English-Amharic Verb Tenses (with Example Sentences) – እንግሊዝኛ-አማርኛ የግሥ ጊዜዎች (ከምሳሌ ዓረፍተ ነገሮች ጋር)

I can see what people search for to find my blog, and this is something people search for A LOT! These are sentences in different verb tenses, in English and Amharic.
የእኔን ብሎግ ለማግኘት ሰዎች የሚፈልጉትን ማየት እችላለሁ፣ እና ይህ ሰዎች ብዙ የሚፈልጉት ነገር ነው! እነዚህ ዓረፍተ ነገሮች በተለያዩ የግሥ ጊዜዎች፣ በእንግሊዝኛ እና በአማርኛ።

Simple (Present/Past/Future)

The first section shows the past, present, and future tenses.
የመጀመሪያው ክፍል ያለፈውን, የአሁኑን እና የወደፊቱን ጊዜ ያሳያል.

Remember: present and future are the same in Amharic, but they are different in English.
አስታውሱ፡ የአሁን እና ወደፊት በአማርኛ አንድ ናቸው በእንግሊዝኛ ግን ይለያያሉ።

For English-speakers learning Amharic, here is how to conjugate Amharic verbs in present and future, and how to conjugate Amharic verbs in past.

past simplepresent simplefuture simple
AMHARICምሳ በላሁ።ምሳ እበላለሁ።ምሳ እበላለሁ።
ENGLISHI ate lunch.I eat lunch.I will eat lunch.

past simplepresent simplefuture simple
AMHARICልብስ አጠብኩ።ልብስ እጥባለሁ።ልብስ እጥባለሁ።
ENGLISHI washed clothesI wash clothes.I will wash clothes.

past simplepresent simplefuture simple
ENGLISHShe worked.She works.She will work.

past simplepresent simplefuture simple
AMHARICተማሪዎች ነበሩ።ተማሪዎች ናቸው.ተማሪዎች ይሆናሉ።
ENGLISHThey were students.They are students.They will be students.

Continuous (Past/Present)

For English-speakers learning Amharic, here is how to conjugate Amharic verbs in the continuous tenses.

past continuouspresent continuous
AMHARICእያጠናሁ ነበር።እያጠናሁ ነው።
ENGLISHI was studying.I am studying.

past continuouspresent continuous
AMHARICእያወራሁ ነበር።እያወራሁ ነው።
ENGLISHI was talking.I am talking.

past continuouspresent continuous
AMHARICእየሄደ ነበር።እየሄደ ነው።
ENGLISHHe was going.He is going.

past continuouspresent continuous
AMHARICእየዘፈንን ነበር።እየዘፈንን ነው።
ENGLISHWe were singing.We are singing.

Perfect (Past/Present)

For English-speakers learning Amharic, here is how to conjugate Amharic verbs in the perfect.

past perfectpresent perfect
AMHARICጨርሼ ነበር።ጨርሻለሁ.
ENGLISHI had finished.I have finished.

past perfectpresent perfect
AMHARICበልቼ ነበር።በልቻለሁ።
ENGLISHI had eaten.I have eaten.

past perfectpresent perfect
AMHARICትኖር ነበር.ኖራለች።
ENGLISHShe had lived.She has lived.

past perfectpresent perfect
AMHARICሄደው ነበር።ሄደዋል::
ENGLISHThey had gone.They have gone.

past perfectpresent perfect
AMHARICአንብበህ ነበር።አንብበሃል።
ENGLISHYou had read.You have read.

Amharic Immersion: Reading Signs in Fidel

When you travel, you can practice a language by reading street signs. Unfortunately, if you’re not travelling, it can be harder to get that “immersion” experience. So, for all you Amharic-learners at home, I’m bringing the street signs to you! Here are several street signs in Amharic, from across Ethiopia, to give you the chance to practice your fidel. Happy reading, and please comment if you have any questions about anything!

If you don’t yet know, here are some resources to learn fidel (the script used to write Amharic and several other Ethiopic languages)!

