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Nouns and Phrases

Nominal Predicates


Predicates in Beja are the last part of a sentence. Nominal predicates are used to identify or describe things, and they employ nominal words like nouns or adjectives, as in 'Ali is a teacher' or 'Ali is strong'.

Greeting People

How are you?


In the next set of greetings, adjectives like 'fine, happy', etc. are used to ask about someone's well-being. Beja adjectives behave very much like nouns. Therefore 'I am happy' might also be translated as 'I am a happy (one).'


These nominal predicates have different endings, depending on the number, gender, and person of the subject: The -u is typical for Singular and the -a for Plural. Likewise, the -t is typical for Feminine and the -b for Masculine gender - as the table shows. Note that the -b will only be attached if the word ends in a vowel, as in daayii -b-u 'good-he-is'. If the word already ends in a consonant, the -b will not be attached. This is true for the entire noun system.

Table 10: First and Second Person


(akraa-) -(b)u / -tu

I (M) / (F) (I'm fine)

أكرا بُ / تُ

(akraa-) -(b)wa / -tuwi

You (M) / (F) (you are fine)

أكرا بوه / تُوے


(akraa-) -(b)a

We (are fine)

أكرا به

(akraa-) -(b)aana

You (Pl) (you are fine)

أكرا بانه

How are you (M)? (Addressed to, and answered by, a male)


Are you (M) strong?

أكراو أ?


I am strong.



Are you (M) OK?



I am OK.



Are you (M) well?



I am well.



Are you (M) happy?



I am happy.



Are you (M) healthy?



I am healthy.



Note that several of these greetings may be used in a row.


Are you (F) strong?



I (F) am strong.



Are you (F) OK?



I (F) am OK.



Are you well?



I (F) am well.



Are you (F) happy?



I (F) am happy.



Are you (F) healthy?



I am healthy.


How are you (Pl)? (Addressed to, and answered by several people)


Are you (Pl) strong?



We are strong.



Are you (Pl) OK?



We are OK.



Are you (Pl M) well?



We are well.



Are you (Pl) happy?



We are happy.



Are you (Pl) healthy?



We are healthy.



A: the host, B: the visitor


A: Aabwa?


A: Who are you (M)?



B: Ani Aliibu.

ani aliib-u

B: I am Ali.

Sg1 Ali-IdSg13M


A: Anaa sanu! Yaa marhaba, yaa marhaba.

anaa san-u yaa marhaba yaa marhaba

A: My brother! Hello, hello.

hey brother-PossSg1 hello hello hello hello




Welcome (Lit you (Pl) come)!



B: Tisniyeena!


B: Good to await me (Lit you (Pl) await)!



A: Suur baya! Ma'aahoon!

suur bay-a ma'-aa-hoon

A: Go ahead! Come to us!

before go-ImpvM come-ImpvM-ObjPl1




Come in!



B: Daayiitu.


B: Good.



A: Sa'a!


A: Sit down!



Oon'oomhiin sa'a!

oon-'oo-mhiin sa'-a

Sit down here!

NearSgMObjPf-ArtSgMObj-place sit-ImpvM


B: Daayiitu.


B: Good.



A: Dabaaywa?


A: Are you (M) OK?



B: Dabaayu.


B: I am OK.



Batuukehan dabaaytuwi?

batuuk-ehan dabaayt-uwi

What about you, are you (F) OK?

Sg2F-also well-IdSg2F


A: Ani daayiitu. Baruuk libaabiiwa?

A: ani daayiit-u baruuk libaabii-wa

A: I am fine (F). Are you (M) happy?

Sg1 good-IdSg13F Sg2M happy-IdSg2M


B: Gwirhaab kaabaru,

gwirhaab kaa-baru

B: I don't have any trouble,

problem NegImpfSg1Pf-have


batuukehan libaabiituwi?

batuuk-ehan libaabiit-uwi

are you (F) also happy?

Sg2F-also happy-IdSg2F


A: Ani daayiit iha.

ani daayiit iha

A: I am fine (good).

Sg1 good PerfSg1Pf-be


Naan gw'ata?

naan gw'-ata

What do you want to drink?

what drink-SubM


Shaahiib gw'atahan, hana jabanaat [5]?

shaahiib gw'-ata-han hana jabanaat

Do you want to drink some tea, or coffee?

tea drink-SubM-also or coffee.pot


B: Naat gw'i kaadi.

naat gw'-i kaa-di

B: I won't drink anything.

thing drink-FutSg NegImpfSg1Pf-say


Dawil door buun gw'aabu.

dawil door buun gw'-aab-u

I just drank coffee.

closeness time coffee drink-PtcpPast-IdSg13M


Laakiin, anaa kwaatu, yam gw'asiiheeb!

laakiin anaa kwaat-u yam gw'as-ii-heeb

But, my sister, give (F) me (some) water!

but hey sister-PossSg1 water let.drink-ImpvF-ObjSg1


A: Daayiitu. Yihaa!

daayiit-u yiha-a

A: Fine. Take (M)!

good-IdSg13F take-ImpvM


B: Ahamidehook. Uusheek keeya?

a-hamid-ehook uusheek kee-ya

B: Thank you. Where is Oosheek?

PerfSg1Pf-praise-ObjSg2 Oosheek be.where-PerfSg3M


A: Ushanhooh abaayu.

A: u-shanh-ooh abaay-u

A: He has gone (went) to his work.

ArtSgM-work-PossSg3 go-PtcpPast-IdSg13M


B: Naadoor eeyiini?

naadoor ee-yiini

B: When does he (usually) come?

what.time come-ImpfSg3M


A: Nabhoob eeyiini.

nabhoob ee-yiini

A: He comes in the afternoon.

afternoon come-ImpfSg3M




What is the (your) matter?



B: Dibiloot halaagaay hooy abari.

dibiloot halaagaay hooy a-bari

B: I have a little request for him.

small business for PerfSg1Pf-have


A: Hagita! Dawil door y'i indi.

hagit-a dawil door y'-i i-ndi

A: Wait! He will come soon.

wait-ImpvM closeness time come-FutSg ImpfSg3MPf-say


B: Oond'aab, ani shawaay kaaki.

oond'aab ani shawaay kaa-ki

B: (Right) now, I am not free.

this.time Sg1 free NegImpfSg1Pf-be




I'm in a hurry.



Laakiin weer door y'i andi.

laakiin weer door y'-i a-ndi

But (some) other time I will come.

but other time come-FutSg ImpfSg1Pf-say


A: Ba'ashshigaa! Hooy baashinhaya!

ba-'ashshig-aa hooy baa-shinha-ya

A: Don't (M) hurry! Don't worry about it!

NegImpvMPf-hurry-NegImpvM at NegImpvMPf-worry-NegImpvM


Sooyi andi.

sooy-i a-ndi

I will inform him.

tell-FutSg ImpfSg1Pf-say


B: Daayiitu.


B: That is good.



L'aab aayimi!

l'-aab aayim-i

Have (F) a good (Lit cool) day!

be.cool-PtcpPast spend.day-ImpvF


A: Asigaab! L'aab aayima!

asigaab l'-aab aayim-a

A: The same to you! Have (M) a good day!

peaceful be.cool-PtcpPast spend.day-ImpvM


١ أ آبوه? ٢ أنے ألٍيبُ. ٣ أنا سَنُ! يا مَرهَبَ, يا مَرهَبه. ٤ێتانێنه! ٥تِسنِيێنه! ٦سٌور بَيه! مَآهۆن! ٧شٌوما! ٨دايٍيتُ. ٩سَأه! ١٠ ۆنؤۆمهٍين سَأه! ١١ دايٍيتُ. ١٢ دَبايوه? ١٣ دَبايُ. ١٤ بَتٌوكهَن دَبايتُوے? ١٥ أنے دايٍيتُ. بَرٌوك لِبابٍيوه? ١٦ قْوِرهاب كابَرُ, ١٧ بَتٌوكهَن لِبابٍيتُوے? ١٨ أنے دايٍيت إهه. ١٩ نان قْوأَته? ٢٠ شاهٍيب قْوأَتَهَن, هَنه جَبَنات? ٢١ نات قْوإِ كادے. ٢٢ دَوِل دۆر بٌون قْوآبُ. ٢٣ لاكٍين, أنا كْواتُ, يَم قْوأَسٍيهێب! ٢٤ دايٍيتُ. يِها! ٢٥ أهَمِدهۆك.أُو شێك كێيه? ٢٦ أُشَنهۆه أبايُ. ٢٧ نادۆر ێيٍينے? ٢٨ نَبهۆب ێيٍينے. ٢٩ هالۆكُ? ٣٠ دِبِلۆت هَلاقاي هۆي أبَرے. ٣١ هَقِته! دَوِل دۆر يِإِ إندے. ٣٢ ۆندآب, أنے شَواي كاكے. ٣٣ أششِقَنے. ٣٤ لاكٍين وێر دۆر يِإِ أندے. ٣٥ بَأَششِقا! هۆي باشِنهَيه! ٣٦ سۆيے أندے. ٣٧ دايٍيتُ. ٣٨ لآب آيِمے! ٣٩ أسِقاب! لآب آيِمه!

Who is it? Copula


To identify people or things, words like 'Who?' and 'What' are used together with a copula like the English word 'is'. The answers will be identification clauses where names, nouns, or pronouns are used, such as 'It is Ali.' 'It is me' or 'We are guests.'


The endings which identify things have already been introduced with the adjectives (above). They are not only used for adjectives, but for all nominals (nouns, pronouns, names, adjectives, numerals). Two genders (M / (F) are distinguished, and two numbers (Sg / (Pl).


When people or things are named or listed or identified, Beja uses the Object case. This is common in Cushitic languages, but strange for Indo-European languages. So the identifying suffixes -(b)u, -(t)u, -(b)wa, -tuwi etc. (see the table above) can only be attached to words which are in the Object case.


There is an additional condition here: The Object case requires that a word ends in a consonant. So if a masculine name or noun doesn't already end in a consonant, the consonant -b must be attached. Therefore a person called Ali- will identify himself as Alii-b-u 'I am Ali'.


The same condition applies with feminine words: The Object case requires a consonant at the end of the word. But to a feminine name and noun - whether it already ends in a consonant or not - the consonant -t must always be attached. Therefore a person called Haliima or Zaynab will identify herself as Haliimaab-t-u, or Zaynab-t-u 'I am Halima', 'I am Zaynab'.

Interrogative Pronouns


Beja has question pronouns for as many as 10 or 12 persons, from 'I' to 'they'. But in real life, only some of them are used frequently: Aabu, aabtu? 'Who is it (M) / (F)?' and Aaba, aabta? 'Who are they (M) / (F)?'


Who am I (M)?



Who am I (F)?


Aabuwa?, aabwa?, aawwa?

Who are you (M)?

آبوه, آوّه?


Who are you (F)?



Who (Lit whom (M)) is he?



Who (Lit whom (F)) is she?



Who are we?



Who are you (Pl M)?



Who (Lit whom) are they (M)?



Who (Lit whom) are they (F)?


Aabu? / Aliibu.

Who is it (M)? / It is Ali.

آبُ?/ ألٍيبُ.

Aabtu? / Zaynabtu.

Who is it (F)? / It is Zaynab.

آبتُ?/ زَينَبتُ.

Aaba? / Aliiwwa Hasanwaaya.

Who are they (M)? / They are Ali and Hassan.

آبه?/ ألٍيوّه هَسَنوايه.

Aabta? / Zaynabwa Haliimaabwaata. [6]

Who are they (F)? / They are Zaynab and Halima.

آبته?/ زَينَبوه هَلٍيمابواته.*

Aabu? / aabtu?

Who (Lit whom) is it? (M) / (F)

آبُ? / آبتُ?

Aneebu, aneebu.

It is me (M Obj).



It is me (F Obj).



It is you (M Obj).



It is you (F Obj).



It is him.



It is her.


Aaba? / aabta?

Who (Lit whom) are they? (M) / (F)

آبه?/ آبته?

Hinina, hinina.

It is us.



It is you (Pl M Obj).



It is you (Pl F Obj).



It is them (M Obj).



It is them (F Obj).


Identifying Things


Many nominal predicates have the form of equations like A = B, where the second part is a noun, as in 'Ali is a teacher'.

What is it?


To identify things or to ask about things - like 'What is it?' - the numbers (Sg) and (Pl) need to be distinguished:

Interrogative Pronouns

Naa naatu?

What (thing) is it? (Sg)

نا ناتُ?

Naa naata?

What (things) are they? (Pl)

نا ناته?

Amsi naa b'eeyu?

What day is it today?

أمسے نا بئێيُ?

Amsi hattu, hadtu.

Today it is Sunday (Lit first day).

أمسے هَتُّ ; هَدتُ.

Amsi litneentu.

Today is Monday.

أمسے لِتنێنتُ.

Amsi talataatu.

Today is Tuesday.

أمسے تَلَتاتُ.

Amsi arb'aatu.

Today is Wednesday.

أمسے أربآتُ.

Amsi khamiistu, hamiistu

Today is Thursday.

أمسے خَمٍيستُ, هَمٍيستُ

Amsi jim'aatu, jum'aatu.

Today is Friday.

أمسے جِمآتُ.

Amsi sabtu, subtu

Today is Saturday.

أمسے سَبتُ, سُبتُ

Iru bitkaayt naa b'eeyu?

What day was the day before yesterday?

إرُ بِتكايت نا بئێيُ?

Iru bitkaayt jim'aatu.

The day before yesterday was Friday.

إرُ بِتكايت جِمآتُ.

Iru naa b'eeyu?

What day was yesterday?

إرُ نا بئێيُ?

Iru sabtu.

Yesterday was Saturday.

إرُ سَبتُ.

Amsi naa b'eeyu?

What day is it today?

أمسے نا بئێيُ?

Amsi hattu.

Today is Sunday.

أمسے هَتُّ.

Lhayt naa b'eeyu?

What day is it tomorrow?

لهَيت نا بئێيُ?

Lhayt litneentu.

Tomorrow is Monday.

لهَيت لِتنێنتُ.

Lhayt baakaayt naa b'eeyu?

What day is it after tomorrow?

لهَيت باكايت نا بئێيُ?

Lhayt baakaayt talataatu.

The day after tomorrow is Tuesday.

لهَيت باكايت تَلَتاتُ.

Plural Formation of Nouns
Plural of Nouns 1


Beja has various ways of forming the plural of a noun. The most common ones will be presented first.


The first, straightforward way is to attach the plural suffix -a (it is -ya after vowels).


gaw / gawa

house / houses

قَو / قَوه

galam / galama

pen / pens

قَلَم / قَلَمه

kwursi / kwursiiya

chair / chairs

كْوُرسے / كْوُرسٍييه


Note that in Beja, word final vowels typically are short (or shortened), like a in gawa 'houses', or i in kwursi 'chair'. But when a suffix syllable is attached, these vowels will be long, like ii in kwursii-ya 'chairs'.

(Uunbaruuh) naa naatu? / Gawu.

(This), What (thing) is it? / It is a house (M).

أُونبَرٌوه نا ناتُ?قَوُ.

Naa naata? / Gawaaba.

What (things) are they? / They are houses (Pl M).

نا ناته?قَوابه.

Naa naatu? / Galamu.

What (thing) is it? / It is a pen (M).

نا ناتُ?قَلَمُ.

Naa naata? / Galamaaba.

What (things) are they? / They are pens (Pl M).

نا ناته?قَلَمابه.

Naa naatu? / Kwursiibu.

What (thing) is it? / It is a chair (M).

نا ناتُ?كْوُرسٍيبُ.

Naa naata? / Kwursiiyaaba.

What (things) are they? / They are chairs (Pl M).

نا ناته?كْوُرسٍييابه.


Like other final vowels, the plural -a, will also be long when a suffix follows - as in gaw-a / gaw-aa-ba, 'houses / they are houses', kwursii-ya / kwursii-yaa-ba 'chairs / they are chairs'.

Plural of Nouns 2


Another way of forming the plural is to shorten the last vowel of the noun.

kaam / kam

camel / camels

كام / كَم

kaamt / kamt, kamit

she-camel / she-camels

كامت / كَمت كَمِت

n'aayt / n'ayt

goat / goats

نآيت / نأَيت

hataay / hatay

horse / horses

هَتاي / هَتَي

(Uunbatuuh) naa naatu? / Kaamu.

(This,) What (thing) is it? / It is a camel.

( أُونبَتٌوه ) نا ناتُ? / كامُ.

Naa naata? / Kama.

What (things) are they? / They are camels (Pl M).

نا ناته? / كَمه.

Naa naatu? / Kaamtu.

What (thing) is it? / It is a camel (F).

نا ناتُ? / كامتُ.

Naa naata? / Kamta, kamitta.

What (things) are they? / They are camels (Pl F).

نا ناته? / كَمته, كَمِتّه.

Naa naatu? / N'aaytu.

What (thing) is it? / It is a goat (F).

نا ناتُ? / نآيتُ.

Naa naata? / N'ayta.

What (things) are they? / They are goats (Pl F).

