In a previous post, I wrote about subject pronouns, in the “declarative” (sentence) sense. Of course, a conversation usually consists of both sentences (declarative) and questions (interrogative). So, today will be about the interrogative, so that we can start putting together small conversations.
Here’s a table showing pronouns, the declarative marker, and the interrogative marker for each person. Just like the declarative marker is formed as “waa+suffix,” the interrogative marker is formed as “ma+suffix.” That being said, it comes out looking like “miy+suffix.”
Forming the Interrogative
|ENGLISH||SUBJECT||DECLARATIVE||DECLARATIVE (with complement)||INTERROGATIVE|
|I||aniga||waan||waxaan||ma+aan = miyaan|
|You||adiga||waad||waxaad||ma+aad = miyaad|
|He||isaga||wuu||waxuu||ma+uu = miyuu|
|She||iyada||way||waxay||ma+ay = miyay|
|We (exc.)||aanaga||waannuu||waxaannu||ma+aannu = miyaannu|
|We (inc.)||innaga||waynu||waxaynu||ma+aynu = miyaynu|
|Ya’ll||idinka||waydin||waxaydin||ma+aydin = miyaydin|
|They||iyaga||way||waxay||ma+ay = miyay|
Using the Interrogative
Note: the rest of this post assumes you’re already familiar with the simple past tense (positive). If you need a refresher, click here for the post about the past tense.
Okay, let’s leave the jargon behind. These “ma” words are used similarly to the English question word “do.” Yes/no questions which would begin with “do” in English begin with these “ma+suffix” participles (words) in Somali.
|Did you eat lunch?|
Qado miyaad cuntay?
|Yes, I ate lunch.|
Haa, qado waxaan cunay.
|Did you sleep?|
|Yes, I slept.|
Haa, waan seextay.
|Did you (all) arrive?|
|Yes, we arrived.|
Haa, waannu gadhnay.
|Did they go to Somaliland?|
Somaliland miyay tageen?
|Yes, they went to Somaliland.|
Haa, Somaliland waxay tageen.
|Did you (all) drink tea?|
Shaah miyaydin cabteen?
|Yes, we drank tea.|
Haa, shaah waxaannu cabteen.
|Did he enter the house?|
Guriga miyuu galay?
|Yes, he entered the house.|
Haa, guriga waxuu galay.
|Did she bring breakfast?|
Quraac miyay keentay?
|Yes, she brought breakfast.|
Haa, quraac waxay keentay.
Obviously, there aren’t any “no” answers so far — I haven’t learned the negative version of the past tense yes, but I’ll be sure to share when I do!