Ngakarimojong: Uses of the Imperative Tense


In English, the imperative is a rather limited tense. In Ngakarimojong, however, it is extremely versatile, appearing in a number of everyday contexts and playing a key role in a variety of grammatical constructions. One such construction is the abunore form of the past tense, which is formed by placing the auxiliary verb abunore before a verb conjugated in the imperative. Since the abunore form of the past tense and the sometimes inscrutable conjugation of the imperative are already covered in a previous entry, in this chapter I will focus on the other uses of the imperative tense.


Like its English counterpart, the imperative tense in Ngakarimojong can be used to issue commands.


Bua robo!: Come here!

Kimasara iyes ngakusikwaras neni a ebu logo!: Throw your spears at that hyena!

Kirikak ekonitic!: Finish your work!

Negative commands can be formed by adding the prefix “ny-” to the root of the imperative verb, or by using toesik, the imperative form of the verb aesikin (to stop), followed by the infinitive.


Nyilot lodukan akigyel ngiboro ngulu mam nyikicamito iwon!: Don’t got to the store and buy things we don’t need!

Nyigen ekile lo–erono inges nooi!:  Don’t trust that man–he’s very bad!

Toesik akitiya!: Don’t work!

Toesik akirworikin!: Don’t speak!

Expressing Preference 

When paired with quality verbs such as ejok (it is good) and itemokino (it is convenient), the imperative can also be used to express preference, much like the subjunctive in languages like French and Swahili.


Ejok ngidwe toloto losukul: Children should go to school

Itemokino ngikilyok kingarakis ngakeceberu: Men should help their wives

Ejok nyirworik ngiboro ngulu erono nguna etapito ngitunga nguluce: You shouldn’t say bad things about other people.

Expressing a Wish 

The imperative can be used to express a wish for another subject, once again resembling the subjunctive tense in other languages.


Acamit ayong ngidiain kitadakis ngibaren: I want the boys to graze the livestock

Ikicamito iswa iyong tolot lodakitar aryamun ekitoi: We want yo to go to the doctor to receive medicine

Acamit ayong inges kinap esuka: I want him to wear a suka

Expressing Purpose

The imperative is also used to express the purpose of an action.


Nakinai ngakile omat: Give me milk to drink

Abu inges tolot losuk kigyel esim ngolo kitet: She went to the market to buy a new phone


The final use of the imperative is to relate a series of past actions.


Omat inges ecai, kimal ngikeedunyeta, tolot lotic: He drank tea, greeted his neighbors and went to work

Kipeg Museveni Obote, tolot namoni akijikin akitiding nyapukan, toreu ejie: Museveni opposed Obote, went to the bush to fight against the government, and won the war




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