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.
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
Sentences are formulated in the same way as above, replacing that/these/those with a personal pronoun such as he (shi) or she (ita).
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.
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 III: the 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
|you/you are (f)||kina|
|you/you are (m)||kana|
|you/you are (pl)||kuna|
Suna gida = they are at home
Kina lafiya = are you (f) okay?
Tana magana Hausa = she is speaking (speaks) Hausa
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