Start Learning Swahili in the next 30 Seconds with
a Free Lifetime Account

Or sign up using Facebook

Swahili Verbs

Verbs are words that show action and are one of the most important lessons you will need to learn when you’re studying Swahili. Most of us have bad memories associated with having to learn verbs when we were learning the grammar rules for our own language. Swahili verbs, like all verbs, are at their core rules that you are given which will allow you to use the correct action verbs to convey your meaning when speaking or writing. Without using verbs correctly you will have difficulty making yourself understood when speaking Swahili.

One of the rules that govern Swahili verbs is the use of tenses. The Swahili language utilizes three tenses: past, present, and future. To learn the tenses, and how to use them within a sentence you must learn the prefix that is attached to each of the tenses.

Attaching the prefix “li” to a verb shows the verb in its past tense. This means that actions that were performed in the past such as I smiled, he smiled, or we smiled use the prefix “li” in front of the infinitive verb.
The present tense in a verb is shown by attaching the prefix “na” to a verb. The prefix “na” is used to describe actions that are happening now such as I smile, he smiles, or we smile.

Showing future tense for a verb is similar to the past and present tense. The prefix “ta” is used to depict actions that will happen later such as I will smile, he will smile, or we will smile. Each of these actions shows something that has not happened yet, but will happen sometime in the future.

Listed below are the Swahili verbs in their past, present, and future tenses respectively. Do you notice the placement of each of the prefixes associated with its tense?

I smiled nilitabasamu
He smiled alichukua
We smiled tulitabasamu
I smile natabasamu
He smiles anatabasamu
We smile tunatabasamu
I will smile nitatabasamu
He will smile atatabasamu
We will smile tutatabasamu

Although you will not likely begin learning verbs until you’ve taken the time to learn the Swahili alphabet and basic Swahili vocabulary words it’s a good idea to become familiar with some of the basic verb rules right away. This will ensure that after each of your Swahili lessons you can take the things you’ve learned and put them together quickly and easily. Putting all your lessons together will teach you how to speak Swahili like a native with ease.