አማርኛ (Amharic) Continuous Tenses

Both the past and present continuous tenses are quite easily formed in Amharic, according to relatively regular formulas. We’ll start with the formulas, and then have plenty of practice exercises.

PRESENT CONTINUOUS: እየ (ïyä) + simple past tense + ነው (näw)
PAST CONTINUOUS: እየ (ïyä) + simple past tense + ነበር (näbär) 

The following chart shows several examples of each tense.

I am teaching.እየአስተማርኩ ነው።
ïyäastämarku näw.
I was teaching.እየአስተማርኩ ነበር።
ïyäastämarku näbär.
She is working in the shop.ሱቅ ውስጥ እየሰራች ነው።
suk’ wïst’ ïyäsärač näw.
She was working in the shop.ሱቅ ውስጥ እየሰራች ነበር።
suk’ wïst’ ïyäsärač näbär.
We are going to Addis Ababa.አዲስ አበባ እየሄድን ነው።
adis abäba ïyähedn näw.
We were going to Addis Ababa.አዲስ አበባ እየሄድን ነበር።
adis abäba ïyähedn näbär.
They are eating lunch.ምሣ እየበሉ ነው።
mïsa ïyäbälu näw.
They were eating lunch.ምሣ እየበሉ ነበር።
mïsa ïyäbälu näbär.
Exercise: Write whether the following sentences are present continuous or past continuous, and then fill in the verbs in the English translation.

example. እየበላሁ ነው። (ïyabälahu näw.) = present continuous
I am eating.

  1. አማርኛ እያጠናሁ ነው። (amarña ïyat’änahu näw.) = ____________________
    I ______________ Amharic.
  2. አሜሪካ ውስጥ እየኖርኩ ነበር። (amerika wïst’ ïyänorku näbär) = ____________________
    I ______________ in America.
  3. መኪና ላይ እየቆየች ነበር። (mäkina lay ïyäk’oyäč näbär) = ____________________
    She ______________ on the bus.
  4. ቡና እየጠጣን ነበር። (buna ïyät’ät’an näbär) = ____________________
    We ______________ coffee.
  5. ደብዳቤ እያነባበ ነው። (däbdabe ïyanäbabä näw) = ____________________ 
    He ______________ a letter.
Exercise: Identify the subject in the following sentences.

example. እየበላሁ ነው። (ïyabälahu näw.) = እኔ/ïne

  1. ዳቦ እየጋገረች ነው። (dabo ïyägagäräč näw.) = __________
  2. ጁስ እየጠጡ ነበር። (jus ïyät’ät’u näbär.) = __________
  3. የቤት ስራ እየሰረ ነው። (yäbet sïra ïyäsïrä näw.) = __________
  4. እየሮጥኩ ነው። (ïyärot’ku näw.) = __________
  5. ቤትሽ እያፀዳሽ ነበር። (betš ïyas’ädaš näbär.) = __________
Exercise: Translate the following into Amharic:
  1. I am drinking. = ___________________________________
  2. I am sitting. = ___________________________________
  3. We are talking/chatting. = ___________________________________
  4. They are playing. = ___________________________________
Exercise: Fill in the blank using a relevant verb, conjugated in either present continuous or past continuous (depending on the context of the sentence).

ex. አሁን፣ ዳቦ እየበላሁ
ahun, dabo ïyabälahu näw.

  1. ትላንት ገበያ አልሄድኩም። ኤኔ ወላጆቸ __________________።
    tïlant gäbäya alhedkum. ïne wälajoče __________________.
  2. ነገ እንገናኝ, እሺ? ዛሬ ቤቴ __________________።
    nägä ïnïgänañ, ïši? zare bete __________________.
  3. የነሱ ቤት ስራ አልሰሩም። ትላንት ማታ ተለቪሸን__________________።
    yänäsu bet sïra alsärum. tïlant mata tälävišan (television) __________________.
  4. እህትሽ የት ናት? ይማስለኛል ከ ጓደኞቿ ጋር __________________።
    ïhïtš yät nat? yïmasläñal kä gwadäñočwa gar __________________.
  5. ወደ የት ነህ? አዲስ አበባ __________________።
    wädä yät näh? adis abäba __________________.
Exercise: Use the continuous tense to write what you are/were doing at each of the given dates/times.

አሁን/ahun
____________________________________________________

ትላንት ማታ፣ አስራ ሁለት ሰዓት ጧት/tïlant mata, asra hulät säat
____________________________________________________

ከ ትላንት ወድያ፣ ስድስት ሰዓት/kä tïlant wädya, sïdïst säat
____________________________________________________

ባለፈው ሳምንት፣ ሃሙስ፣ አራት ሰዓት/baläfäw samïnt, hamus
____________________________________________________

አምና/amna
____________________________________________________

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