Monday, 12 August 2019

Ngoni Future Tense

The future tense expresses an action that will take place at some time in the future.

There are different ways of presenting the Ngoni future tense:

Future (Immediate or emphatic)

One uses this to refer to a time immediately after the moment of speaking and emphasises that the even or action will happen very soon. 

1. The first way is marked by the use of the auxiliary "za" with the contracted infinitive of the principal verb where the first "u" is elided; thus, 'Ngizakuthanda,' I shall love, or I am going to love, or I am about to love, literally, I come to love.

Below is a formula to summarise this way of presenting the future:

Subject Concord + za + infinitive with the "u" elided

Thus ngizakuthanda was formalised as follows:

ngi+za+ukuthanda > ngi+za+kuthanda> ngizakuthanda.

2. Another way of expressing this is by using the shortened form which is common in isiZulu using the following formula:

Subject Concord + zo + verb stem

Ngi+zo+thanda > Ngizothanda I shall love.
Ngi+zo+khuluma>Ngizokhuluma noZuma, I shall/will speak with Zuma.

3. The negative in this form is formed by the following formula where the "za" changes to "zi":

a + Subject Concord + zi + infinitive with "u" elided


A + SC + zi + infinitive with "u" elided
a  +  ngi +zi+kuthanda > angizikuthanda, I will not love.    

One can also use the short form where the tense marker za becomes zu as per the following formula:

a + SC +zu+verb stem


a + SC + zu + verb stem
a + ngi +zu+ hamba > angizuhamba (I will not leave)
a + ngi + zu+ thanda> I will not love

When speaking to other Nguni groups I would urge you to avoid the long forms and go for the short forms, such as ngizohamba (I will leave) and angizuhamba (I will not leave)

Future Indefinite Using ya

The future indefinite is used to refer to future actions that will take place some time in future.

1. The first variety, affirmative, is marked by the use of the auxiliary ya with the infinitive of the principal verb, the initial "u" of the infinitive sign (uku) being elided ; thus,

Subject Concord +ya+Infinitive with "u" elided.

Example: Ngiyakuthanda,' I shall love, literally, I go to love. This is created by from the following parts:

Ngi +ya+kuthanda (ukuthanda, to love, with "u" elided) > Ngiyakuthanda. This form used to be common in old isiZulu which has now resorted to only using shortened forms such as ngiyothanda which ngoni also uses rarely besides the the full forms.

If you have ever sang or read old ngoni songs and praise poems you will agree with me that the full forms are used more frequently than the shorter terms. 

To illustrate my point below is an excerpt of hymn no 32 from Izingoma zobukhristu (Christian Songs) which is used extensively at funerals in northern Malawi.

Liyakhala ilizwi leNkosi yezulu (The voice of the king of heaven is calling. Literally, It is calling the voice of the king of heaven)
Liyabiza abantu abayonileyo (It is calling the people who have sinned)
Bayakuphumula phezulu (They will rest above (in heaven))

As you can see bayakuphumula does not mean they will rest you but they will rest. The ku in bayakuphumula is not standing for you as is normally the case but is part of the infinitive ukuphumula to rest where the first vowel has been elided.

2. One can also use the short form which follows the formula below:

Subject Concord + yo + verb stem


SC+yo+verb stem
I + yo  + thenga > iyothenga as in Indoda yami iyothenga inyama. My man will buy the meat.
Ngi+yo+thanda > Ngiyothanda, I shall love.

3. The negative is formed by changing the final vowel of the auxiliary ya from a to i, and using the negative a before the pronoun nominative, for direct negation; and the negative nga after the pronoun nominative, for indirect or accessory negation; thus,

'Angiyikuthanda,' I shall not love; 'ngingayikuthanda,' (that) I shall not love"

Another negative form is the shortened form which is common in modern isiZulu. To form the negative, the negativiser "a"-occurs, and the tense markers become zu/yu.

a + SC + yu-verb stem
a + si + yu + fa > asiyufa (we will not die)
a + ngi+yu+hamba > I will not leave.

