for three years.
(Mina) ngineminyaka engu-3 ngifunda.
(Mina) ngineminyaka engu-3 ngifunda.

Odd one out:

Which one of the following is not a correct sentence: Uthisha uphuma esikoleni; Ngisebenzela eCrispy Chicken; Bona bahlala eNaturena; Yena uphuma eMelika.
Ngisebenzela eCrispy Chicken. (e cannot be used with sebenzela)
Ngisebenzela eCrispy Chicken. (e cannot be used with sebenzela)
Which of these nouns is not a possible family member: umama; umkhulu; usisi; umkandi; ubhuti.
umkandi (repairman).
umkandi (repairman).

Dialogue[edit | edit source]

Try translating the following dialogue:

uSipho: Sawubona Njabulo!
Sipho: Hello Njabulo!
Sipho: Hello Njabulo!
uNjabulo:Yebo, sawubona Sipho. Unjani?
Njabulo: Hello Sipho! How are you?
Njabulo: Hello Sipho! How are you?
uSipho: Ngiyaphila, Wena unjani?
Sipho: I'm alive, how are you?
Sipho: I'm alive, how are you?
uNjabulo: Nami ngisaphila.
Njabulo: I'm still alive.
Njabulo: I'm still alive.
uSipho: Uneminyaka emingaki ubudala?
Sipho: How old are you?
Sipho: How old are you?
uNjabulo: Ngineminyaka engu-48. Uneminyaka engu-17?
Njabulo: I am thirty two. Are you seventeen?
Njabulo: I am thirty two. Are you seventeen?
uSipho: Cha, Ngineminyaka engu-16 ubudala!
Sipho: No, I am sixteen years old!
Sipho: No, I am sixteen years old!
uNjabulo: Ubaba wakho usebenza kuphi?
Njabulo: Where does your father work?
Njabulo: Where does your father work?
uSipho: Yena usenbenza eFNB. Usenbenzaphi?
Sipho: He works at FNB. Where do you work?
Sipho: He works at FNB. Where do you work?
uNjabulo: Ngisebenza eNaturena kodwa ngiphuma eThekwini. Ufundaphi?
Njabulo: I work in Naturena but I'm from Durban. Where do you study?
Njabulo: I work in Naturena but I'm from Durban. Where do you study?
uSipho: Ngifunda eParktown Boys.
Sipho: I learn at Parktown Boys.
Sipho: I learn at Parktown Boys.
uNjabulo: Umama wakho uyasebenza na?
Njabulo: Does your mother work?
Njabulo: Does your mother work?
uSipho: Yebo, yena ungunesi.
Sipho: Yes, she's a nurse.
Sipho: Yes, she's a nurse.
uNjabulo: Sala kahle!
Njabulo: Stay well (Goodbye)
Njabulo: Stay well (Goodbye)
uSipho: Hamba kahle!
Sipho: Go well (Goodbye)!
Sipho: Go well (Goodbye)!

Next step[edit | edit source]

  • If you would like, review this lesson: Lesson 4
  • Otherwise, continue to the next lesson: Lesson 5



Appendix A

1.1 Basic Grammar[edit | edit source]

1.1.1 Tenses

isiZulu has the same grammatical structure as English: subject, verb and object (SVO). But this order changes in to SOV when 'prepositions' are used in a similar way to French. Before explaining the tenses in Zulu, we need to introduce a few concepts. The first of these concepts is the adjunct. An adjunct is a sentence element that establishes the circumstances in which the action or state expressed by the verb take place. For example, in the sentence, "Today, I went shopping at the mall", all the words in bold are the adjuncts. Those words tell where and when "I went shopping". In English, different subjects do not change the subsequent verb, except when moving from singular to plural. This is not the case in Zulu. The governing noun of a sentence must always be indicated. This is done with a system of concords/prefixes that show this reference.

1.1.1.1 The Present tense

Instead of pronouns and articles, isiZulu uses a system of concordial prefixes. A simple indicative positive statement in the present tense without an adjunct takes the general form of:

NP-NS SP-ya-VS-a

where:

NP = Noun Prefix NS = Noun Stem SP = Subjectival Prefix VS = Verb Stem

An simple example is:

Umuntu uyahamba. "The person is walking."

Broken up into its parts according to the above-mentioned pattern, this becomes:

Umu-ntu u-ya-hamb-a

1.1.1.2 The Future Tense

A simple indicative positive statement in the future tense without an adjunct takes the general form of:

NP-NS SP-zo-(ku)-VS-a

If the verb stem consists of only one syllable, then the "ku" prefix is included. Using the same example as before:

Umuntu uzohamba. "The person will walk(go)." (Note: "hamba" means "go" as well as "walk".

