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KinyarwandaGrammar0 to A1 Course → Verbs and Tenses → Present Tense

Introduction[edit | edit source]

In this lesson, we will dive into the fascinating world of Kinyarwanda verbs and tenses. Verbs are an essential part of any language, as they express actions, states, and occurrences. Understanding how to conjugate verbs in the present tense is crucial for effective communication in Kinyarwanda. Whether you want to talk about daily routines, express preferences, or describe ongoing actions, the present tense will be your go-to tool.

Throughout this lesson, we will explore the rules and patterns for conjugating regular verbs in the present tense, as well as common irregular verbs. We will provide numerous examples and practice exercises to help you grasp the concepts more effectively. Additionally, we will delve into the cultural aspects of the Kinyarwanda language, exploring any regional variations and historical reasons for differences in verb usage. Get ready for an exciting journey into the heart of Kinyarwanda grammar!

Regular Verbs in the Present Tense[edit | edit source]

Regular verbs in Kinyarwanda follow a consistent pattern when conjugated in the present tense. To conjugate a regular verb, we need to identify its verb stem and apply the appropriate verb ending based on the subject of the sentence. Let's break down the conjugation process step by step.

Identifying the Verb Stem[edit | edit source]

The verb stem is the base form of the verb, excluding any prefixes or suffixes. To identify the verb stem, we remove the infinitive marker "-a" from the infinitive form of the verb. For example, let's take the verb "kubona" (to see). The verb stem is "bòn" without the "-a."

Applying the Verb Endings[edit | edit source]

Once we have identified the verb stem, we can add the appropriate verb endings to conjugate the verb in the present tense. The verb endings vary depending on the subject of the sentence. Let's take a look at the verb endings for each subject pronoun in Kinyarwanda:

Subject Pronoun Verb Ending
Ndi -ra
Uri -ra
Yeye -ra
Twe -ra
Mwe -ra
Bo -ra
Se -ra

Here are some examples of regular verbs conjugated in the present tense:

Kinyarwanda Pronunciation English
Ndi bòna n-dee bò-na I see
Uri bòna u-ree bò-na You see
Yeye bòna ye-ye bò-na He/She sees
Twe bòna twe bò-na We see
Mwe bòna m-we bò-na You see (plural)
Bo bòna bo bò-na They see
Se bòna se bò-na You see (formal)

As you can see from the examples, the verb stem remains the same, and we simply add the appropriate verb ending for each subject pronoun.

Irregular Verbs in the Present Tense[edit | edit source]

While regular verbs follow a predictable pattern in the present tense, some verbs in Kinyarwanda are irregular and require special attention. Irregular verbs do not follow the standard conjugation rules and may undergo changes in the verb stem or have unique endings for certain subject pronouns. Let's explore some common irregular verbs and their conjugation in the present tense.

The Verb "Kugenda" (to go)[edit | edit source]

The verb "kugenda" is an irregular verb in the present tense. Let's take a look at its conjugation:

Kinyarwanda Pronunciation English
Ndi ntagenda n-dee nta-gen-da I don't go
Uri ntugenda u-ree ntu-gen-da You don't go
Yeye ntagenda ye-ye nta-gen-da He/She doesn't go
Twe ntugenda twe ntu-gen-da We don't go
Mwe ntugenda m-we ntu-gen-da You don't go (plural)
Bo ntugenda bo ntu-gen-da They don't go
Se ntugenda se ntu-gen-da You don't go (formal)

As you can see, the verb "kugenda" has a unique negative form in the present tense, indicated by the prefix "nta-" before the verb stem.

The Verb "Kwiyandikisha" (to register)[edit | edit source]

Another irregular verb in the present tense is "kwiyandikisha." Let's explore its conjugation:

Kinyarwanda Pronunciation English
Ndi siyandikisha n-dee see-yand-i-ki-sha I don't register
Uri siyandikisha u-ree see-yand-i-ki-sha You don't register
Yeye siyandikisha ye-ye see-yand-i-ki-sha He/She doesn't register
Twe siyandikisha twe see-yand-i-ki-sha We don't register
Mwe siyandikisha m-we see-yand-i-ki-sha You don't register (plural)
Bo siyandikisha bo see-yand-i-ki-sha They don't register
Se siyandikisha se see-yand-i-ki-sha You don't register (formal)

In this example, the verb "kwiyandikisha" undergoes changes in the verb stem and requires the insertion of the prefix "si-" before the verb stem in the negative form.

Cultural Insights[edit | edit source]

The present tense is widely used in Kinyarwanda to express ongoing actions, habitual actions, and general truths. It allows speakers to convey their thoughts and experiences in the present moment. Understanding the present tense is essential for effective communication in various contexts, such as describing daily routines, narrating stories, or expressing preferences and opinions.

In Rwanda, the use of the present tense in everyday conversations reflects the Rwandan people's vibrant and active lifestyle. It captures the energy and dynamism of the culture, emphasizing the importance of living in the present moment. Rwandans value being fully engaged and present in their interactions, and the present tense serves as a linguistic tool to convey this mindset.

Historically, the present tense in Kinyarwanda has evolved alongside the cultural and social changes in Rwanda. As the language developed, the present tense underwent modifications and adaptations to accommodate the changing needs of its speakers. Exploring the present tense in Kinyarwanda provides us with insights into the rich linguistic heritage and cultural nuances of Rwanda.

Practice Exercises[edit | edit source]

Now, let's put our knowledge into practice with some exercises. Conjugate the following regular verbs in the present tense according to the given subject pronouns:

1. Kuvuga (to speak) 2. Kujya (to come) 3. Kubyara (to give birth) 4. Kugarura (to clean) 5. Kugenda (to walk)


1. Ndi navuga 2. Uri uva 3. Yeye agira 4. Twe tugara 5. Mwe mugenda


1. Ndi navuga means "I speak." 2. Uri uva means "You come." 3. Yeye agira means "He/She gives birth." 4. Twe tugara means "We clean." 5. Mwe mugenda means "You walk" (plural).

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Congratulations on completing this in-depth lesson on the present tense in Kinyarwanda! You have learned how to conjugate regular verbs and explored some common irregular verbs in the present tense. By mastering the present tense, you can effectively express ongoing actions, habitual actions, and general truths in Kinyarwanda. Remember to practice regularly and apply your newfound knowledge in real-life conversations to enhance your language skills.

Continue your language learning journey by exploring the next lesson in the "Complete 0 to A1 Kinyarwanda Course."

Table of Contents - Kinyarwanda Course - 0 to A1[edit source]

Greetings and Introductions

Nouns and Pronouns

Numbers and Time

Verbs and Tenses

Family and Relationships

Adjectives and Adverbs

Food and Drink

Questions and Negation

Travel and Transportation

Rwandan Customs and Traditions

Sources[edit | edit source]

Other Lessons[edit | edit source]


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