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).

Practice your basic Luganda!

Worksheet 1: Greetings (Formal and Informal), Answer key 1
Worksheet 2: Singular/Plural, Answer key 2
Worksheet 3: Present tense and negative present tense, Answer key 3
Worksheet 4: Past tenses, Answer key 4
Worksheet 5: Future tense, Answer key 5
Worksheet 6: Counting in noun classes, Answer key 6
Worksheet 7: The possessive, Answer key 7
Worksheet 8: Subject indicators, Answer key 8
Worksheet 9: Prepositions, Answer key 9
Worksheet 10: Adjectives, Answer key 10
Worksheet 11: Agreement, Answer Key 11
Worksheet 12: Impersonal possessive, Answer key 12
Worksheet 13: Still, Answer key 13
Worksheet 14: Not yet, Answer key 14
Worksheet 15: No longer, Answer key 15
Worksheet 16: Just now, Answer key 16


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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.