Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Chapter 5: Ngoni Prepositions and Conjunctions

There are few prepositions in Ngoni, but by means of certain of these the lack of adjectives is supplied and a verb "to have" constructed.

Some words really adverbs are used as prepositions, in which case they are followed by ku and kwa (kua).


Phezulu kwamanzi, above, or on the water.

Phezulu kumuthi, upon the tree.

Some require to be followed by na.


Eduze nentaba, near to the hill.

The place of the preposition in English is frequently supplied in Ngoni by using the locative case of nouns, or the objective form of the verb.


Usendlini, he is in the house.

Wafela ekhaya, he died at home.

The number of conjunctions in the Ngoni language is not large. "Like all uneducated tribes, the people incline to the use of short sentences, and to independent phrases. The relation of one proposition, or of one phrase, to another, often depends more upon the general construction, than upon any single word of a conjunctive character."

The following are the principal prepositions and conjunctions with examples of their use.


1. Signifying with, in the sense of having. In this sense it is used with the verb ukuba, to be, forming a verb " to have." See chapter 8. 4. In this sense also it assists in the formation of many adjectives.

2. And. As a simple conjunction it joins nouns and pronouns together. It may be joined to the noun according to the rule in chapter II. 3. (3), or to the pronoun corresponding to the noun, and the pronoun in that case is put before the noun. Emphasis is denoted by prefixing na to the pronoun, although it may frequently be done where no emphasis is required


Umuntu nomfazi wakhe, the person and his wife.

Umuntu naye umfazi wakhe, the person, and she, his wife.

3. Also, both, too, together with. To express these English words, na is chiefly-used, joined to a pronoun.


UYohane wahamba, no Yakobe wahamba naye, John went, and James went. also, or with him.

Nabafazi nabantwana bafa, both the women and the children died.

Mina nami ngiyafuna amanzi, I also, or I too am seeking water.

Bahambile nazo zinkomo, they have gone together with the cattle.

4. Together. Expressive of mutual action, and also that there is reciprocity. To indicate these the na is affixed to the root of the verb which defines the action.


Siyathwalana lomtwalo, we are together carrying this burden.

Siyathandana, we are loving each other.

5. Than. See under ku.

6. It may be used with nouns to express through, by means of, &ac., thus denoting the instrument by which an action is accomplished; and the manner of an action.

Note: This is where ngoni is different from Zulu as Zulu uses nga- instead of no when expressing through, by means of, etc. I suspect that the Ngoni were influenced by the Tumbuka language and may have stopped using nga and adopted na.


Wamtshaya nentonga, (Zulu: Wamshaya ngentonga) he struck him with a staff.

Wahamba nezinyawo, (Zulu Wahamba ngezinyawo) he went on foot.

Wamtshela izindaba nomfazi (Zulu, Wamtshela izindaba ngomfazi), he told him the news concerning the woman.

7. Na used to signify I have/have not.


Unomsebenzi (u-na-umsebenzi) na? Do you have work?

Unenhlanhla Themba. You are lucky Themba.

Unabantwana na Thembi? Do you have any children, Thembi?

To express the negative, na- remains unchanged.

Anginabantwana. I do not have children.

Asinanhlanhla. I do not have luck/I am not lucky.

To just say Yes I have or have not, you use either the abbreviated or full version of emphatic pronouns. This abbreviated pronoun replaces the noun that is omitted. You just need to make sure that the abbreviated pronoun is of the same class and person.


Unomsebenzi na, Mangaliso? Do you have work, Mangaliso?

Yebo, nginawo (class 3), Yes I have (one)


1. Used with nouns or pronouns (like na No.5) expresses, through, by means of, concerning, &c. In use it is synonymous with na No. 5, but is more in use with pronouns, than na which is chiefly used with nouns.

2. About, whereabout, near to, &c. It signifies locality generally. It is used also with adverbs to signify hereabouts, thereabouts, &c.


Uyangaphi (or ngakuphi), whereabout are you going? But note, uyaphi (or uyakuphi) means, where are you going?

Sikhona ngalapho, it is thereabouts. But note sikhona lapho, it is there.

3. It is used in the formation of adverbs from nouns and in this way means according to.


Ngenyama (according to flesh) fleshly— from inyama, flesh.

Ngokukanya, brightly, shining (according to light), from ukukhanya, light.

Njenga. This is compounded of the adverb nje so, thus, &c., and is used in making comparisons. It may be translated by according to, or as.


Kukhanya njengelanga, it shines as the sun.

Njengoyise uthanda abantwana bakhe, like as a father loves his children.

4. One can also use nga- to express or mean with/on as per the following examples:

Sibhala ngepensele (nga-ipensele) We write with a pencil

Halala ngosuku (<nga-usuku) lokuzwala kwakho, Congratulations on your birthday.

5. Nga- is also used in the interrogative ngani? (with what (means)?)

Uhambe ngani Thandi, By what means did you travel Thandi.

Ngihambe ngomkhumbi, I travelled by boat.


1. To. It is used with nouns, pronouns and names of places or people.


Wakhuluma ku muntu, he spoke to the man.

Ngiya kubaba, I go to my father.

2. From. It is used as No. 1.


Ngivela kuye, I come from him.

Zonke izinto ezinhle zivela ku Mlungu all good things come from God. Mlungu is probably from the Tumbuka/Chewa language. The proper Ngoni word for God should be Umkulumqango which was used in some Ngoni Christian hymns.

3. Than. Used with, or without, na in making comparisons.


Umkhulu ku noyise, he is greater than his father.

Umkhulu kuwena, he is greater than thou.

NOTE. —Ku enters into the formation of the locative case with nouns which are proper names.

Used with a person's name, signifies his place or village. Used with a personal pronoun it means the person's people, family, or place of residence.


Nivela kwa Mombera, I come from Mombera's place or village.

Wahamba kwakhe, he went home.

Wahamba kwabo, he went to his people.


1. At, upon, &c. It denotes locality and is prefixed to other words to form prepositions.

EXAMPLE. Phezulu (pha + izulu), above.

NOTE 1: - It is obsolete in Zulu, but is in use in Ngoni, Tumbuka, Tonga, &c., and may be used frequently instead of the locative case of the noun, e.g., pamuthi, emuthini, at or on the tree.

NOTE 2: - Phansi=beneath, is derived from the obsolete nsi, meaning earth, (found in Kongo, Wanda, Sze.) and the obsolete pa.

NOTE —Where prepositions are joined to nouns, it is according to rule in chap. ii. 3 (3).

Ngoni warrior

Click here to go to Chapter 6: Ngoni Pronoun.

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