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Qino (native: Qino afka /ɠíno afka/, Western Arabic script: ڧں أڢک, Eastern Arabic script: قن أفك, Ge'ez script: ቅኖ አፍከ) is a Cushitic conlang.

Qino afka
ڧں أڢک
قن أفك
ቅኖ አፍከ
Pronunciation[ɠíno afka]
Created byShariifka


Qino is a Lowland East Cushitic language. It is largely based on Somali, Oromo, and Afar, with inspiration taken from various other languages.



Qino can be written in the Arabic, Latin, or Ge'ez scripts. In this article, the Latin script (with accent indicated) is used for ease of reading. The Arabic script has two standardized variants: Western and Eastern.


Western Arabic Eastern Arabic Latin Ge'ez IPA Notes
ـأ أ ـأ أ ' ʔ Here hamzah is shown on alif, but it may occur on waw (ؤ), ya' (ئ), or without a "chair" (ء).
ببب ب ببب ب b b May be lenited to [β ~ β̞] between vowels (optionally indicated in Western Arabic script as ۋ).
پپپ پ پپپ پ p p Occurs in loanwords. Nativized as /b/ or /f/.
ڀڀڀ ڀ ڀڀڀ ڀ bh ɓ May be lenited to [β̞ˀ] between vowels.
تتت ت تتت ت t t
ثثث ث ثثث ث th θ Occurs in loanwords. Nativized as /t/.
ججج ج ججج ج j d͡ʒ May be lenited to [ʝ ~ j] between vowels (optionally indicated in Arabic script as ی).
چچچ چ ڇڇڇ ڇ jh ʄ May be lenited to [jˀ] between vowels.
ححح ح ححح ح x ħ
خخخ خ خخخ خ kh x ~ χ Occurs in loanwords. May be nativized as /k/ or /ɠ/, especially in rural dialects.
ـد د ـد د d d May be lenited to [ð ~ ð̞] between vowels (optionally indicated in Arabic script as ذ).
ـذ ذ ـذ ذ dz ð Occurs in loanwords. Nativized as /d/. May be used for intervocalic allophone of /d/.
ـر ر ـر ر r r Becomes a tap (/ɾ/) between vowels.
ـز ز ـز ز z z Occurs in loanwords. May be nativized as /s/, especially in rural dialects.
سسس س سسس س s s
ششش ش ششش ش sh ʃ
ڜڜڜ ڜ چچچ چ ch t͡ʃ
صصص ص صصص ص s s Occurs in Arabic loanwords. Educated pronunciation is /sˁ/.
ضضض ض ضضض ض lh In Arabic loanwords, may be pronounced as /d͡lˁ/ or /d̪ˁ/, or the "hybrid" pronunciations /ɗ͡l(ˁ)/ or /lˁ/.
ططط ط ططط ط dh ɗ May be lenited to [ɾˀ] between vowels, which can be indicated orthographically as ڟ/rh. In loanwords, may be pronounced /t̪ˁ/ or the hybrid pronunciation /ɗ̪(ˁ)/.
ظظظ ظ ظظظ ظ dz ð Occurs in Arabic loanwords. Educated pronunciation is /ðˁ/. Nativized as /d/ or /ɗ/.
ڟڟڟ ڟ ڟڟڟ ڟ rh ɾˀ Allophone of /ɗ/ between vowels. May not be distinguished from ط/dh.
ععع ع ععع ع c ʕ
غغغ غ غغغ غ gh ɣ ~ ʁ Occurs in loanwords. Nativized as /ɡ/ or /ɠ/. May be used for the intervocalic allophone of /ɡ/.
ڢڢڡ ڡ
(ففف ف)
ففف ف f f Traditionally has the dot on the bottom in the Western Arabic script, but the variant with the dot on top is commonly used instead. The traditionally variant can optionally be written without the dot word-finally.
ڥڥڥ ڥ ڤڤڤ ڤ v v Occurs in loanwords. Nativized as /f/, /b/, or /w/. May be used for intervocalic allophone of /b/.
ڧڧٯ ٯ
(ققق ق)
ققق ق q ɠ May be lenited to [ɰˀ] between vowels. In loanwords, may be pronounced /q/ or the hybrid pronunciation /ʛ/. Traditionally has a single dot in the Western Arabic script, but the variant with two dots is commonly used instead. The traditionally variant can optionally be written without the dot word-finally.
ڨڨڨ ڨ ڠڠڠ ڠ g ɡ May be lenited to [ɣ ~ ɣ̞] between vowels (optionally indicated in Arabic script as غ).
ککک ک ككك ك k k Both Arabic scripts can use either variant of kāf, but the traditional variant in each script is shown here.
للل ل للل ل l l
ممم م ممم م m m
ننں ں ننن ن n n Can optionally drop the dot word-finally in the Western Arabic script.
ڹڹڹ ڹ ڹڹڹ ڹ ng ŋ
ݧݧݧ ݧ ݧݧݧ ݧ ny ɲ
ـو و ـو و w w
ههه ه ههه ه h h May be used at the end of words to show a final accented vowel in verbs.
ییی\ـے ی\ے ييي ي y j In the Western Arabic script, written as ے when representing a final /i(ː)/ or vowelless /-j/. However, the distinction between ی and ے is optional. May be used for intervocalic allophone of /d͡ʒ/.


Latin Ge'ez IPA Notes
ـَ ـَ a a
ـٜ ـٖ e e
ـِ ـِ i ኢ ፣ እ i ኢ is used in the Ge'ez script when word-final and in a few other cases. Otherwise, እ is used.
ـٗ ـٗ o o
ـُ ـُ u u
ـَا ـَا aa
ـٜیٰ، ـَےْ ـٖي٬ ـَيْ ee
ـِے ـِي ii
ـٗو٬ ـَوْ ـٗو، ـَوْ oo
ـُو ـُو uu
ـْ ـْ C C Used for a consonant not followed by a vowel.
ـّ ـّ CC - Used for a geminate consonant.
(ـهْ) (ـهْ) -V́ (or -Vh, -VV) (ህ) ˈ-V Used for an accented word-final short vowel. In verbs, often indicated with a final -h. In nominals, may be written as a long vowel or with a following glottal stop, but more often simply left unwritten.


Qino consonant phonemes
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal/
Velar Pharyngeal Glottal
Nasal plain m n ny /ɲ/ ng /ŋ/
glottalized [mˀ] [nˀ] [ɲˀ] [ŋˀ]
Stop consonant voiceless (p) t ch /t͡ʃ/ k ' /ʔ/
voiced b d j /d͡ʒ/ ɡ
glottalized bh /ɓ/ dh /ɗ/ jh /ʄ/ q /ɠ/
Fricative voiceless f (th /θ/) s sh /ʃ/ (kh /x ~ χ/) x /ħ/ h
voiced (v) (dz /ð/) (z) (gh /ɣ ~ ʁ/) c /ʕ/
Approximant plain w l y /j/
glottalized [β̞ˀ] lh /lˀ/ [jˀ] [ɰˀ]
Trill/Tap plain r
glottalized (rh [ɾˀ])


1 ch, ny, and ng are geminated between vowels.

2 Phonemes in brackets are only found in loanwords and/or marginally.

3 The implosives are heavily glottalized and may be represented [dˀ], etc. They may be partially or completely devoiced depending on speaker and environment.

4 The glottalized sounds [mˀ, nˀ, ɲˀ, ŋˀ] and [β̞ˀ, ɾˀ, jˀ, ɰˀ] are not separate phonemes but rather allophones of glottalized stops before/after nasals and between vowels respectively. Only rh [ɾˀ] is (optionally) distinguished orthographically.

5 /r/ may be pronounced as a tap ([ɾ]), especially when ungeminated after a vowel.


Qino vowels
Front Central Back
Close/High i /i/, ii /iː/ u /u/, uu /uː/
Mid e /e/, ee /eː/ o /o/, oo /oː/
Open/Low a /a/, aa /aː/

Diphthongs only occur in vocatives and "nickname" diminutives, where they always occur word-finally. They consist of a non-high vowel followed by a semivowel, giving a total of 12 possible diphthongs.



