Liberian English

Variations of Grammar and “Rules” in the Varieties of English-Basic Similarities and Differences

This lesson attempts to go back and draw on the different varieties of Liberian English/Koloqua. It attempts to provide some examples of difference between the varieties discussed, while providing some VERY basic rules within Koloqua in general. However, again it should be noted that within past varieties discussed, there are even distinctions within those varieties. For example, within Liberian Pidgin English (LPE), there is sometimes a distinction between Kru Pidgin English and Soldier English (at least according to Singler). Kru Pidgin English while falling under the overall label of LPE, is often described as somewhat less influenced by other varieties of Liberian English and is at times actually considered more similar to that of Sierra Leone Krio (than Liberian Standard and the other varieties). As a result, KPE has been described as largely distinct from Koloqua, though this is debated by some linguists (for example, Singler (1997) argues that it is also not completely aligned with Krio as it differs in the marking of tenses with KPE not using really any marker of tense, while Krio uses the anterior “bin” and the completive “don.” See Singler, 1997). This is all to show that distinctions and varieties are all very fluid and not necessarily agreed upon. With that said lets try to understand some basics and some differences between the varieties.


LPE (with KPE being a variety of it) is characterized by not having any tense marking of main verbs. Instead a range of auxiliaries are used, with the auxiliary “done” used, while LVE often uses “fini” “feni”. The examples below show the differences between the two

  • 1) I fini eating (Liberian Vernacular English-LVE/VLE)
  • 2) I done eat (LPE, particularly LSE and KPE)

For LVE “fini” and “na” also are used in place of “has”.

In LPE “go” can be used to indicate future tense.

  • 1) “He go buy de car “– He will go buy a car

For LVE “fini” and “na” also are used in place of “has”. “Coming” is often used to indicate the future.

  • 1) “He coming go in town”- He is about to go to town

Remember for all variations (outside of standard) the copula is often missing. For example, “The man is old” is instead “the man old.”


Within Koloqua there are also rules and differences in indicating plurality. With “them” pronounced “dem” used. Example- “Daniel’s dishes are in the sink” would be stated as “Daniel’s dish dem in de sink.” (VLE)

Possession (for VLE):

Instead of being designated with the suffix “-s”, possession is often indicated by word order.

“Get” is also used to indicate possession and takes the place of has, had, and have.


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