Lastly but not least as is typical in most bantu languages there is a further shortened form. In this case a number of contractions occur resulting in the following:

Si + za + ukusebenza We shall work
Si + zo + kusebenza (a+u > o, coalescence)
Sizosebenza (-ku- deletion)
Sosebenza (-i + z- Deletion) 

Sosebenza kakhulu kusasa ntambama Will work hard tomorrow afternoon.

A similar process also takes place with the -ya- with the same results.

To put in simple terms below is the formula that you can use for this shortened form.

Positive: Subject concord without the last vowel + o + Verb stem


SC + O + Verb stem
S   + o   + suka  > Sosuka, we will leave
Ng + o  + phakamisa > ngophakamisa, I will elevate.
S   + o  + sebenza > We shall work
Ng + o + tshala umumbu > Ngotshala, I will plant maize.

Because of the extreme contractions this form the distinction between -za- and -ya- cannot be made. Therefore the above forms can be used for both the -za- and -ya-. Thus ngotshala umumbu can stand for both ngizotshala umumbu and Ngiyotshala umumbu.

I suspect that in future this is the shortened forms that will dominate even in Ngoni as more and more people learn Zulu to understand Ngoni language.

Future Progressive

The future progressive tense indicates continuing action. It is created by the future of tense of the infinitive of the auxiliary verb, ukuba (to be), plus the present tense of the verb that you want to conjugate.

Below is the pattern for the conjugation of the verb ukuba (to be) which is used in the forming of this tense.

Subject Concord +ya+Infinitive with "u" elided.

Below are the conjugations for the verb ukuthanda, to love.


Ngi+ya+kuba > Ngiyakuba ngithanda. I shall be loving.
U+ya+kuba > Uyakuba uthanda. I shall be loving.
Wa+ya+kuba> Wayakuba ethanda. He shall be loving (Note the use wa and e in the main verb).
Si+ya+kuba> Siyakuba sithanda. We shall be loving.
Ni+ya+kuba> Niyakuba nithanda. You shall be loving.
Ba+ya+kuba>Bayakuba bethanda. They shall be loving.


A + SC + Yi + infinitive with "u" elided

a + SC + yi + Inf
A+ngi+yi +kuba> Angiyikuba ngithanda. I will not be loving
A+ku+yi+kuba > Akuyikuba uthanda You will not be loving.
A+ka+yi+kuba> Akayikuba ethanda. He will not be loving.
A+si+yi+kuba> Asiyikuba sithanda. We will not be loving.
A+ni+yi+kuba> Aniyikuba nithanda. You may not be loving.
A+ba+yi+kuba>Abayikuba bethanda. They will not be loving.

Future Perfect

The future perfect tense refers to a completed action in the future.

The future perfect is created by conjugating the auxilliary verb, ukuba, into the future tense and combining it with the present perfect tense of the verb that you want to use.

Below are the conjugations of the verb, ukuthanda into the future perfect starting with positive forms followed by the negative forms.


Ngi+ya+kuba>Ngiyakuba ngithandile. I shall have loved.
U+ ya+kuba> Uyakuba uthandile. You shall have loved
Wa+ya+kuba>Wayakuba ethandile. He shall have loved.
Si+ya+kuba>Siyakuba Sithandile. We shall have loved.
Ni+ya+kuba>Niyakuba Nithandile. You shall have loved.
Ba+ya+kuba>Bayakuba bathandile. They shall have loved.


a + SC + yi + Inf
A+ngi+yi+kuba > Angiyikuba ngithandile. I will not have loved.
A+ku+yi+kuba > Akuyikuba uthandile. You will not have loved.
A+ka+yi+kuba > Akayikuba ethandile. He will not have loved.
A+si+yi+kuba > Asiyikuba sithandile. We will not have loved.
A+ni+yi+kuba > Aniyikuba nithandile. We will not have loved.
A+ba+yi+kuba > Abayikuba bethandile. They will not have loved.

Ngoni Dance 1895

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