Igbo Verbs

LEARN IGBO VERBS

Verbs are doing words. In Igbo, there are no masculine or feminine verbs. It’s all the same.

To conjugate a verb eg: ‘ije’ or ‘ịga’ which mean the same thing by the way (to go); follow these steps

  1. Remove ‘i’ or ‘ị’ from the infinitive
  2. Replace with ‘a’ or ‘e’ depending on vowel harmony
  3. Attach a prefix na- (present tense) or ga- (future tense)

OR

Attach a suffix for past tense or present perfect tense. We will discuss what to attach later.

 

 

 

Vowel harmony:

 

There are 8 vowels in Igbo:

A, e, i, o, u, ị, ọ, ụ

 

They are grouped into 2:

‘a’ group: a, ị, ọ, ụ

‘e’ group: e, i, o, u

While conjugating a verb, the vowels in the verb in most cases would be from the same group. See more on vowel harmony at ezinaulo.com.

 

Using ‘ije’ as an example

Present tense:

  1. Remove ‘i’
  2. Replace with ‘e’ as the vowel in the verb root ‘e’ is in the ‘e’ group

Ije ->  je -> eje ->  na-eje

 

M na-eje ahịa

Ị na-eje ahịa

Ngọzị na-eje ahịa

 

So you use a name or an equivalent pronoun and make your sentence.

Ahia means market.

 

Past tense:

  1. Remove ‘I’ or ‘ị’ from the infinitive
  2. Add ‘r’ as a suffix, followed by the last vowel in the verb root

 

Using ‘Ije’

 

Ije -> je -> jer -> jere

 

M jere ahịa

 

Ị jere ahịa

 

Ngozi jere ahịa

 

Future tense:

 

  1. Remove the ‘i’ or ‘ị’ from the infinitive
  2. Replace with ‘a’ or ‘e’ depending on the vowel group which the vowel in the root verb belongs to
  3. Add ga- as prefix

 

 

Ije -> je -> eje -> ga-eje

 

M ga-eje ahịa

 

Ị ga-eje ahịa

 

Ngozi ga-eje ahịa

 

 

Present perfect tense (past participle):

  1. Remove ‘i’ or ‘ị’ from the infinitive
  2. Write the verb in its imperative form (command/request). This is done by adding ‘e’ or ‘a’ as suffix depending on which group of vowels the vowel in the verb root belongs to. For some verbs, ‘ọ’ is used as suffix instead of ‘a’. However if you use ‘a’, you will still be understood.

 

  1. Then add ‘la’ as a further suffix

 

Using ‘ije’

 

Ije -> je -> jee -> jeela

 

M jeela ahịa  – I have gone to the market

 

Ị jeela ahịa

 

Ngozi ejeela ahịa

 

Notice I added ‘e’ as prefix for ‘Ngozi’. This is added when you are using names in sentences or using the plural pronouns.

Eg:

Ha ejeela ahịa   –  They have gone to the market

Unu ejeela ahịa

Anyị ejeela ahịa

 

Below is a list of common verbs. You can follow the same rules above to conjugate most of them.

 

 

Infinitive English Present Future Past Present

Perfect (past participle)

Ịhụ To see Na-ahụ Ga-ahụ Hụrụ Hụụla
Ịga To go Na-aga Ga-aga Gara Gaala
Ịgụ To read

To sing

Na-agụ Ga-agụ Gụrụ Gụọla
Ile To look Na-ele Ga-ele Lere Leela
Ịbịa To come Na-abịa Ga-abịa Bịara Bịala
Iri nri To eat Na-eri nri Ga-eri nri Riri nri Riela nri
Ịza To sweep/

To answer

Na-aza Ga-aza Zara Zaala

 

Daalụ maka ịgụ edemede a.

Thanks for reading.

Do you have questions or suggestions, let me know via the comments or send me an email.

Ka ọ dị.

Na-asụkwa Igbo.

See you.

Keep speaking Igbo.

2 Responses to “Igbo Verbs”


  • Bob / Reply

    You are wrong. “Na-ahụ” is not the present tense, it’s the “present continuous tense”. Can you please add the simple present to your page?


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