Grammar: Adjectives

Grammar: Adjectives

In Igbo, adjectives can immediately precede or follow the noun or pronoun to which it belongs. Most commonly used adjectives are:

öma good, beautiful
öcha white, clean
oji black
öjöö ugly, bad
ukwu big
obele small
niile/dum all, each, every


ö bü akwükwö öcha it is white paper
ewu dum nö ebea all goats are here

If the adjective is not directly preceding the noun or pronoun, the noun form of the adjective is used:

adjective noun form
öma mma
öcha ücha
öjöö njö


akwükwö dï ücha the paper is white
ewu dum dï mma all goats are good

The same principle as described above, applies to demonstrative adjectives, they can only follow or precede the noun immediately:

-a this, these ahü that, those
ülöa this house, these houses ülö ahü that house, those houses

These adjectives also form the demonstrative pronouns:

nkea this nke ahü that
ndïa these (group) ndi ahü those (group)
ihea this (thing) ihe ahü that (thing)
ebea here (place) ebe ahü there


nkea dï mma this is good
nke ahü dï njö that is bad
ndia di mma these are good
ihe ahü dï njö that (thing) is bad
ebe ahü dï njö there is bad

The verb ‘to be’ can be translated by three different verbs:  and . The verb  is most commonly used for ‘to be’;  is used with a noun and not adjectives and indicates the quality or location of something ;  is used for the presence of someone in a location:

ö dï mma it is fine
ö dï n’elu akpati it is on top of the box
ö nö ya? is he in?
ö nö ebe ahu? is he there?


Grammar: Tense and Suffixes

In Igbo language, verbs do not distinguish between present and past tense. The meaning of the verb is generally changed by the suffix that specifies the action in the present or past. Some of these suffixes harmonise with the verb stem, others do not, and sometimes multiple suffixes can follow each other in a combination.

The most commonly suffixes used are:

action in the past (he did)
-la/-le completed action (he has done)
-bü/-bu a past continuous action (he used to do)
-ri past completed action (he did)
-ba continue doing, starting an action (start doing)
-go already completed the action (have done)
-bago already completing the action (already doing, already done)
-lu to indicate an intensification of the action of the verb
-ta brings an action to completion
-kwazi also, as well
-re present continuous action (is doing)


ö zütara anü he bought meat
o butere ya he brought it
ï bïara? did you come?
o gwüla it is finished
o rule it is time
ana m azübü anü I used to buy meat
o biri ebea he lived here
o riri anü he ate meat
o bigo ebe ahü he has lived there
o rigo anü he has eaten meat
o ribago nrï he has already started eating
anabago m I am already going
ö nabago he has already gone
chelu wait!
weta ego bring money
abukwazi m Mike I am also Mike
Olee ka i mere? How are you doing?

457 thoughts on “Grammar: Adjectives”

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