Verb vs Noun Usage

When formulating sentences in the past, present, or future in Hausa it is important to know whether a word is a noun gerund or an action verb. This distinction will change the grammar of the sentence. In this exercise we will walk through ways to learn the noun and verb forms of words and practice applying them in sentences.

What you will need:

  • Anki (or another digital or physical flashcard deck)
  • A dictionary
  • A mentor

When developing flashcards, it is helpful to note whether a word is a noun or a verb. You can make separate cards for each, or you can include the noun and verb on the same card, whatever works best for you! If you aren’t sure whether a word is a noun or a verb, a dictionary is the best place to check. This way, each time you study your cards you are also reinforcing the different forms of the word. Since the plural is so difficult in Hausa, this is also a good way to learn singular and plural forms of words.

Once you have your flashcards made, you can use them to randomly select words. At the same time, you can select random pronouns and tenses. I usually write out a series of pronouns and assign a tense to them on a sheet of paper or Word document and then randomly select the words using Anki, but you can select the pronouns and tenses however works best for you!


  1. first person singular, past, sing = I sang yesterday
  2. second person feminine, present, laundry = you are doing laundry now
  3. third person singular masculine, future, eat = he will eat tomorrow

*Note that sing, laundry, and eat were randomly chosen by Anki


  1. Na yi waka jiya
  2. Ki na yin wanki yanzu
  3. Za ya ci gobe

After you have written out your sentences, have your mentor check them for accuracy. To make the exercise more difficult, you can also add nouns or other parts of speech. For example make the first sentence into ‘I sang a song yesterday,’ ‘I sang a love song yesterday,’ ‘I sang a love song with my friend yesterday’ — the possibilities are endless!


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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.