ADDIS ABABA: This Amharic-English sign advertising office services is great practice, because the first four words on the list are simply English words written in Amharic fidel, so you can understand it, even if you don’t know the vocabulary. Here are some notes on each:

  • ፎቶ ኮፒ: photocopy, nothing special here.
  • ፕሪንት: shortens “printing service” to simply “print”
  • ስካኒግ: reads “scannig” (hard g, like “good”), since there’s no “ng” sound in Amharic.
  • ላሚኔቲንግ: takes a different approach to representing “ing” than the line above… technically reads “laminating,” although the ንግ combo in Amharic would be pronounced with a hard “g,” like “good,” so it’s a little strange. But hey, they’re doing their best with sounds that don’t exist in fidel.

The last two (መጠረዝ and የዕህፈት ስራ) are actual translations into Amharic vocabulary.

Image Credit: “Firefox” by Fran Villena (villano), CC BY 2.0 (has been cropped and edited for brightness)

BAHIR DAR: These signs for cosmetic shops are great reading practice, too! If you can read fidel, you can read the main part of the sign (ቶፕ ሌዲ) without knowing any Amharic vocabulary (hint, it’s in English, too), and then the “subtitle” on the sign (የስጦጣ የውበት ዕቃዎች መሽጫ) is great reading practice, too. Here’s a breakdown of the vocabulary from the “subtitle” –

  • ስጦጣ: gift
  • ውበት: beauty
  • ዕቃዎች: things/items
  • መሽጫ: shop

Finally, notice the sign to the left — it’s spelled in fidel (ኮስሞቲክስ) according to their spelling in English, so even the Amharic version reads “cosmotics.” Perhaps it’s space themed?

Image Credit: “Scenes from Bahir Dar, Ethiopia” by A.Davey, CC BY 2.0 (has been cropped and edited for brightness)

ADDIS ABABA: This stationary shop has a lot of signage. It always amuses me when there’s extensive signage in Amharic, and then minimal translation into English. While the English simply says “Medhin Stationary,” here’s what the Amharic version actually reads:

  • መድሕን፡ Medhin
  • (የ)ፅህፈት: Writing
  • መሣሪያ(ና): Tools (and)
  • (የ)ኮምፒውተር: Computer
  • እቃዎች: Things/Items
  • መደብር: Store

You might have to zoom in to see some of the smaller signs to read them, although it’s a good approximation of how hard it is to read signs zooming past on a bus! Being able to read signs at a glance is a good sign you’re getting quite skillful with your fidel.

Image credit: “Streets of Addis” by Irene200CC BY 2.0 (has been cropped and edited for brightness)

Resources for Learning Ge’ez/Fidel (Amharic/Tigrinya Script)

Ge’ez (also known as “fidel”) is the writing system used to write Amharic, Tigrinya, and several other Ethiopian (and Eritrean) languages. It’s technically an abugida (not an alphabet). While alphabets use one letter per sound, an abugida uses one character per consonant, which is modified according to the vowel sound which follows. The result is that there are a LOT of characters, but they follow a regular pattern, making them rather satisfying to learn!

Here are some resources you can use, made for adults (not children or younger students) looking to learn to read/write.

  1. So Many Fidels: This printable ebook has everything you need — pronunciation guides, handwriting practice, and even exercises to help you read and write Amharic words, in fidel. I wrote this book to be the reading/writing guide I wish I’d had when learning Amharic. Of course, I’ve got author bias, but it is truly one of the most user-friendly, detailed, practice-filled tools out there.
  2. Amharic Tutor: This is a website where you can click on the different fidels to hear them pronounced. It’s a great tool in the beginning to familiarize yourself with the sounds and patterns of the script.
  3. Amharic Beginnings: This is a printable review sheet, where you can practice re-writing the individual letters into the chart.
  4. T is for Timhirt: This workbook provides little explanation, but is another option for printouts if you’d like to practice writing and re-writing individual letters

There are also an abundance of Youtube videos to go over the sounds of each letter. Good luck with your language-learning!

So Many Ethiopian Languages… Why Amharic?

