Sarufi (Grammar) | When and If in Verb Structure

  1. When: -po-

-Po- is used in verb structure to indicate “when” in terms of time. When -po- is used in the present tense, -na- it also means whenever. The -po- is inserted as an infix between the tense marker (na – li – ta) and the verb stem. For example, “ninaposikia vizuri, inasabibisha ninakula vizuri” (“When I feel good, it is because I eat well.”). When -po- is used in the future tense with -ta- a -ka- is inserted after the -ta.- For instance, “nitakapoenda tutonana” (“When I go, we will see each other.“).

2. If: -ki-

The present conditional tense is formed by inserting -ki- between the subject and verb stem. NO TENSE IS USED WITH -KI-. The verb that follows a conditional tense verb is always in the future tense or imperative/polite form which can imply the future. With this form, monosyllabic verbs lose the ku- at their start.


Watoto wakila ugali, watlala vizuri. If the children eat ugali, they will sleep well.

Nikikimbia, nitachoka jioni. If I run, I will be tired in the evening.


3. The negative -po- and -ki-

Negative sentences with these grammar structures bear -sipo- in the first verb, between the subject and the verb stem. The second verb in this sentence takes the negative -ta- or -na-. NEVER USED WITH PAST TENSE, BECAUSE IT IMPLIES SOMETHING THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED YET.

Affirmative Negative Translation of Negative
Anapofanya mazoezi polepole anajifunza vizuri. Asipofanya mazoezi polepole hatajifunza vizuri. If she doesn’t do the exercise slowly, she won’t learn well.

4. Monosyllabic vebs

With -po-, monosyllabic verbs keep the infinitive -ku- in both affirmative and negative sentences.

With -ki- monosyllabic verbs drop the -ku-.


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