نا ناته? / نأَيته.

Naa naatu? / Hataayu.

What (thing) is it? / It is a horse (M).

نا ناتُ? / هَتايُ.

Naa naata? / Hataya.

What (things) are they? / They are horses (Pl M).

نا ناته? / هَتَيه.

Plural of Nouns 3


A third way of expressing the plural is to front-shift the pitch-accent, as the next examples show. All of these nouns are given in the object case.

bissaab / bissaab

cat (Sg M) / (Pl)

بِسّاب / بِسّاب

bissaat / bissaat

cat (Sg F) / (Pl)

بِسّات / بِسّات

eer'iib, eer'iib / iireeb, iireeb

eagle (Sg M) / (Pl)

ێرإيب, ێرإيب / إي رێب, إيرێب

b'ashoob / b'ashoob

fox (Sg M) / (Pl)

بأَشۆب / بأَشۆب

b'ashoot / b'ashoot

fox (Sg F) / (Pl)

بأَشۆت / بأَشۆت

hadhaab / hadhaab

lion (Sg M) / (Pl)

هَڈاب / هَڈاب

hadhaat / hadhaat

lioness (Sg F) / (Pl)

هَڈات / هَڈات

biileeb / biileeb

bag (Sg) / (Pl)

بٍيلێب / بٍيلێب

hadhiib / hadhiib

bread (Sg) / (Pl)

هَڈٍيب / هَڈٍيب

dheefaab / dheefaab

door (Sg) / (Pl)

ڈێفاب / ڈێفاب

ayeeb / ayeeb

hand (Sg) / (Pl)

أيێب / أيێب

ribaab / ribaab

mountain (Sg) / (Pl)

رِباب / رِباب

akaat / akaat

palm tree fruit (Sg) / (Pl)

أكات / أكات

gwibeeb / gwibeeb

shield (Sg) / (Pl)

قْوِبێب / قْوِبێب

aweeb / aweeb

stone (Sg) / (Pl)

أوێب / أوێب

gwharaab / gwharaab

thief (Sg) / (Pl)

قْوهَراب / قْوهَراب

hindiib / hindiib

tree, wood (Sg) / (Pl)

هِندٍيب / هِندٍيب


There are words which do not use any affixes to form the plural - especially those words whose last vowel is already -a, and some loan words.

riba / riba

hill (M) / hills

رِبه / رِبه

tarabeedaat / tarabeedaat

table (F) / tables

تَرَبێدات / تَرَبێدات


The context - or something else - will take care of these (apparent) ambiguities.

Ribaabu / ribaaba.

It is a hill (M) / They are hills.

رِبابُ / رِبابه.

Tarabeedaatu / tarabeedaata.

It is a table (F) / They are tables.

َرَبێداتُ / تَرَبێداته.

Plural Formation:

Example (Sg):

Example (Pl):

1. Suffix -a

house / pen

gaw / galam

قَو / قَلَم

gawa / galama

قَوه / قَلَمه

2. Shortening of the last syllable

camel / horse

kaam / hataay

كام / هَتاي

kam / hatay

كَم / هَتَي

3. Front-Shifting of the Pitch-Accent

cat / hand

bissaab / ayeeb

بِسّاب / أيێب

bissaab / ayeeb

بِسّاب / أيێب

4. Zero Marking

hill / table

riba / tarabeezaat

رِبه / تَرَبێزات

riba / tarabeezaat

رِبه / تَرَبێزات

5. Different root

man / woman

tak / takat

تَك / تَكَت

da / M'at

ده / مأَت

6. No singular (or rarely used)

water / face



yam / Fiir

يَم / فٍير


The plural form of a noun is not predictable. Therefore it should always be considered an important property of the noun. Some of the most frequent irregular plurals, such as 'men', 'women', 'boys' and 'girls' have already been given in the previous sections. Here is a summary of important unpredictable plurals.

tak / da

man (Sg) / (Pl)

تَك / ده

takat / m'a

woman (Sg) / (Pl)

تَكَت / مأه

oor / ar

boy (Sg) / (Pl)

ۆر / أر

oot / arit

girl (Sg) / (Pl)

ۆت / أرِت

More Examples of Plural Forms
Plural Forms of Things

raat / rat

leaf (Sg) / (Pl)

رات / رَت

faas / fas

axe (Sg) / (Pl)

فاس / فَس

kaar / kar

hill (Sg) / (Pl)

كار / كَر

yaay / yay

rope (Sg) / (Pl)

ياي / يَي

siyaam / siyam

grass (Sg) / (Pl)

سِيام / سِيَم

Plural Forms: Animals 1

yaas / yas

dog (Sg M) / (Pl)

ياس / يَس

yaast / yast

bitch (Sg F) / (Pl)

ياست / يَست

kaam / kam

camel (Sg M) / (Pl)

كام / كَم

n'aayt / n'ayt

goat (Sg F) / (Pl)

نآيت / نأَيت

hataay / hatay

horse (Sg M) / (Pl)

هَتاي / هَتَي

argin / arginaab

sheep (Sg M) / (Pl)

أرقِن / أرقِناب

sh'aab / sh'aab

ox (Sg M) / (Pl)

شآب / شآب

sh'aat / sh'aat

cow (Sg F) / (Pl)

شآت / شآت

meek / mak

donkey (Sg M) / (Pl)

مێك / مَك

meekt / makt

donkey (Sg F) / (Pl)

مێكت / مَكت

anoot / anoot, anut

ewe (Sg F) / (Pl)

أنۆت / أنۆت, أنُت

bissaab / bissaab

cat (Sg M) / (Pl)

بِسّاب / بِسّاب

bissaat / bissaat

cat (Sg F) / (Pl)

بِسّات / بِسّات

hadhaab / hadhaab

lion (Sg M) / (Pl)

هَڈاب / هَڈاب

hadhaat / hadhaat

lioness (Sg F) / (Pl)

هَڈات / هَڈات

Plural Forms: Body Parts 1

ayeeb / ayeeb

hand (Sg) / (Pl)

أيێب / أيێب

ginuuf / ginif

nose (Sg) / (Pl)

قِنٌوف / قِنِف

ragad / ragadaab

foot (Sg) / (Pl)

رَقَد / رَقَداب

tiikas / tiikasaab

heel (Sg) / (Pl)

تٍيكَس / تٍيكَساب

gw'aj / gw'aj

eye (Sg) / (Pl)

قْوأَج / قْوأَج

angwiil / angwil

ear (Sg) / (Pl)

أنقْوٍيل / أنقْوِل

liiliit / liiliit

pupil of the eye (Sg) / (Pl)

لٍيلٍيت / لٍيلٍيت

tiibalaayt / tiibalayt

finger (Sg F) / (Pl)

تٍيبَلايت / تٍيبَلَيت

tiibalaay / tiibalay

thumb (Sg M) / (Pl)

تٍيبَلاي / تٍيبَلَي

kwireet / kwireet

tooth (Sg) / (Pl)

كْوِرێت / كْوِرێت

girma / girmaab

head (Sg) / (Pl)

قِرمه / قِرماب

gin'a / gin'aab

heart (Sg) / (Pl)

قِنأه / قِنآب

yaf / yafaab

mouth (Sg) / (Pl)

يَف / يَفاب

haaf / haf

stomach (Sg) / (Pl)

هاف / هَف


Nouns which are only used in the plural include body parts, liquids and mass nouns.


face (Pl M)



hair (Pl F)



water (and other liquids) (Pl M)



sugar (and other mass nouns) (Pl F)



money (Pl M)


Identifying People


The interrogative pronoun for identifying things is naa (naatu)? 'What?' The interrogative pronouns for identifying persons are Aaw, aab? 'Who, whom?' And as responses to these questions, Beja has a rich set of person suffixes and personal pronouns.

Person Suffixes


The answers to the question aabu 'Who is it?' use the same copula suffixes as for adjectives. Some of them (marked with *) have already been introduced in the context of greetings. Below follows the full list with all person suffixes (table 13). This should be compared with table 11.

Table 13: Person Suffixes


-bu / -(y)u

*I (M) am


*I (F) am

-buwa / -wa

*you (M) are


*you (F) are

-bu / -(y)u

he is


she is


-ba / -(y)a

we (M) are


we (F) are

-baana / -(y)aana

you (Pl M) are


you (Pl F) are

-ba / -(y)a

they (M) are


they (F) are

Subject Pronouns


Beja pronouns take case. The two cases subject case (responding to the question 'who?') and object case (responding to the question 'whom?') have already been introduced above. Beja has different interrogative pronouns for these two: The pronoun which asks for the subject case - like 'Who' in 'Who came?' - is different from the pronoun which asks for the object case - like 'Whom' in 'Who (M) did he see?'

Interrogative Pronouns





Whom ?


Aaw eeya? / Baruuh eeya.

Who came? / He came.

آو ێيه? / بَرٌوه ێيه.

Aab rhiya? / Barooh rhiya.

Whom did he see? / Him he saw.

آب رهِيه? / بَرۆه رهِيه.


Here follows the full set of subject and object case independent pronouns. They are used for subjects (who) and objects (whom) respectively. Their vowels differ:


The subject case typically uses the vowels -uu (Sg) and -aa (Pl). The object case typically uses the vowels -oo (Sg) and -ee (Pl).


ani / aneeb

I / me

أنے / أنێب

baruuk / barook

you (M Subj) / (M Obj)

بَرٌوك / بَرۆك

batuuk / batook

you (F Subj) / (F Obj)

بَتٌوك / بَتۆك

baruuh / barooh

he / him

بَرٌوه / بَرۆه

batuuh / batooh

she / her

بَتٌوه / بَتۆه


hinin / hinin.

we / us

هِنِن / هِنِن

baraakna / bareekna.

you (Pl M Subj / (Pl M Obj)

بَراكنه / بَرێكنه

bataakna / bateekna.

you (Pl F Subj) / (Pl F Obj)

بَتاكنه / بَتێكنه

baraah / bareeh.

they / them (M)

بَراه / بَرێه

bataah / bateeh.

they / them (F)

بَتاه / بَتێه

Subject Pronouns


The first part of the following sentences also involves subject pronouns. Note that the plural forms are distinguished by pitch-accent.

Aaw gawkinaabu?

Who is (the owner) of the house?

آو قَوكِنابُ?


Ani gawkinaabu / gawkinaatu.

I (M) / (F) am (the owner) of the house.

أنے قَوكِنابُ / قَوكِناتُ.

Baruuk gawkinaawa.

You (M) are (the owner) of the house.

بَرٌوك قَوكِناوه.

Batuuk gawkinaatuwi.

You (F) are (the owner) of the house.

بَتٌوك قَوكِناتُوے.

Baruuh gawkinaabu.

He is (the owner) of the house.

بَرٌوه قَوكِنابُ.

Batuuh gawkinaatu.

She is (the owner) of the house.

بَتٌوه قَوكِناتُ.


Hinin gawkinaaba / gawkinaata.

We (M) / (F) are (the owner) of the house.

هِنِن قَوكِنابه / قَوكِناته.

Baraakna gawkinaabaana.

You (Pl M) are (the owner) of the house.

بَراكنه قَوكِنابانه.

Bataakna gawkinaataana.

You (Pl F) are (the owner) of the house.

بَتاكنه قَوكِناتانه.

Baraah gawkinaaba.

They (M) are (the owner) of the house.

بَراه قَوكِنابه.

Bataah gawkinaata.

They (F) are (the owner) of the house.

بَتاه قَوكِناته.

Subject Pronouns with Verbs


To introduce the subject pronouns, a few common verbs will be used, such as 'to come, to start' etc. but is not necessary to study the verb endings at this point. The full verb system will be introduced later.


If subject pronouns like baruuh 'he' are found in sentences which also have a verb like eeyaa 'he-came', then the focus is on the pronoun. Therefore a sentence like baruuh eeya 'he came' really means 'It is he who came, not someone else.'

Aaw eeya?*

Who came?

آو ێيه? *


Ani y'an.

I came.

أنے يِأَن

Baruuk eetaa.

You (M) came.

بَرٌوك ێتا

Batuuk eetaayi.

You (F) came.

بَتٌوك ێتايے

Baruuh eeya.*

He came.

بَرٌوه ێيه. *

Batuuh eeta.

She came.

بَتٌوه ێته


Hinin eena.

We came.

هِنِن ێنه

Baraakna eetaana.

You (Pl) came.

بَراكنه ێتانه

Bataakna eetaana.

You (Pl) came.

بَتاكنه ێتانه

Baraah eeyaan.*

They (M) came.

بَراه ێيان. *

Bataah eeyaan.*

They (F) came.

بَتاه ێيان. *


* Instead of eeya, eeyaan, full forms such as eeyiya, eeyiyaan may also be used.

Verb 'to start, get up'

Aaw yakiya?

Who started?

آو يَكِيه?


(Ani) yakan.

I started

(أنے) يَكَن.

(Baruuk) yaktaa.

You (M) started.

(بَرٌوك) يَكتا.

(Batuuk) yaktaayi.

You (F) started.

(بَتٌوك) يَكتايے.

(Baruuh) yakiya.

He started.

(بَرٌوه) يَكِيه.

(Batuuh) yakta.

She started.

(بَتٌوه) يَكته.


(Hinin) yakna.

We started.

(هِنِن) يَكنه.

(Baraakna) yaktaana.

You (Pl M) started.

(بَراكنه) يَكتانه.

(Bataakna) yaktaana.

You (Pl F) started.

(بَتاكنه) يَكتانه.

(Baraah) yakiyaan.

They (M) started.

(بَراه) يَكِيان.

(Bataah) yakiyaan.

They (F) started.

(بَتاه) يَكِيان.

Verb 'to see'

Aaw rhiya?

Who saw (it)?

آو رهِيه?


(Ani) rhan.

I saw (it).

( أنے) رهَن.

(Baruuk) rhitaa.

You (M) saw.

(بَرٌوك) رهِتا.

(Batuuk) rhitaayi.

You (F) saw.

(بَتٌوك) رهِتايے.

(Baruuh) rhiya.

He saw.

(بَرٌوه) رهِيه.

(Batuuh) rhita.

She saw.

(بَتٌوه) رهِته.


(Hinin) rhina.

We saw.

(هِنِن) رهِنه.

(Baraakna) rhitaana.

You (Pl M) saw.

(بَراكنه) رهِتانه.

(Bataakna) rhitaana.

You (Pl F) saw.

(بَتاكنه) رهِتانه.

(Baraah) rhiyaan.

They (M) saw.

(بَراه) رهِيان.

(Bataah) rhiyaan.

They (F) saw.

(بَتاه) رهِيان.


Indefinite / Definite


Indefinite Beja nouns are nouns without a definite article. So the word tak could be translated as 'man' or 'a man' - but not as 'man in general'.


Definite or general Beja nouns are nouns with a definite article. So the word oo-tak could be translated as 'the man, man in general'. (Note that the object case is used when a noun is just mentioned or listed, such as here above.)


There are only few occasions where indefinite nouns will be used, and the main use is to identify or introduce someone or something, as in the following examples.


tak / Taku.

man / It is a man.

تَك / تَكُ.

takat / Takattu.

woman / It is a woman.

تَكَت / تَكَتُّ.

oor / Ooru.

boy / It is a boy.

ۆر / ۆرُ.

oot / Ootu.

girl / It is a girl.

ۆت / ۆتُ.


da / Daaba.

men / They are men.

ده / دابه.

m'a / M'ata.

women / They are women.

مأه / مأَته.

ar / Ara.

boys / They are boys.

أر / أره.

arit / Aritta.

girls / They are girls.

أرِت / أرِتّه.

Definite Nouns


Most of the time, nouns are used in their definite form, i.e. with an article. This is true even for general statements such as 'water will run its course' or 'advice is a good thing':

Aayam oodham sakeen.

[The] waters follow [the] course.

آيَم ۆڈَم سَكێن.

Uumkir daayi naatu.

[The] advice is a good thing.

أُومكِر دايے ناتُ.


The definite article and the plural form should be considered part of a noun. To take an example: It is not enough to consider tak 'man' as one lexical item, and da 'men' as another lexical item. Instead, one should consider ootak, eenda 'the man / the men' as belonging together. Thus, for a language learner it is not recommended to just remember the indefinite forms such as tak, da- 'man, men (Indef)' - but the following forms should be stored in memory:

ootak / eenda

man / men (Def)

ۆتَك / ێ نده

tutakat / teem'a

woman / women (Def)

تُتَكَت / تێمأه

w'oor / y'ar

boy / boys (Def)

وؤۆر / يِأَر

tu'oor / ti'arit

girl / girls (Def)

تُؤۆر / تِأَرِت


It is not correct to use an indefinite noun if the item is already in everybody's mind. There actually are only few occasions where indefinite nouns can be used. Examples such as those below might be found at the beginning of a conversation, or when a new turn is introduced in a story - but hardly anywhere else.

Hataay eeya.

A horse (M) came.

هَتاي ێيه.

Hatay eeyaan.

Some horses (M) came.

هَتَي ێيان.

Hataay rhan.

I saw a horse (M).

