Prepositions and Conjunctions

Many of you probably know simple prepositions (i.e. kwa, katika, or na); however, there are some more complicated ones!

For example, the verb, kutoka serves as “from, or out of”

Here are some more:

hata even, up to

(you can add a negative tense to make it “not even”)

kwa (advancing your uses) for, towards, by means of, in the direction of (in the passive tense)*
bila without, not having

A note on katika: This word can mean a number of things and you’ll need to listen for the context to know for sure. Translations: in, on, into, out of, towards, from, amongst, etc. It also can mean “in” in the same way that the -ni suffix does.

For example:

Katika maktaba and maktabani both mean “in the library.”

IMPORTANT: you cannot use katika to mean in a place. For example, in English, we say “I’m in Wisconsin.” “I am going to be in Tanzania.” In Swahili you’d use the -ni suffix tense to say you’re in a country then name said place. “Nitakuwepo nchini Tanzania,” or in it’s direct translation, “I will be in the country Tanzania.”

You can also use “here” and “there to signify where you are. “Nitasafiri kule Tanzania” – “I will there in Tanzania.” “Upo wapi?” “Nipo hapa Merikani.” “Where are you?” “I’m here in America.”

To sum up, here are some examples from Simplified Swahili, chapter 24.

“Alipata mkate toka mjini.” “He got bread from (in) town.”
Yeye si mpishi, hata kidogo” “He is no cook, not even in the slightest.”
Moto alifika bila vitabu.” “The child came without books.”
Tulikuja kwa miguu.” “We came on foot (by means of feet).”

Furthermore, on conjunctions:

Kwa sababu, or because

sababu, because

ila, except

basi (or bas), so; well then; enough; oh well

kama, if; like; around/approx.

kwamba that (“she said that…”)

— not to be confused with “the tree that stands tall,” which would require amba-. Mti inayosimama mrefu.

au, or (may use two in a sentence to say either/or).

lakini, but; however; nonetheless

ingawa, although



Wilson, P. M. Simplified Swahili. Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau, 1974.





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