There are over eighty languages in Ethiopia, and yet Amharic (the language of Amhara) dominates. Of course, it is convenient to have a lingua franca, but only ~30% of Ethiopians speak Amharic as their native language (the most-spoken native language is Afaan Oromoo) — what gives?

Amharic (based on the ancient language, Ge’ez) has been considered the “official” language of the Ethiopian empire since the reign of Emperor Menelik II (1881-1913), when he starting using it as the functional language in administrative offices. Depending on who writes the history books, Menelik’s reign was defined by either brutal military conquest or the expansion of the great Ethiopian empire. Either way, he took over a lot of non-Amharic- speaking people, and Amharic began its role as the language of the conquerer.

Emperor Haile Selassie (r. 1930-1974) promoted Amharic as a tool of unification (or domination — again, perspective is a fickle beast), trying to develop (or force) a common language and culture for an incredibly diverse empire. When Italy occupied Ethiopia (1935-1941), the Italians promoted use of local languages, hoping undermine these unification efforts, in order to divide and conquer.

But, when Haile Selassie regained power, he re-solidified use of Amharic, including the media. All newspapers were in Amharic, except for one in Tigrinya. Two-thirds of radio time was reserved for Amharic programs, with Tigrinya, Somali, Tigre, and Afar (the only other languages even allowed on the radio) squeezing collectively into the other third of the time.

When the Derg Regime took control in 1974, they declared Amharic would no longer dominate and local languages would be respected. They decided primary school would be taught in one of fifteen languages: Amharic, Oromo, Tigrigna, Walaita, Somali, Hadiya, Gidole, Tigre, Kambata, Kunama, Sidama, Silti, Afar, Kefa-Mocha or Saho.

Ironically, because the literacy campaign insisted on writing all of these languages with the Amharic alphabet (fidel), and because many of the teachers they sent to the rural areas only spoke Amharic (and not the local languages they were meant to teach), their campaign actually wound up spreading Amharic, instead of promoting local language use.

The Derg was overthrown in 1991, and the 1994 Constitution defined three basic rules about language use (1994 Constitution, Article 5):

  1. All Ethiopian languages shall enjoy equal state of recognition.
  2. Amharic shall be the working language of the Federal Government.
  3. Members of the Federation may determine their respective languages.

Today, Amharic is the official, national language. It is also the official language for four regional states (Amhara, SNNPR, Benishangul-Gumuz, and Gambella) and two federal cities (Addis Abeba and Dire Dawa). Afaan Oromo, Tigrinya, Harari, Afar, and Somali are official, regional languages in their respective regions. In some zones and districts, there are other locally-official languages. Primary school is still taught in local languages; there are currently 21 different languages used to teach primary school.

In 2020, Tigrinya, Somali, Afar, and Afaan Oromo were officially added as national languages, although in practice, Amharic is still the primary national language.

Learning Amharic? You should learn fidel.

You’re about to start a long hike in the desert. It’s going to be hot, and you’re carrying a heavy load of camping gear. Naturally, you’re looking for any way to make your hike less gruelling. You consider your backpack, and think of how to eliminate some weight. For a moment, you consider bringing less water… but then you shake yourself back to reality. Less water? No way, water is essential for this trip. You need water.

Learning a language is a lot like this hike. It’s going to be a long process, and it’s not going to be easy. As a new language-learner, you look for ways to make the pack lighter, to make this process easier. But, just as water can’t be left behind on a hiking trip, writing — even if it means learning a new alphabet — can’t be left behind when learning a language.

Amharic, a language with 200+ fidels (characters), can feel especially daunting. It’s so, so tempting to learn Amharic by writing Amharic words with the Latin alphabet — frankly, though, that’s an awful idea. Whether you’re just prepping for a few weeks in Ethiopia, or whether you’re hoping to read some of Ethiopia’s famous poetry in the original language, learning fidel is an absolutely essential part of learning Amharic.

Knowing fidel is essential to correct pronunciation.

