Lesson 2. Wayboro fo koy Niamey.

  1. Intro
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Grammar
  4. Exercises


2.A. Intro

Wayboro fo koy Niamey

Wayboro fo kaaru farkay boŋ. A koy Niamey. A na farkay neera.
A day haw fo da bari fo.
A kaaru bariyo boŋ. A n'iri fo. A koy fu.

Listen and exercise


2.B. Vocabulary
  1. Verbs
  2. Nouns
  3. Prepositions, etc.

Open the Pronunciation Guide in new window

Learn these words by heart.

2.B.1 Verbs
Zarma English Pronunciation
kaa to come kaâ
fo to greet
wi to kill; to reap, to harvest [grain] wi
kar to strike, to hit kar
foy to spent, to pass the daytime foy
kaaru 1) to climb, to mount (intransitive)
2) to ride (domestic animal, bike, etc.)
kâ/ ru

2.B.2 Nouns
Zarma English Pronunciation
baani, baano health (of the body);
peace (of the mind or personality)
bââ/ ni
bene, bena sky, heavens bê/ ne
hari, haro water, liquid ha/ ri
bene hari, bene haro rain bê/ ne ha/ ri

2.B.3 Prepositions, adverbs, etc.
Zarma English Pronunciation
boŋ (preposition) on, upon, on the top (nasal) boŋ
bene (preposition) above, up be / ne
oho (adverb) yes o / ho
haŋ'a (adverb)
no (nasal) haŋ / a
/ h
fofo (adverb) hello, thanks, greetings fo / fo
nda (conjunction) and, with nda

A preposition always follows the word or phrase or clause it modifies. Thus it is actually a "postposition".


2.C. Grammar

Subjects in this lesson

  1. Direct object, introduction
  2. The particle "na" to indicate a direct object in past tense
  3. Direct object, exceptions of sentence order
  4. The verbs come and go
  5. The conjunction "nda"
  6. Review of sentence order learned at this point

2.C.1. Direct object, introduction

First, let us review the three general types of objects of verbs:

  1. Direct object, answer the question "what" did the verb do.
  2. Indirect object, shows for whom or to whom the action of the verb is directed (explained in Lesson 6.D.2)
  3. Adverbial modifiers, answer when, why, where, how long, how, to what extent, to what degree, who far, etc.

Note: The linking verbs, to be, to exist, do not fall into any of these categories.

General rule

Now the direct object in Zarma generally precedes the verb, while the indirect object and adverbial and other modifiers regularly follow it (see examples in 2.C.2. below).

General exception

There is one general class of verbs, those showing subjective perception or emotion, which regularly take the direct object afterwards, see section 2.C.3. These verbs will be marked with an "#" in the vocabularies as they occur in lessons.

Other exceptions

A very few common verbs (notably "buy" and "sell") will sometimes be heard with the direct object after them, but the regular way is correct as well, and more commonly heard. In section 2.C.3 to the above rules will be discussed.

Verb auxiliary

When there is a direct object before the verb, there is always some kind of verb auxiliary preceding it to distinguish it from the subject. But in all tenses, aspects and moods of the verb, the same sentence order is preserved.

2.C.2. The particle "na" to indicate a direct object in past tense

In the past tense, when the direct object precedes the verb, it is pointed out and distinguished from the subject by the particle "na". This "na" precedes the direct object.

Zarma English
Ay na bari fo neera I sold a horse.
A na yo kaaru He rode a camel.

Note: This "na" as a completed tense indicator only occurs where a direct object precedes the verb, whether or not the verb is followed by an adverbial modifier, indirect object or even a compound direct object when this follows the verb.

When the personal pronouns, which begin with a vowel, are used as direct objects, the "na" generally contracts with "a" and "i", and sometimes with other pronouns as well beginning with a vowel. When this contraction occurs, the pronoun is strongly accented.

Zarma English
Iri n' a wi. We killed it.
A n' i day. He bought them
Araŋ n' iri fo. You greeted us
Zankey n' iri kar The children struck us.

The vowel of this "na" particle, and indeed of all auxiliaries is very short, little more than a grunt.

2.C.3. Direct object, exceptions of sentence order

The direct object usually precedes the verb (see 2.C.1). There is one general class of verbs, which regularly take the direct object afterwards. These are verbs showing subjective perception or emotion, such as "maa" (to hear) en kande (to bring). These will be marked with an "#" in the vocabularies as they occur in lessons.

Zarma English
Iri maa musu beri. We heard a lion.
Araŋ kande hansi. You brought a dog.

For direct objects, which precede the verb (see 2.C.1
), there is a possible exception (not a obligatory exception!). When two or more nouns are used as direct objects, they may follow the verb.

Zarma English
I kaaru bari da yo. They rode horse and camel.

Note that it would be just as correct to say: "I na bari da yo kaaru".

In Zarma there is a group of verbs that can be either transitive or intransitive, depending on the meaning and context, similar to English.  A transitive verb takes a direct object: it shows action upon someone or something. Intransitive verbs take no direct object; they need only a subject to make a sentence. For example, the verb "kaaru" in combination with the preposition "boŋ" it is intransitive and means "to mount". Without this preposition "kaaru" means "to ride" and it is transitive, see Table below. The English translation of the verb might be in both cases transitive.

Djerma phrase English phrase
Ay na bariyo kaaru bariyo =
direct object
I rode a horse a horse = direct object
Ay kaaru bariyo boŋ bariyo boŋ = object of the preposition I mounted a horse a horse = direct object

2.C.4. The verbs come and go

Verbs "koy" (go) and "kaa" (come)

The verbs of motion (come and go), which ordinarily take the preposition "to" in English before their adverbial object, do not require it in Zarma when the object is "home", "house", "town", "village", or the name of a specific town or country.

Zarma English
A koy kwaara He went to the village
I kaa Niamey They came to Niamey

2.C.5. The conjunction "nda"

Two nouns (or more) or pronouns, with their adjective modifiers, may be connected in Zarma by the conjunction "nda", but not adjectives, not verbs, and not clauses. If there is a string of nouns, where we would normally use a comma to separate all but the last two, "nda" must be used for all of them, not a comma. This "nda" is one syllable, short vowel, and the "n" is often not detectable.

Zarma English
Ay na haw fo da yo fo neera. I sold a cow and a camel.
Ay na bari da yo kaaru. I rode a horse and a camel.
Hansi nda musu koy. A dog and a cat went.
I kaaru bari da farkay boŋ. They mounted on a horse and a donkey.


Zarma English
Iri na haw fo day. Iri na bari fo neera. We bought a cow and we sold a horse.

There are ways of connecting clauses, but that comes later in Lesson 5.D.5. It isn't "nda".

2.C.6. Review of sentence order learned at this point

1. With the regular transitive verbs (the article may or may not be present):

direct object-article
The dog
the cat

2. With the intransitive verb:

the house


Last updated: 07 februari 2012