Luganda Language-Learning Resources

Luganda is one of the most widely-spoken languages in Uganda. There are a good number of online resources available to help a self-study language learner, or to support someone studying through a class or immersion in Uganda. Here are a few of the free online resources which I think are the most high-quality resources, to help you learn Luganda efficiently and effectively.

  • Buganda.com has some great language pages about Luganda, including a basic grammar page and quite an extensive phrasebook.
  • The University of Wisconsin Madison has a basic set of four worksheets for self-instructed Luganda learners, covering greetings and a handful of basic grammar concepts.
  • Peace Corps Uganda has published a 16-page “survival Luganda” booklet, which can be a great tool for just starting out.
  • Peace Corps Uganda also has a more complete, 158-page Luganda Self-Instructing Learner’s Manual, which is meant to take about three months to complete, and brings a learner up to an intermediate proficiency.
  • “Yiga Oluganda” is a quite extensive series of three ebooks, co-written by foreigner who learned Luganda and a Luganda native speaker, including a grammar guide, a phrasebook, and a dictionary.

If you know of any more great Luganda-learning resources, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll add them to this list!

Photo credit goes to Sara Snider for the featured image from this post.

Swahili Immersion: Meserani Village, Tanzania

When you’re travelling, there are language-learning opportunities all around you. But, when you’re at home, it can be harder to see the language in real life. So, here are three images from Meserani, a village in northern Tanzania (just outside of Arusha), to help you practice your beginning Swahili skills in “real life” contexts. Good luck!

This is a sign outside of a crocodile (mamba) enclosure in the Meserani Snake Park, warning visitors to not put their hands (mkono) inside or throw rocks (mawe).

This is a mural from the Meserani Adult Education Center (Kituo Cha Elimu Meserani, in Swahili, abbreviated as KCEM). There’s lots of great Swahili vocabulary here, including compass directions. Do you see the grammatical difference between “north” as a noun (on the compass) and “north” as an adjective (before “America”)?

This is a student’s homework from KCEM (Meserani’s Adult Education Center). The assignment is to help the students practice English, but since there are translations involved, it’s also a great resource for a Swahili-learner! Focus on question words, because that’s what the assignment is practicing.

Pro-tip: When you’re travelling, looking at students’ books and homework is a great insight (if you come across students willing to take the time to share with you), both into languages and the local culture!

If you have any questions about the Swahili or context of any of these images, please don’t hesitate to comment and ask! As always, happy language-learning!

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!

Somali Writing/Documents/Speeches Vocabulary

I (strangely, to most) enjoy reading academic texts. It’s always stunning to me how much information there is on the internet, and it astounds me how easy it is to dig into some random topic, oftentimes at 2am, and quickly find yourself reading specific research from the most knowledgeable people in the world. What an era!

Oftentimes, I find myself reading academic texts about languages. While academic texts aren’t great pedagogic tools, they oftentimes contain a huge amount of really interesting vocabulary used in that language. So, my goal here is to go through an academic text (in this case, it’s Dimensions of Register Variation in Somali, by Mohamed Hared and Douglar Biber), and sort through some of the vocabulary included, making it into a more useful language-learning tool for Somali-learners.

The text itself is a really cool analysis of different variations in language and formality, and how often they’re used in different registers (comparing high school textbooks to different types of newspaper articles, speeches compared to government memos, etc.). It’s a really cool combination of the language, and mathematics — if you’re interested, would definitely recommend checking it out.

First, the article contained some useful vocabulary about written texts — here are the words I think would be most commonly used and useful for language-learners.

  1. war = news
    1. wargeysada = press
    2. ra’yiga iyo aqoonta = opinion and knowledge (title for a newspaper’s editorial page)
  2. qor = write (verb)
    1. qoraalo = writings/documents
    2. qoraalo barabagaandha = propaganda
    3. qoraalo waxbarasho = academic/educational texts (barasho = learn)
  3. warqad = letter
  4. buugta dugsiyada sare = high school textbooks
  5. suugaan = literature
  6. sheeko = stories

Next, the article contained some interesting words related to speeches and meetings — again, I’ve pulled out some vocabulary which I think would be useful to language-learners.

  1. cashar jaamcadeed = university lectures
    1. cashar = lesson (academic)
    2. jaamcada = university
  2. lakjar = academic conference lectures (this is an English cognate — “lecture”)
  3. ciyaar-tebin = sports broadcasts (ciyaar = sports)
  4. hadal raadiyo = radio broadcasts (hadal = the verb “speak”)
  5. hadal shir = meeting
    1. shir guddi = committee meeting
    2. shir qoys = family meeting

So, there you go! Happy language-learning.