Firstly, learning fidel is key to correctly pronouncing all that Amharic vocabulary you’re learning. Amharic has sounds that don’t exist in English, which means that you’ll likely confuse yourself by trying to approximate their English equivalents. Plus, many English letters (especially vowels) can be  pronounced in multiple ways, making it hard to take accurate notes of Amharic pronunciation without fidels. For example, you might write down a pronunciation as “bi,” thinking it’s perfectly clear. Yet, when you go back to study, you might not remember whether it’s pronounced like “bicycle,” “bistro,” or “big.”

While it’s going to take some extra effort, learning fidel means you’ll consistently be able to write and pronounce words correctly — and that pronunciation matters. Mispronouncing one letter can make a big difference (think of the English words “six” and “sex”). Learning fidel helps familiarize you with the different sounds, in order to avoid such mishaps. In Amharic, for example, the words ቻው and ጨው (meaning “goodbye” and “salt,” respectively), could both be written as “chaw” by a language learner who is unfamiliar with fidel. In order to correctly pronounce the difference, learning fidel is crucial.

Knowing fidel helps you be a safe and savvy traveller.

Next, learning fidel is massively important during travel, even if you’re not fluent in the language. Being able to read basic signs is key to being a savvy traveller and staying safe. Even without knowing very much vocabulary, being able to read the destination city on your bus ticket helps you be sure you’re headed to the right place. Knowing how to recognize cognates on street signs (such as “hotel” and “pension,” which are the same in both Amharic and English) will help you spot local places to sleep. Plus, being able to spot the “ጁስ” (juice) signs is always a bonus. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fast reader, or whether you can pronounce everything perfectly. Knowing fidel just means that you’ll be able to sound out some words, which will make you a more confident and independent traveller.

Knowing fidel is essential to continuing to learn Amharic.

Finally, if you have any desire to continue your language-learning beyond the basics, knowing fidel is essential to using most language-learning resources. Most Amharic-English dictionaries don’t include transliterations, nor do many textbooks. Reading Amharic books (from childrens’ books to epic poetry, depending on your level) is a great way to practice, but it requires literacy. Plus, if you have the chance to study with an Amharic-speaker as a tutor or a language partner, it’ll be very confusing and difficult to work together if you’ve written all your notes and vocabulary lists without fidel — imagine if an Amharic speaker only knew how to write English using Amharic fidels! Learning fidel is a fundamental building block. If you don’t bother, you’re simply impairing your future language-learning progress.

So yes, it’s a lot. Especially for a language like Amharic, where the alphabet includes well over 200 fidel characters, becoming literate can feel like a monumental task. However, it’s important to even the most casual language-learner to start with fidel. Whether it’s learning to pronounce new vocabulary, being an independent traveller, or continuing your language study into the future, literacy is key to learning Amharic. Don’t ignore water on a hike, and don’t ignore fidel when learning Amharic.

አማርኛ (Amharic) Landscape Vocabulary

እሳት ጋሞራ/ïsat gamoravolcanoማማ/mamaisolated place on the top of a mountain

EXERCISE: Fill in the blanks using the given vocabulary words.

  • ዳግት/dagt
  • ዋሻዎች/wašawoc
  • ጅረት/jïrät
  1. አትሀጅም፤ መንገዱ __________ ነው፣ ይዳክማሻል።
    athejm; mängädu __________ näw, yïdakmašal.
  2. በጥንታዊ ጊዜ፣ ከጥንት አባቶች __________ ውስጥ ኖሩ።
    bät’ïntawi gize, kät’ïnt abatoč __________ wïst’ noru.
  3. ክራምት፣ዝናብ ሲዘንብ፣ __________ ይኖራሉ።
    kïramt, zïnab sizänb, __________ yïnoralu.

አማርኛ (Amharic) Adjectives

While Amharic-learners oftentimes gravitate towards “standard adjectives” (as described in the following table), native Amharic speakers oftentimes use verb-adjectives, or adjective-verbs.

What in the world is a verb-adjective? Or an adjective-verb?
Don’t worry, these aren’t official terms. I made them up to help me wrap my mind around this grammar. If you like them, great. If not, don’t worry about it.

