Afaan Oromo/Chapter 09

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Chapter 9: Jussive
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  1.   play Guyyuma guyyaatti daabboo waan dhadhaa hedddu hin qabne; akayi, ruzza yookin paasta dhiheessaa jaha hanga kudha tokko nyaadhu. Fakkeenyaaf, ganama matajaboo, guyya sandwich galgala immoo ruzza duwwa nyaadhu.
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  3.   play Guyyaatti yoo xinnaate bishaan burcuqqo saddeet dhuuggi.
  4.   play Foon diimaa kan baay'ee cooma hin qabne isaa akaa hanqaaqoo yookiin qurxummii nyaadhu.
  5.   play Waan sa'a kan dhadhaa yartuu qabu kan akka aanaan raafamaa fi itittuu filadhu.
  6.   play Nyaata waan mi'aawaa fi dhugaatii alkoolii hin baay'isiin.
  7.   play Guyyaa hunda sosocho'a godhi. Dirree keessa adeemi, yookiin sirba bu'i, taphadhu.
  8.   play Nyaata kolestrol hin qabne fi, zayitii waan sa'a fi kan cooma horii irra hojjatamu mana zayitii kuduraa filadhu.

[For translation see here]

The ImperativeEdit

The 2nd person jussive, better known as the imperative, is used for issuing commands. In Oromo, there are two forms for the imperative, the singular (ati) and the plural/polite (isin). For all verbs except -chuu verbs, the pattern for forming imperatives is as follows:

Formation of Imperatives
Affirmative Negative
suffix prefix suffix
ati -i hin -in
isin -a hin -ina

For -chuu verbs, where the verb stem is the infinitive minus the -chuu ending, the imperatives are formed as follows:

Imperatives for -chuu verbs
Affirmative Negative
suffix prefix suffix
ati -dhu hin -tin
isin -dha hin -tina
English Ati Isin
sit taa'i taa'a
don't sit hin taa'in hin taa'ina
eat nyaadhu nyaadha
don't eat hin nyaatin hin nyaatina
go deemi deema
don't go hin deemin     hin deemina
give kenni kenna
don't give hin kennin hin kennina


The main exception is “come” (“to come” – dhufuu) which is koottu, kootta (not dhufi, dhufa) in the affirmative. The negative imperative (“don't come”) follows the standard pattern, hin dhufin, hin dhufina. The imperative “go” can also be beenu, beena in addition to the regular forms deemi, deema.


The standard word for “please” is maaloo, though in conversation this is used mostly for making requests and as a response, as in “yes, please”. Adaraa (“in the name of”) is also sometimes used as “please” in this context. For imperatives and other jussive forms, mee is most commonly used.

Koottu mee” — “come here, please”
Mee waa'ee obbolaawwan kee natti himi” — “Please tell me about your brothers”
Mee nama sun gaafadhu” — “Please ask that person”
Mee suuta dubbadhu” — “Please speak slowly/slower”
Mee irra naa deebi'i” — “Please repeat for me”
Mee guddisii dubbadhu” — “Please speak loudly/louder”

More Indirect Objects: The DativeEdit

The dative case is used to indicated recipients and benefactors, where in English we would use “to” or “for”. The dative may be formed by one of the following methods:

  1. For nouns that end in a short vowel (in their dictionary form), the vowel will be lengthened and, optionally, an -f suffix added. “Give it to the boy” can thus be expressed as “isa ilmaa kenni” or “isa ilmaaf kenni”.
  2. For nouns ending in a long vowel, either -f or -dhaa(f) suffixes may be attached. “It's good for eating” can be expressed as “nyaachuuf gaarii dha”, “nyaachuudhaa gaarii dha”, or “nyaachuudhaaf gaarii dha
  3. For nouns ending in a consonant, the suffix -iif will be attached. For example, “give it to Jim” would be “isa Jimiif kenni”.

The dative forms for the personal pronouns are given below.

Subject Pronouns         Dative Pronouns
I ani to/for me naa, naaf
we nuti to/for us nuu, nuuf
you ati to/for you sii, siif
you (pl.) isin to/for you (pl.)     isinii, isiniif
he, it inni to/for him, it isaa, isaaf
she isheen to/for her ishee, isheef
they isaan to/for them isaanii, isaaniif

The locative -tti suffix can sometimes be used in a dative-like manner. For instance, “tell him” would be “isatti jedhi” [lit. “say at him”] rather than “isaaf jedhi” [lit. “say for him”].

Double ImperativesEdit

Where English would use an adverb to modify an imperative, Oromo most often uses two imperatives in a row, with the first modifying the second. The first imperative is given a long final vowel.

“Speak loadly/loader” — “Guddisii dubbadhu” (sg.) or “Guddisaa dubbadha” (plu./pol.)
“Run faster” — “Baay'isii fiigi” (sg.) or “Baay'isaa fiiga” (plu./pol.)
“Work harder” — “Cimsii hojjadhu” (sg.) or “Cimsaa hojjadha” (plu./pol.)

