Lesson 13: Introduction to Twi Pronouns (Edinnsiananmu) | Twi Grammar

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Consider the passage below:

Akosua adi mfeɛ du.

Akosua is ten years old.

Akosua te Nkran, nanso Akosua kɔ sukuu wɔ Kumase.

Akosua lives in Accra, but Akosua schools in Kumasi.

Akosua gyina gyinapɛn nsia.

Akosua is in class six.

Aduane a Akosua pɛ pa ara ne fufuo. 

The food that Akosua likes best is fufu.

Did you notice anything odd in the passage above? Now, compare that with the one below:

Akosua adi mfeɛ du.

Akosua is ten years old.

Ɔte Nkran, nanso ɔkɔ sukuu wɔ Kumase.

She lives in Accra, but (she) schools in Kumasi.

Ɔgyina gyinapɛn nsia.

She is in class six.

Aduane a ɔpɛ pa ara ne fufuo. 

The food that she likes best is fufu.

In the first passage, we kept repeating the name ‘Akosua’. The repetitions made the whole stretch lose its flow.

So, what changed in the second version? We simply replaced ‘Akosua’ with what we call a ‘pronoun’ and, all of a sudden, the passage appeared to read much better. That is how important the pronouns of a language are, and they will be our focus for today’s lesson.

 

Video Lesson

 

What is a pronoun?

A pronoun is a word or phrase used to replace a noun or noun phrase, often because the referent of the noun or noun phrase has been mentioned earlier or understood within the context. In other words, we use a pronoun in place of a noun or noun phrase to refer to someone or something so that we don’t end up repeating the name of that someone or something when speaking or writing.

 

Examples of Twi Pronouns

  • Me (I)
  • Wo (you)
  • Ɔno (he/she)
  • Ɛno (it)
  • Yɛn (we)
  • Mo (you, plural)
  • Wɔn (they)

 

Usage examples

You will find the pronouns underlined in the following examples.

Me ne Kofi bɛkɔ

I and Kofi will go (I will go with Kofi)

Woyɛ barima!

You are a man!

Ɔno na ɔkaeɛ.

It was he/she who said it.

Ɛbɔɔ me.

It hit me.

Yɛn nyinaa wɔ ha

We are all here.

 

Types of Twi Pronouns

The examples of pronouns above are but a few pronouns you will come across in Twi. Just as in English, we have various types of pronouns in Twi. They are listed below.

To ensure that you gain a better understanding of Twi pronouns – know when to use which one and when not to – we will tackle each of the types separately in our subsequent lessons. I encourage you to take each of them seriously.

 

Notes

Below, you will find a few notes regarding the use of Twi pronouns. It will serve you a great deal if you go through them thoroughly and make it a point to understand each of them.

  1. Contrary to what you may be familiar with from English and other languages, no masculine/feminine gender distinctions are made when it comes to Twi pronouns. So, whereas English, for example, has he/him/his for males and she/her/hers for females, Twi identifies all with just one pronoun: ɔno.
  2. The forms of some of the Twi pronouns remain unchanged regardless of whether they are used as subjects or objects in sentences. For example, the Twi pronoun for both I (subject) and me (object) is me; the Twi pronoun for both they (subject) and them (object) is wɔn.
  3. Some of the Twi pronouns undergo some form changes depending on the function they play in a sentence. For example, the pronouns ɔno (he/she) and ɛno (it) both changes into no when they act as objects.

 

This is where we end today’s lesson. You may now go on to look at each type of Twi pronouns in detail in the subsequent lessons.

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15 Responses
  1. Nana G

    This is great – what I have been looking for for two years while piecing together bits from books and webistes with lots of scoring out. But…..I just don’t understand the first two sections here: the two sets of subject pronouns written out that way. Can you clarify? Meda wa ase 🙂

    1. Yaw

      Hello Nana, thank you for the comment/question. I agree, there’s a bit of explanatory confusion regarding the first two sections that needs to be worked on. Basically, the first section (Personal Pronouns) lists the simple forms of the pronouns from which the other forms are derived. So, the pronoun forms you have under the first section are the most basic forms of Twi pronouns there are.

      Now, if these personal pronouns play subject/actor roles in sentences, and are directly followed by verbs, the forms of some of them change while others maintain their forms.

      For example, “He/She” is “Ɔno” in Twi, correct? If “Ɔno” acts as the subject in a sentence and is directly followed by a verb like “didi (eat)”, we cannot say “Ɔno didi”. It has to be “Ɔ-didi”, where “Ɔ-” now represents “Ɔno”. Same applies to “Ɛno (it)”, “Yɛn (we)” and “Wɔn (they)”. They change into “Ɛ-“, “Yɛ-” and “Wɔ-” respectively. So we’ll have “Ɛdidi”, “didi”, “didi”.

      Apart from these, the remaining pronouns maintain their basic forms (as shown under the first section) when they act as subjects/actors, irrespective of whether they’re directly followed by verbs or not.

      1. Nana G

        Ah ok, so both sections repeat examples of the ones that do not change – and the second section adds the ones that do. You do a great job here – but perhaps these sections combined with the changed ones underneath for people like me. I even struggled back to the French Twi book and Memrise akuapim to try and figure it out…and still could not see the wood for the trees. Meda wo ase (no edit button to correct the last effort!).

        1. Yaw

          Exactly! And you do have a point on having the sections combined with only the ones that change underneath. A very good idea, I’ll work on it. Thank you.

  2. Kwabenatat Brian Smith

    Twi Possessive Pronouns

    Is there a difference between using Me dea vs Me deