“to be”


There is no verb in Hausa for “to be.” Instead pronoun modifiers or other identifiers are used.

There are multiple ways to express “to be” in Hausa.


Form I: The English verb “be” is represented by the word (not verb) ce or ne. Ce is used if the thing being identified is feminine, while ne is used if it is masculine or plural. If there is more than one noun in a sentence and those nouns have differing genders, there is no grammatical rule that determines whether to use ce or ne.

For example:

Wannan jarida ce = This is a newspaper (newspaper is feminine)

Wancan cokali ne = That is a spoon (spoon is masculine)

Wad’annan jaridu ne = These are newspapers

Wad’ancan cokula ne = Those are spoons


Personal pronouns

Sentences are formulated in the same way as above, replacing that/these/those with a personal pronoun such as he (shi) or she (ita).

For Example

Shi Bahaushe ne = She is Hausa

Ita Bazaberme ne = He is Djerma

**When spoken, ne or ce will always have the tone opposite the preceding syllable. 


Form II: The English verb “be” is represented by the pronoun (not verb), often referred to as the -ke form.

For background: 

from daga
I ni
you (masculine) ka
you (feminine) ki





For Example

Daga Nijar nike = I am from Niger

Daga Amurkia kake = You (m) are from the United States

Daga Gana kike = You (f) are from Ghana


**Note: Although it is possible to use either form, Form II is often used when the word order is turned around (as in a question) or when a word or expression is placed first in the sentence for emphasis.


Form IIIthe locative form, or -na form. This can be used in one of four ways:

  • To locate the pronoun or subject in a particular place (ie I am at school)
  • To express a particular state, often in greetings (ie are you in good health?)
  • To express a verbal action (ie you are going)
  • Used with the word “da” (with) it can act as the verb “to have” see this very brief lesson
I/I am ina
you/you are (f) kina
you/you are (m) kana
she/she is tana
he/he is yana
we/we are muna
you/you are (pl) kuna
they/they are suna

For Example:

Suna gida = they are at home

Kina lafiya = are you (f) okay?

Tana magana Hausa = she is speaking (speaks) Hausa


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