هَتاي رهَن.

Hatay rhan.

I saw some horses (M).

هَتَي رهَن.

Kaam eeya.

A camel (M) came.

كام ێيه.

Kam eeyaan.

Some camels (M) came.

كَم ێيان.

Kaam rhan.

I saw a camel (M).

كام رهَن.

Kam rhan.

I saw some camels (M).

كَم رهَن.

Kaamt eeta.

A camel (F) came.

كامت ێته.

Kamit eeyaan.

Some camels (F) came.

كَمِت ێيان.

Kaamt rhan.

I saw a camel (F).

كامت رهَن.

Kamit rhan.

I saw some camels (F).

كَمِت رهَن.

Tak eeya.

A man came.

تَك ێيه.

Da eeyaan.

Some men came.

ده ێيان.

Tak rhan.

I saw a man.

تَك رهَن.

Daab rhan.

I saw some men.

داب رهَن.

Definite NPs


As has been said above, nouns usually come with a definite article. The definite article would even be used in general statements such as W-hataay daayi naatu 'A horse (Lit the-horse) is a good thing'.


The following sentences introduce different forms of the definite article.

Uukaam eeya.

The camel (M) came.

أُوكام ێيه.

Ookaam rhan.

I saw the camel (M).

ۆكام رهَن.

Tuukaam eeta.

The camel (F) came.

تٌوكام ێته.

Tookaam rhan.

I saw the camel (F)

تۆكام رهَن.

Aakam eeyaan.

The camels (M) came.

آكَم ێيان.

Eekam rhan.

I saw the camels (M).

ێكَم رهَن.

Taakam eeyaan.

The camels (F) came.

تاكَم ێيان.

Teekam rhan.

I saw the camels (F)

تێكَم رهَن.

Uutak eeya.

The man came.

أُوتَك ێيه.

Ootak rhan.

I saw the man.

ۆتَك رهَن.

Aanda eeyaan.

The men came.

آنده ێيان.

Eenda rhan.

I saw the men.

ێنده رهَن.

Whataay eeya.

The horse came (M).

وُهَتاي ێيه.

Whataay rhan.

I saw the horse (M).

وُهَتاي رهَن.

Yhatay eeyaan.

The horses came (M).

يِهَتَي ێيان.

Yhatay rhan.

I saw the horses (M).

يِهَتَي رهَن.

Definite Article


The definite article has different forms. They are conditioned by four properties of the noun:

  1. The initial consonant of the noun - this can be either a Glottal consonant (h or hamzah) or non-Glottal.

  2. The gender of the noun - this can be either masculine or feminine.

  3. The number of the noun - this can be either singular or plural.

  4. And the case of the noun - and this can be either subject or object case.


Note that Beja words which start with a vowel behave as if they start with a hidden hamzah [']. This hamzah will appear as soon as a syllable is attached in front of it (prefixed).

Monosyllabic words [7] which do not start with h or hamzah take the following articles:

uu-, oo- / tuu-, too-

Sg M / Sg F

أُو-, ۆ - / تُو -, تۆ -

aa-, ee- / taa-, tee-

Pl M / Pl F

آ-, ێ - / تا -, تێ -

Examples (Sg):

uu-kaam / uu-nfis / uu-smuuh

camel (M Subj) / appetite(Subj) / his name(Subj)

أُو- كام / أُو - نفِس / أُو - سمٌوه

oo-kaam / oo-nfis / oo-smooh

camel (M Obj) / appetite (Obj) / his name (Obj)

ۆ- كام / ۆ - نفِس / ۆ - سمۆه

tuu-kaam / tuu-ndi / tuu-drim

camel (F Subj) / mother (Subj)/ cattle (Subj)

تُو - كام / تُو - ندے / تُو - درِم

too-kaam / too-ndi / too-drim

camel (F Obj) / mother (Obj)/ cattle (Obj)

تۆ - كام / تۆ - ندے / تۆ - درِم

Examples (Pl):

aa-kam / aa-nda

camels (M Subj) / men (Subj)

آ- كَم / آ - نده

ee-kam / ee-nda

camels (M Obj) / men (Obj)

ێ- كَم / ێ - نده

taa-kam / taa-m'a

camels (F Subj) / women (Subj)

تا - كَم / تا - مأه

tee-kam / tee-m'a

camels (F Obj) / women (Obj)

تێ - كَم / تێ - مأه

Both monosyllabic words and other words which start with h or hamzah take the following articles:

w(u)-, w(u)- / t(u)-, t(u)-

Sg M / Sg F

y(i)-, y(i)- / t(i)-, t(i)-

Pl M / Pl F

Examples (Sg):

w(u)-'oor / w-hiss / w-halak

the boy (Subj) / voice (Subj) / dress (Subj)

و( أُ) - ؤۆر / و- هِسّ / و- هَلَك

w(u)-'oor / w-hiss / w-halak

the boy (Obj) / voice (Obj) / dress (Obj)

و( أُ) - ؤۆر / و- هِسّ / و- هَلَك

t(u)-'oor / tu-haasim / tu-humni

the girl (Subj) / spider (F Subj)/ afternoon (Subj)

ت( أُ) - ؤۆر / تُ - هاسِم / تُ - هُمنے

t(u)-'oor / tu-haasim / tu-humni

the girl (Obj) / spider (F Obj) / afternoon (Obj)

ت( أُ) - ؤۆر / تُ - هاسِم / تُ - هُمنے

Examples (Pl):

y(i)-'ar / y-hissa

the boys (Subj) / voices (Subj)

ي( إ) - أَر / ي- هِسّه

y(i)-'ar / y-hissa

the boys (Obj) / voices (Obj)

ي( إ) - أَر / ي- هِسّه

t(i)-'ar / ti-haasma (haasimi)

the girls (Subj) / spiders (F Subj)

ت( إ) - أَر / تے - هاسمه (هاسِمے)

t(i)-'ar / ti-haasma

the girls (Obj) / spiders (F Obj)

ت( إ) - أَر / تے - هاسمه

Words with more than one syllable which do not start with h or hamzah take the following articles:

u-, u- / tu-, tu- [8]

Sg M / Sg F

i-, i- / ti-, ti-

Pl M / Pl F

Examples (Sg):

u-bissa / u-ganaay / u-sakana

cat (M Subj) / gazelle (M Subj) / news (Subj)

أُ- بِسّه / أُ - قَناي / أُ - سَكَنه

u-bissa / u-ganaay / u-sakana

cat (M Obj) / gazelle (M Obj) / news (Obj)

أُ- بِسّه / أُ - قَناي / أُ - سَكَنه

tu-bissa / tu-ganaay / tu-jabana

cat (F Subj) / gazelle (F Subj) / coffee pot (Subj)

تُ - بِسّه / تُ - قَناي / تُ - جَبَنه

tu-bissa / tu-ganaay / tu-jabana

cat (F Obj) / gazelle (F Obj) / coffee pot (Obj)

تُ - بِسّه / تُ - قَناي / تُ - جَبَنه

Examples (Pl):

i-bissa / i-nisrika

cats (M Subj) / children (M Subj)

إ- بِسّه / إ - نِسرِكه

i-bissa / i-nisrika

cats (M Obj) / children (M Obj)

إ- بِسّه / إ - نِسرِكه

ti-bissa / ti-nisrika

cats (F Subj) / children (F Subj)

تے - بِسّه / تے - نِسرِكه

ti-bissa / ti-nisrika

cats (F Obj) / children (F Obj)

تے - بِسّه / تے - نِسرِكه

Interrogatives and Demonstratives


Here are more examples for definite articles. The examples will be given in the form of questions like 'Where is...?'.


Where / which one (M) is it?



Where / which one (F) is it?



Where / which ones are they?


Examples (M):

Uukaam / uutak keeya?

Where is the camel (M) / man?

أُوكام كێيه?

Aakam / aanda keeyaan?

Where are the camels (M) / men?

آكَم كێيان?

Uumeek keeya?

Where is the donkey (M)?

أُومێك كێيه?

Aamak keeyaan?

Where are the donkeys (M)?

آمَك كێيان?

Examples (F):

Tuukaam / tutakat keeta?

Where is the camel (F) / woman?

تٌوكام كێته?

Taakam / taam'a keeyaan?

Where are the camels (F) / women?

تاكَم كێيان?

Tuumeek keeta?

Where is the donkey (F)?

تٌومێك كێته?

Taamak keeyaan?

Where are the donkeys (F)?

تامَك كێيان?

Tuun'aay keeta?

Where is the goat (F)?

تٌونآي كێته?

Taan'ay keeyaan?

Where are the goats (F)?

تانأَي كێيان?

Where is 2

Examples (Sg):

Uugaw keeya?

Where is the house?

أُوقَو كێيه?

Ugalam keeya?

Where is the pencil?

أُقَلَم كێيه?

Umaktab keeya?

Where is the office?

أُمَكتَب كێيه?

Utambiil keeya?

Where is the car?

أُتَمبٍيل كێيه?

Ukwursi keeya?

Where is the chair?

أُكْوُرسے كێيه?

Tumastara keeta?

Where is the ruler?

تُمَستَره كێته?

Examples (Pl):

Igawa keeyaan?

Where are the houses?

إقَوه كێيان?

Igalama keeyaan?

Where are the pencils?

إقَلَمه كێيان?

Imaktaba keeyaan?

Where are the offices?

إمَكتَبه كێيان?

Itambil keeyaan?

Where are the cars?

إتَمبِل كێيان?

Ikwursiiya keeyaan?

Where are the chairs?

إكْوُرسٍييه كێيان?

Timastara keeyaan?

Where are the rulers?

تِمَستَره كێيان?



The answer to the question 'Which?' or 'Where' usually requires demonstratives or deictics. These are special pronouns which point to the particular item in question.


In Beja, only those items can be pointed to which are considered definite. Therefore, demonstratives can only be attached to pronouns, since they are considered definite (e.g. uun-baruuh 'this-he'), or to names (e.g. uun-Ali 'this Ali'), or to nouns which have a definite article (uun-uu-tak 'this-the-man').


Beja has two different sets of demonstratives: One for items nearby, which includes uun 'this', aan 'these', and another set for items far away, which includes been 'that', baliin 'those'.


The near demonstrative pronouns 'this / these' have different forms, depending on number and gender: uun / aan 'these (Sg M / Pl M)', or tuun / taan 'these (Sg F / Pl F)'. In addition, the object case will require the usual object vowels: oon / een (Sg M / Pl M), or toon / teen (Sg F / Pl F)


Many speakers will change tuun- / toon- into > tuut- / toot- or even into > uut- / oot-, especially when the t- F follows, as in tuut tikati 'this she-is', or uut- tu- takat 'this-the-woman'.

Near Subj:

Uun / tuun

This (M) / (F)

أُون / تٌون

Aan / taan

These (M) / (F)

آن / تان

Near Obj:

Oon / toon

This (M) / (F)

ۆن / تۆن

Een / teen

These (M) / (F)

ێن / تێن

Far Subj:

Been / beet

That (M) / (F)

بێن / بێت

Baliin / baliit

Those (M) / (F)

بَلٍين / بَلٍيت

Far Obj:

Been / Beet

That (M) / (F)

بێن / بێت

Baliin / baliit

Those (M) / (F)

بَلٍين / بَلٍيت

Demonstratives Referring To Near Objects

Keeya? Uun ikati.

Where is he? He is here (Lit Which one is it? It is this one).

كێيه? / أُون إكَتے.

Keeyaan? Aan ikatiin.

Where are they (M)? They (M) are here.

كێيان? / آن إكَتٍين.

Keeta? Tuut (tuun) tikati.

Where is she? She is here.

كێته? / تٌوت (تٌون) تِكَتے.

Keeyaan? Taan ikatiin.

Where are they (F)? They (F) are here.

كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.

Uukaam keeya? Uun ikati.

Where is the camel (M)? It (M) is here.

أُوكام كێيه? / أُون إكَتے.

Aakam keeyaan? Aan ikatiin.

Where are the camels (M)? They (M) are here.

آكَم كێيان? / آن إكَتٍين.

Tuun'aay keeta? Tuut tikati.

Where is the goat (F)? It (F) is here.

تٌونآي كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Taan'ay keeyaan? Taan ikatiin.

Where are the goats (F)? They (F) are here.

تانأَي كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.

This (F)

Tughurfaatu keeta? Tuut tikati.

Where is my room? It is here.

تُغُرفاتُ كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Tus'aatu keeta? Tuut tikati.

Where is my watch? It is here.

تُسآتُ كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Tis'aati keeyaan? Taan ikatiin.

Where are my watches? They are here.

تِسآتے كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.

Tutarabeedaatu keeta? Tuut tikati.

Where is my table? It is here.

تُتَرَبێداتُ كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Titarabeedaati keeyaan? Taan ikatiin.

Where are my tables? They are here.

تِتَرَبێداتے كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.

Tukwubbaaytu keeta? Tuut tikati.

Where is my cup (mug)? It is here.

تُكْوُبّايتُ كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Tikwubbayti keeyaan? Taan ikatiin.

Where are my cups (mugs)? They are here.

تِكْوُبَّيتے كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.

Tigidh'aati keeyaan? Taan ikatiin.

Where are my sandals (shoes)? They are here.

تِقِڈآتے كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.


Pronouns often have demonstrative prefixes. In some Beja areas this is the preferred form for all pronouns.

uunbaruuh / oonbarooh

this (M Subj) / (M Obj)

أُونبَرٌوه / ۆنبَرۆه

uunbatuuh / oonbatooh

this (F Subj) / (F Obj)

أُونبَتٌوه / ۆنبَتۆه

aanbaraah / eenbareeh

these (M Subj) / (M Obj))

آنبَراه / ێنبَرێه

aanbataah / eenbateeh

these (F Subj) / (F Obj)

آنبَتاه / ێنبَتێه


The far demonstratives 'that, those' have the same forms for all cases and numbers - distinguishing only (M) and (F) gender: been / beet 'that, those (M) / (F)'.


Some speakers use special forms for the plural: baliin / baliit 'those (Pl M) / (Pl F)'.

Beenbaruuh / beenbarooh.

That (M Subj) / (M Obj)

بێنبَرٌوه / بێنبَرۆه.

Beenbatuuh / beenbatooh.

That (F Subj) / (F Obj)

بێنبَتٌوه / بێنبَتۆه.

Beenbareeh / baliinbaraah, baliinbareeh.

Those (M Subj / M Obj)

بێنبَرێه / بَلٍينبَراه, بَلٍينبَرێه.

Beenbateeh / baliitbataah, baliitbateeh (baliin bataah / baliin bateeh).

Those (F Subj / F Obj)

بێنبَتێه / بَلٍيتبَتاه, بَلٍيتبَتێه (بَلٍين بَتاه / بَلٍين بَتێه ).

Demonstratives with Pronouns, Referring To Near Objects


In some dialects and with some speakers, the demonstratives will not be attached and assimilated to the articles. They will be used as separate words, as shown in the parentheses here below.

(Uun baruuh) Uunbaruuh aabu?

Who is this (M)?

( أُون بَرٌوه) أُونبَرٌوه آبُ?

(Uun baruuh) Uunbaruuh Aliibu.

This is Ali.

( أُون بَرٌوه) أُونبَرٌوه ألٍيبُ.

(Tuun batuuh) Uunbatuuh aabtu?

Who is this (F)?

(تٌون بَتٌوه) أُونبَتٌوه آبتُ?

(Tuun batuuh) Uunbatuuh Zaynabtu.

This is Zaynab.

(تٌون بَتٌوه) أُونبَتٌوه زَينَبتُ.

(Aan baraah) Aanbaraah aaba?

Who are these (M)?

(آن بَراه) آنبَراه آبه?

(Aan baraah) Aanbaraah Aliiwwa Hasanwaaya.

These are Ali and Hassan.

(آن بَراه) آنبَراه ألٍيوّه هَسَنوايه.

(Taan bataah) Aanbataah aabta?

Who are these (F)?

(تان بَتاه) آنبَتاه آبته?

(Taan bataah) Aanbataah Zaynabwa Haliimaabwaata.

These are Zaynab and Halima.

(تان بَتاه) آنبَتاه زَينَبوه هَلٍيمابواته.

Beenbaruuh aabu?

Who is that (M)?

بێنبَرٌوه آبُ?

Beenbaruuh Abuuzaynabu.

That is Abuzaynab.

بێنبَرٌوه أبٌوزَينَبُ.

Beenbatuuh aabtu?

Who is that (F)?

بێنبَتٌوه آبتُ?

Beenbatuuh Zaynabtu.

That is Zaynab.

بێنبَتٌوه زَينَبتُ.

(Baliinbaraah) Beenbaraah aaba?

Who are those (M)?

(بَلٍينبَراه)بێنبَراه آبه?

(Baliinbaraah) Beenbaraah Aliiwwa Hasanwaaya.

Those are Ali and Hassan.

(بَلٍينبَراه)بێنبَراه ألٍيوّه هَسَنوايه.

(Baliitbataah) Beenbataah aabta?

Who are those (F)?