The adverbal imperatives are almost always causatives (discussed in Chapter 16). Guddisuu is “to make big”, baay'isuu is “to make many/much”, and cimsuu is “to make strong”.

To express a sequence of commands, imperatives are simply put together. For example, “go (and) eat” is deemi nyaadhu (no elongation of the final vowel on the first imperative).

The Jussive FormsEdit

The 1st and 3rd person jussive forms express suggestions, translated roughly as the English “let”. The jussive forms would thus be “let me”, “let us”, “let him”, etc. The jussive forms use the preverb haa and attach a suffix to the verb stem.

Formation of the Jussive
Prefix     Suffix Suffix (for -chuu verbs)
ani haa -u -dhu
nuti haa -nu -nnu
inni haa -u -tu
isheen     haa -tu -ttu
isaan haa -anu/ani/an     -tanu/tani/tan

haa ta'u — okay [lit. “let it be”]
haa nyaannu — “let's eat”
inni haa deemu — “let him go”
si haa gargaaru — “Let me help you”

For irregular verbs, the verb stem changes just as it does in the present and past tenses. The example of taa'uu (“to sit”) is given below.

Oromo English
ani haa taa'u let me sit
inni haa taa'u let him sit
(nuti) haa teenyu let us sit
(isheen) haa teessu     let her sit
(isaan) haa taa'anu let them sit

Note that only the regular stem is used in imperatives, even for irregular verbs (e.g., the imperative “sit” is taa'i/taa'a, not teessi/teessa which mean “she sits”/“you sit” as declaratives).

The 1st person jussive, while understood, is not common, especially in the singular. It is more common to use the present-future tense, as in “ofi koon of barsiisa” (“I will introduce myself”) rather than “ofi koon haa of barsiisu” (“let me introduce myself”), or “achitti wal agarra” (“we will meet there”) rather than “achitti wal haa agarru” (“let's meet there”).

In a question, the jussive works like the English “shall”, as in “haa deemnu?” for “shall we go?”.

Other Forms of RequestsEdit

Other than using imperative or jussive forms, it is often polite to use the infinitive with danda'uu (“to be able, possible”). Forms using the subordinate tense and if-then clauses (“could you…”, “would you…”, “I would appreciate it if…”) are discussed in Chapter 17.

“Can you lend it to me, please” — “Isa naa ergisuu dandeessa, maaloo?”
“Can you (pl.) please help me?” — “Maaloo, naa gargaaruu dandeessu?”
“Can I open a window?” — “Foddaa banuu danda'a?”

Responding to Commands and SuggestionsEdit

The receiver of a command or suggestion has a variety of ways to accept or refuse.

Some Common ResponsesEdit

Okay tole, haa ta'u
Sure sirritti, dhuguma
Of course dhugaadhuma
All right, fine bayeessa
Sorry dhiifama, nan gadda
Sorry, I can't     dhiifama hin danda'u
It's possible danda'ama
It's not possible hin danda'amu
I don't have time yeroo hin qabu
“I can't, I have to go” Hin danda'u, deemuun qaba
“Another time. Now I must go”     Yeroo biraa. Amma deemuutu narra jira.
“No, I need to go” Lakki, deemuun barbaada

Expressing NeedsEdit

The last three examples above show excuses by expressing needs. There are a number of ways of doing this. The four main ways are:

Method 1: <infinative> + <present tense qabuu>, as in “xumuruu qabti” for “she has to finish”.
Method 2: <infinative> + <present tense barbaaduu>, as in “nyaachuu barbaanna” for “we need to eat” (also means “we want to eat”)
Method 3: <acc. pers. pronoun> + barbaachisa, as in “birciqqoo isa barbaachisa”, which literally means “a glass is necessary for him”. For plural needs, barbaachisu is used to mean “are needed/necessary”, as in “birciqqooleen isaani barbaachisu” (“glasses are necessary for them”).
Method 4: <infinative>+tu + <acc. pers. pronoun>+rra + jira. This construction works like the English “must” or “should”, as is “barachuutu sirra jira” for “you should/must learn” [lit. “it's on you to learn”].

Chapter VocabularyEdit


bye (informal) [lit. “speak”]

of eeggadhu/eeggadha

be careful





waan dhadhaa hedddu hin qabne









“for example”




blank, empty, plain

ija mukka, fuduraa







Orange (color and fruit)


to drink


drink, beverage







ija wayinii


yoo xinnaate

“at least”


glass, cup





isaa akaa

“such as”








few, small amount



aanaan raafamaa

skim milk




to choose




to make many


moving, active


to do




to walk

sirba bu'uu

to dance


to play



cooma horii

animal fat

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