2.  Adverb of manner
  3. Pourquoi... ?
  4. Qui... ?
  5. Qu'est-ce que... ?
  6. Quand... ?


Languages have ways of expressing how, where, or when an event took place. Traditionally the expressions carrying this information are called ADVERBS.

A useful way to indicate the function an adverb performs is by the letters M, L, and T for:

"How" i.e. "Manner" – M

"Where" i.e. "Location" – L

"When" i.e. "Time" – T

Different ways of expressing "adverbs"

In Swahili, these concepts are expressed in a number of ways, using words, phrases, and clauses. A few examples are given with each of these types of expression in this section, but a more detailed list of adverbs is included under each of the functions (M, L, T) in paragraph B. The ways by which adverbial concepts are expressed is by:

 Single words adverbs

 Some of  them are nouns. Many are non-Bantu loan words. For instance:

Upesi quickly

Hule distant, far away

Zamani long ago

Adverbial nouns

They are  nouns ending in ni. These are limited to location and time expressions. Examples:

 mdjini in town

 Nyumeni recently

 Adverbs formed by nominal and pronominal roots with adverbial agreements

 Those adverbial agreements are HA  for location, the KI of likeness and adverbial N for manner. Examples:

 Ndjema well

 kitrotro childishly

 Hatru our place

 Nyakati sometimes

 Hanyu your place

 Kimakuaa  the emakhua way (an insult )

 Phrases, introduced by a variety of propositions

 Ha haraka hurriedly

 Rangu Paris  from Paris

 Rangu asubuhi since morning

 Relative verb constructions, using the relative particle

  YE HEHLI IKAO/YE HALI IKAO, YE NAMNA IKAO for Manner, PVO, IHO, and IMO for Location, and PVO for Time. Examples:

 Ye heli udjohushinda as (much as) you can

 Iho rienshio     where we live

 Pvoyahadja when he came


 These are a unique feature in Bantu languages. They are defined as the representation of an idea in sound, and some, but not all, are onamatopoeic, i.e., imitations of a sound. Most of the ideophones are adverbs; some of these have given rise to verbs.

 Note also these ideophonic verbs: hula mwau, to yawn


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Adverb of Manner

         Examples of Swahili adverbs, grouped according to function, Manner, Location, Time. Examples of their use are given. Sometimes there are multiple examples where one term is used for what in Euopean languages would require several different terms.

 M Adverbs of Manner.

-a mno

Exceedingly, too much.

Pvakaya baridi ya mno. It was extremely cold.

Hali mlo wa mno  He ate too much


Very, too

Ngami mnene swafi   I am very fat

Ngasi wawade swafi   We are very sick

Le gari lohudjisa swafi   The car is very beautiful

ha mbapvi


Hende ha mbapvi. We walked slowly.

 Harongowa ha mbapvi  He spoke slowly

Ha upesi

 Quickly, fast.

Hafanya hazi ha upesi. He worked fast.

 Hadja ha upesi             He came quickly

 Note: shingazidja speakers can replace it with haraka at any time.


 Very much.

 Riheza hakuu. We sang loudly.

 Wafanya hazi hakuu. They worked hard.

 Tsikahukoza hakuu. I had much pain.

 Wowadjeni wabaki hakuu. The guests stayed a long time.

 Le gari likahwenda hakuu. The car was speeding.



 Yehusoma ndro. She reads well.

 Mihuona ndro swafi.   I can see very well.



 Wakoza nayi. They were badly hurt.

 Havaa nayi.  He is badly dressed



 Tsi ndziro horongowa shingazidja. It is not difficult to speak shingazidja.

 Ngamwono ndziro homdumiza hodahoni hangu.  I find it difficult to throw him out of my house

-a hutosha

 Adequately, enough.

 Hali shahula sha hutosha   He ate enough food

 Hasa hamba za hutosha.   He have said enough

 Harehe madji ya hutosha.  He draw enough water

Haina heli

 In any manner, anyhow, any way.