(بَلٍيتبَتاه)بێنبَتاه آبته?

(Baliitbataah) Beenbataah Zaynabwa Haliimaabwaata, Haliimaawwaata.

Those are Zaynab and Halima.

(بَلٍيتبَتاه)بێنبَتاه زَينَبوه, هَلٍيمابواته.هَلٍيماوّاته.

Demonstratives with Nouns

Uun'uutak aabu?

Who is this man?

أُونُوتَك آبُ?


He is Ali.


Uuttutakat aabtu?

Who is this woman?

أُوتُّتَكَت آبتُ?


She is Halima.


Demonstratives and Nouns (Sg)

Uunbaruuh naa naatu?

What is this (M)?

أُونبَرٌوه نا ناتُ?

Uunbaruuh galamu.

This is a pen.

أُونبَرٌوه قَلَمُ.

Uunbatuuh naa naatu?

What is this (F)?

أُونبَتٌوه نا ناتُ?

Uunbatuuh mastaraatu.

This is a ruler.

أُونبَتٌوه مَستَراتُ.

Beenbaruuh naa naatu?

What is that (M)?

بێنبَرٌوه نا ناتُ?

Beenbaruuh gawu.

This is a house.

بێنبَرٌوه قَوُ.

Beenbatuuh naa naatu?

What is that (F)?

بێنبَتٌوه نا ناتُ?

Beenbatuuh n'aaytu.

That is a goat (F).

بێنبَتٌوه نآيتُ.

Demonstratives and Nouns (Pl)

Aanbaraah naa naata?

What are these (M)?

آنبَراه نا ناته?

Aanbaraah gawaaba.

These are houses.

آنبَراه قَوابه.

Aanbataah naa naata?

What are these (F)?

آنبَتاه نا ناته?

Aanbataah tarabeezaata.

These are tables.

آنبَتاه تَرَبێزاته.

Baliinbaraah naa naata?

What are those (M)?

بَلٍينبَراه نا ناته?

Baliinbaraah kwursiiyaaba.

Those are chairs.

بَلٍينبَراه كْوُرسٍييابه.

Baliitbataah naa naata?

What are those (F)?

بَلٍيتبَتاه نا ناته?

Baliitbataah mastaraata.

Those are rulers.

بَلٍيتبَتاه مَستَراته.

Demonstrative Objects with Verbs

Aab rhita? / Naan rhita?

Whom did you (M) see? / What did you (M) see?

آب رهِته? / نان رهِته?

Oonbarooh rhan.

I saw this (M).

ۆنبَرۆه رهَن.

Oonbatooh rhan.

I saw this (F).

ۆنبَتۆه رهَن.

Eenbareeh rhan.

I saw these (M).

ێنبَرێه رهَن.

Eenbateeh rhan.

I saw these (F).

ێنبَتێه رهَن.

Beenbarooh rhan.

I saw that (M).

بێنبَرۆه رهَن.

Beenbatooh rhan.

I saw that (F).

بێنبَتۆه رهَن.

Beenbareeh rhan.

I saw those (M).

بێنبَرێه رهَن.

Beenbateeh rhan.

I saw those (F).

بێنبَتێه رهَن.

Demonstratives and 'to call'

Oonbarooh aab eeyadna?

What (whom) do they call him?

ۆنبَرۆه آب ێيَدنه?

Oonbarooh Abuuzaynab eeyadna.

They call him Abuzaynab.

ۆنبَرۆه أبٌوزَينَب ێيَدنه.

Oonbatooh aab eeyadna?

What do they call her?

ۆنبَتۆه آب ێيَدنه?

Oonbatooh Zaynab eeyadna.

They call her Zaynab.

ۆنبَتۆه زَينَب ێيَدنه.

Oon'ootak aab eeyadna?

What do they call this man?

ۆنؤۆتَك آب ێيَدنه?

Oon'ootak Abuuzaynab eeyadna.

They call him Abuzaynab.

ۆنؤۆتَك أبٌوزَينَب ێيَدنه.

Oottutakat aab eeyadna?

What do they call this woman?

ۆتُّتَكَت آب ێيَدنه?

Oottutakat (toon tutakat, toottutakat) Zaynab eeyadna.

They call her Zaynab.

ۆتُّتَكَت (تۆن تُتَكَت, تۆتُّتَكَت) زَينَب ێيَدنه.

Describing Things: Noun Phrases (NPs)


Noun phrases are about things in the world. To name the qualities of these things or to describe them, adjectives and other attributes can be put next to the noun.

Adjectives and Participles


Descriptions answer the questions such as 'What is X like?' To describe things, as in 'X is red', the adjective must follow the noun, and a copula (comparable to the English word 'is') must be attached at the end.


The copula has already been introduced with the greetings, since it is common in forms like ani dabaay-u - baruuk dabaay-wa? 'I am fine - are you fine?' The copula in Beja is a suffix which has different forms, depending on the number and the gender of the noun. As has been presented earlier, the most frequent forms of the copula are -u / -tu 'is (Sg M) / (Sg F)', and -a / -ta 'are (Pl M) / (Pl F)'. In such sentences the adjective must be in the object case.



The answer to 'what is... like?' is a description in which an adjective may be used. To the adjective a copula is attached. The copula has different forms, depending on whether the adjective ends in:

  1. A glottal consonant (this includes h and hamzah)

  2. any other consonant

  3. or a vowel.

Naan tan'i?

What is he, she like?

نان تَنإِ?

Uuttuuna, naan tan'i?

This thing, what is it like?

أُوتٌّونه, نان تَنإِ?

Hadaltu / hadalu.

She / he is black

هَدَلتُ / هَدَلُ.

Eeraatu / eeraabu.

She / he is white.

ێراتُ / ێرابُ.

Adarootu / adaroobu.

She / he is red.

أدَرۆتُ / أدَرۆبُ.

Sootaaytu / sootaayu.

She / he is blue-green.

سۆتايتُ / سۆتايُ.


The pattern for attaching suffixes is most easily observed in adjectives which end in a simple consonant (i.e. a consonant other than h or hamzah.)

Ani hadalu.

I (M) am black.

أنے هَدَلُ.

Ani hadaltu.

I (F) am black.

أنے هَدَلتُ.

Baruuk hadalwa.

You (M) are black.

بَرٌوك هَدَلوه.

Batuuk hadaltuwi.

You (F) are black.

بَتٌوك هَدَلتُوے.

Baruuh hadalu.

He is black.

بَرٌوه هَدَلُ.

Batuuh hadaltu.

She is black.

بَتٌوه هَدَلتُ.

Hinin hadalaaba.

We (M) are black.

هِنِن هَدَلابه.

Hinin hadalaata.

We (F) are black.

هِنِن هَدَلاته.

Baraakna hadalaabaana.

You (Pl M) are black.

بَراكنه هَدَلابانه.

Bataakna hadalaataana.

You (Pl F) are black.

بَتاكنه هَدَلاتانه.

Baraah hadalaaba.

They (M) are black.

بَراه هَدَلابه.

Bataah hadalaata.

They (F) are black.

بَتاه هَدَلاته.

Adjectives ending in aa

Ani eeraabu.

I (M) am white.

أنے ێرابُ.

Ani eeraatu.

I (F) am white.

أنے ێراتُ.

Baruuk eeraawwa.

You (M) are white.

بَرٌوك ێراوه.

Batuuk eeraatuwi.

You (F) are white.

بَتٌوك ێراتُوے.

Baruuh eeraabu.

He is white.

بَرٌوه ێرابُ.

Batuuh eeraatu.

She is white.

بَتٌوه ێراتُ.

Hinin eeraaba.

We (M) are white.

هِنِن ێرابه.

Hinin eeraata.

We (F) are white.

هِنِن ێراته.

Baraakna eeraabaana.

You (Pl M) are white.

بَراكنه ێرابانه.

Bataakna eeraataana.

You (Pl F) are white.

بَتاكنه ێراتانه.

Baraah eeraaba.

They (M) are white.

بَراه ێرابه.

Bataah eeraata.

They (F) are white.

بَتاه ێراته.

Adjectives ending in ii

Ani dhhaniibu.

I (M) am alive, well.

أنے ڈهَنٍيبُ.

Ani dhhaniitu.

I (F) am alive, well.

أنے ڈهَنٍيتُ.

Baruuk dhhaniiwa.

You (M) are alive, well.

بَرٌوك ڈهَنٍيوه.

Batuuk dhhaniituwi.

You (F) are alive, well.

بَتٌوك ڈهَنٍيتُوے.

Baruuh dhhaniibu.

He is alive, well.

بَرٌوه ڈهَنٍيبُ.

Batuuh dhhaniitu.

She is alive, well.

بَتٌوه ڈهَنٍيتُ.

Hinin dhhaniiba.

We (M) are alive, well.

هِنِن ڈهَنٍيبه.

Hinin dhhaniita.

We (F) are alive, well.

هِنِن ڈهَنٍيته.

Baraakna dhhaniibaana.

You (Pl M) are alive, well.

بَراكنه ڈهَنٍيبانه.

Bataakna dhhaniitaana.

You (Pl F) are alive, well.

بَتاكنه ڈهَنٍيتانه.

Baraah dhhaniiba.

They (M) are alive, well.

بَراه ڈهَنٍيبه.

Bataah dhhaniita.

They (F) are alive, well.

بَتاه ڈهَنٍيته.

Adjectives ending in oo

Ani adaroobu.

I (M) am red.

أنے أدَرۆبُ.

Ani adarootu.

I (F) am red.

أنے أدَرۆتُ.

Baruuk adaroowwa.

You (M) are red.

بَرٌوك أدَرۆوه.

Batuuk adarootuwi.

You (F) are red.

بَتٌوك أدَرۆتُوے.

Baruuh adaroobu.

He is red.

بَرٌوه أدَرۆبُ.

Batuuh adarootu.

She is red.

بَتٌوه أدَرۆتُ.

Hinin adarooyaaba.

We (M) are red.

هِنِن أدَرۆبه.

Hinin adarooyaata.

We (F) are red.

هِنِن أدَرۆته.

Baraakna adarooyaabaana.

You (Pl M) are red.

بَراكنه أدَرۆبانه.

Bataakna adarooyaataana.

You (Pl F) are red.

بَتاكنه أدَرۆتانه.

Baraah adarooyaaba.

They (M) are red.

بَراه أدَرۆبه.

Bataah adarooyaata.

They (F) are red.

بَتاه أدَرۆته.

Adjectives ending in h 1


(See alternative forms below)

Ani shabhayu.

I (M) am gentle, average.

أنے شَبهَيُ.

Ani shabhatu.

I (F) am gentle, average.

أنے شَبهَتُ.

Baruuk shabhawa.

You (M) are gentle, average.

بَرٌوك شَبهَوه.

Batuuk shabhatuwi.

You (F) are gentle, average.

بَتٌوك شَبهَتُوے.

Baruuh shabhayu.

He is gentle, average.

بَرٌوه شَبهَيُ.

Batuuh shabhatu.

She is gentle, average.

بَتٌوه شَبهَتُ.

Hinin shabhaya.

We (M) are gentle, average.

هِنِن شَبهَيه.

Hinin shabhata.

We (F) are gentle, average.

هِنِن شَبهَته.

Baraakna shabhayaana.

You (Pl M) are gentle, average.

بَراكنه شَبهَيانه.

Bataakna shabhataana.

You (Pl F) are gentle, average.

بَتاكنه شَبهَتانه.

Baraah shabhaya.

They (M) are gentle, average.

بَراه شَبهَيه.

Bataah shabhata.

They (F) are gentle, average.

بَتاه شَبهَته.

Adjectives ending in h 2

Ani shabahu.

I (M) am gentle, average.

أنے شَبَهُ.

Ani shabahtu.

I (F) am gentle, average.

أنے شَبَهتُ.

Baruuk shabahwa.

You (M) are gentle, average.

بَرٌوك شَبَهوه.

Batuuk shabahtuwi.

You (F) are gentle, average.

بَتٌوك شَبَهتُوے.

Baruuh shabahu.

He is gentle, average.

بَرٌوه شَبَهُ.

Batuuh shabahtu.

She is gentle, average.

بَتٌوه شَبَهتُ.

Hinin shabaha.

We (M) are gentle, average.

هِنِن شَبَهه.

Hinin shabahta.

We (F) are gentle, average.

هِنِن شَبَهته.

Baraakna shabahaana.

You (Pl M) are gentle, average.

بَراكنه شَبَهانه.

Bataakna shabahtaana.

You (Pl F) are gentle, average.

بَتاكنه شَبَهتانه.

Baraah shabaha.

They (M) are gentle, average.

بَراه شَبَهه.

Bataah shabahta.

They (F) are gentle, average.

بَتاه شَبَهته.

Adjectives ending in hamzah (glottal stop) 1


(See alternative forms below)

Ani nab'ayu.

I (M) am warm.

أنے نَبأَيُ.

Ani nab'atu.

I (F) am warm.

أنے نَبأَتُ.

Baruuk nab'awa.

You (M) are warm.

بَرٌوك نَبأَوه.

Batuuk nab'atuwi.

You (F) are warm.

بَتٌوك نَبأَتُوے.

Baruuh nab'ayu.

He is warm.

بَرٌوه نَبأَيُ.

Batuuh nab'atu.

She is warm.

بَتٌوه نَبأَتُ.

Hinin nab'aya.

We (M) are warm.

هِنِن نَبأَيه.

Hinin nab'ata.

We (F) are warm.

هِنِن نَبأَته.

Baraakna nab'ayaana.

You (Pl M) are warm.

بَراكنه نَبأَيانه.

Bataakna nab'ataana.

You (Pl F) are warm.

بَتاكنه نَبأَتانه.

Baraah nab'aya.

They (M) are warm.

بَراه نَبأَيه.

Bataah nab'ata.

They (F) are warm.

بَتاه نَبأَته.

Adjectives ending in hamzah (glottal stop) 2

Ani naba'u.

I (M) am warm.

أنے نَبَءُ.

Ani naba'tu.

I (F) am warm.

أنے نَبَ تُ.

Baruuk naba'wa.

You (M) are warm.

بَرٌوك نَبَ وه.

Batuuk naba'tuwi.

You (F) are warm.

بَتٌوك نَبَ تُوے.

Baruuh naba'u.

He is warm.

بَرٌوه نَبَءُ.

Batuuh naba'tu.

She is warm.

بَتٌوه نَبَ تُ.

Hinin naba'a.

We (M) are warm.

هِنِن نَبَأه.

Hinin nab'ata.

We (F) are warm.

هِنِن نَبأَته.

Baraakna nab'aana.

You (Pl M) are warm.

بَراكنه نَبآنه.

Bataakna nab'taana.

You (Pl F) are warm.

بَتاكنه نَب تانه.

Baraah naba'a.

They (M) are warm.

بَراه نَبَأه.

Bataah nab'ata.

They (F) are warm.

بَتاه نَبأَته.



Participles are derived from verbs, but at this point they can be treated as if they were adjectives: Literally, hargwaab 'hungry' for instance means '(the one who) hungers, hungered'; but it has the positions, endings and functions of an adjective: 'hungry'.


It will be seen that transitive verbs (like to see) and intransitive verbs (like to come) differ slightly in the form and meaning of their participles:


Participles of transitive verbs have the endings -aab / -aat 'the one who (actively)...-ed (M) / (F)' as in abkaab / abkaat 'the one who (actively) held (M) / (F)', and these endings are attached after the last root consonant.


Participles of intransitive verbs, however, take the last root consonant -aaC / -aaCt 'the one who (is / was)... -ed (M) / (F)' as in fayaaku / fayaaktu 'the one who (is / was) loaded (M) / (F)'.

Ani, ani [9] n'uraabu.

I (M) am cured.

أنے, أنے نءُرابُ.

Ani n'uraatu.

I (F) am cured.

أنے, أنے نءُراتُ.

Baruuk n'uraawwa.

You (M) are cured.

بَرٌوك نءُراوه.

Batuuk n'uraatuwi.

You (F) are cured.

بَتٌوك نءُراتُوے.

Baruuh n'uraabu.

He is cured.

بَرٌوه نءُرابُ.

Batuuh n'uraatu.

She is cured.

بَتٌوه نءُراتُ.

Hinin n'uraaba.

We (M) are cured.

هِنِن نءُرَبه.

Hinin n'uraata.

We (F) are cured.

هِنِن نءُرَته.

Baraakna n'uraabaana.

You (Pl M) are cured.

بَراكنه نءُرَبانه.

Bataakna n'uraataana.

You (Pl F) are cured.

بَتاكنه نءُرَتانه.

Baraah n'uraaba.

They (M) are cured.

بَراه نءُرَبه.

Bataah n'uraata.

They (F) are cured.

بَتاه نءُرَته.

Participles of transitive verbs, ending in aa 2

Ani hargwaabu.

I (M) am hungry.

أنے هَرقْوابُ.

Ani hargwaatu.

I (F) am hungry.

أنے هَرقْواتُ.

Baruuk hargwaawa.

You (M) are hungry.

بَرٌوك هَرقْواوه.

