Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grammar 6: The Aorist Tense :: Sedi Nyanata

In the last post we briefly mentioned Sedi Nyanata ( the Aorist Tense)*.

This post is going to be all about the Aorist Tense ( you don't have to memorize the Igbo name) so hang tight.

The Aorist Tense, despite being the simplest and most basic of all the Igbo tenses, is a very tricky thing to define.

The easiest way to explain it is to compare it to another language.

Let us compare Igbo tenses with the following languages - English and Japanese.

English  has three main tenses - Present, Past, and Future

This is very familiar. I buy, I bought, and I will buy.

Japanese on the other hand has only TWO main tenses - Past and Not-the-Past (or Non-Past)

Past - Inu deshita ( It was a dog )

Not-the-Past - Inu desu (It is a dog ... or it will be a dog )

In other words, anything you say in Japanese, that is not expressly in past tense, could be happening now, or some time in the future.

So, how is this related to Igbo?


Igbo is just like Japanese. It has only TWO main tenses.

The only difference between Igbo and Japanese is that, while Japanese is divided into Past and Not-the-Past, Igbo is divided into Future and Not-the-Future.

Future - O ga bu nkita ( It will be a dog)

Not-the-Future - O bu nkita (It is a dog .... or it was a dog )

This means that anything you say in Igbo that is not expressly in the Future could be happening now, or it may have happened yesterday or at some other time in the past.

This tense group that I've been referring to as "Not-the-Future" is what is called The Aorist Tense.

The Aorist Tense is a special tense in which whatever you are saying could be happening presently or it could have happened in the past.

* - [ Sedi = Tense; Nya na Ta = Yesterday and Today ]


  1. Igbo has a past tense as well.

    1. I know. I just haven't got to that lesson yet.

  2. What happened? No more lessons? I was really getting into learning as well. :(

    1. Hi Jane, not to worry!! More lessons are going up this week. I've been away travelling so haven't had time to post. Please check by Monday at the very latest ^_^

  3. are there any more lessons coming?