Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Chapter 7 : Ngoni Adjective

1. There are only a few adjectives proper in Ngoni. To supply the place of adjectives other parts of speech are used in certain ways, viz.: -

(1). The present and perfect tenses of the Indicative Mood of the verb, with the relative pronoun.


Umuntu ogulayo, the sick man - (the man who is sick).

Umuntu olungileyo, the good man -(the man who is good).

(2). Nouns in the nominative case.


Ku + makhaza > kumakhaza, it is cold (coldness).

(3). Nouns in the possessive case.


Umuntu wokwazi, a learned person---(a person of knowledge).

(4). Nouns preceded by the relative pronoun and verb "to have."


Umuntu onomusa, a kind man (a person who is with kindness).

NOTE: - The adjectives agree with their governing noun.

2. The following are the rules for the adjectives.

(1). When the adjective is used as predicate, e.g., the sky is red. It takes the personal pronoun of the noun which is the subject.

EXAMPLE. Izulu libomvu, the sky is red.

NOTE 1: - Monosyllabic adjectives may have as their prefix m or mu, ma and mi when in concord with nouns whose prefixes are umu, um, u; ama or imi. So also dala, khulu, ningi, &c., and the interrogative adjectives ngaka and ngaki.

EXAMPLES. Umuntu mude, the person is tall. The trees are tall, imithi mide.

NOTE 2: - The adjectives dala, khulu, ningi, &c., have m or n after the pronouns i and zi of class 3, and sometimes after zi of class 6. The n is, however, frequently omitted in Ngoni.


Into endala, an old thing; izinto zindala, the things are old.

(2). When the adjective is used as an epithet (e.g., the white man), it is placed after the noun and has the relative pronoun prefixed.


Umuntu omubi, a bad person.

Into endala, an old thing.

NOTE 1.—The exceptions given in the preceding Note 1 have, omu, ama, and emi.

Note 2.—The exceptions given in the preceding Note 2 have, eyin, ezin, or ezim.

Supplimentary Notes on the Adjective and Its Formation

It has to be noted that the adjective has to agree with the nouns that they are qualifying. They do this through the use of concords. The adjective concord is formed by prefixing a- to the noun prefix which results in changes when the a- is combined to the1st vowel of the noun prefix as shown below:-.

a + a > a

a + u > o

a + i > e


umuntu a-umu-bi > umuntu omubi, a bad person.

Abantwana a-aba-bi > abantwana ababi, bad children.

Umuntu a-umu-bi > Umuntu omubi. A bad person.

Into a-in-dala > Into endala, old thing, old object

In this case you can see that the omu- prefixed to the adjective stem -bi agrees with umuntu and the en- prefixed to -dala agrees with into.

Below are the adjective concords for all the classes in the ngoni language:-

1 (1a)      om(u)-
2 (2b)      aba-
3              om(u)-
4              emi-
5              eli-
6              ama-
7              esi-
8              eziN-
9              eN-
10            eziN-
11            olu-
14            obu-
15            oku-

As already pointed out they are very few “genuine adjectives” in Nguni language. Below are the adjective stems that you need to learn.


-de long, tall
-fishane, short
-fuphi, short


-ncane, small/little
-khulu, big
-ngako, as big as that
-ngaka, so big, as big as this
-ngakanani? how big?


-bi, ugly/bad/nasty/evil
-hle, pretty, good, well, nice, beautiful


-sha, young, new
-dala, old


-ningi, many
-bili, two
-thathu, three
-ne, four
-hlanu, five
-nye, other, another

Below are adjective concords with examples.