Read through the following table about different forms of Amharic “adjectives” (they’re not all technically, grammatically adjectives, but in terms of function, it helps to think of them as such).

FormWhat To Look ForUse in a SentenceExamples
1. standard adjectiveNo particular pattern.same as English adjectives (in front of a noun, or with the verb “to be”)
1. She is a good person.
t’ïru säw nat.
2. She is good.
t’ïru nat.
ቆንጆ/k’onjo ድንቅ/dïnk’
2. verb-based adjectives (“verb-adjectives”)Usually, they start with የ/yä (and have a lot of “አ/ä” sounds).

Technically, these are relative clauses.
same as English adjectives (in front of a noun, or with the verb “to be”)
1. The phone is broken. ስልኩየማይሰረነው።
sïlku yämaysärä näw.
2. I didn’t buy the broken phone.
yämaysäräw sïlk algäzahum.
የተለመደ/yätälämädä የተሰበረ/yätäsäbärä የተቀደደ/yätäk’ädädä
3. adjective-based verbs (“adjective-verbs”)Oftentimes (but not always), you’ll see them in the “ይ..ል/yï…l” or “ያ…ል/ya…l” form.same as a verb in an Amharic sentence (at the end of a sentence, NOT with “to be”)
1. Your house is beautiful! 
betš yamral!
2. You are beautiful!
anči tamraläš!
ያምራል/yamral ይበቃል/yïbäk’al ይጣፍጣል/yït’aft’al

As you can see, a verb-adjective is an adjective derived from a verb. An adjective-verb is a verb derived from an adjective. Isn’t this fun? Let’s practice.

EXERCISE: Many adjectives exist in more than one of these forms. Complete the following table, changing adjectives between their different forms.
Standard Adjective (used with “to be”/መሆን/mähon)Adjective-Based Verb (Positive Conjugation)Adjective-Based Verb (Negative Conjugation)
example: ጣፋጭ ነው/t’afač’ näw It is sweet/delicious.ይጣፍጣል/yït’aft’al It is sweet/delicious.አይጣፍጥም/ayt’aft’m It is not sweet/delicious.

ይበቃል/yïbäk’al It is enough.

It is big.

አያምርም/ayamrïm It is not beautiful.
ትንሽ ነው/tïnš näw It is small.

When speaking/writing, you can use whichever type of adjective you’d prefer. It’s good to understand all three structures, however, so that you’ll be able to understand when reading/listening. As you become more accustomed to Amharic, you’ll start to learn when it sounds more natural to use the different options.

አማርኛ (Amharic) Relative Clauses

Present Tense Relative Clauses

Let’s just start with the formula:
relative clause = yäm + present tense prefix + verb stem (+ suffix, sometimes)

Here are some examples.

yäm + ï + (verb)
የም + እ + (ግስ)
yämwädä mïgïb
የምወደ ምግብ
a food that I likeyämwädäw mïgïb
የምወደው ምግብ
the food that I like
yäm + tï + (verb)
የም + ት + (ግስ)
yämïtwädä mïgïb
የምትወደ ምግብ
a food that you likeyämïtwädäw mïgïb
የምትወደው ምግብ
the food that you like
yäm + tï + (verb) +i
የም + ት + (ግስ) + ኢ
yämïtwäji mïgïb
የምትወጂ ምግብ
a food that you (f.) likeyämïtwäjiw mïgïb
የምትወጂው ምግብ
the food that you (f.) like
yäm + i* + (verb)
የም + ኢ + (ግስ)
yämiwädä mïgïb
የሚወደ ምግብ
a food that he likesyämiwädäw mïgïb
የሚወደው ምግብ
the food that he likes
yäm + t + (verb)
የም + ት + (ግስ)
yämïtwädä mïgïb
የምትወደ ምግብ
a food that she likesyämïtwädäw mïgïb
የምትወደው ምግብ
the food that she likes
yäm + ïn + (verb)
የም + እን + (ግስ)
yämïnwädä mïgïb
የምንወደ ምግብ
a food that we likeyämïnwädäw mïgïb
የምንወደው ምግብ
the food that we like
yäm + t + (verb) +u
የም + ት + (ግስ) + ኡ
yämïtwädu mïgïb
የምትወዱ ምግብ
a food that you (pl.) likeyämïtwädut mïgïb
የምትወዱት ምግብ
the food that you (pl.) like
yäm + i* + (verb) +u 
የም + ኢ + (ግስ) + ኡ
yämiwädu mïgïb
የሚወዱ ምግብ
a food that they likeyämiwädut mïgïb
የሚወዱት ምግብ
the food that they like
*For ïsu and ïnäsu, the present tense prefix is y, but for relative clauses, it changes to i.
**In Amharic, the suffix “u” means “the.” The same idea applies here. But, relative clauses always end in vowels, therefore you have to adapt the suffix (because Amharic vowels don’t like being together). If a word ends in ä or a, then the u-suffix changes into w. If the word ends in u, then the u-suffix changes into t.