A declarative sentence is indicated with a falling intonation. A question is indicated with a rising intonation.


Qino has a pitch accent system. A word normally has a single accented vowel, which is pronounced with a higher pitch. A word may have multiple accented vowels, in which case the main accent is on the final one and the others are deaccented. In contrast to other Cushitic languages, the accent-bearing unit is the vowel and not the mora. Not all words have an accented syllable.

A final long vowel is accented by default. If the word ends in a consonant or semi-vowel, the final vowel is accented. If the word ends in a vowel, the penultimate syllable is accented. Words that differ from these rules can be indicated with an acute accent on the stressed vowel. In practice, accent is usually not indicated except word-finally in verbs, where it is represented by a final -h.

In verbs, accent is fully determined by morphology. Nominals may have distinctive accent, but this is neutralized in some cases. Clitics, particles, and articles may be unaccented.

When used in a sentence, some words that normally have accent may be partially or fully deaccented, especially if unfocused. In a nominal phrase, words after the first accented word are deaccented. In this article, syllables that would be marked with an acute accent in isolation but that are deaccented due to focus/position are marked with a grave accent.

e.g. bárafa "snow"
ka bárafa "the snow" (definite article is unaccented, so bárafa keeps its accent)
kána bàrafa "this snow" (proximal article is accented, so bárafa is deaccented)
dhamxále kana bàrafa "this cold snow" (dhamxale "cold" is accented, so kana and bárafa are deaccented)
cádde ka bàrafa "the white snow" (cadde "white" is accented, so bárafa is deaccented)
cadde ka bárafa "the white snow" (bárafa is stressed for emphasis)


  • Syllable structure is CV(C)
  • Vowels cannot occur in hiatus. Epenthetic consonants such as w and y are inserted.
  • When a cluster of three consonants would occur, the epenthetic vowel -i- is inserted. Alternatively, the consonant cluster can be separated with an "echo" vowel, sometimes with metathesis.
e.g. kuslá "he is fat", kuslitá / kulus "she is fat"
  • Word-initial vowel are pronounced with a glottal stop.

Consonant clusters

As mentioned above, the stem-final consonants of some verbs metathesize upon the addition of an echo vowel between them. In many cases, the "metathesized" form is actually the original form. For example, the verb kusli "to be fat" originally had the stem *kuls, which was metathesized for ease of pronunciation whenever the -l- and -s- came into contact.

The general order for consonants in a cluster is as below (note that clusters can only occur word-internally and no more than two consonants can cluster at a time):

/r/ - (nasal) - non-guttural fricative - /l/ - nasal - stop - (liquid) - guttural fricative
  • Nasals can occur before or after non-guttural fricatives.
  • Liquids can occur before or after labial and velar obstruents. /r/ can occur before or after coronal stops.
  • When a labial and velar stop cluster, they may occur in either order. Coronal/palatal stops do not cluster with each other and always occur after labial/velar stops.
  • Semivowels do not occur before or after another consonant in native words.
  • Any non-guttural consonant (including semivowels) can be geminated between vowels.

The above hierarchy only applies within roots. It does not apply to compound words (e.g. dukkaanle "shop owner"), loanwords (e.g. fahmi "to understand"), reduplicated words (e.g. baxbaxi "to repeatedly leave"), or at morphological boundaries (e.g. baxtá "she leaves").


Sandhi and allophony

  • Between vowels (may not occur in all positions depending on speaker):
    • /b, d, d͡ʒ, ɡ/ → [β ~ β̞, ð ~ ð̞, ʝ ~ j, ɣ ~ ɣ̞]
    • /ɓ, ɗ, ʄ, ɠ/ → [β̞ˀ ~ ˀβ̞, ɾˀ ~ ˀɾ, jˀ ~ ˀj, ɰˀ ~ ˀɰ]
  • mbh, ndh, njh, nq are pronounced [mːˀ, nːˀ, ɲːˀ, ŋːˀ] (may not occur for all speakers)
  • When a homorganic diphthong (i.e. e(e)y, i(i)y, o(o)w, u(u)w) would occur, the semi-vowel is dropped and a short vowel is lengthened before applying sandhi.
  • -n- of 1st person plural:
    • bh, dh, lh, jh, q + n → [mnˀ, nːˀ, ɲːˀ, ŋnˀ] (written bhn, dhn, etc)
    • r, l, lh + n → [rː, lː, lːˀ] (written rr, ll, llh)
    • b, d, j, g + nmn, nn, ny [ɲː], gn [ŋn]
    • t, s, h + nnn
    • sh + nny [ɲː]
    • y + nny (after non-front vowels)
    • w + nmn (after unrounded vowels)
  • -t- of 2nd person, 3rd person feminine, singulative:
    • bh, dh, lh, q: t becomes dh (bh, dh, lh + dh are written bdh, ddh, ldh)
    • jh + tjjh [ʄː]
    • b, d, g: t becomes d
    • j + tjj
    • sh + tch [t͡ʃː]
    • h + ttt
    • y + ttt (after back vowels)
    • w + ttt (after unrounded vowels)
    • only for singulative:
      • stem-final geminate consonants degeminate
      • other stem-final clusters are broken with an echo vowel (sometimes with metathesis)
  • -k- of singulative:
    • stem-final geminate consonants degeminate
    • other stem-final clusters are broken with an echo vowel (sometimes with metathesis)
    • bh, dh, lh, q: k becomes q
    • jh + kjjh
    • b, d, g: k becomes g
    • j + kjj
    • h + kkk
    • sh + kch
    • y + kch (after back vowels)
    • w + kkk (after unrounded vowels)
    • post-vocalic ksh (after front vowels); h (after non-front vowels)
  • -s- of causative:
    • l + slch
    • h + sks



Nominals are characterized by the following features: (1) they can occur as the head of a nominal phrase; (2) they have grammatical gender; (3) they can take case forms; and (4) they may have distinct number forms.


Nominals are declined by case. Case markers (which sometimes behave as pospositions) go at the end of a nominal phrase. Coordinated nominals can either take a case ending after each nominal or a single one at the end. Verbs are nominalized with the subordinating suffix -n before adding any case suffixes (these nominalized verbs are grammatically feminine).