Broken up into its parts this becomes:

Umu-ntu u-zo-hamb-a

1.1.1.3 The Immediate Past Tense

A simple indicative positive statement in the past tense without an adjunct takes the general form of:

NP-NS SP-NS-ile

For example:

Umuntu uhambile. "The person went."

Broken up:

Umu-ntu u-hamb-ile

1.2. Summary of Tenses[edit | edit source]

The below table provides a summary of the tenses of the indicative in Zulu all in first person.

Tense Adjunct No Adjunct English
Present Ngidla ukudla Ngiyadla I am eating (food)
Future (imminent) Ngizodla ukudla Ngizodla I shall eat (food)
Future (non-imminent) Ngiyodla ukudla Ngiyodla I shall eat (food)
Immediate Past Continuous Bengidla ukudla Bengidla I have been eating (food)
Remote Past Continuous Ngangidla ukudla Ngangidla I was eating (food) (sometime ago)
Immediate Past Tense Ngidle ukudla Ngidlile I have eaten (food)
Remote Past Tense Ngadla ukudla Ngadla I ate (food)

1.3 Noun Classes[edit | edit source]

The following table gives an overview of Zulu noun class, arranged according to singular-plural pairs.

Class Singular Plural
1/2 um(u)-1 aba-2, abe-3
1a/2b u- o-
3/4 um(u)-1 imi-2
5/6 i- ama-, ame-4
7/8 is(i)-5 iz(i)-5
9/10 iN- iziN-6
11/10 u- iziN-6
14 ubu- (ama-)7
15 uku-

1 um- replaces umu- before monosyllabic stems, e.g. umuntu (man).

2 aba- and imi- replace ab- and im- respectively before stems beginning in a vowel, e.g. abongameli (president).

3 abe- occurs only in rare cases, e.g. in abeSuthu (the Sotho) or abeLungu (the Whites, the Europeans).

4 ame- occurs only in one instance, namely amehlo (eyes) the plural of iso (eye; originally: ihlo).

5 isi- and izi- replace is- and iz- respectively before stems beginning with a vowel, e.g. isandla/izandla (hand/hands).

6 The placeholder N in the prefixes iN- and iziN- for m, n or no letter at all, i.e. in classes 9 and 10 there are three different prefixes, though only one per noun stem. Examples:

iN- = i-:  imali (money)
iN- = im-: impela (truth)
iN- = in-: inhlanzi (fish)

7 Rare, see above.

1.4 Subject prefixes[edit | edit source]

In Zulu, a subject prefix corresponds to the subjective case of English personal pronouns, such as I or he. Unlike personal pronouns, however, Zulu subject prefix cannot stand alone, but must be attached to a verb. Zulu does possess a set of independent personal pronouns; however, these are only used to emphasise the subject to whom they refer.

An example with the subject prefix si- and the personal pronoun thina (both meaning we):

Sihamba manje. We are going now.
Thina sihamba manje. We are going now.

There is a unique subject prefix for each grammatical person and each noun class.

initial SP
Person Singular Plural
1st ngi- si-
2nd u- ni-
Class Singular Plural
1/2 u- ba-
1a/2b u- ba-
3/4 u- i-
5/6 li- a-
7/8 si- zi-
9/10 i- zi-
11/10 lu- zi-
14 bu-
15 ku-
non-initial SP-
Person Singular Plural
1st -ngi- -si-
2nd -wu- -ni-
Class Singular Plural
1/2 -ka- -ba-
1a/2b -ka- -ba-
3/4 -wu- -yi-
5/6 -li- -wa-
7/8 -si- -zi-
9/10 -yi- -zi-
11/10 -lu- -zi-
14 -bu-
15 -ku-

The non-initial subject prefixes (SP-) are used when a further prefix is attached to the SP, for example in the negative of certain tenses.



Appendix B

Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

Vowels[edit | edit source]

Letter IPA Example (IPA) Example (Written) Meaning Notes
i i 'siːza -siza "help" Pronounced somewhat like ease in English.
u u u'muːzi umuzi "family" Somewhat like English vowel in the word pool.
e e umgiˈɓeːli umgibeli "passenger" Somewhat like bed in English.
ɛ ibʰubɛːsi ibhubesi "lion" Pronounced somewhat like bay in English.
o ɔ ɔˈgɔːgo ogogo "grandmothers" Somewhat like law in English.
o umgoːdi umgodi "hole" Pronounced somewhat like boat in English.
a a idaːda idada "duck" Pronounced somewhat like ark in English.

