Modified Verb Stems

Modified verb stems are an important part of Rukiga grammatical structure. All verbs have their own modified verb stem, which for our purposes we will call “MVS”. The MVS is necessary to form some tenses in Rukiga, for example, the yesterday past tense, the already/perfect tense, and the not yet tenses.

There are several grammatical rules that govern how verbs form modify verbs stems. Often is its most helpful to memorize the most common MVS for the most common verbs. However, knowing the rules can also help you if you encounter a verb that you do not know. In what follows we will note the key rules for forming modified verb stems from verbs in Rukiga:

  1. All modified verb stems end in “-e”
  2. The majority of modified verb stems end in “-ire” which replaces the final “-a”:
    1. kuteeka —> -teekire
    2. kuhinga —> -hingire
    3. kushenya –> -shenyire
  3. Verb stems ending in “-ta” change to “-tsire” [note: the “t” is typically silent in pronunciation, though not always]:
    1. kweta –> -yetsire
    2. kwita –> -yitsire
    3. kucumita –> -cumitsire
  4. Verbs stems ending in “-sa” and “-za” change to “-ize”:
    1. kubaasa –> -baasize
    2. kwimusa –> -imusize
    3. ku-taasa –> -taasize
  5. Verbs ending in “-nda”, “-ra”, and “-ja” change to “-ire” (in Rukiga) and “-izire” in Runyankore, though “-ra” verbs have an exception (see below):
    1. kwenda –> -yenzire
    2. kuronda –> -ronzire
    3. kukunda –> -kunzire
  6. For certain verbs which end in “-ra”, the -ra is removed and replaced by -ire:
    1. kutomera –> -tomeire
    2. kuhingira –> -hingiire
    3. kugotomera –> -gotemeire
  7. Verbs which end in “-ura” and “-ora” change their “u” or “o” to “w” before “-ire”; this is then influenced by Rukiga’s contraction rules for letters/sounds [Some examples can be found here]:
    1. kuhotora –> -hotwire
    2. kukanura –> -kanwire
    3. kukanuka –> -kanukire
  8. Verbs stems which are duo-syllabic and end in “-za” are modified by replacing the “-za” with “-rize”:
    1. kubuuza –> -buurize
    2. kuhoza –> -horize
    3. ku-guza –> -gurize

The table below shows the rules mentioned above.

Verb Ending MVS suffix Example Verb Modified Verb Stem of Example Verb
1 (-a) (-ire) kuteeka (-teekire)
2 (-ta) (-tsire) kucumita (-cumitsire)
3 (-sa/-za) (-ize) kutaasa (-taasize)
4 (-ra/-ja/-nda) (-izire) kwija (-izire)
5 (-ra) (-ire) kuhingira (-hingiire)
6 (-ura/-ora) change “o” or “u” to “w” before (-ire) kushengura (-shengwire)
7 (-za) (-rize) kubuuza (-buurize)

Additionally, there are a few irregular verbs for the MVS. Key verbs for learners to know are the following:

  1. kuza –> -giire
  2. kwozya–> -yogize
  3. kubugana –> -bugaine


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