  • Primary cases:
    • Absolutive: Citation form, used for the direct object of a verb, the object of adpositions, and predicative nominals. Personal pronouns have a distinct accusative form that is used for direct objects. Absolutives ending in a single consonant followed by a short, unaccented vowel (especially -a or -i) often drop their final vowel, especially when closely linked to the following word.
    • Nominative: Used for the subject of a verb. Formed as follows:
      • Plural ending in -a or -i: -i - e.g. loowa "cattle" → loowi; anaani "us (excl.)" → anaani
      • Masculine non-plural with absolutive ending in consonant, -a: - e.g. nama "person" → namú
      • Feminine non-plural with absolutive ending in consonant, -a, -i: - e.g. nafa "soul; self" → nafí
      • Absolutive ending in other short, unaccented vowel: accent on final syllable - e.g. QinoQinó
      • Absolutive ending in a long and/or accented vowel: -n - e.g. makiiná "car" → makiinan
      • Independent form: ni
    • Genitive: Used for possession ("of") and the object of some adpositions.
      • Absolutive ending in consonant or short, unaccented vowel: -́i (with penultimate accent) - e.g. namanami
      • Absolutive ending in long or accented vowel: -t - e.g. makiinámakiinat
  • Secondary cases:
    • Dative: Used for recipient, benefactor, purpose, obligation ("to" or "for"), destination.
      • Absolutive ending in consonant or -a: -óo - e.g. namanamoo
      • Absolutive ending in other short unaccented vowel: lengthen final vowel + final accent - e.g. shimmirtishimmirtii
      • Absolutive ending in long or accented vowel: -s - e.g. makiinámakiinas
      • Independent form: oo
    • Ablative: Used for source ("from"), comparison ("than"), "in regards to", partitive.
      • Absolutive ending in consonant: -ák - e.g. MaxámmadMaxammadak
      • Absolutive ending in vowel: -́k - e.g. namanamak
      • Independent form: ak
    • Instrumental: Used for instrument, means, agent, cause, time, "in (language/script)".
      • Absolutive ending in consonant: -ás - e.g. MaxámmadMaxammadas
      • Absolutive ending in vowel: -́s - e.g. namanamas
      • Independent form: as
    • Comitative: Used for accompaniment ("in company with").
      • Absolutive ending in consonant: -ál - e.g. MaxámmadMaxammadal
      • Absolutive ending in vowel: -́l - e.g. namanamal
      • Independent form: al
    • Locative: Used for location ("at", "in", "on", etc). For more specific location, postpositions are used.
      • Absolutive ending in consonant: -ád - e.g. MaxámmadMaxammadad
      • Absolutive ending in vowel: -́d - e.g. namanamad
      • Independent form: ad
  • Pseudo-cases:
    • Vocative: Used for calling someone. The masculine ending is -ow and the feminine ending is -ey. Original word accent is maintained. These endings may change if the word ends in a vowel.
      • Absolutive ending in consonant or -a: -ow; -ey - e.g. MaxámmadMaxámmadow; shimmirashimmírey
      • Absolutive ending in -e or -i (except e, le, and Arabic names in -i) : -ew; -ey - e.g. qaalhiqáalhew; dubartidubártey
      • Irregular agent nouns e "one who is" and le "one who has" (and compounds based on them): -ow; -ey - e.g. bidaarle "bald person" → bidáarlow, bidáarley
      • Arabic names ending in -i: -iyow; -iyey - e.g. XamdiXámdiyow (m.), Xámdiyey (f.)
      • Absolutive ending in -o or -u: -ow; -oy - e.g. CabduCábdow ; QinoQínoy
      • Absolutive ending in accented/long a, e, or o: -VVw; -VVy - e.g. FaadhumáFaadhumaay
      • Absolutive ending in or -ii: -íyow; -íyey
      • Absolutive ending in or -uu: -úwow; -úwey - e.g. castuucastúwey
    • Predicative: Used for predicative nominals. This is not a true case but rather the absolutive fused to the copula. This fusing is optional, and in the present indicative the copula is usually dropped entirely (except for emphasis).
      • Absolutive ending in consonant or short, unaccented vowel: (declines as adjective; inchoative: -achi) - e.g. MaxámmadMaxammadé
      • Absolutive ending in long or accented vowel: -shé (declines as adjective; inchoative: -chi) - e.g. makiinámakiinashé
      • Independent form of the copula: (sh)e (adjective declension; inchoative: achi)
e.g. Maxammadú nama / nama e / nama she / namé. "Muhammad is a person."
namiyé "I am a person"; namaché "I have become a person"



Many nouns are, in their citation form, unmarked for number. The singulative is formed with the suffixes -ka, -icha (masculine) or -ti, -itti (feminine) and their variants. The plural is formed with suffixes such as -oota, -ani, -aani, -eeni, -ooni, -eeCi, -ooCi, -eeya, -ooya, -oowa, -iina and -aati. Broken plurals are common in Arabic loanwords and are sometimes extended to other words. The endings -eeya, -oowa, and -ooya may be analyzed as collectives rather than true plurals.

The gender of the plural depends on the suffix used. The collective endings (in -wa/-ya) are grammatically masculine and the rest are feminine. This mainly affects articles and attributives; regardless of plural formation, main verbs generally take either plural or feminine singular agreement when referring to a plural noun. In very formal language, the verb agrees with the noun in gender (with plural being used only when the subject is a plural pronoun).

Non-plural nouns that refer to people take articles and attributives according to the gender of the noun, whether that agrees with the person's gender or not. Note that some nouns do not have a fixed gender and instead take the gender of the referent. The verb, however, agrees with the gender of the person. Similarly, nouns that are unmarked for number may take singular or plural verb agreement depending on the referent (except in very formal language).

The exact usage of the different numbers depends on the noun in question. When all three forms exist, the unmarked form is generally used with numerals, as a collective, and when number is not particularly important. The singulative is used to refer to a specific individual, and the plural is used to emphasize the plurality (especially if it is not clear from context) or to refer to multiple groups. Multiple plural forms often exist and ad-hoc forms are common. For some nouns, the singulative and/or plural have an unpredictable meaning.

Not every noun has all three forms. If there is no unmarked form, the singulative and plural are used for singular and plural respectively, but the singulative is used with numerals. Some uncountable nouns are always in the plural (pluralia tantum) - e.g. bisheeya "water".

Some examples

  • nama "person" uses the unmarked form to refer to an indefinite person or multiple people (e.g. "Someone should do this", "I saw some people"). The singulative is used to refer to a specific person (e.g. "I see a person") or to specify the gender of an indefinite person (e.g. "Some man should do this"). The plural is used to emphasize the large number of people or to talk about multiple groups of people. When nama refers to multiple people, it is more or less interchangeable with dada "people" (but dada is always plural).
  • shimmira "bird" uses the singulative for a single bird and the unmarked form as a collective. It does not have a dedicated plural form, though ad-hoc formations such as shimmiroota may be used to refer to a very large number of birds.
  • afka "mouth/language" uses the singulative for a single mouth/language and the plural for more than one. It does not have an unmarked form.
  • bisheeya "water" is always in the plural. A singulative bisheeti "drop of water" exists, but it is effectively treated as a separate noun, even having its own plural (bisheetoota).
Diminutives and augmentatives

The diminutive is formed with the suffixes -icha (m.)/ -itti (f.). The augmentative is formed with the suffix -oowa (m./f.), with the singulative -ooha (m.)/ -ooti (f.). Note that these suffixes can also be used for the singulative and plural respectively.

There is another diminutive that is identical in form to the vocative but with the accent shifted the final syllable. This is often used as a nickname or for endearment - e.g. Maxammadow (< Maxámmad); bidaarlow (< bidaarle "bald person").

Derived nouns

Some derivation suffixes:

  • -iya (f.): verbal nouns (from class 1 & 2 verbs) - e.g. ardiya "running"
  • -ina (f.): verbal nouns (especially from class 3 verbs), abstract nouns (from nouns and adjectives) - e.g. casina "redness"
  • -inná (f.): abstract nouns - e.g. obbolinná "brotherhood"
  • -umma/-imma (f.): abstract nouns - e.g. qinumma "Qinoness"
  • -iyá (f.): abstract nouns - e.g. demokraatiyá "democracy"
  • -eena (m.), -eená (f.): agent nouns, nouns of profession - e.g. ardeená "(female) runner"; faraseena "horseman"
  • -mo / m-o (f.): verb-derived nouns - e.g. farsimo "writing"; maddho "word; statement"
  • -itaana (m.): verb-derived nouns - e.g. cabbitaana "drink; juice"
  • -aana (m.): verb-derived nouns (especially from class 3) - e.g. macaana "sweetness"


Personal pronouns
Qino independent personal pronouns
Absolutive Nominative Accusative Genitive Dative Ablative Instrumental Comitative Locative
1S ana anú kiisha kiishi kiishoo kiishak kiishas kiishal kiishad
2SM ata atú kaaha kaahi kaahoo kaahak kaahas kaahal kaahad
2SF ati atí taati taati taatii taatik taatis taatil taatid
3SM usa usú keesha keeshi keeshoo keeshak keeshas keeshal keeshad
3SF ishi ishí teeti teeti teetii teetik teetis teetil teetid
1Inc una unú keena keeni keenoo keenak keenas keenal keenad
1Exc anaani anaani kiina kiini kiinoo kiinak kiinas kiinal kiinad
2P ataani ataani siina siini siinoo siinak siinas siinal siinad
3P isaani isaani koota kooti kootoo kootak kootas kootal kootad
Qino clitic personal pronouns
Subject Accusative
Dative Ablative Instrumental Comitative Locative
1S an yi kii yoo yak yas yal yad
2SM at ku kaa kuu kuk kus kul kud
2SF at tu taa tuu tuk tus tul tud
3SM us ka kee(sh) koo kak kas kal kad
3SF ish ta tee(t) too tak tas tal tad
1Inc un na keen noo nak nas nal nad
1Exc anan yin kiin yinoo yinak yinas yinal yinad
2P atan sin siin sinoo sinak sinas sinal sinad
3P isan tin koo(t) tinoo tinak tinas tinal tinad
REF is isoo isak isas isal isad
REC ol oloo olak olas olal olad
IMP hu ha hoo hak has hal had


  • When there is one accusative object pronoun, either the short or long forms can be used. When there are multiple clitic objects, the final one takes the long form and the rest the short form.
  • Clitic subject pronouns (except the impersonal) are optional and are usually dropped unless needed for clarity. The 1S, however, is often kept even when not necessary.
  • The impersonal subject pronoun can be used instead of the -am- suffix for passives and pseudopassives. Additionally, it can form pseudopassives with class 3 verbs. It takes 3SM verb forms.
  • Third person non-subject clitic pronouns are often omitted. When the this occurs in oblique cases, the corresponding free postposition forms are used (oo, ak, as, al, and ad respectively).
  • The clitic accusatives (either long or short) can be used before nominals as a genitive.
  • The reflexive, reciprocal, and impersonal object pronouns can be used as postpositional objects.

