Luganda for Beginners
Some fast and interesting facts about Luganda grammar
Luganda is a tonal language.
Vowels are very important in Luganda. In fact, the word for vowel, enjatuza, means “letters that make sound in a word.” Vowels create the structure of Luganda pronunciation, and can be either long or short.
Consonants can also be long or short.
In written Luganda, long vowels and consonants are expressed through double letters. For example, jjajja (grandmother) and baana (children) both feature a long sound. When spoken, both long vowels and consonants simply put extra emphasis on the long sound.
Long vs. short vowels can give a word different meaning.
Every syllable in Luganda ends with a vowel.
The sound “ny” is a single consonant sound, but it is written with two letters.
There are seven tenses in Luganda: Distant past, past, immediate past, now, ongoing, immediate future, and future.
There are ten types (or classes) of nouns (Note: this number is somewhat disputed, but ten seems to be mostly agreed-upon). Each noun class comes in both singular and plural, and there isn’t any hard and fast rule about which nouns fit into which class.
When telling time, the beginning of the day corresponds with the first hour of sunlight. So, to say 7:00 AM, you won’t use the word for seven in Luganda. Instead, you’ll call it one o’clock (emu ey’okumakya).