Batuuk hargwaatuwi.

You (F) are hungry.

بَتٌوك هَرقْواتُوے.

Baruuh hargwaabu.

He is hungry.

بَرٌوه هَرقْوابُ.

Batuuh hargwaatu.

She is hungry.

بَتٌوه هَرقْواتُ.

Hinin hargwaaba.

We (M) are hungry.

هِنِن هَرقْوابه.

Hinin hargwata.

We (F) are hungry.

هِنِن هَرقْوَته.

Baraakna hargwabaana.

You (Pl M) are hungry.

بَراكنه هَرقْوَبانه.

Bataakna hargwataana.

You (Pl F) are hungry.

بَتاكنه هَرقْوَتانه.

Baraah hargwaba.

They (M) are hungry.

بَراه هَرقْوَبه.

Bataah hargwata.

They (F) are hungry.

بَتاه هَرقْوَته.


Participles of intransitive verbs, however (see below), take the last root consonant -aaC / -aaCt 'the one who (is / was)... -ed (M) / (F)' as in fayaaku / fayaaktu 'the one who (is / was) loaded (M) / (F)'.

Participles of intransitive verbs, ending in C 1

Ani fayaaku.

I (M) am loaded, responsible.

أنے فَياكُ.

Ani fayaaktu.

I (F) am loaded, responsible.

أنے فَياكتُ.

Baruuk fayaakwa.

You (M) are loaded, responsible.

بَرٌوك فَياكْوه.

Batuuk fayaaktuwi.

You (F) are loaded, responsible.

بَتٌوك فَياكتُوے.

Baruuh fayaaku.

He is loaded, responsible.

بَرٌوه فَياكُ.

Batuuh fayaaktu.

She is loaded, responsible.

بَتٌوه فَياكتُ.

Hinin fayaka.

We (M) are loaded, responsible.

هِنِن فَيَكه.

Hinin fayakta.

We (F) are loaded, responsible.

هِنِن فَيَكته.

Baraakna fayakaana.

You (Pl M) are loaded, responsible.

بَراكنه فَيَكانه.

Bataakna fayaktaana.

You (Pl F) are loaded, responsible.

بَتاكنه فَيَكتانه.

Baraah fayaka.

They (M) are loaded, responsible.

بَراه فَيَكه.

Bataah fayakta.

They (F) are loaded, responsible.

بَتاه فَيَكته.

Participles of intransitive verbs, ending in C 2

Ani hasaaru.

I (M) am sorry, sad.

أنے فَياكُ.

Ani hasaartu.

I (F) am sorry, sad.

أنے فَياكتُ.

Baruuk hasaarwa.

You (M) are sorry, sad.

بَرٌوك فَياكْوه.

Batuuk hasaartuwi.

You (F) are sorry, sad.

بَتٌوك فَياكتُوے.

Baruuh hasaaru.

He is sorry, sad.

بَرٌوه فَياكُ.

Batuuh hasaartu.

She is sorry, sad.

بَتٌوه فَياكتُ.

Hinin hasara.

We (M) are sorry, sad.

هِنِن فَيَكه.

Hinin hasarta.

We (F) are sorry, sad.

هِنِن فَيَكته.

Baraakna hasaraana.

You (Pl M) are sorry, sad.

بَراكنه فَيَكانه.

Bataakna hasartaana.

You (Pl F) are sorry, sad.

بَتاكنه فَيَكتانه.

Baraah hasara.

They (M) are sorry, sad.

بَراه فَيَكه.

Bataah hasarta.

They (F) are sorry, sad.

بَتاه فَيَكته.

Adjectives: More Examples
Adjectives in Questions and Answers 1

Baruuk gabaawa? Ani gabaabu.

Are you (M) satisfied, full? I am satisfied, full.

بَرٌوك قَباوه?أنے قَبابُ.

Batuuk gabaatuwi? Ani gabaatu.

Are you (F) satisfied, full? I am satisfied, full.

بَتٌوك قَباتُوے?أنے قَباتُ.

Baruuh gabaabu? Baruuh gabaabu.

Is he satisfied, full? He is satisfied, full.

بَرٌوه قَبابُ? بَرٌوه قَبابُ.

Batuuh gabaatu? Batuuh gabaatu.

Is she satisfied, full? She is satisfied, full.

بَتٌوه قَباتُ? بَتٌوه قَباتُ.

Baraakna gabaabaana? Hinin gabaaba.

Are you (Pl) satisfied, full? We are satisfied, full.

بَراكنه قَبابانه? هِنِن قَبابه.

Baraah gabaaba? Baraah gabaaba.

Are they (M) satisfied, full? They (M) are satisfied, full.

بَراه قَبابه? بَراه قَبابه.

Bataah gabaata? Bataah gabaata.

Are they (F) satisfied, full? They are satisfied, full.

بَتاه قَباته? بَتاه قَباته.

Adjectives in Questions and Answers 2

Baruuk yiweewa? Ani yiweebu.

Are you (M) thirsty? I am thirsty.

بَرٌوك يِوێوه?أنے يِوێبُ.

Batuuk yiweetuwi? Ani yiweetu.

Are you (F) thirsty? I am thirsty.

بَتٌوك يِوێتُوے?أنے يِوێتُ.

Baruuh yiweebu? Baruuh yiweebu.

Is he thirsty? He is thirsty.

بَرٌوه يِوێبُ? بَرٌوه يِوێبُ.

Batuuh yiweetu? Batuuh yiweetu.

Is she thirsty? She is thirsty.

بَتٌوه يِوێتُ? بَتٌوه يِوێتُ.

Baraakna yiweebaana? Hinin yiweeba.

Are you (Pl M) thirsty? We are thirsty.

بَراكنه يِوێبانه? هِنِن يِوێبه.

Baraah yiweeba? Baraah yiweeba.

Are they (M) thirsty? They (M) are thirsty.

بَراه يِوێبه? بَراه يِوێبه.

Bataah yiweeta? Bataah yiweeta.

Are they (F) thirsty? They (F) are thirsty.

بَتاه يِوێته? بَتاه يِوێته.

Color Adjectives (Sg) / (Pl)


Uun'uush'a hamishu.

This ox (M) is brown.

أُونُوشأه هَمِشُ.

Uun'uumeek hamishu.

This donkey (M) is brown.

أُونُومێك هَمِشُ.

Aan'aamak hadalaaba.

These donkeys (M) are black.

آنآمَك هَدَلابه.

Aan'aash'a hamishaaba.

These oxen (M) are brown.

آنآشأه هَمِشابه.


Aan'aamak eeraawwa hamshaawwaaya.

These donkeys (M) are white and brown.

آنآمَك ێراوّه هَمشاوّايه.

Aan'aamak hamishaawwa eeraawwaaya.

These donkeys (M) are brown and white.

آنآمَك هَمِشاوّه ێراوّايه.

Aan'aash'a eeraawwa hamishaawwaaya.

These oxen (M) are white and brown.

آنآشأه ێراوّه هَمِشاوّايه.

Aan'aash'a hamishaawwa eeraawwaaya.

These oxen (M) are brown and white.

آنآشأه هَمِشاوّه ێراوّايه.

Color Adjectives (Sg / Pl)


Adjectives take the same articles as nouns, and in this regard may be treated as nouns, like in 'red / the red one' etc. Note that the short vowels in brackets can be left out. This is always the case where i or u are followed by h or hamza, but it will not be indicated in all paradigms.

w(u)hadal / y(i)hadala.

black (Def) (M) / (Pl M)

وُهَدَل / يِهَدَله.

t(u)hadal / t(i)hadala.

black (Def) (F) / (Pl F)

تُهَدَل / تِهَدَله.

w(u)'eera / y(i)'eera.

white (Def) (M) / (Pl M)

وُئێره / يئِێره.

t(u)'eera / t(i)'eera.

white (Def) (F) / (Pl F)

تئێره / تئێره.

w(u)'adaru / y(i)'adarooya.

red (Def) (M) / (Sg F)

وُأَدَرُ / يِأَدَرۆيه.

t(u)'adaru / t(i)'adarooya.

red (Def) (F) / (Pl F)

تُأَدَرُ / تِأَدَرۆيه.

Adjectives: Opposites and Negation


Many adjectives and participles have obvious opposites as far as the meaning is concerned.

Opposites: Human Qualities

Eegriimu / adhamiibu.

He is old / young.

ێقرٍيمُ / أڈَمٍيبُ.

Akraabu / nhawiibu.

He is strong / weak.

أكرابُ / نهَوٍيبُ.

Daawriibu / nifriibu.

He is beautiful / ugly.

داورٍيبُ / نِفرٍيبُ.

Aafiimaabu / lhaabu.

He is healthy / sick.

آفٍيمابُ / لهابُ.

Winu / dibiloobu.

He is big / small.

وِنُ / دِبِلۆبُ.

Fagaru / afrayu.

He is good / bad.

فَقَرُ / أفرَيُ.

Saraaraabu / disu.

He is long / short.

سَرارابُ / دِسُ.

Opposites and Negation: Human Qualities


For some adjectives, the negative word kiiki 'it is not' is used to express the opposite or negative meaning.

Ashshigaabu / ashshigaab kiiki.

He is fast / not fast.

أششِقابُ / أششِقاب كٍيكے.

Libaabiibu / libaabiib kiiki.

He is happy / not happy.

لِبابٍيبُ / لِبابٍيب كٍيكے.


In the table below, the most frequent words for expressing negation have been marked A full presentation of negation will be given in the Section Verbs and Clauses. Note that the Bishaari dialect frequently uses final a instead of i, as in kaaka, kiika, kitta etc., as has been indicated in the phonological introduction.

Ashshigaab kaaki.

I am not in a hurry (frequent).

* أششِقاب كاكے.

Ashshigaab kittaa.

You (M) are not in a hurry.

أششِقاب كِتّا.

Ashshigaat kittaayi.

You (F) are not in a hurry.

أششِقات كِتّايے.

Ashshigaab kiiki.

He is not in a hurry / fast (frequent).

* أششِقاب كٍيكے.

Ashshigaat kitti.

She is not in a hurry / fast (frequent).

* أششِقات كِتّے.

Ashshigaab kinki.

We are not in a hurry.

أششِقاب كِنكے.

Ashshigaab kitteena.

You (Pl) are not in a hurry.

أششِقاب كِتّێنه.

Ashshigaab kiikeen.

They are not in a hurry / fast (frequent).

* أششِقاب كٍيكێن.

Opposites: Human Qualities

Baruuh deeyaraabu / ani deeyaraab kaaki.

He is tired / I am not tired.

بَرٌوه دێيَرابُ / أنے دێيَراب كاكے.

Baruuh nariitiibu / ani akraabu, nariitiib kaaki.

He is tired / I am strong, not tired.

بَرٌوه نَرٍيتٍيبُ / أنے أكرابُ, نَرٍيتٍيب كاكے.

Baruuh lhaabu / ani aafiimaabu, lhaab kaaki.

He is sick / I am healthy, not sick.

بَرٌوه لهابُ / أنے آفٍيمابُ, لهاب كاكے.

Baruuh yiweebu / ani l'oobu.

He is thirsty / I am not thirsty.

بَرٌوه يِوێبُ / أنے لؤۆبُ.

Baruuh hargwaabu / ani gabaabu.

He is hungry / I am not hungry (full).

بَرٌوه هَرقْوابُ / أنے قَبابُ.

Baruuh eegriimu / ani adhamiibu.

He is old / I am young.

بَرٌوه ێقرٍيمُ / أنے أڈَمٍيبُ.

Opposites: Other Qualities

Uunbaruuh aliyaabu / beenbaruuh rhasaabu.

This (M) is expensive / that (M) is cheap.

أُونبَرٌوه ألِيابُ / بێنبَرٌوه رهَسابُ.

Uunbaruuh daayiibu / beenbaruuh amaagu.

This (M) is good / that (M) is bad.

أُونبَرٌوه دايٍيبُ / بێنبَرٌوه أماقُ.

Uunbaruuh gaayiibu / beenbaruuh sh'iyaabu.

This (M) is new / that (M) is old.

أُونبَرٌوه قايٍيبُ / بێنبَرٌوه شإِيابُ.

Uunbaruuh nhasu / beenbaruuh yiwaashiibu.

This (M) is clean / that (M) is dirty.

أُونبَرٌوه نهَسُ / بێنبَرٌوه يِواشٍيبُ.

Uunbaruuh winu / beenbaruuh dibiloobu.

This (M) is big / that (M) is small.

أُونبَرٌوه وِنُ / بێنبَرٌوه دِبِلۆبُ.

Opposites: Qualities of Things

Sh'iyaabu / gaayiibu.

It (M) is old / new (speaking of things).

شإِيابُ / قايٍيبُ.

Sagiibu / dawilu.

It is far / close.

سَقٍيبُ / دَوِلُ.

Daayiibu / afrayu, amaagu.

It is good / bad.

دايٍيبُ / أفرَيُ, أماقُ.

Aliyaabu / rhasaabu.

It is expensive / cheap.

ألِيابُ / رهَسابُ.

Ataabu / faadiibu.

It is full / empty.

أتابُ / فادٍيبُ.

Nafiru / hamiibu.

It is sweet / bitter.

نَفِرُ / هَمٍيبُ.

Nhasu / yiwaashiibu.

It is clean / dirty.

نهَسُ / يِواشٍيبُ.

Naba'u, nab'ayu / l'aabu.

It is hot / cool.

نَبَءُ, نَبأَيُ / لآبُ.

Gwidaabu / shaliku.

It is much / little.

قْوِدابُ / شَلِكُ.

Special Plural Adjectives: Reduplication


A few adjectives are reduplicated to express plural. The first syllable is repeated according to the pattern CVC > CaCVC, in win- > wawin- 'big / big (Pl)', and likewise in dis- > dadis- 'small / small (Pl)'.


Ani winu.

I (M) am tall, big.

أنے وِنُ.

Ani wintu.

I (F) am tall, big.

أنے وِنتُ.

Baruuk winwa.

You (M) are tall, big.

بَرٌوك وِنوه.

Batuuk wintuwi.

You (F) are tall, big.

بَتٌوك وِنتُوے.

Baruuh winu.

He is tall, big.

بَرٌوه وِنُ.

Batuuh wintu.

She is tall, big.

بَتٌوه وِنتُ.


Hinin wawina.

We (M) are tall, big.

هِنِن وَوِنه.

Hinin wawinta.

We (F) are tall, big.

هِنِن وَوِنته.

Baraakna wawinaana.

You (Pl M) are tall, big.

بَراكنه وَوِنانه.

Bataakna wawintaana.

You (Pl F) are tall, big.

بَتاكنه وَوِنتانه.

Baraah wawina.

They (M) are tall, big.

بَراه وَوِنه.

Bataah wawinta.

They (F) are tall, big.

بَتاه وَوِنته.

Reduplicated Adjectives: 'small'


Ani disu.

I (M) am small.

أنے دِسُ.

Ani distu.

I (F) am small.

أنے دِستُ.

Baruuk diswa.

You (M) are small.

بَرٌوك دِسوه.

Batuuk distuwi.

You (F) are small.

بَتٌوك دِستُوے.

Baruuh disu.

He is small.

بَرٌوه دِسُ.

Batuuh distu.

She is small.

بَتٌوه دِستُ.


Hinin dadisa.

We (M) are small.

هِنِن دَدِسه.

Hinin dadista.

We (F) are small.

هِنِن دَدِسته.

Baraakna dadisaana.

You (Pl M) are small.

بَراكنه دَدِسانه.

Bataakna dadistaana.

You (Pl F) are small.

بَتاكنه دَدِستانه.

Baraah dadisa.

They (M) are small.

بَراه دَدِسه.

Bataah dadista.

They (F) are small.

بَتاه دَدِسته.

NPs with Adjectives as Attributes


Adjectives not only function as predicates, as in 'the goat is black' - adjectives may also function as attributes, as in 'the black goat...'

Attributes in Indefinite NPs as Subject


If the noun is indefinite, the adjective precedes the noun, such as 'a brown ox, a small man' etc. Here follow various examples of indefinite NPs with attributes: masculine / feminine, subject / object, singular / plural. (The verbs 'to come', 'to see' are used, but the structure of these verbs may be ignored at this point.)

Hamish sh'a eeya.

A brown ox came.

هَمِش شأه ێيه.

Dibilu tak eeya.

A small man came.

دِبِلُ تَك ێيه.

Hamish sh'a rhan.

I saw a brown ox.

هَمِش شأه رهَن.

Dibilu (dis) tak rhan.

I saw a small / short / little man.

دِبِلُ (دِس) تَك رهَن.

Hadalt n'aay eeta.

A black goat (F) came.

هَدَلت نآي ێته.

Hamisht sh'a eeta.

A brown cow (F) came.

هَمِشت شأه ێته.

Hadalt n'aay rhan.

I saw a black goat (F).

هَدَلت نآي رهَن.

Hamisht sh'a rhan.

I saw a brown cow.

هَمِشت شأه رهَن.

Attributes in Indefinite NPs

Eera tak eeya.