Demonstratives are used to specify and point to something. They can occur as an article before a noun or can be used independently. There are two demonstratives: proximal and distal. When used as an article, they take the same position as the definite article (see definite article) but, unlike the definite article, are accented.

The proximal demonstrative is used to refer to something that is near to the speaker. It can be translated to "this/these (one(s))".

e.g. kana namka "this man"; cascase kanaani "these red ones".

The distal demonstrative is used to refer to something at a distance from the speaker. It can be translated to "that/those (one(s))".

e.g. koona namka "that man"; cascase koonaani "those red ones".

When used as an article, demonstratives always take singular forms. When used independently, however, dedicated plural forms exist.

Qino demonstratives
Proximal Distal
Masculine Feminine Plural Masculine Feminine Plural
Absolutive kana tana kanaani koona toona koonaani
Nominative kuni tuni kanaani kooni tooni koonaani
Genitive kini tini kanaani kooni tooni koonaani
Manner deictics

Manner deictics indicate how an action is performed or in what state something is. They are also used to refer to abstract things (discourse deixis).

Manner deictics are always grammatically feminine. The default manner deictic is si "like; the way/manner/condition of –", which must occur as the head of a nominal phrase. The instrumental sis "like –; in the way of –; –ly" is used when describing actions.

e.g. care si "an angry way; angrily"; shari si "like a dog; the way of a dog" (notice that shara "dog" is in the genitive)
Usú shari si. "He is like a dog." (lit.: "He is the way of a dog.")
Care sis galé. "He entered angrily." (lit.: "He entered in an angry way.")
Shari sis galé. "He entered like a dog." (lit.: "He entered in the way of a dog.")

There are also proximal and distal manner deictics: sina "like this; this way; this (abstract)" and soona "like that; that way; that (abstract)". They decline as the distal demonstrative.

e.g. Atú soona "You are like that"; Sinas ardi "Run like this"
Mábaxta? Soona jirá. "Are you leaving?" "I have to (do that)." (lit.: "Like that exists.")
Indefinite pronouns

The indefinite pronoun mitta is used to refer to something that is indefinite. It can be translated as "one". It is equivalent to the numeral one. But unlike numerals, it comes after a noun it modifies (with the noun placed in the genitive) - e.g. case mitta "a red one"; nami mitta "one person"

The indefinite pronoun declines only when it occurs at the end of the nominal phrase. When used before a noun, the attributive form is used. The attributive form is accented.

The indefinite pronoun can take a definite article, in which case it is more or less synonymous with the definite article + -m - e.g. case kamcase ka mitta "the red one"

The plural equivalent of mitta is mara "ones". Mara is grammatically feminine - e.g. cascase mara "red ones"; nami mara "some people"; dheedheere ta mara "the long ones"

Qino indefinite pronoun
Masculine Feminine Plural
Absolutive mitta mitti mara
Nominative mittú mittí marí
Genitive mitti mitti mari
Interrogative pronouns

All of these decline regularly unless otherwise indicated (or unless they contain an irregular component such as mitta). Some particularly important case forms are specified.

  • maxa (< ma + waxa "thing"): what - e.g. Máxa tarkà? "What do you see?"
    • Nominative is maxí
    • maxoo (dative of maxa): why - e.g. Maxóo baxtà? "Why are you leaving"
  • iyya, miyya (< ma + iyya): who (singular or plural) - e.g. Míyya tarkà? "Who do you see?"
    • Nominative is (m)iyyí
  • (m)iyyi (genitive of (m)iyya): whose - e.g. Kuni míyyi kitaaba? "Whose book is this?"
    • Like all genitives, must take a head nominal or -m - e.g. Kuni míyyim? "Whose is this?"
  • (m)iyyicha (m.), (m)iyyitti (f.) (singulative of (m)iyya): who (singular) - e.g. Kuni miyyicha? "Who is that (guy)?"
  • mánama; mádada: who (plural) - e.g. Madadú imaataani? "Who (pl.) are coming?"
  • meeqa: how much; how many - e.g. Méeqa litè? "How much/many do you have?"
    • Can also be used as a modifier - e.g. Méeqa kitaaba litè? "How many books do you have?"
    • Nominative is meeqí. It is only used when independent - e.g. Meeqí yimaate? "How many came?" vs. Meeqa nama yimaate? "How many people came?"
  • maka (m.); mata (f.): which, what, who (can be used for animate or inanimate) - e.g. Máta tuni? "What/who is this?" (or: "What/who are these?")
    • Nominative: makú/matú; Genitive: maki/mati
  • mámitta (m.); mámitti (f.): synonymous to maka/mata but only for singular - e.g. Mamittí tuni? "What/who is this?"
  • mámara: synonymous to maka/mata but only for plural - e.g. Mámara tuni? "What/who are these?"
  • masi: like what; how (condition) - e.g. Mási atí? "How are you (f.)?"
  • masis (instrument of masi): in what way - e.g. Tana masís daqà? "How do I wash this?"
  • madda: where (in contexts that use the absolutive)
    • maddad (locative of madda): (in/on/at) where - Maddád jirtà? "Where are you?"
    • maddoo (dative of madda): to where - Maddóo deemè? "Where did he go (to)?"
    • maddak (ablative of madda): from where - Maddák yimaatè? "Where did he come from?"


Cardinal numbers

When used with a noun, the attributive forms are used. When used independently, the pronimal forms are used. All numbers are grammatically feminine except for "one", which can be either gender. The masculine form of "one" (i.e. mitta) is used for counting.

Cardinal numbers come before nouns in the unmarked form. If there is no unmarked form, the plural is used if it ends in -eeya, -ooya, or -oowa. Otherwise, the singulative is used.

e.g. lammá nama "two people" (NOT *lammá namoota); shan cadeeya "five toothbrushes" (NOT *shan cadeeti); afar afka "four mouths/languages" (NOT *afar afaani)

Numbers also have a collective form used to refer to a set - e.g. lammeeya "pair; couple". A singulative can be derived to refer to a single member from a set - e.g. lammeesha/lammeeti "member of a pair/couple".

Qino cardinal numbers
Pronominal Attributive Collective
0 zeero zeero zeerooya
1 mitta (m.); mitti (f.) mit mitteeya
2 lamma lammá lammeeya
3 sidiixa sidiix sidiixeeya
4 afara afar afareeya
5 shana shan shaneeya
6 leexa leex lexeeya
7 todba todbá todbeeya
8 siddeeta siddeet siddeeteeya
9 sagaala sagaal sagaaleeya
10 tabana taban tabaneeya
11 tabana shi mitta taban shi mit taban shi mitteeya
20 lammáatama lammaatam lammaatameeya
30 sóddoma soddom soddomeeya
40 afártama afartam afartameeya
50 kóntoma kontom kontomeeya
60 léxtama lextam lextameeya
70 todbáatama todbaatam todbaatameeya
80 siddéettama siddeettam siddeettameeya
90 sagáaltama sagaaltam sagaaltameeya
100 baqala baqal baqaleeya
1000 kuma kum kumeeya
Ordinal numbers
Distributive numbers

Formed by full reduplication, with the first instance in the attributive form but unaccented - e.g. lamma lámma "two by two; two each"; afar afára "four by four; four each"

Multiplicative numbers

Formed with the suffix -láaba "-fold" (from the noun laaba (f.) "fold") attached to the unaccented dependent form of the numeral - e.g. lammalaaba "two-fold"


These are clitic nominals that attach to the previous word and act as its head. They do not affect the word's accent. In negative verbs, an accent is placed on the penultimate syllable. This only applies to the absolutive; other cases change accent regularly.