 Fanya haina heli udjohushinda. Do it in any way you can.

 Haroha rangu pvotrasi, haina heli hasa hadja  She left since the morning, he is back in any way

-a msadjadja

 Carelessly, recklessly, without order

 Haenshi maesha ya msadjadja He has lived an undisciplined life.

 Utsi rentsi ye zombo ha msadjadja.   Don’t leave the tools in a mess.


 In another way, differently, otherwise.

 Hadhwani ye mvua ngedjohunya, lakini mimi tsidhwani ye kinyume.

She thought it would rain but I thought otherwise.

 Kinyume ne zambishihao, tsifikiri hukaya wewe nde udjo trende udji ulawuliye mbaba

Contrary to what people say, I thought that you would be the first to have come to see dad


 In that/this manner; likewise; like that/this

 Wesoma helio,  kwana huishia.

If you read like that, they won’t hear you.

 Fanya helio  Do like thas.


 Fanya helinu. Do like this

 Andziha helinu. Write like this. (as I showed you)

Sawa  or Hama

 Hahantsi wo mdzo pvo ntsi, pvangu tsifanya sawa (hama) ndaye.

He put his load down, and I did exactly the same.

 Tsitsindzi ze nyile sawa hama ndawe

I cut the hairs exactly the same like you

 Note: sawa and hama  are sometimes used together, the second one emphasizing first one. You can use either of them in most of the cases.  Also, a personnal pronoun has to be introduced as a comparative agent. 

pva + pronoun suffix

 Likewise,  pronoun + too

 ( pva-ngu = me too, pva-ho = you too, pva-he = him/her too, pva-tru = we too, pva-nyu = you too,  pva-wo = them too )

Baada wo msafara halemewa ; wowadungana naye walemewa pvawo.

After the journey he was tired; his companions were likewise.

 Haheza madjimbo mayili, ye mwana hahe haheza pvahe

He sang two songs, his son did likewise


 In a……..way ( depending on what the "KI of likeness" is prefixed to):

 Huenda kidjeishi to walk in a military fashion

 Hurongowa kitrotro to speak childishly

 Huvaa kistanrabu to dress in a modern way

 Huenshi kizungu to live in European style

 Hufikiri kimapinduzi to think in a revolutionary way

Ha + (phrase)

 With ….., or ……ly, depending on what follows HA:

 Ha haraka hastily, hurriedly

 Wafanya hazi ha haraka. They worked fast.

 Ha siri secretly

 Wambiziwa ha siri. They are married secretly.

 Ha furaha joyously, happily

 Riwakaribisa ha furaha. We welcomed them heartily.

 Ha makini carefully

 Ngamhusomewo ye barua yahaho ha makini. I read your letter carefully.

 Ha kawaida usually

 Ha kawaida yehudja saa mpvili haina asubuhi.

She usually comes at eight every morning.

 Ha ufupvi briefly, in summary

 Haneleza ze habari zahe adjali ha ufupvi.

He briefly described the accident to me.

 Ha ule at length

 Hakazana hurongowa ha ule.

He kept on talking at length.

 Haeleza ha ule. He explained fully.


 Like/as in a verb construction with relative particle.

 Reha ye madji ye kiasi udjohushinda ( or, ushindao )

Draw as much water as you can.

 Soma ye kiasi udjohushinda

Read as much as possible.


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Adverb of location...



Pveha ye ziri pvo ndze. Take the chairs outside.

Tsika pvo ndze.  I was outside


 Far away, at a distance

Wowadjeni wala hule. The guests came from far away.

 Mdzadze nguenshi hule.  Mother lives far away.


 Near, nearby

Ye djirani yehuenshi karibu.  The neighbour lives nearby.

 Koko hende hahulu ndrovi karibu nasi pvanu.   Grand mother went to buy bananas near us

D juu

 Above, upstairs, on top

 Warantsi ye mizigo iho ha djuu. They have left the loads upstairs.