Example Sentences:

  1. The people who work in the Peace Corps office are mostly Ethiopians.
    የፒስ ኮር ብሮ ውስጥ የሚሰሩት ሰዎች አብዘኛው እትዮጵያዊያን ነቸው።
    yäPis Kor bïro wïst’ yämisärut säwoč abzäñaw ityop’yawiyan näčäw.
  2. The volunteers who live in Oromia learn Afan Oromo.
    ኦሮሚያ ክልል ውስጥ የሚኖሩት በጎ ፈቃደኛዎች ኦሮምኛ ይማረሉ።
    oromiya kïlïl wist’ yäminorut bägo fäk’adäñawoč oromña yïmarälu.
  3. The men who work in the bus station wear red jackets.
    መነሀርያ ውስጥ የሚሰሩት ወንዶች ቀይ ጃኬቶች ይለብሳሉ።
    mänähärya wïst’ yämisärut wändoč k’äy jaketoč yïläbsalu.
  4. BONUS. “what is your favorite food” in Amharic translates literally as “what is the food that you like?”
    የምትወደው/የምትወጂው ምግብ ምንድን ነው?
    yämïtwädäw/yämïtwäjiw mïgïb mïndïn näw?
Exercise: Translate the following sentences into English.
  1. ሻበል (መንደር) የምትኖራው ፈረንጇ እህቴ አይደለችም።
    šabäl (mändär) yämtnoraw färänjwa ïhïte aydäläčm.
  2. የቤት ስራ የሚሰሩት ተማሪዎች ጎበዞች ነቸው።
    yäbet sïra yämisärut tämariwoč gobezoč näčäw.

Past Tense Relative Clauses

Here’s the formula, followed by a table of examples.
past tense relative clause = yä + verb (in simple past) + suffix

yäbälahut mïgïb
የበላሁት ምግብ
the food that I ate
yäbälahäw mïgïb
የበላሀው ምግብ
the food that you ate
yäbälašw mïgïb
የበላሽው ምግብ
the food that you ate
yäbälaw mïgïb
የበላው ምግብ
the food that he ate
yäbälačw mïgïb
የበላችው ምግብ
the food that she ate
yäbälanäw mïgïb
የበላነው ምግብ
the food that we ate
yäbälačhut mïgïb
የበላችሁት ምግብ
the food that you ate
yäbälut mïgïb
የበሉት ምግብ
the food that they ate

Now that you’ve got the formula, here are some examples of how to use past tense relative clauses in sentences.

The students who failed didn’t come to class today.
ዛሬ የወደቁት ተማሪዎች ወደ ትምህርት አልመጡም።
zare yäwädäk’ut tämariwoč tïmhïrt almät’um.
The students who studied passed the class.
የተመሩት ተማሪዎች ትምህርት አለፉ።
yätämärut tämariwoč tïmhïrt aläfu.
The tomatoes I bought were very expensive.
የገዛሁት ቲማቲም በጣም ዉድ ነበር። yägäzalut timatim bät’am wud näbär.
The letter she wrote was very long.
የጻፋችው ደብዳቤ በጣም ረጅም ነበር።
yäs’afačw däbdabe bät’am räjïm näbär.

