Afaan Oromo/Chapter 11

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Chapter 11: Comparatives and Superlatives
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Guutaa: Kubbaa kaachoo moo kubbaa miillaa ilaaluu caalaa siif wayya?   play
Boonaa: Kubbaa miillaa caalaa kubbaa kaachoo nan jaaladha. Kam sii wayya?   play
Guutaa: Anis kubbaa miillaa caalaan jaaladha. Cheelsii moo Maanchister caalaa jaalatta?   play
Boonaa: Ani akka Maanchister Cheelsii irra caalaa taphaatun yaada. Ati maal yaadda?   play
Guutaa: Akka yaada kootti Cheelsiin akkuma Maanchister gaarii dha. Lamaanuun jaaladha.   play
Boonaa: Haa ta'u malee, Bilaakbarn hunda irra dansaa fakkaata.   play
Guutaa: Ati ni qoosta.   play
Boonaa: Eeyyee dhugaadhaa. Bilaakbarn baay'ee gadhee dha.   play

[For translation see here]


There is no direct translation of the English -er in Oromo. Most often, when distinguishing between two objects, as in “the longer one”, the Oromo phrase would simply be “the long one” (“isa dheera”) or “the very long one” (“isa baay'ee dheera”). Baay'ee, in addition to meaning “very”, can also convey the sense of “more” when used with an adjective.

The adjective caalaa can be used to mean “better” or “more”, though most often it functions as an adverb and comes immediately before the verb, as in “Isheen caalaa bareeddi” (“She is more beautiful”). Caalaa comes from the verb caaluu meaning “to be better”. “Inni caala” thus means “it's better”. Some dialects may use daran instead of caalaa as a comparative adjective/adverb.

The preposition irra, meaning “on”, can signify a comparison in a way that more literally means “relative to”. For example, “Inni ishee irra gabaabaa dha” means “He is shorter than she” [lit. “He, relative to her, is short”]. In many cases, caalaa can be added to irra for optional emphasis, as in “Finfinneen Maqalee irra (caalaa) bareeddi?” (“Is Finfinnee more beautiful than Mekele?”). Note that cities are treated as feminine.

For “worse”, gadhee (“bad”) is most often used, as in “sun kanarra gadhee dha” (“that is worse than this”).

For equating two things, as in “as good as” or “as <any adj.> as”, akkuma can be used. “Chelsii akkuma Manchester gaarii dha” thus means “Chelsea is as good as Manchester”. Akka can also be used to mean “like” or “similar to”, as in “Chaaltuun akka Hawwiittuu barattuu dha” (“Chaltu is a student like Hawitu”). Additionally, hanga (haga in some dialects) means “as much as”, as in “Bilisaan hanga Argaayaa beeka” (“Bilisa knows as much as Argaya”).

More examples:
Finfinneen jireenyaf Adaamaa caalti.” — “Finfinnee is better for living than Adama.”
Eenyutu irra (caalaa) bareeda?” — “Who is more beautiful?”
Eenyutu irra (caalaa) cimaa dha?” — “Who is more intelligent?”
Shamiziin kun sanarra mi'aa dha.” — “This shirt is more expensive than that one.”
Inni nu caalaa sirritti dubbisa.” — “He can read better than we can.”
Isheen akkuma isaa sirritti haasoofti.” — “She speaks as fluently as he.”

Note that akka and akkuma come between the nouns being compared. When two things being compared are both objects (e.g., “He likes this more than that”), irra comes after the first object. When one item is the subject and the other an object (e.g., “This is better than that”), irra comes after object (second item being compared). Caalaa can come between or after the nouns.

Manni kee koorra guddaa dha. — “Your house is bigger than mine.”
Itto handaaqqoo caalaa kochee nyachuun jaaladha.
or Itto handaaqqoorra kochee caalaa nyachuun jaaladha.
or Itto handaaqqoorra kochee nyachuu caalaan jaaladha. — “I like to eat doro watt more than kitfo”

The descriptors “older” and “younger” are somewhat special cases. Hangafuu is a verb meaning “to be older”, while quxusuu is an adjective meaing “younger”. They are used as in the examples below:

“My sister is two years older than me.” — “obboleettiin koo waggaa lama na hangafti.”
“My sister is two years younger than me.” — “obboleettiin koo waggaa lama quxusuu kooti.”

To speak of things being the same, one may use tokkuma (“same”), gosa tokkicha (“the same kind”), or wal fakkaataa (“similar”). Something that is different is adda, and things that are different from each other are adda-adda.

“these two things are the same” — waantoota lama kunniin tokkuma
“these two things are similar” — waantoota lama kunniin wal fakkaataa
“these two things are different” — waantoota lama kunniin adda-adda
“this one is different” — inni kun adda

The adverbs ol(i) (“up, above”) and gad(i) (“down, below”) may be used to compare things as “higher” or “lower”, as in:

“he is shorter than 1.8 meters.” — “Inni meetira 1.8 (tokko tuqaa saddeet) gadi dha.”
“he is taller than 1.8 meters.” — “Inni meetira 1.8 oli dha.”


The verbs barbaaduu (“to want”), jaalachuu (“to like, love”), and filachuu (“to choose [for oneself]”) have been covered in previous chapters. These are often used in expressing preferences. The verb wayyuu (“to be better than, preferable”) is also common, though it is typically only used in the 3rd person with an indirect object. Thus, to say “it is better” is “inni caala”, but “it is better for me” is “inni naa(f) wayya”. Caalaa can also be used with barbaaduu, jaalachuu, and wayya to indicate preference of one thing over another.

Maal filatta?” — “What do you choose?”
___ naa wayya” — “I prefer ___”
___ moo ___ caalaa siif wayya?” — “Is ___ or ___ preferable for you?”
___ caalaa ___ nan jaaladha” — “I'd rather ___ than ___”
___ caalaan jaaladha” — “I like ___ better”


To say “it is the best ___” or “it is the most ___”, the Oromo phrase would directly translate as “out of everything, it is ___”. The most common words in Oromo for “all” are hunda and cufa. Showing superlatives in Oromo is, therefore, a simple comparison between one thing and everything else.

hunda irra/hundumarra caala” — “it is the best” [lit. “it is better than everything”]
Inni hunda irra caalaa cimaa dha” — “He is the smartest of everyone”
itto handaaqqoo nyaata hundumaarra caalaan jaaladha” — “My favorite food is doro watt”

Vocabulary: OpinionsEdit

gaarii, dansaa

good, well, fine

kuphaa kaachoo


kuphaa miillaa

foot ball


to watch, see


to think

maal yaadda?

what do you think?

waa'ee ___ maal yaadda

what do you think about ___?

waa'ee ___ yaada maali qabda?

“what is you opinion on ___?

akka yaada kootti …

in my opinion …

yoo na gaafatta ta'e...

if you ask me...

ani siin wali galeera

I agree with you.

___ akkamitti gammadde?

how did you enjoy ___?

akkan amanutti …

I believe …


to seem, to appear to be

natti fakkaataa

It seems to me that …

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