 Down, below, on the ground (ntsi), downstairs

  Tsivuriza ze nguo pvo ntsi. I spread out the clothes on the ground.

 Wowana ngwalalao ho ntsini  The children stay downstairs


 Inside, within

Wo wazee ngwawo ho ndani. The old people are inside.

 Ngarililiawo ho ndani  We are eating inside

 Note: mwoni (litt: in the heart )is usually used to replace ndani.  See the following example:

 Ye mapesa ngayo ho mwoni mwa ye shiyo The money is inside the book.

 Ze nguo ngizo ho mwoni mwa ye sanduku  The clothes       are inside the suitcase.



Harudi ho dingoni. He has gone backwards.

 Wo mshana nguo ho dingoni  The toilet is behind


 Ahead, forward, in front

 Endelea ho usoni. Keep going forward.

 Wo wana ngwao ho usoni mwatru The children are in front of us


 In the centre, in the middle, in the midst (usually preceded by pvo)

 Renga karatasi, fanya picha pvo hari. Get paper and draw a picture in the center

 Harihundru pvo hari mwe hadisi.  He found us (came) at the middle of the story




 Tsanganya ze ntsa za he mbondzi pvadzima. Join the two ends of the rope together.

 Rili pvadzima .  We ate togather


 At home, in the house

Wo watrotro wabaki ho dahoni. The children stayed at home.

 Ngasi ho dahoni ha mdjomba hangu.  We are at the house of my uncle

 A list of these adverbial nouns could be expanded almost endlessly : mdjini, ntsini, mwoni, etc.


 Some other (place or persone), elsewhere, someone

 Katsi hunu, mtsahe mahala hundrwadji. She is not here; look for her somewhere else.

 Tsindami, wona mdru mdrwadji  I am the one, see someone else.

 Ngusomo shioni shindrsadji  He learns in another place


 Everywhere, all over, all around, all

 Wahuhosa  pia. They have cleaned everywhere.

 Wahuzungusa pia  They went all around

 Wadja pia. They all came

 Wazingiza she iwandza pia.  The surrounded all around the place

 Note: in this case, we suppose that we speak about a place (mahala) which is replaced by "it" or  "hu" (underlined in both sentence) 


 Anywhere/wherever, anyone/whoever

 Hontsi yakohenda, yetso zingara she imani sha hahe Wherever he goes, he keeps his faith.

 Wontsi wowahadja, waribailia zindru  Anyone who came brought us something

ha + personnal pronoun

 At one's place (hangu = my place, haho = your place, hahe =  his/her place, hatru = our place, hanyu  = your place, hawo  = their place ). It is usually followed by "ho" or by "wo" which designate "at".

 Karibu ho hatru! Welcome to us (our place)!

 Wende wo hawo.  They went at their place.

 Tsiyishia hukaya pvakaa taabu wo haho. I heard there were problems at your place.


There, over there (an undefined area)

Iho rienshiyo ngapvo milima mindji. There,  where we live there are many mountains.

Karitsuhenda iho. We are not going there.

hula, pvala

 There, over there (a definite place at a distance).  Sometimes, when insisting that the place is very distant, shingazidja speakers end the above adverbs with an "e" instead of the "a".  Hule is also used as "far"   and  "pvale"   as "very high".

 Ngeye pvala. She is over there.

 Hende hula.  He went over there 

Hunu, pvanu

 Here, over here, by here (a definite and close place).

 Hapviri pvanu djana .  He passed by here yesterday.

 Katsudohudja hunu  He does not come here anymore.


 In, inside, in the middle

Harumwa shio in a book

 Tsitria ye mapesa harumwa shio. I put the money in a book.

- ala


Rihundru barua yala Bushini. We have received a letter from Madagascar.

 Tsierewa shahula shala Farantsa.  I was sent (received) food from France


 Until or as far as

 Mpaka ndo mroni as far as the river

 Watsodo henda hata mpaka ndo mroni. They went as far to the river and back.

