My Somali grammar

This page publishes some of my “cheat sheets” that I use when working on Somali. I thought I’d put them up here in case they would be helpful to others.
It is a work in progress to which I hope to add often.
Table of contents:

Pronouns and mood particles
Noun declensions

Pronouns and mood particles

Pronoun (English) Pronoun (Somali) Positive Declarative Positive Interrogative Negative Declarative
I anigu waan miyaan maan
you (sg) adigu waad miyaad maad
he isagu wuu miyuu muu
she iyadu way miyay may
we (incl) innagu waynu miyaynu maynu
we (excl) annagu waannu miyaannu maannu
you (pl) idinku waydin miyaydin maydin
they iyagu way miyay may
Pronoun (English) Pronoun (Somali) “What?” Focus baa Focus ayaa
I anigu maxáan báan ayáan
you (sg) adigu maxáad báad ayáad
he isagu muxúu búu ayúu
she iyadu maxáy báy ayáy
we (incl) innagu maxáynu báynu ayáynu
we (excl) annagu maxáanu báannu ayáannu
you (pl) idinku maxáydin báydin ayáydin
they iyagu maxáy báy ayáy

Noun declensions

1 2 3 4
sg: gender, end f, no -o m, no -e m/f, (C)V(V)CVC m, -C
pl: gender, end m, -o f, -o m, -CCo m, -aC
eg sg naag inan galab qoys
eg pl naago inammo galbo qoysas
5 6 7
sg: gender, end m, 1-3 syl f, -o m, -e
pl: gender, end f, stress m, -oyin f, -ayaal
eg sg mAdax hooyo aabbe
eg pl madAx hoyooyin aabbayaal

4 thoughts on “My Somali grammar

  1. Rafi Dworsky

    I think this is somewhat helpful. But it would likely be best to teach more practically, without grammatical terms, that is, with practical examples from everyday speech. Check out the CD’s by Michelle Thomas for an example of how this is done. He uses the students’ native language as the basis for teaching the foreign language without presenting grammatical rules up front, or even at all. He leave out grammatical terms as much as possible. In his Spanish instruction, his focus is on the structure of the language which he builds by teaching the present tense forms, then the future tense, and finally the past tense. Limited vocabulary, some numbers, days of the week, colors, and so on are taught incidentally because these can always be picked up later. But how to use the language is his main focus. So he starts with something simple like I eat, you eat, you all eat, he eats, she eats, they eat, and we eat. Then he introduces other verbs that may require different treatment for I, you singular, you plural, he, she, they, and we. One can learn the structure of the language fairly quickly. I think you are on the write track in the first two columns but then you go into way too much complexity and grammar for English speakers who are not generally grammarians. Grammar can be taught naturally. Look at Thomas’s approach and I think you’ll see what I mean.


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