አማርኛ (Amharic): Present Perfect Verb Tense

Make sure that you’ve got the gerundive form down (conjugations, if not usage) before you start working on this.

The present perfect tense (in both Amharic and English) is used to describe things that happened in the recent past, which are still important/influential in the present. You can think of the present perfect as happening “just before” the present. In English, the present perfect uses “have/has.”

  1. Now that I have finished my homework, I can sleep.
  2. She has already eaten. She isn’t hungry anymore.
  3. We have studied really hard for this test. I think we are ready.

Here’s the formula on how the present-perfect is formed in Amharic:
FORMULA: present perfect = gerundive verb + present perfect suffix
You’ll see below that most of the present perfect suffixes are the same — so, if you’ve got the gerundive down, the present perfect should be pretty straightforward (yipee!)

pronounpresent perfect suffixgerundive (example)present perfect (example)translation
ïne/እኔ-አለሁ/-alähuበልቼ/bälčeበልቻለሁ/bälčalähuI have eaten.
antä/አንተ-አል/-alበልተህ/bältähበልተሃል/bältähalYou have eaten.
anči/አንቺ-አል/-alበልተሽ/bältäšበልተሻል/bältäšalYou have eaten.
ïsu/እሱ-አል/-alበልቶ/bältoበልቷል/bältwalHe has eaten.
ïswa/እሷ-አለች/-äläčበልታ/bältaበልታለች/bältaläčShe has eaten.
ïña/እኛ-አል/-alበልተን/bältänበልተናል/bältänalWe have eaten.
ïnantä/እናንተ-አል/-alበልተችሁ/bältäčhuበልተችኋል/bältäčhwalYou have eaten.
ïnäsu/እነሱ-አል/-alበልተው/bältäwበልተዋል/bältäwalThey have eaten.

NB. Don’t stress about how the vowels change when you attach the suffix. For example, for “እሱ/ïsu,” በልቶ+አል/bälto+al turns into በልቷል/bältwal. It’s a question of pronunciation. If you say በልቶአል/bältoal quickly, you’ll probably end up saying በልቷል/bältwal, anyways. So, in your head, you can think of it as “በልቶአል/bältoal” or “በልቷል/bältwal” — nobody will know the difference when you’re speaking.

Here are some example sentences.

The students have gone home to eat lunch. ምሳ ለመብላት ተማሪዎቹ ቤተቸው ሄዳዋል።The teacher has gone to Addis Ababa, therefore we have cancelled his class. አስተማሪ አዲስ አበባ ሄዷል፣ ስለዚህ ትምህርቱ ሰርዛናል።
She has worked in many countries. ብዙ አገሮች ውስጥ ሰርታለች።Many students have failed, therefore they will repeat. ብርካታ ተማሪዎች ወደቀዋል፣ስለዚህ ይደግማሉ።
We have lived in Ethiopia for seven months. ለሳበት ወራት ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ኖራናል።He has been elected as the new president. አዲስ ፕረሲደንት ተመርጧል።

Bonus examples: Is electricity sporadic in your town? You’ll probably hear a lot of present perfect.

  • mäbratu hedwal? Has the power gone (out)?
  • mäbratu hedwal. The power has gone (out).
  • mäbratu mätwal? Has the power come (back)?
  • mäbratu mätwal. The power has come (back).

Exercise: Fill in the chart by conjugating the given verbs and pronouns into the present perfect tense.

መስማት/mäsmat ____________________
መሮጥ/märot’ ____________________
እሷ/ïswa መስበር/mäsbär ____________________እነሱ/ïnäsu
መፍቀድ/mäfk’äd ____________________
መሞከር/mämokär ____________________
ማየት/mayät ____________________
ማፍላት/maflat ____________________
ማደን/madän ____________________
ማስተማር/mastämar ____________________
ማለፍ/maläf ____________________
ማቀድ/mak’äd ____________________
ማርፈድ/marfäd ____________________
ማግባት/magbat ____________________
ማረስ/maräs ____________________
መመለስ/mämäläs ____________________

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
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)

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።