አማርኛ (Amharic) Gerundive Verb Tense

There is no exact equivalent of the Amharic gerundive in English, but it’s very common and important in Amharic. It’s used a lot on its own, and is also helpful when conjugating in the present perfect and past perfect tenses.

We’ll start by doing the conjugations, and then give example sentences of how this tense can be used.

Part 1: Conjugating the Gerundive

The gerundive is formed from two parts — the gerundive root and the gerundive affix.

The gerundive root is very similar to the standard verb root, with one change. If the infinitive verb ended in a “አት/at” or a “አት/ät,” the “ት/t” is re-added in the gerundive form. The final “ä” or “a” is not included.

infinitive verbstandard rootgerundive root
መስማት/mäsmatሰማ/sämaሰምት/sämt
መብላት/mäblatበላ/bälaበልት/bält
መሄድ/mähedሄደ/hedäሄድ/hed
ማለፍ/maläfአለፈ/aläfäአልፍ/alf
Exercise: Give the gerundive root for each verb.
1. መሮጥ/märot’: __________4. ማጠብ/mat’äb: __________7. ማጥናት/mat’nat: __________
2. ማንበብ/manbäb: __________5. መኖር/mänor: __________8. ማደመጥ/madämät’: __________
3. መቅረት/mäk’rät: __________6. መስራት/mäsrat: __________9. መውደቅ/mäwdäk’: __________

Once you’ve got the root, the gerundive is formed by “gerundive root + gerundive affix.”

pronoungerundive affixgerundive of mähed/መሄድ (root: hed/ሄድ)gerundive of mäsrat/መስራት (root: särt/ሰርት)
ïne/እኔ-ኤ/eሄጄ/hejeሰርቼ/särče
antä/አንተ-እህ/ähሄደህ/hedähሰርተህ/särtäh
anči/አንቺ-እሽ/äšሄደሽ/hedäšሰርተሽ/särtäš
ïsu/እሱ-ኦ/oሄዶ/hedoሰርቶ/särto
ïswa/እሷ-ኣ/aሄዳ/hedaሰርታ/särta
ïña/እኛ-እን/-änሄደን/hedänሰርተን/särtän
ïnantä/እናንተ-አችሁ/-äčhuሄደችሁ/hedäčhuሰርተችሁ/särtäčhu
ïnäsu/እነሱ-እው/-äwሄደው/hedäwሰርተው/särtäw

Note: Normally, the “anči” form is the one that palatalizes (ie. changes the last consonant). In the gerundive, it’s the “ïne” form that palatalizes — so, it’s “ሄጄ/heje” and not “ሄዴ/hede.”

Exercise: Combine the given pronouns and verbs into the gerundive form:
  1. እኛ/ïña, መብካት/mäblat = ____________________
  2. እሷ/ïswa, መውደቅ/mäwdäk’ = ____________________
  3. አንተ/antä, ማጥናት/mat’nat = ____________________

Part 2: Using the Gerundive

There are various ways in which the gerundive is used in Amharic. We’ll give examples of two basic ways here, as a starting point.

Usage #1: Sentences with “having” as a state of being (where a past action creates a current state of being) 
  1. Having bought my vegetables, I returned to my village.
    አትክልት ገዘቼ መንደሬ ተመለስኩ።
  2. Having seen your results, how can you improve for the second semester?
    ወጠታችሁን አያታችሁ፣ ለሁለተኛ መንፈቀ ዓመት እንዴት ማሻሻል ትችለላችሁ?
  3. Having won the elections, she will soon be inaugurated.
    ምርጫውን አሸንፍ፣ በቅርቡ ትሾመለች።
  4. Having failed the first semester, he dropped out of school.
    በአንደኛ መንፈቀ ዓመት ወድቅቶ፣ ክትምህርት ቤት ቀረ።
  5. Having left Ethiopia, he found a job in America.
    ከኢትዮጵያ ቀርቶ አሜሪካ ውስጥ አዲስ ስራ አገኛ።
  6. Having done his homework, he went to sleep.
    የቤት ስራ ሰርቶ፣ ተኛ።
  7. Having arrived late to the bus station, the bus had already left.
    መነሃርያ ሲሄድ አረፈጄ ስለነበር፣ መኪና ሄዶአል።
  8. Having eaten dinner, we washed the dishes.
    እራት በልታን፣ እቀዎች አጠብን።
  9. Having finished their work, the students turned it in.
    ተማሪዎች የቤት ስራቸውን ጨረሰው አሰረከቡ።
Usage #2: Sentences which describe a way/method of doing something
  1. You did your work by copying!
    ኮረጃችሁ ፈተነችሁን ጸፉ!
  2. She earns money by selling grains.
    አቀንታ ገንዘቧ ታገኛለች።

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