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Opinion | Aug 16, 2017

Verb Conjugation in the Evhe Language

Verb Conjugation in the Evhe Language

Woezɔ (Welcome)! It is time for another Evhe lesson. We have been following your emails on how to learn and acquire skills in one of West Africa’s languages. The Evhegbe—this is what native speakers call their language—is a cinch to learn once you learn the basic sounds and understand how to use the parts of speech like nouns, verbs, articles and adjectives.

In this article I will show you how to conjugate simple past, present and future tenses of Evhe verbs. A short list of verbs is also provided to help you try conjugating Evhe verbs on your own. Azɔ midzɛ egɔmɛ (let’s start it)!

Evhe Verbs and their Roots
Evhe verbs have two, three and four letter verbs roots that provide a basic understanding of an action that this being carried out. Like any other language, the verb in Evhe, or “wɔnya” (doing word) is a word that depicts an action or “dɔwɔna”. Verb roots are typically constructed with a consonant and vowel or a consonant blend and vowel. Now here are some basic verbs roots:

  1. ɖu (consonant + vowel): meaning to eat or win
  2. gba (consonant blend + vowel): meaning to break or destroy
  3. no (consonant + vowel): meaning to drink
  4. zɔ (consonant + vowel): meaning to walk
  5. ŋlɔ (consonant blend + vowel): meaning to write
  6. ƒo (consonant + vowel): meaning to hit or strike

Verb Roots and their application to nouns
In order to create new verbs that have different specific meanings, in Evhegbe, we modify verbs by adding a noun to a verb root. Many Evhe verb roots therefore, are not always used alone, but rather are used to show a general application by adding the modifying noun “nu” (meaning: thing or matter) or a specific application using another noun. Here are examples:

  1. ɖu nu (consonant + vowel + noun): meaning to eat “thing” (reference to food)
  2. ɖu dzi (consonant + vowel + noun): meaning to eat “above” or rule (reference to government)
  3. ɖu agba (consonant + vowel + noun): meaning to eat “burden” or go bankrupt (reference to commerce)
  4. ƒo nu (consonant + vowel + noun): meaning to hit “mouth” or speak
  5. ƒo fi (consonant + vowel + noun): meaning to hit “theft” or curse
  6. ƒo tsi (consonant + vowel + noun): meaning to hit “water” or soak/splash

The Simple Past, Present and Future Verbs Forms in Evhe

As an Evhe speaker, I encourage you to take the simple tenses very seriously as this will enable you to start speaking Evhe in no time. The three simple tenses are Past (Blɛma), Present (Fifia) and Future (Ŋgɔgbɛ). Here is how we obtain the verb forms for simple past, present and future in Evhe:

Past Tense
To form the past tense, a verb is used in its original form or what is called the infinitive. All Evhe verbs when written in the past tense are in the infinitive form. For example, the sentences:

  1. Meɖu nu (I ate thing).
  2. Meno tsi (I drank water).

Present (habitual) Tense
To form the present habitual tense, the suffix “na” is added to a verb’s root. When speaking to people in an informal manner, the suffix “na” can be contracted to “a”. For example, the sentence:

  1. a) Meɖuna nu (I eat thing). /Informal: Meɖua nu (I eat thing).

  1. a) Menona tsi (I drink water). / Informal: Menoa tsi (I drink water).

Future Tense
To form the future tense, one must add “a” to the beginning of the infinitive form of the verb root to form the verb participle. For example:

  1. Me + aɖu nu (I will eat thing) = Maɖu nu (I will eat thing).
  2. Me + ano tsi (I will drink water) = Mano tsi (I will drink water).

And that concludes today’s Evhe lesson. Below are some more verb roots you can use to begin practicing how to form the simple past, present and future tenses in Evhe. As well, you may write me about your experience learning Evhegbe at [email protected]. Akpe gã aɖɛ na mi (a big thank you)!

  1. sa: to tie
  2. gbɔ: to breathe
  3. tsɔ: to take
  4. sɛ: to hear
  5. kpɔ: to see

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The author is a professional designer and communications specialist. He writes on contemporary issues of faith, science, politics, economics, righteousness and reason in the church and beyond.

Apostle Mawuetornam Dugbazah
Apostle Mawuetornam Dugbazah, © 2017

This author has authored 64 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: NunolaMawuetornamDugbazah

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