 Ntsina hudja mpaka hende zahe.  I will not come until she leave.

 Ngarendao hata mpaka ndo pvodjioni we are going until this afternoon

Ntsini mwa/ koni mwa


 Rikantsi ho koni mwa mdri. We sat under a tree.

 Ye sanduku ngio ho ntsini mwa ye latabu  The suitcase is under the table.

karibu na

 Near, close to

 Wawaha isima karibu na ye nyumba. They have built a well near the house.

 Hakantsi karibu nami He sat  close to me


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Adverb of time..


 Now  It can also be used to mean "recently" or "soon"  in many cases

 Ngasi Farantsa hapvaha (hapvasa). We are in France now.

 Ngudjo hudja hapvasa   He will come soon

 Hapviri pvanu hapvasa  He passed by here recently


 Soon (future tense), recently (past tense).  When used as "recently"  it is usually followed by "pvanu"  used as intensifier to mean "not long ago".

 Ngudjo hudja tsihale   He will come soon

 Hapviri hunu tsihale pvanu He passed by here recently

 Wambiziwa tsihale pvanu  They are married rencently (not long ago)

 Ngaridjohandisa lebundjilio tsihale.  We will begin (start) the meaning soon

 Tsihale, ngodjodjikomeya umaruhe  Soon, you will regret it (proverb.  litt:  you will touchyourself and will be surprised).

zamani / hale / zama za hale


Formerly, long ago

 Zamani pvakaya  nyumba pvanu. Formerly, there was a house here.

 Zama za hale pvakaya masitehi  Long ago, people were polite

 Hale ridohula homhono.  Formely, we ate with our hands



Later, after, then (must precede a clause)

 Ngaridjohulima ye marunku randzi, halafu ridje riyaundjilie. We shall cut the grass first;later we will gather it up.

 Ngarilawo, halafu ridjerirohe ratembeye  We are eating, then will go around.

 Ngwadjohudja halafu.  They will come later


 After (used in a relative clause)

 Ngaridjohutsapvuha, baada hutwaliya. We play after studying.


 Before/early/soon/in good time

 Kairi hupvonesa uwade na kabula  It is good to treat illness in good time

 Ngaridjo hutwaliya kabula ya hula  We will study before eating


 Then, next (must precede the clause)

 Hafua ze nguo, irudi hazipasi. She washed the clothes, then she ironed them.

 Hadja irudi hende zahe.  He came and then went back.

 Haundjilia ye zana, irudu haziwaza, irudi hazieha.  He gathered the materials, next he counted them, then he stored them.


 Again; when following a negative verb, it means "any more"

 Harudi tsena. She has come back again.

 Kana hurudi tsena. She won't come back any more.


 Always, constantly, continually

 Wabaki hodahoni daima  They stayed home constantly

 Mihufurahi daima  I am always happy

 Mihumwiyishia ye heza daima. I always hear him singing.


 At night

 Yo tsikeri hosafiri masihu. It is no good to travel at night.

 Like the noun masihu, night, all other nouns designating times of day, or days, weeks, months, years, can be used as time adverbs e.g. djana, yesterday; leo, today; maudu, tomorrow; alfadjiri, dawn; asubuhi, morning; adhuhuri, noon; mtsana, afternoon (early part); jioni, late afternoon, evening



 Ye mwana hazalwa nyumeni. The child was born recently.

 Rimwono nyumeni.  We saw him recently.

 Hambiwa  nyumeni.   he was told recently



 Nyakati ye mvua yohandisa  wo mwezi wunu, nyakati yowuhoma ho hudja. Sometimes the rain begins in this month; sometimes it begins late.

 Nyakati yehudja harilaulia  Sometimes, he comes to visit us



 Hamba ngudjohudja leo; ambwesee hadiwaza. She said she would come today; maybe she has forgotten.

 Ambwesee mama ngemwade ba hatsolala.  Perhaps mother is sick because (since) she is still in bed.