On Self-Acceptance (Re-Learning Swahili with Duolingo, P.2)

If there’s anything harder than accepting your own faults, it’s accepting your own regressions. For those who have lost certain capacities due to injury or illness, the phrase “I used to be able to” holds so much pain. Of course, whether physical or otherwise, we all have lost capacities, and will continue to do so. That’s what being human is — a progress of gaining and losing, growing and shrinking in different ways. To become anything is an active process, and there is no stagnation. Either we rise or we fall — we cannot stay, poised in midair.

The hardest thing about catching yourself from that falling, however, is admitting that you were falling in the first place. To improve, we need to admit fault. We need to admit that we were not as good as we once were. We need to admit that we don’t actually remember that basic vocabulary word, that we don’t know things we used to, that this is harder than we expected it to be. Moreover, the fact that it’s harder than we expected is okay. It’s okay that we’re not as good as we once were — that’s why we’re here, working on it.

Mimi ni mwanafunzi mzuri. I am a good student.
Mimi si mwanafunzi mbaya. I am not a bad student.

There’s a certain peace to be found in starting a Duolingo course from the beginning, especially for a language I already (at one point in my life) knew. It’s a similar feeling to sitting in a classroom full of children, squeezing yourself into a tiny desk, and peering up at the teacher, wide-eyed like you used to do. As children, we were a lot gentler with ourselves. Kindergarteners generally don’t chastise themselves for not being better at math, so I strive to be a kindergartener in my own mind. I experience, I listen, I take satisfaction in the slow and steady progress of moving through this learning, without worrying about how or how fast or why I’m not already better. I allow myself to be excited for small successes — the single vocabulary word I get correct, that difficult sentence that pings green (especially if I thought I got it wrong). The sentences are simple, but they stick.

Patience, kid. You’ve got this. It’s all a process; just keep grinding.

Essential Language for Travel Anywhere

If you’re travelling to a place where people speak another language, it’s your responsibility to figure out how to communicate! Depending on the place, you might also expect people to speak your language. Depending on what your language is, they very well might! Remember, however, that nobody is required nor expected to speak your language just because you do.

So, it’s up to you to communicate. Sometimes, that means hiring an interpreter, checking whether your smartphone translates that language, or (if you have certain sentences you need people to understand (such as communicating a severe food allergy to every restaurant you enter), making cards with those sentences in the language.

Whatever other methods you use, I’m also a strong believer in the importance of language-learning for travel. That’s right: try and learn the language (at least a little bit). Whether you’re visiting for five days or five weeks, being able to communicate — even on the most basic level — is essential to being a respectful traveller and having positive interactions during your trip.

Never fear, if you’re a novice language-learner: I’ve put together some simple recommendations of which words you might want to learn for your trip. If you’re just trying to learn a few words for a short trip, we won’t worry about grammar or full sentences — this is all about simplicity (even if you will occasionally sound very strange).

Top 10 Essential Words/Phrases

  1. Hello: Regardless of where you’re going, learn a greeting! Some languages have complex greetings, depending on the person and time of day — don’t worry about this. Just find a greeting that works for anyone, at any time, and use it with everyone!
  2. Good: Knowing how to say “good” is the easiest way to give a compliment (you can point to your meal and tell the waiter that it was good), or assuage any concerns (you can ensure concerned people that you are indeed comfortable and good in your bus seat). It’s useful in a thousand different circumstances. If you’re feeling extra motivated, learning the words for “delicious” and “beautiful” is also a great idea.
  3. Thank you: Some cultures use “thank you” less commonly than others, but it’s still a great phrase to know and use. When you’re travelling, you’re constantly a guest in someone else’s territory, and it’s good to share your gratitude for any welcome you receive. Bonus: if you’re up for learning another word, “please” is also polite.
  4. Sorry (Excuse Me): If you’re travelling somewhere you’re unfamiliar with the customs, norms, and simple traffic patterns, you’re bound to mess up at some point. If you bump into someone or accidentally do something rude, you’ll want to know a quick apology. It’s just manners.
  5. Bathroom: Just learn it. You don’t want to play charades.
  6. Restaurant: Whether you’re wandering around a city trying to find a place to eat, or confused as to whether the place you just entered actually serves food (this happens surprisingly often), being able to ask, “restaurant?” is incredibly helpful.
  7. How much?: You’re going to want to ask the price of something. Of course, you’ll also want to understand the answer; if you’re up for it, also consider learning numbers. This can really smooth out your interactions (especially when exchanging money).
  8. When?: When arranging transportation or planning anything, it’s super helpful to know how to ask the time. Even if you sound a little strange, saying “when bus Addis Ababa?” will get your point across. Again, knowing some numbers to understand the answer is also helpful.
  9. Where?: Here’s a great word to combine with some of your other words (remember, we’re ignoring grammar). You can ask “where hotel?” or “where restaurant?” or “where bus?” — super useful.
  10. ## People: Whether you’re trying to get a table in a restaurant or seats on a bus, it’s helpful to be able to communicate the number of people in your party. Just learn the number for how many you are and the word for “people.”