  • -n: Used to nominalize verbs. The verb is placed in the subordinate - e.g. rubdóonan "that they live"; ku màyarkínon "that he did not see you"
  • -m: Used as a head for otherwise headless attributives. It can often be roughly translated to "one". Its meaning overlaps with the indefinite pronoun, but -m is more general and cannot be used without a modifier - e.g. kíishim "mine"; dhéerem "tall (one)"
    • When the attributive ends in a consonant, an epenthetic -i- is inserted - e.g. lábim "male (one)"
    • Attributive verbs occur in the 3SM form when -m takes the place of the subject. Otherwise, it occurs in the subordinate form appropriate to the subject.


Attributives (also called definitives) modify a nominal and occur at the beginning of the nominal phrase. Some agree with the nominal in gender/number, but most are invariable. Words that can occur independently (such as articles) or that are declined forms of nominals/verbs may not strictly be considered attributives, but they are included here for convenience.

Definite article

The definite article is used to specify something and to indicate definiteness. It can be translated to "the".

e.g. ka namka "the man"; cascase tam "the red (ones)".

When used as an article, it directly precedes the noun being modified. An exception is with numerals and measure words: the article precedes the modifier and agrees with it in gender - e.g. ta afar nama "the four people" (not *afar ka nama), ka kiilo muuza "the kilo of bananas". Articles only decline in primary cases; other cases use the absolutive forms.

There is no dedicated plural form. If plural must be specified, mara "ones" (with feminine articles) can be used - e.g. ta mara "the ones".

For other articles, see demonstratives.

Qino definite article
Masculine Feminine
Absolutive ka ta
Nominative ku tu
Genitive ki ti


See numbers.


Nominals in the genitive behave as attributives. They must occur with a head nominal and are accented - e.g. kiishi mana "my house", Maxammádim "Mohammad's".

Attributive verbs

Verbs (accompanied with their arguments) can occur attributively before a nominal. These attributive verbs can modify the subject of the verb or another argument.

When modifying the verbal subject, attributive verbs always occur in the singular main clause form. Class 3 verbs may reduplicate when qualifying plural or collective nominals - e.g. yi yarka ka nama (1S.OBJ see.3MS the people) "the people who see me".

When modifying a non-subject argument, the verb occurs in the subjunctive and conjugates according to the subject - e.g. ka yarkoono ka nama (3M.OBJ see.3P.SJV the people) "the people they see"

Attributive nominal

An attributive nominal is a nominal in the predicative state that modifies another nominal. Loaned adjectives often fall in this category when modifying a noun. When definite, both the modifying and modified nouns take a definite article (each in the appropriate gender). Only the modified noun takes case endings.

e.g. ka labka kam "the one that is a man"
ghaali mitta "an expensive/valuable one" (more literally, "one that is an expensive (thing)")
ka ghaaliishe ta farditti "the mare that was expensive/valuable"
ka ghaali ki mani "of the expensive/valuable house"

Measure words

Measure words are nouns that precede and quantify other nominals. Unlike attributive nominals, they act as the head of the nominal phrase and exclusively take articles and primary case endings. Secondary case endings follow the nominal being quantified.

e.g. kubbaaya bunna "a cup of coffee"
ki kubbaayi bunna "of the cup of coffee"
ka kubbaaya bunnak "from the cup of coffee"

General attributives

These are words that cannot occur independently and are not a nominal/verb form. Some are listed below (those that are accented have accent indicated).

  • kále: other
  • láb: male (derived from the noun labba "man/men")
  • dubár: female (derived from the noun dubara "woman/women")
  • kúlli, ummán: all; every
  • gíddi: all of; the entire
  • má/ma-: what (see interrogative particles)


Verbs in Qino fall into three main conjugation classes. In terms of meaning, verbs can be classified into two categories: stative and eventive verbs.

Stative verbs usually refer to a state of being (e.g. kusli "to be fat"). Some may refer to an ongoing action (e.g. arki "to see"). Some class 1, a few class 2, and all class 3 verbs fall into this category.

Eventive verbs refer to an event, which may be an action (e.g. cabbi "to drink") or the entering of a state (inchoative - e.g. raagi "to become late/old"). Most class 1 & 2 verbs fall into this category. Inchoative verbs in the past tense may be used for a present state - e.g. fahmé "I came to understand" = "I understand".

The difference between the two categories is clearly noticeable in the perfect tense. For example:

stative: hurdé "he was asleep" - refers to an ongoing state in the past
eventive: caamé "he ate" - refers to an event that occurred at a specific point in the past

Class 1: Non-adjectival root verbs

Non-adjectival root verbs may follow either suffix or prefix conjugations, depending on whether the stem begins in a vowel or a consonant.

Class 1a: Suffix conjugation

Consonant-initial root verbs that do not conjugate as adjectives fall into this category. Example: sheeni "to give".

Roots ending in -e(e)y-, -i(i)y-, -o(o)w-, or -u(u)w- drop the semivowel and lengthen (if short) before consonant endings. In the verbal noun and stative passive, -yV- and -wV- are often dropped (causing a following semivowel to geminate) - e.g. casoowiya / casooyya "becoming red".

Suffix conjugation
Infinitive -i sheeni
Verbal noun -iya sheeniya
Imperfect Converb -(Ø/t/n)aa sheen(Ø/t/n)aa
Perfect Converb -(Ø/t/n)ee sheen(Ø/t/n)ee
Stative Passive1 -an- sheenan-
Imperfect Affirmative Imperfect Subordinate Impf. Subord. Neg. Perfect Aff. Perfect Negative Jussive/Imperative Aff.3 Jussive/Imperative Neg.
1S sheená sheenó -ino sheenino sheené -ine sheenine -u sheenu -inu sheeninu
2S -tá sheen -tó sheen -into sheeninto -té sheen -inte sheeninte -tu/ -i sheentu/ sheeni -intu/ -ini sheenintu/ sheenini
3SM sheená sheenó -ino sheenino sheené -iné sheenine -u sheenu -inu sheeninu
3SF -tá sheen -tó sheen -into sheeninto -té sheen -inte sheeninte -tu sheentu -intu sheenintu
1P -ná sheen -nó sheen -inno sheeninno -né sheen -inne sheeninne -nu sheennu -innu sheeninnu
2P -taana sheentaana -toona sheentoona -intoona sheenintoona -teeni sheenteeni -inteeni sheeninteeni -teenu/ -a sheenteenu/ sheena -inteenu/ -ina sheeninteenu/ sheenina
3P -aana sheenaana -oona sheenoona -inoona sheeninoona -eeni sheeneeni -ineeni sheenineeni -eenu sheeneenu -ineenu sheenineenu


1 Conjugates as an adjective.

2 In verb forms ending in a short accented vowel, the final accented vowel is aspirated and can be written with a final -h instead of an acute accent. They lose their accent when non-final, unfocused, or used descriptively before nominals, and they lengthen in questions.

3 Separate imperative forms only exist in the second person.

Class 1b: Prefix conjugation

Vowel-initial non-adjectival root verbs. Example verb: arki "to see". Inchoative verbs formed by adding an initial vowel to the corresponding adjectival verb also fall under this class - e.g. adheeri "to become tall" (< dheere "to be tall").