1 om(u)- umuntu omude, a tall person.
2 aba- abantu abade, tall persons
3 om(u)- umbuzo omuhle, good question
4 emi- imibuzo emihle, good questions
5 eli- igama elihle, lovely name
6 ama- amagama amahle. lovely names
7 esi- isandla esikhulu, big hand
8 ezin-, ezim- izandla ezinkulu, big hands
9 en-, em- indlu entsha, new house
10 ezin- ezim- izindlu ezintsha, new houses
11 olu ulimi oluhle, lovely language
10 ezin- ezim- izilimi ezinhle, lovely languages
14 obu- ubuso obuhle, lovely face
15 oku- ukucula okuhle lovely singing

Note: We should at this stage point out the changes that take place in classes 8, 9 and 10 to the initial consonants of certain adjectival stems. The stems that are affected are the ones that commence with   -b, -th, -kh, -f, -v and -sh and the changes that take place are as follows:

N + kh > nk
N + th > nt
N + sh > ntsh
N + b > mb
N + f > mf


intaba enkulu, a big mountain  < -khulu
izimbuzi ezintathu, three goat  < -thathu
indlu entsha, a new house < -sha
intombi embi, a bad young lady < -bi
inyanga emfishane, a short month < -fishane

3. Diminutive Adjectives are formed like diminutive nouns by adding ana or anyana with change of consonants where necessary.


-de > -dana, slightly tall, tallish.
-ncane > -ncanyana, slightly small, smallish.

The suffix -kazi conveys the meaning of "very", e.g.

-de  > -dekazi, very tall.
-khulu > -khulukazi, very big.

4. Comparison of Adjectives: -

(1). The comparative is expressed by ku or ku with na.


Umkhulu ku (or kuna) yena, thou art greater than he.

(2). The superlative degree is expressed by using kakhulu (greatly) or onke (all).

Indoda nabafana; indoda inkulu kakhulu, a man and boys; the man is greatest.

5. Indefinite Adjectives. These take the prefixes like ordinary adjectives.

(1). -edwa or -odwa, alone, only, is used to express -self, and is used thus: -

Mina ngedwa, I only, myself. Thina sodwa, we only, ourselves.

Wena wedwa, thou, thyself. Lina (or mwena), ye only, yourselves.

Yena yedwa, he, himself. Bona bodwa, they only, themselves.

(2). -nye, other, another. These take the relative pronoun.


Umuntu omunye, another person; abantu abanye, other persons.

Izinkomo ezinye, other cattle.

Amadoda amanye, other men.

(3). -onke, all, each, every, &c.


Abantu bonke, all people; izinto zonke, - everything.

(4). -ngaka, so great. Umuntu ungaka, the person is so great.

(5). -nje or -njalo, such, such as. Lezi zinto zinjalo, these things are so.

6. Numeral Adjectives.

(1). Cardinal Numbers. These take the pronominal prefixes like other adjectives, -wili and -bili are both used for two. If -bili is adopted it takes m after i and zi of class :3.

One, -nye.

Two, -bili or wili.

Three, -thathu.

Four, -ne.

Five, -hlanu.

Six, hlanu nanye.

Seven, -hlanu nabili.

Eight, -hlanu nathathu.

Nine, -hlanu nane.

Ten, -shumi.

Eleven, -shumi nanye.

Twelve, -shumi nabili.

Twenty, mashumi mabili.

Thirty, mashumi mathathu.

Forty, mashumi mane.

Sixty, mashumi mahlanu na linye.

Eighty, mashumi mahlanu namathathu.

One hundred, mashumi mashumi or ikhulu linye.

NOTE 1: -ishumi, ten, is a noun of the 5th class; plural amashumi.  So also ikhulu a hundred.

(2). Ordinal Numbers. To form these prefix isi or tshi to the root, which consequently brings them into the 4th class of nouns. For first kuqala is used.

Second, isibili; third, isithathu; fourth, isine; fifth, isihlanu.

NOTE 1: - They are governed in the possessive case.


The first person, umuntu wokuqala.

The second person, umuntu wesibili.

The third person, umuntu wesithathu.

(3). Adverbial Numbers. To form these prefix ka to the root. First, kanye ; second, kabili; &c., &c.,

(4). Both (two), all, three, &c., &c. Prefix bo to babili, &c., for nouns of class 1.


Both people. Abantu bobabili.

Use -onke for nouns of other classes.

All trees (two or more), imithi yonke.


Cardinal Numbers.

1 inye (one thing).

2 zimbili (two things).

3 zithathu.

4 zine.

5 zihlanu.