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) 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.
ጥሩሰውናት።
t’ïru säw nat.
2. She is good.
ጥሩናት።
t’ïru nat.
ረጅም/räjïm
ጨዋ/č’äwa
ሩቅ/ruk’
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.
የማይሰረውስልክአልገዛሁም።
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! 
ቤትሽያምራል!
betš yamral!
2. You are beautiful!
አንቺታምራለሽ!
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.

ይተልቃል/yïtälïk’al
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.

whoformulaexampletranslationexampletranslation
ïne
እኔ
yäm + ï + (verb)
የም + እ + (ግስ)
yämwädä mïgïb
የምወደ ምግብ
a food that I likeyämwädäw mïgïb
የምወደው ምግብ
the food that I like
antä
አንተ
yäm + tï + (verb)
የም + ት + (ግስ)
yämïtwädä mïgïb
የምትወደ ምግብ
a food that you likeyämïtwädäw mïgïb
የምትወደው ምግብ
the food that you like
anči
አንቺ
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
ïsu
እሱ
yäm + i* + (verb)
የም + ኢ + (ግስ)
yämiwädä mïgïb
የሚወደ ምግብ
a food that he likesyämiwädäw mïgïb
የሚወደው ምግብ
the food that he likes
ïswa
እሷ
yäm + t + (verb)
የም + ት + (ግስ)
yämïtwädä mïgïb
የምትወደ ምግብ
a food that she likesyämïtwädäw mïgïb
የምትወደው ምግብ
the food that she likes
ïña
እኛ
yäm + ïn + (verb)
የም + እን + (ግስ)
yämïnwädä mïgïb
የምንወደ ምግብ
a food that we likeyämïnwädäw mïgïb
የምንወደው ምግብ
the food that we like
ïnantä
እናንተ
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
ïnäsu
እነሱ
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

ïne
እኔ
yä+(verb)+t
የ+(ግስ)+ት
yäbälahut mïgïb
የበላሁት ምግብ
the food that I ate
antä
አንተ
yä+(verb)+äw
የ+(ግስ)+አው
yäbälahäw mïgïb
የበላሀው ምግብ
the food that you ate
anči
አንቺ
yä+(verb)+w
የ+(ግስ)+ው
yäbälašw mïgïb
የበላሽው ምግብ
the food that you ate
ïsu
እሱ
yä+(verb)+w
የ+(ግስ)+ው
yäbälaw mïgïb
የበላው ምግብ
the food that he ate
ïswa
እሷ
yä+(verb)+w
የ+(ግስ)+ው
yäbälačw mïgïb
የበላችው ምግብ
the food that she ate
ïña
እኛ
yä+(verb)+äw
የ+(ግስ)+አው
yäbälanäw mïgïb
የበላነው ምግብ
the food that we ate
ïnantä
እናንተ
yä+(verb)+t
የ+(ግስ)+ት
yäbälačhut mïgïb
የበላችሁት ምግብ
the food that you ate
ïnäsu
እነሱ
yä+(verb)+t
የ+(ግስ)+ት
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.

እኔ/ïne
መስማት/mäsmat ____________________
እሱ/ïsu
መሮጥ/märot’ ____________________
እሷ/ïswa መስበር/mäsbär ____________________እነሱ/ïnäsu
መፍቀድ/mäfk’äd ____________________
አንቺ/anči
መሞከር/mämokär ____________________
እኛ/ïña
ማየት/mayät ____________________
እሱ/ïsu
ማፍላት/maflat ____________________
አንተ/antä
ማንበብ/manbäb
እሷ/ïswa
ማደን/madän ____________________
እኔ/ïne
ማስተማር/mastämar ____________________
እናንተ/ïnantä
ማለፍ/maläf ____________________
እኛ/ïña
ማቀድ/mak’äd ____________________
እሱ/ïsu
ማርፈድ/marfäd ____________________
እነሱ/ïnäsu
ማግባት/magbat ____________________
እሱ/ïsu
ማረስ/maräs ____________________
አንቺ/anči
መመለስ/mämäläs ____________________