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Kiswahili Grammar Notes: Process Verbs

Process Verbs

104 In Swahili, there are a number of verbs which may be called "process verbs" or "verbs of becoming" because they describe an action which will result in a state or position, while the English counterpart to these words describes the state or position itself, rather than the action that resulted in that state or position.

For this reason, the ME tense is used with these verbs when indicating that the state or position has been achieved, while the English counterpart would be stated in the present tense. Here are some examples:


to stand: a) to get into a standing position
b) to stop moving and become stationary
I am standing i.e., I am in a standing position as a result of the action of standing up.
I am standing still; i.e., I have stopped moving and am now standing still.


to sit; i.e., to move from a standing or lying position to a sitting position
I am sitting; i.e., I have sat down (or up)


to lie down; i.e., to move into a lying position.
I am lying down; i.e., I have lain down.


to get tired
He is tired; i.e., he has become tired.


to get drunk
they are drunk; i.e., they have become tipsy


to get late
I am late (lit. I have been overtaken by the dawn).


to kneel down
Amepiga magoti
She is kneeling; i.e., she has got down on her knees.


to get full; i.e., be in process of being filled up.
Kikapu kimejaa
Ghe basket is full; i.e., the basket has been filled to the top.


to come out of, to go out of, to emerge.
Ametoka Ujerumani
He is from Germany; i.e., he has come out of Germany.


to take, take away
Amechukua kikapu
She is carrying the basket; i.e., she has taken it and now has it, is carrying it.


to marry (of a man)
He is married; i.e., he has married.


to get married (of a woman)
She is married; i.e., she has got married.


to get dressed, put on clothes
Amevaa suruali
He is wearing trousers; i.e., he has put on trousers


to err, make a mistake
They are guilty; i.e., they have done something wrong


to get hurt, injured
I am injured, i.e., I have suffered injury

Do not infer, from the above examples, that process verbs can be used only with the ME tense:. They can be used with other tenses also; but, of course, the meaning changes with the change of tense. Compare:

Nimechoka. I am tired.
Nilichoka. I became tired.

Amelala. She is asleep/in bed.
She will sleep/lie down.

Umesimama. You are standing/standing still.
Ulisimama. You stood/stopped.


Thanks to Johnetta Myers for assistance preparing this page for the Web.


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