A white man came.

ێره تَك ێيه.

Eera tak rhan.

I saw a white man.

ێره تَك رهَن.

Eeraat takat eeta.

A white woman came.

ێرات تَكَت ێته.

Eeraat takat rhan.

I saw a white woman.

ێرات تَكَت رهَن.

Attributes in Definite NPs


If the noun is definite, the adjective follows the noun, and both take the definite article, which may be glossed as 'The goat the black (one)'.


Indefinite noun phrases (above) are not as common as definite noun phrases (below).


Since this section of the Beja grammar is considered more complicated than other sections, a large number of examples have been provided here in order to cover all possible combinations of gender, number, case, and initial consonant. The different forms of the article should be noticed.

Uutak w'eera eeya.

The white man came.

أُوتَك وُئێره ێيه.

Ootak w'eera rhan.

I saw the white man.

ۆتَك وُئێره رهَن.

Tutakat tu'eera eeta.

The white woman came.

تُتَكَت تُئێره ێته.

Tutakat tu'eera rhan.

I saw the white woman.

تُتَكَت تُئێره رهَن.

Tuun'aay tuhadal eeta.

The black goat (F) came.

تٌونآي تُهَدَل ێته.

Tuush'a tuhamish eeta.

The brown cow came.

تٌوشأه تُهَمِش ێته.

Tubissa tu'eera eeta.

The white cat (F) came.

تُبِسّه تُئێره ێته.

Toon'aay tuhadal rhan.

I saw the black goat (F).

تۆنآي تُهَدَل رهَن.

Toosh'a tuhamish rhan.

I saw the brown cow.

تۆشأه تُهَمِش رهَن.

Tubissa tu'eera rhan.

I saw the white cat (F).

تُبِسّه تُئێره رهَن.

NPs as Subject and Object (Pl F)

Taan'ay tihadala eeyaan.

The black goats (F) came.

تانأَي تِهَدَله ێيان.

Taakam ti'eera gw'iyaan.

The white camels (F) drank.

تاكَم تِئێره قْوإِيان.

Taakam tihadala kwidhiyaan.

The small camels (F) got lost.

تاكَم تِهَدَله كْوِڈِيان.

Taakam ti'eera eeyaan.

The white camels (F) came.

تاكَم تِئێره ێيان.

Teen'ay tihadala rhan.

I saw the black goats (F).

تێنأَي تِهَدَله رهَن.

Teesh'a tihamisha rhan.

I saw the brown cows.

تێشأه تِهَمِشه رهَن.

Tibissa ti'eera rhan.

I saw the white cats (F).

تِبِسّه تِئێره رهَن.

NPs as Subject and Object (Sg M)

Uush'a whamish eeya.

The brown ox came.

أُوشأه وُهَمِش ێيه.

Uukaam w'eera kwidhiya.

The white camel (M) got lost.

أُوكام وُئێره كْوِڈِيه.

Uutak udibilu eeya.

The small man came.

أُوتَك أُدِبِلُ ێيه.

Ubissa w'eera eefi.

The white cat (M) is there.

أُبِسّه وئێره ێفے.

Oosh'a whamish rhan.

I saw the brown ox.

ۆشأه وُهَمِش رهَن.

Ookaam w'eera anaw.

I missed the white camel (M).

ۆكام وُئێره أنَو.

Ootak udibilu rhan.

I saw the small man.

ۆتَك أُدِبِلُ رهَن.

NPs as Subject and Object (Pl M)

Aash'a yhamisha, yhamsha eeyaan.

The brown oxen came.

آشأه يِهَمِشه, يهَمشه ێيان.

Ibissa y'eera eefeen.

The white cats (M) are there.

إبِسّه يِئێره ێفێن.

Aakam yhadala eeyaan.

The black camels (M) came.

آكَم يِهَدَله ێيان.

Aakam idibiloowa (yhiiwa) gw'iyaan.

The small camels (M) (the foals) drank.

آكَم إدِبِلۆوه (يِهٍيوه ) قْوإِيان.

Aanda idibiloowa eeyaan.

The small men came.

آنده إدِبِلۆوه ێيان.

Eesh'a yhamisha rhan.

I saw the brown oxen.

ێشأه يِهَمِشه رهَن.

Eekam y'eera gw'asan.

I gave the white camels (M) to drink.

ێكَم يِئێره قْوأَسَن.

Eenda idibiloowa rhan.

I saw the small men.

ێنده إدِبِلۆوه رهَن.

Ibissa y'eera rhan.

I saw the white cats (M).

إبِسّه يِئێره رهَن.

NPs as Subject (Sg and Pl)

Uutak w'eera eeya.

The white man came.

أُوتَك وُئێره ێيه.

Aanda y'eera eeyaan.

The white men came.

آنده يِئێره ێيان.

Tutakat tu'eera eeta.

The white woman came.

تُتَكَت تُئێره ێته.

Taam'a ti'eera eeyaan.

The white women came.

تامأه تِئێره ێيان.

Uutak w'adaru eeya.

The red man came.

أُوتَك وُأَدَرُ ێيه.

Aanda y'adaroowa, y'adarooya, y'adaru eeyaan.

The red men came.

آنده يِأَدَرۆوه, يِأَدَرۆيه, يأَدَرُ ێيان.

Tutakat tu'adaru eeta.

The red woman came.

تُتَكَت تُأَدَرُ ێته.

Taam'a ti'adaroowa, ti'adarooya eeyaan.

The red women came.

تامأه تِأَدَرۆوه, تِأَدَرۆيه ێيان.

NPs as Object (Sg and Pl)

Ootak udibilu rhan.

I saw the small man.

ۆتَك أُدِبِلُ رهَن.

Eenda idibiloowa, idibilooya rhan.

I saw the small men.

ێنده إدِبِلۆوه, إدِبِلۆيه رهَن.

Tutakat tudibilu rhan.

I saw the small woman.

تُتَكَت تُدِبِلُ رهَن.

Teem'a tidibiloowa, tidibilooya rhan.

I saw the small women.

تێمأه تِدِبِلۆوه, تِدِبِلۆيه رهَن.

Ootak w'eera rhan.

I saw the white man.

ۆتَك وُئێره رهَن.

Tutakat tu'eera rhan.

I saw the white woman.

تُتَكَت تُئێره رهَن.

Eenda y'eera rhan.

I saw the white men.

ێنده يِئێره رهَن.

Teem'a ti'eera rhan.

I saw the white women.

تێمأه تِئێره رهَن.

NPs with Genitives as Attributes


Another way of expanding a noun phrase is to add a genitive attribute which typically indicates the possessor, as in 'Ali's son'. This phrase has two parts:

  1. The first part is the owner or possessor such as 'Ali's'. This always has a genitive case suffix which consists of the vowels -ii for Genitive (Sg) and -ee for Genitive (Pl), but in word final position, both of them become -i, so that the distinction between Sg and Pl is lost.

  2. The second part is the item owned or possessum, such as 'son'. This is the main part of the phrase, and it takes the case which is required by the total clause.


For (F) possessors, a -t is suffixed which indicates the gender of the possessor. It really is part of the noun which expresses the possessor, and so it will precede the genitive suffix.


For (F) items possessum, a -t is suffixed which indicates the gender of the possessum. It is attached after the genitive which precedes the possessum. This -t can be viewed as the definite article of the possessum.

Table 18: Genitive Suffixes

The Possessor is (M):

Word Medial:


The possessum is (M).


The possessum is (Pl M).


The possessum is (F).


The possessum is (Pl F).

Word Final:


The possessum is (M).


The possessum is (Pl M).


The possessum is (F).


The possessum is (Sg F).

The Possessor is (F):

Word Medial:


The possessum is (M).


The possessum is (Pl M).


The possessum is (F).


The possessum is (Pl F).

Word Final:


The possessum is (M).


The possessum is (Pl M).


The possessum is (F).


The possessum is (Sg F).

Genitive Attributes: Interrogative Pronouns


The question word which asks for the possessor is the interrogative pronoun 'Whose (is it)?'. Beja uses four different forms of 'Whose', depending on gender and number of the item possessed.

Table 19: 'Whose' Interrogative Pronouns




Aayu? (<Aayii-yu)

Whose (Sg M) is he?

آيُ? (<آيِي - يُ)

Aaytu? (<Aayii-tu)

Whose (Sg F) is she?

آيتُ? (<آيِي - تُ)

Aaya? (<Aayii-ya)

Whose (Pl M) are they?

آيه? (<آيِي - يه)

Aayta? (<Aayii-ta)

Whose (Pl F) are they?

آيته? (<آيِي - ته)


It is unusual for an indefinite noun such "a horse" to be connected with a possessor such as "boy's". Therefore the following examples are somewhat strange - even though they are perfectly grammatical.

Aayi hataay eeya?

Whose horse came?

آيے هَتاي ێيه?

Sg -i / (Pl) -i

Genitive (Sg) / (Pl):

Oori hataay eeya.

A boy's horse came.

ۆرے هَتاي ێيه.

M'ati hatay eeyaan.

Women's horses came.

مأَتے هَتَي ێيان.

Daayi hatay eeyaan.

People's horses came.

دايے هَتَي ێيان.

Aliiyi hataay rhan.

I saw a horse of Ali's.

ألٍييے هَتاي رهَن.

Genitive Attributes in Definite NPs


Definite noun phrases with genitives are the norm, and they are very frequent. There are many different combinations of case, number, and gender. They will be found in the examples below, in the following order: (1) Masculine possessor, masculine possessum, (2) Masculine possessor, feminine possessum, (3) Feminine possessor, masculine possessum, (4) Feminine possessor, feminine possessum.

NPs with Genitives as Subject
(M) possessor / (M) possessum


Genitive (Sg):

Utaki hataay eeya.

The man's horse (M) came.

أُتَكے هَتاي ێيه.

Utaki yaas eeya.

The man's dog (M) came.

أُتَكے ياس ێيه.

w'oori hataay eeya.

The boy's horse (M) came.

وؤۆرے هَتاي ێيه.

w'oori yaas eeya.

The boy's dog (M) came.

وؤۆرے ياس ێيه.


Genitive (Pl):

Indaayi hatay eeyaan.

The men's horses (Pl M) came.

إندايے هَتَي ێيان.

Indaayi yas eeyaan.

The men's dogs (Pl M) came.

إندايے يَس ێيان.

Y'ari hatay eeyaan.

The boys' horses (Pl M) came.

يِأَرے هَتَي ێيان.

Y'ari kitab kwidhiyaan.

The boys' books (Pl M) got lost.

يِأَرے كِتَب كْوِڈِيان.

(M) possessor / (F) possessum

-iit / -eet

Genitive (Sg) / (Pl):

Utakiit yaas eeta.

The man's dog (F) came.

أُتَكٍيت ياس ێته.

Utakiit hataay eeta.

The man's horse (F) came.

أُتَكٍيت هَتاي ێته.

W'ooriit hataay eeta.

The boy's horse (F) came.

وؤۆرٍيت هَتاي ێته.

W'ooriit yaas tiyiya.

The boy's dog (F) died.

وؤۆرٍيت ياس تِيِيه.

Indaayeet hatay eeyaan.

The men's horses (F) came.

إندايێت هَتَي ێيان.

Indaayeet yas eeyaan.

The men's dogs (F) came.

إندايێت يَس ێيان.

Y'areet hatay eeyaan.

The boys' horses (F) came.

يِأَرێت هَتَي ێيان.

Y'areet tarabeeza, tarabeeda [10] kat'amiyaan.

The boys' tables (F) broke.

يِأَرێت تَرَبێزه كَتأَمِيان.

(F) possessor / (M) possessum

-ti / -ti

Genitive (Sg) / (Pl):

Tutakatti yaas eeya.

The woman's dog (M) came.

تُتَكَتّے ياس ێيه.

Tutakatti hataay eeya.

The woman's horse (M) came.

تُتَكَتّے هَتاي ێيه.

Tu'ooti hataay eeya.

The girl's horse (M) came.

تؤۆتے هَتاي ێيه.

Tu'ooti yaas iyiya.

The girl's dog (M) died.

تؤۆتے ياس إيِيه.

Tim'ati hatay eeyaan.

The women's horses (M) came.

تِمأَتے هَتَي ێيان.

Tim'ati yas eeyaan.

The women's dogs (M) came.

تِمأَتے يَس ێيان.

Ti'arti hatay eeyaan.

The girls' horses (M) came.

تِأَرتے هَتَي ێيان.

Ti'arti kitab kwidhiyaan.

The girls' books (M)got lost.

تِأَرتے كِتَب كْوِڈِيان.

(F) possessor / (F) possessum

-tiit / -teet

Genitive (Sg ) / (Pl ):

Tutakattiit yaas eeta.

The woman's dog (F) came.

تُتَكَتٍّيت ياس ێته.

Tutakattiit hataay eeta.

The woman's horse (F) came.

تُتَكَتٍّيت هَتاي ێته.

Tu'ootiit hataay eeta.

The girl's horse (F) came.

تؤۆتٍيت هَتاي ێته.

Tu'ootiit yaas tiyiya.

The girl's dog (F) died.

تؤۆتٍيت ياس تِيِيه.

Tim'ateet hatay eeyaan.

The women's horses (F) came.

تِمأَتێت هَتَي ێيان.

Tim'ateet yas eeyaan.

The women's dogs (F) came.

تِمأَتێت يَس ێيان.

Ti'arteet hatay eeyaan.

The girls' horses (F) came.

تِأَرتێت هَتَي ێيان.

Ti'arteet tarabeeza kat'amiyaan.

The girls' tables (F) broke.

تِأَرتێت تَرَبێزه كَتأَمِيان.

More NPs with Genitives in the Subject

Aayi hataay eeya?

Whose horse (M) came?

آيے هَتاي ێيه?

-i / -i

Genitive (Sg) / (Pl):

W'oori hataay eeya.

The boy's horse (M) came.

وؤۆرے هَتاي ێيه.

Tim'ati hatay eeyaan.

The women's horses (M) came.

تِمأَتے هَتَي ێيان.

Indaayi hatay eeyaan.

The people's horses (M) came.

إندايے هَتَي ێيان.

NPs with Genitives as Object
(M) possessor / (F) possessum

-i / -i

Genitive (Sg) / (Pl):

Utaki hataay amiru.

I found the man's horse (M).

أُتَكے هَتاي أمِرُ.

Ugawi baab kat'an.

I broke the door (M) of the houses.

أُقَوے باب كَتأَن.

Igawaayi bab kat'an.

I broke the doors (M) of the houses.

إقَوايے بَب كَتأَن.

Tu'ooti yaas amiru.

I found the girl's dog (M).

تُؤۆتے ياس أمِرُ.

Tutakatiit hataay amiru.

I found the woman's horse (F).

تُتَكَتٍيت هَتاي أمِرُ.

Tu'ootiit hataay amiru.

I found the girl's horse (F).

تُؤۆتٍيت هَتاي أمِرُ.

Genitives in Kinship Terms (Sg) / (Pl)


More examples of genitives in Kinship terms are given below. The verb structure may be ignored for the time being.

Duuri oor / duuri ar abari.

I have an uncle's son / sons.

دٌورے ۆر / دٌورے أر أبَرے.

Diraati oor / diraati ar abari.

I have an aunt's son / sons.

دِراتے ۆر / دِراتے أر أبَرے.

Oori oor / ari ar abari.

I have a son's son / sons.

ۆرے ۆر / أرے أر أبَرے.

Ootti oor / arti ar abari.

I have a daughter's son / sons.

ۆتے ۆر / أرتے أر أبَرے.

Duuriit oor / duureet arit abari.

I have an uncle's daughter / daughters.

دٌورٍيت ۆر / دٌورێت أرِت أبَرے.

Diraatiit oor / diraateet ar abari.

I have an aunt's daughter / daughters.

دِراتٍيت ۆر / دِراتٍيت أر أبَرے.

Ooriit oor / areet ar abari.

I have a son's daughter / daughters.

ۆرٍيت ۆر / أرتێت أر أبَرے.

Ootiit oor / arteet ar abari.

I have a daughter's daughter / daughters.

ۆتٍيت ۆر / أرتێت أرِت أبَرے.

Win dhiwa abari.

I have a large family.

وِن ڈِوه أبَرے.

Modified Genitive Attributes


Usually the genitive or possessor is a simple name or noun, as in 'Ali's brother', or 'boy's brother' (see the examples here below).


But it does happen that the possessor itself is modified by an adjective, e.g. 'big boy's brother'. If this is the case, the possessor must be followed by a form of the word naa-yi 'thing-of'.

Table 20: Modified Genitive Suffixes


(M) Possessor, (Sg M) or (Pl M) item



(F) Possessor, (Sg M) or (Pl M) item


naayiit, naayeet

(M) Possessor, (Sg F) or (Pl F) item

نايٍيت, نايێت

naatiit, naateet

(F) Possessor, (Sg F) or (Pl F) item

ناتٍيت, ناتێت

W'oor-i san disu.

The boy's brother is small.

وُؤۆر - إ سَن دِسُ.