Prefix conjugation
Infinitive -i arki
Verbal noun -iya arkiya
Imperfect converb (Ø/y/t/n)-aa (Ø/y/t/n)arkaa
Perfect converb (Ø/y/t/n)-ee (Ø/y/t/n)arkee
Stative Passive -an- arkan-
Imperfect Affirmative Imperfect Subordinate Impf. Subord. Neg. Perfect Aff. Perf. Neg. Jussive/Imperative Aff. Jussive/Imperative Neg.
1S arká arkó -ino arkino arké -ine arkine -u arku -inu arkinu
2S t-á tarká t-ó tarkó t-ino tarkino t-é tarké t-ine tarkine t-u/ -i tarku/ arki t-inu/ -ini tarkinu/ arkini
3SM y-á yarká y-ó yarkó y-ino yarkino y-é yarké y-ine yarkine y-ú yarku y-inu yarkinu
3SF t-á tarká t-ó tarkó t-ino tarkino t-é tarké t-ine tarkine t-u tarku t-inu tarkinu
1P n-á narká n-ó narkó n-ino narkino n-é narké n-ine narkine n-u narku n-inu narkinu
2P t-aana tarkaana t-oona tarkoona t-inoona tarkinoona t-eeni tarkeeni t-ineeni tarkineeni t-eenu/ -a tarkeenu/ arka t-ineenu/ -ina tarkineenu/ arkina
3P y-aana yarkaana y-oona yarkoona y-inoona yarkinoona y-eeni yarkeeni y-ineeni yarkineeni y-eenu yarkeenu y-ineenu yarkineenu

Class 2: Suffix-derived verbs

Suffix-derived verbs always follow the suffix conjugation. When multiple derivational suffixes co-occur, the order is inchoative-causative-middle-passive.

Class 2a: -am- passive

Formed with the suffix -am-. Indicates passive meaning. For intransitive stative verbs, indicates inceptive/inchoative. Follows suffix conjugation. Example: sheenami "to be given" (< sheeni "to give"); kuslami "to become fat" (< kusli "to be fat").

The passive can also be used (in the 3SM) as a pseudopassive - e.g. Ardamé "(Someone) ran" (literally: "It was run")

The passive and pseuopassive uses of the -am- suffix can be interchanged with the impersonal.

e.g. Ardamé. "It was run." = Hu ardé. "(Someone) ran."
Kitaaba an sheenamé. "I was given a book." = Kitaaba hu yi sheené. "(Someone) gave me a book."
Class 2b: -s- causative

Formed with the suffix -(i)s- (single causative), -(i)siis- (double causative), or -ees- (from adjectives and some nouns). Follows suffix conjugation.

It is used for the causative and to derive verbs from nouns. The double causative is often used with transitive verbs, forming a causative that can take two direct objects - e.g. cabbi "to drink" → cabbisi "to give (someone/something) a drink" (can only take one accusative object) vs cabbisiisi "to give (someone) (something) to drink" (can take two accusative objects). However, this is not always the case - e.g. qosli "to laugh" → qoslisiisi "to make laugh".

Additional causative suffixes can be added indefinitely to derive causatives from other causatives.

e.g. fara "finger" → farsi "to write" → farsiisi "to make (someone) write" → farsisiisi "to make (someone) make (someone) write" → ...
Class 2c: -at- middle/autobenefactive

Formed with the suffix -at- or -aat- (from adjectives and some nouns). Follows suffix conjugation with some irregularities:

  • The -t- becomes -dh- in the first person singular and in the 2S imperative - e.g. jacalaadhé "I came to love" vs jacalaaté "he came to love".
  • The verbal noun is formed with the suffix -ashu (f.) (instead of expected -atiya).

Verbs derived with this suffix may have various meanings, sometimes unpredictable. It generally indicates that an action affects the subject (middle or reflexive) or is done for the subject's benefit (autobenefactive). Often, the same verb has multiple possible meanings. The most productive meanings are the autobenefactive (which can be derived from almost any verb) and the middle/reflexive (especially when derived from causatives).

e.g. daqi "to wash" + -at-daqati "to wash oneself; to wash for one's benefit"
kulussi "to make fat" → kulussati "to make oneself fat; to become fat; to make (something) fat for one's benefit"

This suffix may be used to derive verbs from nouns and inchoatives from statives.

Class 2d: -oow- inchoative

Formed with the suffix -oow-. Mostly formed from adjectives and nouns. Follows suffix conjugation with the expected irregularities (i.e. loss of -w- in certain situations).

Class 3: Adjectival conjugation

This is used for adjectives and some stative verbs. The citation form is the 3S imperfect attributive form. They each have a Class 1 or Class 2 counterpart that is used inchoatively. Example: case "to be red" (inchoative: casoowi "to become red"). For imperatives/jussives, use the inchoative counterpart.

Adjectival conjugation
Citation form -e case
Infinitive -in casin
Verbal noun -ina casina
Imperfect converb -ii casii
Perfect converb -iishii casiishii
Imperfect Perfect
1S -iyé casiyé -iishé casiishé
2S -ité casité -iiché casiiché
3SM casé -iishé casiishé
3SF casé -iiché casiiché
1P -iné casiné -iinyé casiinyé
2P -itiini casitiini -iichiini casiichiini
3P -iini casiini -iishiini casiishiini


1 Reduplication can be used for plurals or intensive - e.g. cascase shimmira "red birds" or "very red bird(s)"; dheedheere nama "tall people" or "very tall person/people"

Tense, aspect, mood


  • The Class 1 forms ending in an accented vowel lose the accent when non-final, unfocused, or used descriptively and lengthen the final vowel when used interrogatively (if focused) - e.g. Cali arká "I see Ali"; Cáli arka "I see Ali"; yarka nama "people who see"; Cali tarkaa? "Do you see Ali?"
  • The negation particle ma is accented and causes the verb's accent to be weakened or dropped (unless case endings or derivational prefixes are attached, in which case ma weakens its accent). It may be written attached to the verb. The jussive affirmative particle haa is also accented, but the imperative negative particle hin is unaccented.
Simple tenses
Simple present
  • Used for an action in the present or future, or that started in the past but continue into the present (i.e. English past perfect continuous).
  • Main clause:
    • Affirmative: "Imperfect affirmative" - e.g. yarká "he sees"
    • Negative: ma + "Imperfect subordinate (minus final accent)" - e.g. máyarkò "he does not see"
  • Subordinate clause:
    • Affirmative: "Imperfect subordinate" - e.g. yarkònóo "so that he sees"
    • Negative: ma + "Imperfect subordinate negative" - e.g. màyarkinonóo "so that he does not see" (or can use compound tense - see below)
Simple past
  • Used for an action in the past.
  • Main clause:
    • Affirmative: "Perfect affirmative" - e.g. yarké "he saw"
    • Negative: ma + "Perfect negative" - e.g. máyarkìne "he did not see"
  • Subordinate clause:
    • Affirmative: "Perfect affirmative" - e.g. yarkenas "because he saw"
    • Negative: ma + "Perfect negative" - e.g. màyarkìnenás "because he did not see" (or can use compound tense - see below)
  • Used for a command in the second person. The imperative forms without t are used.
  • Affirmative: "Imperative affirmative" - e.g. arki "see!"
  • Negative: hin + "Imperative negative" - e.g. hin arkíni "do not see!"
  • Used for a wish, command, etc, mostly in the first and third person. The second person uses the forms with t.
  • Affirmative: haa + "Jussive affirmative" - e.g. háa yarku "let him see!"
  • Negative: ma + "Jussive negative" - e.g. máyarkìnu "let him not see!"
Compound tenses/aspects

Unless otherwise indicated, these constructions can occur in any tense (including compound tenses, within reason) - e.g. an caami allid sugé "I was still about to eat"

