Happy Birthday To Me!!!

It’s my birthday tomorrow-yay! So in the spirit of celebrating am offering to give away free soft copies of Swahili materials including the highly recommended Simplified Swahili by the famous Mr. Wilson!

There’s a catch though (of course there is!). Just wish me a happy birthday via the comment section (then I can pretend I am ‘oh so popular’ that total strangers are sending me birthday wishes he he!) and tell me briefly if and how this little blog has helped you in your Swahili learning journey and also what your favourite category (eg. random stuff, Swahili tunes etc) or lesson is. Also if you have any suggestions for improvements, future lessons etc you can include those as well. Do that and (in Oprah Winfrey’s voice) “you are ALL getting free Swahili learning materials!”

Let the celebrations begin!!!

Happy bday Elise


Am adding a new category titled vikatuni (cartoon strips) whereby I will be featuring popular Swahili strips for your entertainment and of course Swahili learning purposes. I won’t be explaining right away so feel free to comment and tell us your interpretation then I will also add my 2 cents.

First one is by popular cartoonist, Masoud Kipanya (Kipanya meaning a tiny mouse hence most if not all of his strips usually feature a ‘mouse head’). Brilliant at his work and extremely witty. You can look him up online if interested.

kipanya 1


Bush anakuja… nasikia  anakujaga na magari yake, msosi wake, toilet pepa zake! Tunaomba Bongo aje na barabara zake na pantoni zake…

LESSON #98: STOVE 1 (Subject prefixes)

If you’re a regular lurker on here you know I post lessons in mixed fashion i.e. I mix all levels and don’t follow a certain pattern. My favourite topic is hands down this simple one that teaches you how to create a simple Swahili sentence using the above formula, STOVE (borrowed from Simplified Swahili). So what does it stand for?

S– Subject prefix T– Tense O– Object infix V– Verb E– Ending vowel

To easily understand this topic, my approach is that we break the formula into the different little sections, discuss them, and once we’ve covered all 5, we bring them together to form a simple, complete sentence. Note that in Swahili 1 sentence could be equal to 5 or more words in English.

eg, Ninakufundisha (1) = I am teaching you (4), pretty cool huh?!

With that in mind let’s start off with S (subject prefix). In English we have a 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person and it. These are represented by personal pronouns and subject prefixes. As in:

                                    Personal pronoun                       Subject Prefix

1st person                            Me (Us)                                     I (We)

2nd person                          You (You)                                You (You)

3rd person                           Him/Her (Them)                   He/She (They)

First of all note that, unlike in English, Swahili has many variations of it (about 7-8 of them). This is due to the use of noun classes- which I might cover at some point. Also note that when dealing with STOVE, it is all about humans (and other living beings i.e. animals, birds, insects and fish). So we are learning how to form sentences involving living beings ONLY as the main subjects or objects of a particular sentence. eg. We are not learning how to say the chair broke, because a chair is an inanimate object, rather we are learning how to say the girl broke a nail, or they carried many loads etc etc. Speaking of subjects (and objects) just what are they? A subject in a sentence is the one doing the act while the object is the one for which or to which an act is done. eg. If a sentence says the girl carried the dog, the girl here is doing the main act of carrying a dog hence she is the subject while the dog is the object because the main act in the sentence (carrying) is being done to them.

With that in mind, let’s see what personal pronouns and subject prefixes we have in Swahili (which perfectly match with the English ones). Note that whatever’s in brackets is the plural, also in Swahili he/she & him/her are each represented by only one personal pronoun/subject prefix unlike in English:

                                       Personal pronoun                       Subject Prefix

1st person                            Mimi (Sisi)                                     Ni (Tu)

2nd person                          Wewe (Nyinyi/Ninyi)                   U (M)

3rd person                           Yeye (Wao)                                    A (Wa)

So knowing all about subject prefixes let’s go back to the very first example sentence, ninakufundisha. Using STOVE, we now know what ni, stands for, it stands for I. So even if we didn’t know what ninakufundisha means, at least we’d know the sentence is saying I am doing, did, will do….. something. So the next thing to learn is T which stands for Tense, which will be the next topic I cover. Before signing off it is also important to note the fact that in Swahili sentences tend to sound repetitive, eg. The girl carried a dog= msichana (the girl) alibeba (she carried)  mbwa (a dog). Note the repetition, the girl she carried a dog, in English the subject prefix is deemed unnecessary and repetitive but in Swahili it is not, it is absolutely imperative that it be included. Cant explain any further, it’s just one of those things so just know that.

I have written this lesson the way I would usually present it, some students get it right off the bat whilst others take a bit longer. No sweat, that’s why the comment section is for, ask and it shall be answered for thee.

Till next time…