 Since/   first /  from ………to (rangu …… hata)

 Rilindi rangu pvo asubuhi. We have waited since morning.

 Hadja rangu hale  He has come since  long ago

 Ngudjohudja rangu, nge ridje rirohe  He will come first, then we will go out

 Hadja rangu,  nge hakahula. He came first, then he ate

 Rikantsi rangu djana hata leo  We sat down from yesterday to today.



 Hakana wowade unu randzi ho utrotroni hahe. She has had this illness since her childhood.

 Rili randzi nge rikahula.  We ate first, then we drank.



 Hafanya hazi mpaka nde masihu. She worked until night.

 Ntsina hula mpaka hudja  I will not eat until you come


When - in verb constructions with the relative time particle PVO

Pvo nahenda ho mdjini tsionana no wandzani wangu. When I went to town, I met my friend.

Pvo waredjeyi wayela. When they returned, they had a bath.

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An adverb which modifies an adjective or another adverb will follow the verb it modifies, as in :

 Ye motro woyi nge mradji kabisa  This child is extremely large

                                    Adj       Adv

 Yenda ha upesi kabisa  Run more fast (faster)

                  Adv     Adv

 Only adverbs of Manner will enter into the sort of combinations cited above.

Adverbs modifying verbs may be of any type: Manner, Location, or Time. They have a relatively fixed order of occurrence in relation to one another; there is some flexibility but within specific limits.

1. Manner adverbs normally follow the verb they modify. A seeming exception to this rule is found in a few adverbs that modify not only the verb but the whole clause: ha kawaida, haina heli. These precede the clause they refer to. This does not contradict the rule that Manner adverbs modifying the verb will come after the verb:

Hasomo ndro. She read well.

M (modifies Hasomo)

Wohutwalia wo  msomo  wahao  ha djitihadi. They learn their studies diligently.

M (modifies Wohutwalia)

Ha kawaida mihudja hodahoni saya kume na mbili. Usually (I) come home at six.

M (modifies the whole clause)

 Haina heli ngwadjo hudja warione nge wende zao. In any case, they will come to see us before they leave.

M (modifies the whole clause)

 2. Location adverbs normally follow the verb:

 Wakantsi ho ntsini mwa wo mri. They sat beneath the tree.

 Rili ye shahula sha hatru hunu. We ate our food here.

 3. Time adverbs may come either before or after the verb:

 Ngaridjo huroha hwenda msafara pvo asubuhi. We will leave to go to a travel  in the morning.

 Pvo asubuhi ngaridjo huroha hwenda msafara. In the morning we will leave to go for a trip.

 4. When all three types - Manner, Location, Time - occur in a sentence:

 a. If all three adverbs follow the verb, the preferred order will be M - L - T:

Wo watrotro watsapvuha ndro hunu djana. The children played well here yesterday.


 b. If the Location adverb is shorter than the Manner adverb, it may precede the Manner adverb, thus making the order L - M - T:

Wowana zioni wohutwaliya hunu ha kawaida pvo masihu. The students studied here usually at night.



Watwalia  ndro  ho ntsini mwa  wo mri djana. They studied well under the tree yesterday.


 c. When all three adverbs follow the verb, the position of the Time adverb does not change; it is always in the series. However, it makes for better distribution of modifiers if the Time adverb is placed before the verb:

 Djana , watwalia ndo ho ntsini mwa wi mri. Yesterdaythey studied well under the tree.


 This is especially important when both Manner and Location are fairly long phrases. Note that the preferred order M - L is retained:

 Pvo mtsana,   haheya  ha makini  hodjumwa  ye sakafu. In the (early) afternoon  she climb  carefully on the roof.


 5. Notice that in all cases when there is a noun object in the sentence it comes after the verb and before the adverbs.


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Copyright © 2000 EL-ANRIFOU ABDOU SAID MOHAMED.  All rights reserved.
Révision : 16 avril 2000 .