Note the table contains diphthongs and lengthened vowels.

Semi-vowels[edit | edit source]

Letter IPA Example (IPA) Example (Written) Meaning Notes
y j ujiːse uyise "his/her/their father" Pronounced as in yes in English.
w w iːwele iwele "twin" Pronounced as in wall in English.

Consonants[edit | edit source]

Letter IPA Example (IPA) Example (Written) Meaning Notes
m m ujiːse umama "my/our mother" Pronounced as in English.
n n uniːna unina "his/her/their mother" Pronounced as in no in English.
ny ɲ iːɲɔːni inyoni "bird" Pronounced as in vignette.
ng ŋ iːŋɔane ingane "child" Pronounced as in finger.
p p iːpiːpi ipipi "pipe for smoking" This consonant is pronounced somewhat as in speech.
ph pʰɛːɠa -pheka "cook" Pronounced as in pin never as in phone
t t iːtiːje itiye "tea" Pronounced somewhat as in English.
th tʰaːtʰa -thatha "take" Pronounced somewhat as in English but more fully aspirated i.e. with more air escaping from the mouth.
k k umakɔːti umakoti "bride" Pronounced somewhat as in English.
ɠ uɠuza ukuza "to come" Pronounced somewhere between k and g in English.
kh iːkʰaːnda ikhanda "head" Pronounced somewhat like c in cat but more aspirated.
g g ugɔgɔ ugogo "granny" Pronounced somewhat like in go never as in gem.
b ɓ ubaːba ubaba "my/our father" Pronounced with implosion; the movement of the muscles approaches more or less that when smoking a pipe.
bh b bala -bhala "write" Pronounced more or less as in English bed.
d d iːdaːda idada "duck" Pronounced more or less as in English duck.
f f iːfu ifu "cloud" Pronounced more or less as in English fun.
v v vaːla -vala "close" Pronounced as in English van.
s s iːsiːsu isisu "stomach" Pronounced as in English say.
sh ʃ iːʃuːmi ishumi' "ten" Pronounced as in English shall.
h h haːmba -hamba' "go" Pronounced as in English hand.
ɦ iːɦaːʃi ihashi' "horse" Pronounced as in English behind.
l l lala -lala' "sleep" Pronounced as in English laugh.
hl ɬ ɬaːla -hlala' "sit" Pronounced as in Welsh Llanelli. An approximation is pronouncing l and h simultaneously.
dl ɮ ɮaːla -dla' "eat" This consonant is voiced form of hl. This means the vocal cords are vibrating during articulation.
tsh utʃaːni utshani' "grass" Pronounced as the English chin.
j ʤ uʤu uju' "honey" This consonant is pronounced as the English jump.
kl kɬ' (*) kɬ'aːja -klaya' "split" To produced this sound:
  1. Raise the back of the tongue against the soft palate.
  2. Keep the front part of the tongue down behind the lower teeth.
  3. Force air through the closure caused by raising the back of the tongue against the soft palate.

(*) IPA transcription by G. Poulos & C.T. Msimang. A linguistic analysis of Zulu. Cape Town: Via Afrika, 1998.

Clicks[edit | edit source]

Letter IPA Example (IPA) Example (Written) Meaning Notes
c ǀ ǀela -cela request To produce this sound:
  1. Place the tip of the tongue against the upper front teeth and gum.
  2. Depress the centre of the tongue.
  3. Release the tip of the tongue drawing it slightly backwards.
q ǃ ǃala -qala begin To produce this sound:
  1. Press the upper part of the tongue-tip against the part between the teeth ridge and the hard palate.
  2. Raise the back of the tongue so that it touches the soft palate.
  3. Depress the centre of the tongue.
  4. Release sharply downwards the tip of the tongue.
x ǁ ǁɔːǁɔː -xoxo chat, converse To produce this sound:
  1. Place the upper part of the tongue-tip against the part between the teeth ridge and the hard palate.
  2. Raise the back of the tongue towards the soft palate.
  3. Withdraw one side of the tongue from the upper teeth.

Note: c is often described as the sound in tut-tut while x is the sound used for encouraging horses.

The click sounds can be aspirated, nasalised, voiced or voiced and nasalised together. This is shown in the below table.

Aspirated Nasalised Voiced Voiced and Nasalised
ch nc gc ngc
qh nq gq ngq
xh nx gx ngx