6 zihlanu na inye.

7 zihlanu na zimbili.

8 zihlanu na zithathu.

9 zihlanu na zine.

10 ishumi.

11 ishumi phakathi inye.

12 ishumi phakathi zimbili.

13 ishumi phakathi zithathu.

14 ishumi phakathi zine.

15 ishumi phakathi zihlanu.

16 ishumi phakathi zihlanu na inye.

17 ishumi phakathi zihlanu na zimbili.

18 ishumi phakathi zihlanu na zithathu.

19 ishumi phakathi zihlanu na zine.

20 mashumi mabili.

21 mashumi mabili phakathi muvo na inye.

22 mashumi mabili phakathi muvo na zimbili.

23 mashumi mabili phakathi muvo na zithathu

24 mashumi mabili phakathi muvo na zine.

25 mashumi mabili phakathi muvo na zihlanu.

26 mashumi mabili phakathi muvo na zihlanu na inye.

27 mashumi mabili phakathi muvo na zihlanu na zimbili.

28 mashumi mabili phakathi muvo zihlanu na zithathu.

29 mashumi mabili phakathi muvo zihlanu na zine.

30 mashumi mathathu.

40 mashumi mane.

50 mashumi mahlanu.

60 mashumi mahlanu na linye.

70 mashumi mahlanu na mabili.

80 mashumi mahlanu na mathathu.

90 mashumi mahlanu na mane.

100 ikhulu elikhulu or mashumi mashumi ahlangana wodwa.

Ordinal Numbers.

1st, kuqala. 2nd, sibili. 3rd, sithathu. 4th, sine.

5th, sihlanu. &c., &c., &c.

Adverbial Numbers.

Once, kanye. Twice, kabili.

Thrice, kathathu.

Below is the Zulu version of numbers for comparison sake as it differs in some respects from the Ngoni numbers. Ngoni and Zulu are close but not the same language.

Numeral  Cardinal numbers    Ordinal numbers
0              iqanda
1              kunye                        okokuqala
2              kubili                        okwesibili
3              kutathu                      okwesithathu
4              kune                          okwesine
5              kuhlanu                     okwesihlanu
6              isithupha                   okwesithupha
7              isikhombisa              okwesikhombisa
8              isishiyagalombili      okwesishiyagalombili
9              isishiyagalolunye      okwesishiyagalolunye
10            lishumi                      okweshumi
11            ishumi nanye             okweshumi nanye
12            ishumi nambili          okweshumi nambili
13            ishumi nantathu         okweshumi nantathu
14            ishumi nane               okweshumi nane
15            ishumi nanhlanu        okweshumi nanhlanu
16            ishumi nesithupha     okweshumi nesithupha
17            ishumi nesikhombisa  okweshumi nesikhombisa
18            ishumi nesishiyagalombili okweshumi nesishiyagalombili
19            ishumi nesishiyagalolunye okweshumi nesishiyagalolunye
20            amashumi amabili       okwamashumi amabili
21            amashumi amabili nanye
22            amashumi amabili nambili
23           amashumi amabili nantathu
24           amashumi amabili nane
25           amashumi amabili nesihlanu
26           amashumi amabili nesithupha
27          amashumi amabili nesikhombisa
28          amashumi amabili nesishiyagalombili
29          amashumi amabili nesishiyagalolunye
30          amashumi amathathu
40          amashumi amane
50          amashumi amahlanu
60         amashumi ayisithupha
70         amashumi ayisikhombisa
80        amashumi ayisishiyagalombili
90        amashumi ayisishiyagalolunye
100     ikhulu
200    amakhulu amabili
300     amakhulu amathathu
400     amakhulu amane
500    amakhulu amahlanu
600    amakhulu ayisithupha
700 amakhulu ayisikhombisa
800 amakhulu ayisishiyagalombili
900 amakhulu ayisishiyagalolunye
1,000 Inkulungwane
1,000,000  Isigidi

Below is a 5 minute youtube video on Zulu adjectives.

Ngoni young men 1895

Click here to go to chapter 8: Ngoni Adverb

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