W'oor oowin naayi san disu.

The tall boy's brother is small.

وُؤۆر ۆوِن نايے سَن دِسُ.

Tu'oot-i san disu.

The girl's brother is small.

تُؤۆت - إ سَن دِسُ.

Tu'oor tuwinti naati san disu.

The tall girl's brother is small.

تُؤۆر تُوِنتے نايتے سَن دِسُ.

W'oor oodis naayiit kwa wintu.

The small boy's sister is tall.

وؤۆر ۆدِس نايٍيت كْوه وِنتُ.

Tu'oor toodis naaytiit kwa wintu.

The small girl's sister is tall.

تؤۆر تۆدِس نايتٍيت كْوه وِنتُ.

W'oor oowin naayi sana dadisa.

The tall boy's brothers are small.

وؤۆر ۆوِن نايے سَنه دَدِسه.

Tu'oor toowin naati sana dadisa.

The tall girl's brothers are small.

تُؤۆر تۆوِن نايتے سَنه دَدِسه.

W'oor oodis naayiit kwa wawinta.

The small boy's sisters are tall.

وؤۆر ۆدِس نايٍيت كْوه وَوِنته.

Tu'oor toodis naaytiit kwa wawinta.

The small girl's sisters are tall.

تُؤۆر تۆدِس نايتٍيت كْوه وَوِنته.

More Examples of Modified Genitives (rare)

Aliiyi dhiwa

Ali's relative

ألٍييے ڈِوه

Aliib eeyadni naayi dhiwa...

the relative of someone called Ali...

ألٍيب ێيَدنے نايے ڈِوه

baladi saalhi tak

a devout man of a country

بَلَدے سالهے تَك

balad gaal naayi saalhi tak

a devout man of one country

بَلَد قال نايے سالهے تَك

udari sikwkwart

sugar from the side

أُدَرے سِكْوكْوَرت

oodar oongaal naayi sikwkwart

sugar from the one side

ۆدَر ۆنقال نايے سِكْوكْوَرت

ooriit gabiila

a son's tribe

ۆرٍيت قَبٍيله

Hummadiin Iisa Oori naayiit gabiila

Hummadiin Isa son's tribe

هُمَّدٍين إيسه ۆرے نايٍيت قَبٍيله


A: the host, B: the guest, C: the waiter, D: the restaurant owner


A: Yhaa! Amsi gwadu mhasaa!

yiha-a amsi gwad-u mhas-aa

A: Hey you (M), today have lunch together with me!

take-ImpvM today with-PossSg1 have.lunch-ImpvM


B: Yaa salaam, winneet daayiitu!

yaa salaam winneet daayiit-u

B: Oh dear, it is really good!

hello greet-PtcpPast very good-IdSg13F




In your (M) house?



A: Laa laa laa,

laa laa laa

A: No no no,

no no no


Amsi tutakattu kitihayi.

amsi tu-takatt-u kiti-hay-i

Today my wife is not there.

today ArtSgF-woman-PossSg1 NegImpfSg3FPf-be-NegImpfSg3F


Dibiloot halaagaaytiib indhiwaayeeh abaaytu.

dibiloot halaagaayt-iib indhiwaa-yeeh ab-aayt-u

To take care of some business she has gone to her family.

small business-Adv+at family-PossSg3 go-PtcpPast-IdSg3


B: Aflaa, naamhiinaan mhasnay?

aflaa naamhiinaan mhas-nay

B: Then, which place do we eat lunch?

so.then which.place have.lunch-ImpfPl1


A: Usuugiib!


A: In the market!



B: Naamhiinaan nimmarari?

naamhiinaan ni-mmarari

B: Where shall we meet?

which.place ImpfPl1Pf-gather


A: Ujaam'iib nimmarari!

u-jaam'-iib ni-mmarari

A: Let us meet at the mosque.

ArtSgM-mosque-Adv+at ImpfPl1Pf-gather


B: Daayiitu. Naadoor?

daayiit-u naadoor

B: Good. When?

good-IdSg13F what.time


A: Toos'a gaat, baabaadhiina!

too-s'a gaat baa-baadhiin-a

A: At one o'clock. Don't forget!

ArtSgFObj-hour one NegImpvMPf-forget-NegImpvM


B: Kak eebdhiin!

kak Zero-eebdhiin

B: How can I forget!

how ImpfSg1Pf-forget


Bariiyook gwad tumhasay -

bariiyook gwad tu-mhasay

To eat together with you (M)

PossSg2M with ArtSgF-lunch


nafirka na teefi?

nafir-ka na t-eefi

is there anything nicer than that?

sweet-than thing ImpfSg3FPf-be


A: Baruuk tihiyisa!

baruuk t-ihiyis-a

A: You (M) are better! (Idiom signifying praise or compliment)

Sg2M PastSg2MPf-be.better-PastSg2M


Yakaa! Daayiit matbakh tikteena?

yak-aa daayiit matbakh ti-kteen-a

A: Let us go (Lit arise)! Do you know a good restaurant?

arise-ImpvM good kitchen ImpfSg2MPf-know-ImpfSg2M


B: Yaa takay, ani amnaabu.

yaa tak-ay ani amnaab-u

B: Oh man, I am a guest.

hello man-Vocat Sg1 guest-IdSg13M




In this place,



usuugooh daayiib kaakan.

u-suug-ooh daayiib kaa-kan

I don't know the market well.

ArtSgM-market-PossSg3 good NegImpfSg1Pf-know


A: Aflaa, bak ikatiyeek, yakaa!

aflaa bak i-kati-yeek yak-aa

A: So then, if you don't know, come (get up)!

so.then so ImpfSg3MPf-be-Adv+if arise-ImpvM


Daayi matbakh akteen.

daayi matbakh a-kteen

I know a good restaurant.

good kitchen ImpfSg1Pf-know


B: Sagiibu?


B: Is it far?



A: Winneet sagiib kiiki.

winneet sagiib ki-aki

A: It is not very far.

very far NegImpfSg3MPf-be


A: Shuumaa!


A: Go (M) in!



B: Daayiitu.


B: Good.



A: S'a! Naan tami tindiya?

s'-a naan tam-i ti-ndi-ya

A: Sit (M) down! What will you (M) eat?

sit-ImpvM what eat-FutSg ImpfSg2MPf-say-ImpfSg2M


B: Baraah naan ibariin?

baraah naan i-bari-in

B: What do they (M) have?

Pl3M what PerfPl3Pf-have-PerfPl3


A: Hindeeh, hagita, raatni!

hindeeh hagit-a raat-ni

A: Please, wait (M), let us ask.

please wait-ImpvM ask-FutPl


Ooray yhaa! Naan tibariina?

oor-ay yha-a naan ti-bari-ina

Hello waiter (M)! What do you (Pl) have?

boy-hey take-ImpvM what PerfPl2Pf-have-PerfPl2


C: Shaatwa, bataatiswa,

shaat-wa bataatis-wa

C: We have meat, potatoes,

meat-and potato-and


waykaatwa, faasuliyaawwa nibari.

waykaat-wa faasuli-yaa-wwa ni-bari

occra and white beans.

occra-and white.beans-Pl-and PerfPl1Pf-have


A: Naan tami tindiya?

naan tam-i ti-ndi-ya

A: What will you (M) eat?

what eat-FutSg ImpfSg2MPf-say-ImpfSg2M


B: Shaat.


B: Meat.



A: Maloot sha hiyahoon!

maloot sha hi-ya-hoon

A: Give us two (portions of) meat.

two meat give-ImpvM-ObjPl1


C: Winneet daayiitu!

winneet daayiit-u

C: Very good!

very good-IdSg13F


Weena tihariwna?

weena ti-hariw-na

Do you (M) want anything else?

other.thing ImpfPl2Pf-want-ImpfPl2


A: Awwal toosha haam'aa!

awwal too-sha haam'-aa

A: First bring the meat!

first ArtSgFObj-meat bring-ImpvM


Malyaab niishbibay.

malyaab n-iishbib

Then let us see.

secondly look-FutPl


B: Tushaatuukna na shaatu?

tu-shaat-uukna na shaat-u

B: What kind of meat is your meat?

ArtSgF-meat-PossPl2 thing meat-IdSg13F


C: Tushaatoon, arginaayeet shaatu,

tu-shaat-uun argin-aa-yeet shaat-u

C: Our meat is mutton meat,

ArtSgF-meat-PossPl1 sheep-Pl-CasGen


sh'ayeet shaatu, n'ayteet shaatu.

sh'a-yeet shaat-u n'ayt-eet shaat-u

beef meat, goat meat.

cow-CasGen meat-IdSg13F goat-CasGen meat-IdSg13F


B: Arginaayeet sha tikatiyeek,

argin-aa-yeet sha ti-kati-yeek

B: If there is mutton meat,

sheep-Pl-CasGen meat ImpfSg3FPf-be-Adv+if




Give us [that].



A: Naanhooy shaliktu?

naanhooy shalikt-u

A: Why is it so little?

why little-IdSg13F


C: Y'argina winneet aliyaaba.

y-'argin-a winneet ali-yaab-a

C: The sheep are very expensive.

ArtPlM-sheep-Pl very be.dear-PtcpPast-IdPl13M


B: Hooy baashinhaya!

hooy baa-shinha-ya

B: Don't (M) worry!

at NegImpvMPf-worry-NegImpvM


Kassuuh gaalu.

kass-uuh gaal-u

It's all the same.

all-PossSg3 one-IdSg13M


A: Tushaatuukna winneet daayiitu.

tu-shaat-uukna winneet daayiit-u

A: Your (Pl) meat really is good.

ArtSgF-meat-PossPl2 very good-IdSg13F


Hummaday! Neeshwi?

hummad-ay n-eeshwi

Hummad, hey, shall we order anything in addition (Lit do we add)?

Hummad-Vocat ImpfPl1Pf-add


B: Ani winneet gaban.

ani winneet gab-an

B: I was (became) really full (had enough).

Sg1 very be.full-PerfSg1


Baruuk iishwa tindiyeek, shaawa!

baruuk iishwa-Zero ti-ndi-yeek shaaw-a

If you (M) will have more (Lit add), then have more (Lit add)!

Sg2M add-FutSg ImpfSg3FPf-say-Adv+if add-ImpvM


A: Naan eeshwi?

naan Zero-eeshwi

A: What do I order in addition (Lit add)?

what ImpfSg1Pf-add


Ani winneet ataabu.

ani winneet ataab-u

I am really satisfied.

Sg1 very filled-IdSg13M


Naan gw'ata?

naan gw'-ata

What did (do) you (M) drink?

what drink-SubM


B: Naan ibariin?

naan i-bari-in

B: What do they have?

what PerfPl3Pf-have-PerfPl3


A: Naan tibariina?

naan ti-bari-ina

A: What do you (Pl) have?

what PerfPl2Pf-have-PerfPl2


C: Shaahiib nibari, buun nibari.

shaahiib ni-bari buun ni-bari

C: We have tea, we have coffee.

tea PerfPl1Pf-have coffee PerfPl1Pf-have


B: Buun tibariina?

buun ti-bari-ina

B: You (Pl) have coffee?

coffee PerfPl2Pf-have-PerfPl2


C: Awooh, nibari.

awooh ni-bari

C: Yes, we have.

yes PerfPl1Pf-have


B: Aflaa, wint jabana mheeliit haam'aahoon!

aflaa wint jabana mheel-iit haam'-aa-hoon

B: Then, bring us a big pot of coffee with ginger!

so.then big coffee.pot ginger-CasGen bring-ImpvM-ObjPl1


C: Daayiitu!


C: Good!



B: Tujabanaatuukna winneet daayiitu.

tu-jabanaat-uukna winneet daayiit-u

B: Your (Pl) coffee is very good.

ArtSgF-coffee.pot-PossPl2 very good-IdSg13F


A: (Matbakhi ankwana gwad:)

matbakh-i ankwana gwad

A: (To the restaurant owner:)

kitchen-CasGen owner with


Whissaab naakaaba?

w-hissaab naakaab-a

How much is the bill?

ArtSgM-calculation how.many-IdPl13M


D: Naan tibariina?

naan ti-bari-ina

D: What did you (Pl) have?

what PerfPl2Pf-have-PerfPl2


A: Maloot shaawwa,

maloot shaa-wwa

A: We had two [portions of] meat,

two meat-and


Wint jabanaawwa nibari.

wint jabanaa-wwa ni-bari

and one big coffee.

big coffee.pot-and PerfPl1Pf-have


D: Kassu whissaab

kass-u w-hissaab

D: All the bill

all-PossSg1 ArtSgM-calculation


mhaytamuntwa aytwa Nakfaata / Gineehiwaata.

mhaytamunt-wa ayt-wa nakfaat-a gineehi-waa-ta

is thirty-five Nakfa / Guinees [11].

thirty-and five-and nakfa-IdPl13F guinee-and-IdPl13F


A: Abika!


A: Take!



Uunbatuuh aytamunt waragaatu.

uun-batuuh aytamunt waragaat-u

This is fifty notes.

NearSgFSubjPf-Sg3F fifty paper-IdSg13M


D: Aanbataah tamna ayta.

aan-bataah tamna ayt-a

D: These (items) are fifteen (Nakfas, Guinees).

NearPlFSubjPf-Pl2F ten five-IdPl13F




I thank you (Pl)!



Hamuud baanaawa! Uumhiin mhiinooknaayu.

hamuud baa-naaw-a uu-mhiin mhiin-ooknaa-yu

May you not lack thanks (Lit praise)! The place is yours (Pl).

praise NegImpvMPf-lack-NegImpvM ArtSgMSubj-place place-PossPl2-IdSg13M


A: Winneet nikteen.

winneet ni-kteen

A: We know (it) much (well).

very ImpfPl1Pf-know


Baruukehan fagar takwa!

baruuk-ehan fagar tak-wa

And you (M) are a nice man.

Sg2M-also brave man-IdSg2M


B: Tumhasay winneet daayiitu.

tu-mhasay winneet daayiit-u

B: The lunch is very good.

ArtSgF-lunch very good-IdSg13F


١ يِها!أمسے قْوَدُ مهَسا! ٢يا سَلام, وِنّێت دايٍيتُ! ٣أُقَوٍييۆك? ٤لا لا لا, ٥ أَمسے تُتَكَتُّ كِتِهَيے. ٦دِبِلۆت هَلاقايتٍيب إنڈِوايێه أبايتُ. ٧ أفلا, نامهٍينان مهَسنَي? ٨أُسٌوقٍيب! ٩نامهٍينان نِمَّرَرے? ١٠ أُجامإيب نِمَّرَرے! ١١ دايٍيتُ. نادۆر? ١٢ تۆسأه قات, باباڈٍينه! ١٣ كَك ێبڈٍين! ١٤ بَرٍييۆك قْوَد تُمهَسَي ١٥ نَفِركه نه تێفے? ١٦ بَرٌوك تِهِيِسه! ١٧ يَكا! دايٍيت مَتبَخ تِكتێنه? ١٨ يا تَكَي, أنے أمنابُ. ١٩ ۆنءُبَلدٍيب, ٢٠ أُسٌوقۆه دايٍيب كاكَن. ٢١ أفلا, بَك إكَتِيێك, يَكا! ٢٢ دايے مَتبَخ أكتێن. ٢٣ سَقٍيبُ? ٢٤ وِنّێت سَقٍيب كٍيكے. ٢٥ شٌوما! ٢٦ دايٍيتُ. ٢٧ سأه! نان تَمے تِندِيه? ٢٨ بَراه نان إبَرٍين? ٢٩ هِندێه, هَقِتَ, راتنے! ٣٠ ۆرَي يِها! نان تِبَرٍينه? ٣١ شاتوَ, بَتاتِسوَ, ٣٢ وَيكاتوَ, فاسُلِياوّه نِبَرے. ٣٣ نان تَمے تِندِيه? ٣٤ شات. ٣٥ مَلۆت شه هِيَهۆن! ٣٦ وِنّێت دايٍيتُ! ٣٧ وێنه تِهَرِونه? ٣٨ أوَّل تۆشه هامآ! ٣٩ مَلياب نٍيشبِب. ٤٠ تُشاتٌوكنه نه شاتُ? ٤١ تُشاتٌون أرقِنايێت شاتُ, ٤٢ شأَيێت شاتُ, نأَيتێت شاتُ. ٤٣ أرقِنايێت شه تِكَتِيێك, ٤٤ هِيَهۆن. ٤٥ نانهۆي شَلِكتُ? ٤٦ يِأَرقِنه وِنّێت ألِيابه. ٤٧ هۆي باشِنهَيه! ٤٨ كَسٌّوه قالُ. ٤٩ تُشاتٌوكنه وِنّێت دايٍيتُ. ٥٠ هُمَّدَي! نێشوے? ٥١ أنے وِنّێت قَبَن. ٥٢ بَرٌوك إيشوه تِندِيێك, شاوه! ٥٣ نان ێشوے? ٥٤ أنے وِنّێت أتابُ. ٥٥ نان قْوأَته? ٥٦ نان إبَرٍين? ٥٧ نان تِبَرٍينه? ٥٨ شاهٍيب نِبَرِ, بٌون نِبَرے. ٥٩ بٌون تِبَرٍينه? ٦٠ أوۆه, نِبَرے. ٦١ أفلا, وِنت جَبَنه مهێلٍيت هامآهۆن! ٦٢ دايٍيتُ! ٦٣ تُجَبَناتٌوكنه وِنّێت دايٍيتُ. ٦٤ (مَتبَخے أنكْوَنه قْوَد : ) ٦٥ وُهِسّاب ناكابه? ٦٦ نان تِبَرٍينه? ٦٧ مَلۆت شاوَّ, ٦٨ وِنت جَبَناوّه نِبَرے. ٦٩ كَسُّ وُهِسّاب ٧٠ مهَيتَمُنتوه أيتوه نَكفاته. ٧١ أبِكه! ٧٢ أُونبَتٌوه أيتَمُنت وَرَقاتُ. ٧٣ آنبَتاه تَمنه أيته. ٧٤ أهَمٍّيدهۆكنه! ٧٥ هَمٌود باناوه!أُو مهٍين مهٍينۆكنايُ. ٧٦ وِنّێت نِكتێن. ٧٧ بَرٌوكهَن فَقَر تَكْوه! ٧٨ تُمهَسَي وِنّێت دايٍيتُ.