  • Formed with infinitive + le "to have" (fused)
  • Indicates an action that is ongoing or in the near future.
e.g. an caamiliyé "I am eating"; at baxiliiché "you were leaving"
  • Formed with infinitive + alli "to obtain"
  • Indicates an action that expected to occur in the very near future. Can be translated as "about to -".
e.g. an caami allá "I am about to eat"; at baxi tallé "you were about to leave"
  • Formed with infinitive + jiri "to exist; to be present" (fused)
  • Indicates an action that occurs habitually.
e.g. an caami jirá "I eat (habitually)"; at baxi jirté "you used to leave"
  • Formed with infinitive + qabi "to do"
  • Indicates an action that is expected to happen in the future (more distant than the anticipative). Can be translated as "will/going to -"
e.g. an caami qabá "I will/am going to eat"; at baxi qabdé "you were going to eat"
  • Formed with infinitive + -(i)d + sugi "to stay, remain"
  • Indicates that an action that is still happening. It can also be used instead of the progressive to emphasize the ongoingness of the action.
e.g. an caamid sugá "I am (still) eating; I am in the middle of eating"; at baxid sugdé "you were (still) leaving; you were in the middle of leaving"
  • Infinitive + weeyi "to lack/miss" = "to lack -ing; to fail to -; to not -". Can be used in place of the negative, especially in subordinate clauses - e.g. an caami weeyé "I failed to eat/ I did not eat"
  • Perfect converb + sugi can be used to form anterior tenses - e.g. an caamee sugá "I have eaten", an caamee sugé "I had eaten", an caamee sugi qabá "I will have eaten"
  • Infinitive + adheeyi "to come near" = "to almost -" (only used in perfect) - e.g. an amuuti adheeyé "I nearly died"

Converbs are used for actions that occur simultaneously/subsequently or that make up one verbal meaning. Multiple converbs can be used in series. It may occur in the imperfect or perfect. Class 1 & 2 (but not class 3) converbs agree with the subject in person and gender.

The imperfect converb is used for an action/state that was occurring when another verb occurred, similarly to the present participle in English. It is formed with the suffix -aa for classes 1 & 2 and -ii for class 3.

e.g. Yardaa ka mana galé. "Running, he entered the house."
Ka mana galtaa kitaaba ka sheentá. "Entering the house, she gives him a book."
Furanii dhalatté. "She was born free."

The perfect converb is used for an actions that occur subsequently to each other. It is formed with the suffix -ee for classes 1 & 2 and -iishii for class 3.

e.g. Yardee ka mana galé. "Having run, he entered the house." (or "He ran and entered the house.")
Ka mana galtee kitaaba ka sheentá. "Having entered the house, she gives him a book."
Furaniishii xidhamté. "Having been free, she was imprisoned."

In many cases, interchanging the two forms does not greatly affect the meaning. This can be seen with the "running" examples above. Converbs can also sometimes be interchanged with a conjunction, in which case the converb implies a closer association between the verbs.

e.g. Kacee ka manak baxee bunni mana galee shaahi cabbé. "He got up, left the house, entered a café, and drank tea." (lit.: Having got up, having left the house, having entered a café, he drank tea,)
Kacé ka manakne baxé bunni mànane galé shàahine cabbé. "He got up and left the house and entered a café and drank tea."


Verb derivation affixes

All derivation suffixes cause the verb to follow the suffix conjugation pattern. For more information, see suffix-derived verbs.

  • Causative: -(i)s-; -(i)siis-, -ees- (e.g. caseesi "to make red", sheensiisi "to make (someone) give")
  • Passive: -am- (e.g. sheenami "to be given")
  • Middle: -at-, -aat- (e.g. sheenati "to bring for oneself", jacalaati "to come to love"). This suffix has some irregularities.
    • The -t- becomes -dh- in the first person singular and in the imperative (e.g. jacalaadhé "I came to love" vs jacalaaté "he came to love").
    • The verbal noun is formed with the suffix -ashu (f.) - e.g. jacalaashu "love"
  • Inchoative: -oow- (e.g. casoowi "to become red").

Verbs may also be derived by prefixes, but these are only marginally productive. If the prefix begins in a vowel, the verb follows the prefix conjugation. Otherwise, it follows the suffix conjugation. Prefixes include inchoative a-, middle t-, mediopassive m-, and causative s-.

e.g. le "to have" → alli "to obtain"
addhi "to say" → taddhi "to think" ("to say to oneself")

Verbs can also be derived by reduplication, forming intensives/frequentatives.

e.g. jhiri "to cut" → jhirjhiri "to cut in small pieces"
Stative passive

The stative passive is a class 3 verb formed from classes 1 & 2 with the suffix -an-. The corresponding inchoative/inceptive is the -am- passive.

For intransitive stative class 1 verbs, the -am- passive and passive participle have an active meaning - e.g. kusli "to be fat" → kuslane "to be fat", kuslami "to become fat".

Auxiliary formations

Many verbs are formed from a non-verb component (ideophone, abstract noun, etc) plus an auxiliary verb. Some common verbs used for this purpose are:

  • addhi "to say": used to form intransitive verbs - e.g. sim addhi "to be silent"
  • keeyi "to put": used to form transitive verbs - e.g. sim keeyi "to make silent"
Verbal nouns

The main verbal noun (which is always feminine) is formed with the suffix -iya, -ashu, or -ina depending on verb class (see verbs for more information). Accusative objects of a verb occur in the genitive when used with a verbal noun.

e.g. kitaaba tarká "she sees a book" → kitaabi arkiya "the seeing of a book"

Additional verbal nouns can be formed with a variety of suffixes depending on the verb in question. A few common patterns include:

  • -itaana (m.) - e.g. cabbitaana "drink; juice" (< cabbi "to drink")
  • -mo (f.) (prefix conjugation may use m-o) - e.g. farsimo "writing" (< farsi "to write"); maddho "word; statement" (< addhi "to say")
Agent and patient nouns

Agent nouns are formed with the following suffixes:

  • -aa (m.), -tuu (prefix conjugation: t-uu) (f./pl.) - e.g. sheenaa/sheentuu "giver", arkaa/tarkuu "seer", casaa/castuu "red person/thing". The verbs (sh)e "to be" and le "to have" are irregular in this regard: they attach to the previous word and use the suffix -e (for both genders) - e.g. bidaar(a) le "is bald" (literally: "has baldness") → bidaarle "bald person"
  • -eeya (m., unmarked/collective), -eesha (m., sg.), -eeti (f., sg.) - e.g. sheeneesha "giver (m.)", arkeeti "seer (f.)", caseeya "red people/things"

Patient nouns are formed by adding agent suffixes to stative passive or to -am- passive - e.g. arkanaa, arkamaa "one who is seen (m.)". The two forms (i.e. stative vs -am- passive) have slightly different connotations. For example, arkanaa might refer to someone who is being seen at the moment, while arkamaa might refer to someone who is regularly seen.


Particles are small, non-inflecting words that do not fit into any other class. They include conjunctions, postpositions, focus particles, etc.


  • shi: and - used to join items within a clause; occurs between items.
  • -ne: and - used to join clauses; occurs after the first element (nominal phrase or verb) in second clause.
  • imme, laakin: but - occurs at beginning of clause.
  • -se: but - occurs in same position as -ne.


  • kale (+ ablative): apart from; except - e.g. Cumarak kale "other than Omar"

Adverbial particles

Occur immediately before verb.

Negation particles

  • má-: verbs except imperatives.
  • hin: imperatives and non-verbs.

Mood particles

Used to form specific verb moods.

  • háa: jussive (affirmative).

Focus particles

  • -aa: attaches to and places emphasis on subject. The subject is placed in the absolutive and keeps its accent. Any final short and/or open vowels are absorbed by the -aa; long, non-open vowels add a semivowel. The verb is placed in the subordinate form.
e.g. Ánaa baxe "It was I who left"; Sharíifaa ku màyarkino "It is Shariif who does not see you."
  • dha:
    • Can be put after a nominal to place emphasis on it. Optionally attaches to the preceding word, causing nominals ending in a short, unstressed vowel to drop it (if possible). The main verb (if there is one) is placed in the attributive and suffixed with -m. The emphasized nominal + dha can occur at the beginning or end of the sentence, but the end is more common - e.g. Bàxem ándha. "The one who left was I."; Cáli dha kuni. "This is Ali."
    • Can be placed at the end of a sentence (without a preceding nominal) to place extra emphasis on the predicate - e.g. Caamte dha. "You did eat." ; Cali dha. "It is Ali."
  • mee: interrogative focus particle (used similarly to dha; see interrogative particles for more information on usage)

Interrogative particles

Also see interrogative pronouns.