Genitive: Possessive Pronominal Suffixes


In the following sections, possessive suffixes will be introduced, starting with the most frequent one: 'my', like 'My father (Lit father-my)'.


The suffix 'my' has different forms, depending on three items: (1) number of possessums, (2) case, and (3) position of the suffix - which can be word final or non-final. But the gender of the possessor does not matter.


To illustrate the possessive pronouns, some vocatives will be given with their possessive suffixes, such as Usanuuyi! 'Oh my brother!'. It has already been noted that all vocatives require a noun in the subject case. So the examples are in the subject case of the possessive suffix, which is -uu 'my' followed by the vocative suffix -yi.


Oh my father!



Oh my brother!



Oh my dear sister!



Oh my dear wife!

تُتَكَتٌويے !

Kinship Terms with Possessive Suffix 'my'


Possessive affixes are especially important in Kinship terms: Since relatives always are related to someone else, these terms are used with the possessive suffix . In these constructions, the possessive suffix cannot be dropped. They are obligatory.. In addition, these terms are normally used with a definite article - with one exception: Kinship terms referring to generations older than the speaker, such as father, mother, uncle and aunt, can be used without the definite article. For the other relationship terms, such as brother, sister, son etc., the definite article has to be used.


A large number of illustrations - including kinship terms and a repetition of the demonstratives - are included here below.

Kinship Terms


Here is a system of Beja kinship terms, where different forms of the genitive suffix -ii 'of' are used, along with different forms of the possessive pronoun -u / -i 'my (Sg) / my (Pl)'.

Baruuh naat ayaay hook ibari?

What relation does he have to you?

بَرٌوه نات أياي هۆك إبَرے?


Baruuh ahoobiiyu hoobaayu.

He is my grandfather's grandfather.

بَرٌوه أهۆبٍييُ هۆبايُ.

Baruuh ahoobooyu.

He is my grandfather.

بَرٌوه أهۆبۆيُ.

Baruuh baabooyu.

He is my father.

بَرٌوه بابۆيُ.

Baruuh duurooyu.

He is my father's brother.

بَرٌوه دٌورۆيُ.

Baruuh hamooyu.

He is my father-in-law.

بَرٌوه هَمۆيُ.

Baruuh m'aliiyooyu.

He is my brother-in-law.

بَرٌوه مأَلٍييۆيُ.

Hinin tiitaaba.

We (M) are twins.

هِنِن تٍيتابه.

Baruuh sanooyu.

He is my brother.

بَرٌوه سَنۆيُ.

Baruuh takooyu.

He is my husband.

بَرٌوه تَكۆيُ.

Baruuh oorooyu.

He is my son.

بَرٌوه ۆرۆيُ.

Baruuh duuriiyu ooru.

He is my father's brother's son.

بَرٌوه دٌورٍييُ ۆرُ.

Baruuh ooriiyu ooru.

He is my son's son.

بَرٌوه ۆرٍييُ ۆرُ.

Baruuh ootiiyu ooru.

He is my daughter's son.

بَرٌوه ۆتٍييُ ۆرُ.

Kinship Terms (F)

Batuuh naat ayaay hook tibari?

What relation does she have to you?

بَتٌوه نات أياي هۆك تِبَرے?


Batuuh ahootiitu hootu, ahootu.

She is my grandmother's grandmother.

بَتٌوه أهۆتٍيتُ هۆتُ.

Batuuh ahootootu.

She is my grandmother.

بَتٌوه أهۆتۆتُ.

Batuuh deetootu.

She is my mother.

بَتٌوه دێتۆتُ.

Batuuh diraatootu.

She is my father's sister.

بَتٌوه دِراتۆتُ.

Batuuh m'aliitootu.

She is my sister-in-law.

بَتٌوه مأَلٍيتۆتُ.

Hinin tiitaata.

We (F) are twins.

هِنِن تٍيتاته.

Batuuh kwaatootu.

She is my sister.

بَتٌوه كْواتۆت.ُ

Batuuh takattootu.

She is my wife.

بَتٌوه تَكَتّۆتُ.

Batuuh ootootu.

She is my daughter.

بَتٌوه ۆتۆتُ.

Batuuh diraatiitu ootu.

She is my mother's sister's daughter.

بَتٌوه دِراتٍيتُ ۆتُ.

Batuuh ooriitu ootu.

She is my son's daughter.

بَتٌوه ۆرٍيتُ ۆتُ.

Batuuh ootiitu ootu.

She is my daughter's daughter.

بَتٌوه ۆتٍيتُ ۆتُ.

Possessive Suffix 'my'

Uun'uutak aabu?

Who is this man?

أُونُوتَك آبُ?


He is my (M) friend.


Uuttutakat aabtu?

Who is this woman?

أُوتُّتَكَت آبتُ?


She is my (F) friend.


Aan'aanda aaba?

Who are these men?

آنآنده آبه?


They are my (M) friends.


Taattaam'a aabta?

Who are these women?

تاتّامأه آبته?


They are my (F) friends.


Indhiwaayaak aaba?

Who are your relatives?

إنڈِواياك آبه?

Ootoowwa ooroowwaaya.

They are my daughter and my son.

ۆتۆوّه ۆرۆوّايه.

Deetoowwa baaboowwaaya.

They are my mother and my father.

دێتۆوّه بابۆوّايه.

Possessive Suffix and Kinship terms

Uunbaruuh aabu?

Who is this (M)?

أُونبَرٌوه آبُ?

Uunbaruuh baabooyu.

He is my father.

أُونبَرٌوه بابۆيُ.

Uunbaruuh duurooyu.

He is my uncle.

أُونبَرٌوه دٌورۆيُ.

Uunbaruuh sanooyu.

He is my brother.

أُونبَرٌوه سَنۆيُ.

Uunbaruuh takooyu.

He is my husband.

أُونبَرٌوه تَكۆيُ.

Uunbaruuh oorooyu, w'oorooyu.

He is my son.

أُونبَرٌوه ۆرۆيُ, وؤۆرۆيُ.

Uunbatuuh aabtu?

Who is this (F)?

أُونبَتٌوه آبتُ?

Uunbatuuh deetootu.

She is my mother.

أُونبَتٌوه دێتۆتُ.

Uunbatuuh diraatootu.

She is my aunt.

أُونبَتٌوه دِراتۆتُ.

Uunbatuuh kwaatootu.

She is my sister.

أُونبَتٌوه كْواتۆتُ.

Uunbatuuh takatootu.

She is my wife.

أُونبَتٌوه تَكَتۆتُ.

Uunbatuuh ootootu, tu'ootootu.

She is my daughter.

أُونبَتٌوه ۆتۆتُ, تُؤۆتۆتُ.

Kinship Terms referring to Generations older than the speaker: Without Article

Baabu keeya? / uun ikati.

Where is my father? / He is here.

بابُ كێيه? / أُون إكَتے.

Baabi keeyaan? / aan ikatiin.

Where are my fathers, elders? / They are here.

بابے كێيان? / آن إكَتٍين.

Deetu keeta? / tuut tikati.

Where is my mother? / She is here.

دێتُ كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Duuru keeya? / uun ikati.

Where is my uncle? / He is here.

دٌورُ كێيه? / أُون إكَتے.

Duuri keeyaan? / aan ikatiin.

Where are my uncles? / They are here.

دٌورے كێيان? / آن إكَتٍين.

Diraatu keeta? / tuut tikati.

Where is my aunt? / She is here.

دِراتُ كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Diraati keeyaan? / taan ikatiin.

Where are my aunts? / They are here.

دِراتے كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.

Kinship terms referring to other generations: With Article

Tutakattu keeta? / tuut tikati.

Where is my wife? / She is here.

تُتَكَتُّ كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Tim'ati keeyaan? / taan ikatiin.

Where are my wives? / They are here.

تِمأَتے كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.

Utaku keeya? / uun ikati.

Where is my husband? / He is here.

أُتَكُ كێيه? / أُون إكَتے.

Tu'ootu keeta? / tuut tikati.

Where is my daughter? / They are here.

تُؤۆتُ كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Ti'arti keeyaan? / taan ikatiin.

Where are my daughters / They are here.

تِأَرتے كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.

W'ooru keeya? / uun ikati.

Where is my son? / He is here.

وُؤۆرُ كێيه? / أُون إكَتے.

Y'ari keeyaan? / aan ikatiin.

Where are my sons? / They are here.

يِأَرے كێيان? / آن إكَتٍين.

Ukaamu keeya? / uun ikati.

Where is my camel? / It is here.

أُكامُ كێيه? / أُون إكَتے.

Ikami keeyaan? / aan ikatiin.

Where are my camels? / They are here.

إكَمے كێيان? / آن إكَتٍين.

Umeeku keeya? / uun ikati.

Where is my donkey? / It is here.

أُمێكُ كێيه? / أُون إكَتے.

Imaki keeyaan? / aan ikatiin.

Where are my donkeys? / They are here.

إمَكے كێيان? / آن إكَتٍين.

Ugawu keeya? / uun ikati.

Where is my house? / It is here.

أُقَوُ كێيه? / أُون إكَتے.

Igawaayi keeyaan? / aan ikatiin.

Where are my houses? / They are here.

إقَوايے كێيان? / آن إكَتٍين.

Ugalamu keeya? / uun ikati.

Where is my pencil? / It is here.

أُقَلَمُ كێيه? / أُون إكَتے.

Igalamaayi keeyaan? / aan ikatiin.

Where are my pencils? / They are here.

إقَلَمايے كێيان? / آن إكَتٍين.

Possession of Goods: Items (F) With Article

Tun'aaytu keeta? / tuut tikati.

Where is my goat? / It is here.

تُنآيتُ كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Tin'ayti keeyaan? / taan ikatiin.

Where are my goats? / They are here.

تِنأَيتے كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.

Tumeektu keeta? / tuut tikati.

Where is my donkey? / It is here.

تُمێكتُ كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Timakti keeyaan? / taan ikatiin.

Where are my donkeys? / They are here.

تِمَكتے كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.

Tumastaraatu keeta? / tuut tikati.

Where is my ruler? / It is here.

تُمَستَراتُ كێته? / تٌوت تِكَتے.

Timastaraati keeyaan? / taan ikatiin.

Where are my rulers? / They are here.

تِمَستَراتے كێيان? / تان إكَتٍين.

Possessive Suffixes


The possessive suffixes for all persons are given in the table below. The four different vowels are those of the different cases and numbers (Subj / Obj Sg), (Subj / Obj Pl).


The suffixes are used with -y only when they follow a vowel. There is no -y when they follow a consonant.


The forms for the first person ('of me') have already been given above. If no suffix follows, only -(y)u / -(y)i can be used, rather than -(y)oo / -(y)ee.


The possessive suffixes for all third persons - i.e. 'of him / of her / of them' - are the same.

Table 21: Possessive Suffixes

Possessum is (Sg):

Kaamuuk eeya / kaamook rhan.

Your camel (M) came. / I saw your camel (M).

كامٌوك ێيه / كامۆك رهَن.

-(y)uu / -(y)oo

my (Subj / Obj)

[-(y)u / -(y)u]

[my (Subj / Obj) (in word final position)]

-(y)uuk / -(y)ook

your (Subj / Obj)

-(y)uuh / -(y)ooh

his or her (Subj / Obj)

-(y)uun / -(y)oon

our (Subj / Obj)

-(y)uukna / -(y)ookna

your (Pl (Subj) / Pl Obj)

-(y)uuh / -(y)ooh

their (Subj / Obj)

Possessums are (Pl):

Kamaak eeyaan / kameek rhan.

Your camels (M) came / I saw your camels (M).

كَماك ێيان / كَمێك رهَن.

-(y)ii / -(y)ee

my (Subj / Obj)

[-(y)i / -(y)i]

[my (Subj / Obj) (in word final position)]

-(y)aak / -(y)eek

your (Subj / Obj)

-(y)aah / -(y)eeh

his or her (Subj / Obj)

-(y)aan / -(y)een

our (Subj / Obj)

-(y)aakna / -(y)eekna

your (Pl Subj / Obj)

-(y)aah / -(y)eeh

their (Subj / Obj)

Kinship Terms (Sg) / (Pl)

Diraatu rhita? / diraatook rhaab kaaki.

Did you see my aunt? I didn't see your aunt.

دِراتُ رهِته? / دِراتۆك رهاب كاكے.

Diraati rhita? / diraateek rhaab kaaki.

Did you see my aunts? I didn't see your aunts.

دِراتے رهِته? / دِراتێك رهاب كاكے.

Deetu rhita? / deetook rhaab kaaki.

Did you see my mother? I didn't see your mother.

دێتُ رهِته? / دێتۆك رهاب كاكے.

Deeti rhita? / deeteek rhaab kaaki.

Did you see my mothers? I didn't see your mothers.

دێتے رهِته? / دێتێك رهاب كاكے.

Tu'ootu rhita? / tu'ootook rhaab kaaki.

Did you see my daughter? I didn't see your daughters.

تُؤۆتُ رهِته? / تُۆتۆك رهاب كاكے.

Ti'arti rhita? / ti'arteek rhaab kaaki.

Did you see my daughters? I didn't see your daughters.

تِأَرتے رهِته? / تِأَرتێك رهاب كاكے.

Tutakattu rhita? / tutakattook rhaab kaaki.

Did you see my wife? I didn't see your wife.

تُتَكَتُّ رهِته? / تُتَكَتّۆك رهاب كاكے.

Tim'ati rhita? / tim'ateek rhaab kaaki.

Did you see my wives? I didn't see your wives.

تِمأَتے رهِته? / تِمأَتێك رهاب كاكے.


In the next examples, the possessive suffix 'your (Sg)' is first introduced with subject nouns such as baabuuk 'your father (Subj)' and then with object nouns such as baabook 'your father (Obj)'. The case suffix vowels -uu / -oo are those typically used for the subject / object cases respectively. As has been said earlier, the definite articles are not used when referring to generations older than the speaker. The verb structure can be ignored for the time being.

Without Definite Article:

Baabuuk naan tan'i?

What is your father like?

بابٌوك نان تَنإِ?

Deetuuk naan tan'i?

What is your mother like?

دێتٌوك نان تَنإِ?

With Definite Article:

Usanuuk naan tan'i?

What is your brother like?

أُسَنٌوك نان تَنإِ?

Tukwaatuuk naan tan'i?

What is your sister like?

تُكْواتٌوك نان تَنإِ?

W'ooruuk naan tan'i?

What is your son like?

وؤۆرٌوك نان تَنإِ?

Tu'ootuuk naan tan'i?

What is your daughter like?

تُؤۆتٌوك نان تَنإِ?

Without Definite Article:

Baabuuk aab tan'i?

Whom does your father resemble?

بابٌوك آب تَنإِ?

Deetuuk aab tan'i?

Whom does your mother resemble?

دێتٌوك آب تَنإِ?

With Definite Article:

Usanuuk aab tan'i?

Whom does your brother resemble?

أُسَنٌوك آب تَنإِ?

Tukwaatuuk aab tan'i?

Whom does your sister resemble?

تُكْواتٌوك آب تَنإِ?

W'ooruuk aab tan'i?

Whom does your son resemble?

وؤۆرٌوك آب تَنإِ?

Tu'ootuuk aab tan'i?

Whom does your daughter resemble?

تُئۆتٌوك آب تَنإِ?

Kinship Terms as Object

Without Definite Article:

Ani baabook kaakan.

I don't know your father.

أنے بابۆك كاكَن.

Ani deetook kaakan.

I don't know your mother.

أنے دێتۆك كاكَن.

Ani duurook kaakan.

I don't know your uncle.

أنے دٌورۆك كاكَن.

Ani diraatook kaakan.

I don't know your aunt.

أنے دِراتۆك كاكَن.