  • má- = question particle
    • Attaches to following word. Accented unless case endings are added.
    • Can occur before unfocused nominals, meaning "what/which" - e.g. máshara tarke? "what dog did you see?"
    • Can occur before affirmative verbs to make yes/no questions (negative verbs which already have the negative particle ma- do not use it, but they do have optional final vowel lengthening). This particle is not obligatory and can be omitted (with final lengthening if applicable) - e.g. caamtee / mácaamte? "did you eat?" (optional question particle); mácaaminte / macaamintee? "did you not eat?" (no question particle due to presence of negative particle)
  • mee (<ma + e) = interrogative focus particle
    • Can occur sentence-finally to convert a statement into a question (kind of like a tag question) - e.g. caamte mee? "did you eat?" (or "you ate, right?"); mácaaminte mee? "did you not eat?" (or "you did not eat, right?")
    • To place focus on a noun, the verb is placed in the attributive and suffixed with -m - e.g. càamtem kallúuma mee? "did you eat fish?" (or "was is fish that you ate?")


Constituent order

Normally SOV. May be modified for emphasis.

Nominal phrase

  • Head-final
  • Articles come immediately before noun after any other modifiers except cardinal numbers.

Adpositional phrase

  • Case endings and postpositions come at the end of a nominal phrase. If it does not end in a nominal, an -n is added before case endings and/or non-clitic forms are used.
  • A few prepositions (borrowed from Arabic) may exist.

Verb phrase

  • Verb-final

Sentence phrase

Dependent clauses


Time -

Greogorian months -
English Qino
Days of the week -
English Qino
Sunday Áxada
Monday Ithniina
Tuesday Thalaathá
Wednesday Arbacá
Thursday Khamiisa
Friday Jumcá
Saturday Sabta
Parts of the day -
English Qino
Units of time -
English Qino
minute daqiiqá
hour saacá

Example texts

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 1)

Western Arabic script: كل نم ڢرنے شرڢک شے حفوفكں ألڨطے طلتاں. ماں شے ضمير شينميں، أبلنسں ألل ربدونں جره

Eastern Arabic script: كل نم فرني شرفك شي حقوقكن ألڠطي طلتان. مان شي ضمير شينمين، أبلنسن ألل ربدونن جره

Ge'ez script: ኩሊ ነሙ ፉረኒ ሸረፈክ ሺ ሑቁቀክኔ ኦል ግጢ ጠለታነ። ማነ ሺ ፀሚረ ሼነሜኒ፣ ኦቦሊነስኔ ኦለል ሩብዶነን ጅረህ።

Latin script (this article's version): Kulli namù furanii sharafak shi xuquuqakne ol giddhii dhalataana. Maana shi lhamiira sheenameeni, obbolinnasne olal rubdóonan jirá.

Latin script (more common): Kulli namu furanii sharafak shi xuquuqakne ol giddhii dhalataana. Maana shi lhamiira sheenameeni, obbolinnasne olal rubdoonan jirah.

IPA: /kúlːi naꜜmú furaníː ʃarafák ʃi ħuɠuːɠákne ol giɗːíː ɗalatáːna || máːna ʃi lˀamíːra ʃeːnaméːni | obːolinːásne olal rubdóːnan d͡ʒiráʰ/

Gloss: All people.NOM free.CVB dignity.ABL and rights.ABL-and each-other equal.CVB born.3P. Reason and conscience give.PASS.PST.3P, brotherhood.INS-and each-other.COM live.SBJV.3P exist.3S

Literal translation: All people are born free and equal to each other in dignity and rights. They were given reason and conscience, and there is that they live with each other with brotherhood.

English: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Swadesh list

No. English Qino
2you (singular)ata (m.); ati (f.)
4weuna (incl.); anaani (excl.)
5you (plural)ataani
7thiskana (m.); tana (f.)
8thatkoona (m.); toona (f.)
11whomiyya; miyyicha (m. sgt.); miyyitti (f. sg.); mánama, mádada (pl.)
22onemitta (m.); mitti (f.)
27bigweene (3; weenoowi)
28longdheere (3; adheeri)
29widebalce (3; balcoowi)
30thickkusli (1a)
31heavycusle (3; cusloowi)
32smalldiqqe (3; diqqoowi)
33shortgaabe (3; agaabi)
34narrowdibhe (3; dibhoowi)
35thinqalle (3; qalloowi)
36womandubarti (f. sgt.; coll: dubara f.)
37man (adult male)labga (m. sgt.; coll: labba m.)
38man (human being)nama (m.; sgt: namka m., namti f.)
39childilma (m.; pl: ilmaani)
40wifedubarti (f. sgt.; coll: dubara f.); zoojá (f.; pl: zoojaati f.)
41husbandlabga (m. sgt.; coll: labba m.); zooja (m.; pl: azwaaja f.)
42motherayya (f.; pl: ayyaani f.); ina (f.; pl: inaani f.)
43fatherawwa (m.; pl: awwaani f.); abba (m.; pl: abbaani f.)
44animalnafleeya (m. coll.; sgt: nafleesha m., nafleeti f.);
xayawaana (m.)
45fishkulluuma (f.; sgt: kulluumti f.)
46birdshimmirti (f. sgt.; coll: shimmira f.)
47dogshara (m.; sgt: sharka m.; pl: sharoori f.)
48lousecinyira (f.; sgt: cinyirti f.)
49snakeabeesa (m.; sgt: abeesti f.)
50wormabeesitti (f. sgt.; pl: abeesittoota f.)
54fruit miro (m.; sgt: mirocha m.; pl: miroori f.)
55seedmidha (m.; sgt: midhqa m.; pl: midhaani f.)
56leafkoola (m.; sgt: koolti f.)
57rootxidda (m.; sgt: xidga)
60grassceesooya (m. coll.; ceesootti f. sgt.)
62skingooga (m.)
63meatsoowa (m. pl.)
64blooddhiiga (f.)
65bonelafa (f.; sgt: lafti f.; pl: lafoofi, lafooni)
70featherbaalla (m.; sgt: baalti f.)
71hairdhogoora (f.; sgt: dhogoorti f.)
72headmataxa (m.)
74eyeila (f.; coll: indha m.)
75nosesana (m.)
76mouthafka (m. sgt.; pl: afaani)
77toothilka (m.; pl: ilkaani)
78tonguecárraba (m.)
82kneegulba/jilba (m.; sgt: gulubdi/jilibdi f.)
90heartonne (m.)
91livertiro (m.)
92drinkcabbi (1a)
93eatcaami (1a)
96spittufi (1a)
98blowafuufi (1b)
100laughqosli (1a)
101seearki (1b)
104thinkfikri (1a)
107sleephurdi (1a)
108liverubdi (1a)
112huntadami (1b)
113hitdhaabi (1a)
118digqoti (1a)
122comeamaati (1b)
125standkaci (1a)
127fallkufi (1a)
128givesheeni (1a)
129holdallati (1b)
132washdaqi (1a); meejhi (1a)
138sewtoli (1a)
140sayaddhi (1b)
149starxitka (m.; sgt: xitikka)
150waterbisheeya (m. pl.)
151rainrooba (m.)
154seabada (m.; pl: badoodi f.)
155saltcasbo (f.)
156stonedhagxa (m.)
159eartharlha (f.)
162skyceera (m.)
164snowbárafa (m.); bárada (m.)
165icebárafa (m.); bárada (m.)
169burngubi (1a)
172redcase (3; casoowi)
175whitecadde (3; acaddi)
179yearsaná (f.; pl: sanaati)
181colddhamxe (3; dhamxoowi); dhamxale (3; dhamxalli); qaboobe (3; aqaboobi)
182fullangane (3; angami)
183newcusbe (3; cusboowi)
188dirtywasakhle (III; wasakhalli)
196correctsaxxa (m.)
197neardheeye (3; adheeyi)
198farfage (3; fagoowi); dheeri (3; adheeri)
199rightmidga (m.)
200leftbitxa (m.); gura (m.)
201atlocative; ad
202inlocative; ad; genitive + gudak
203withcomitative; al
204andshi; -ne
207namemagca (m.)

Other resources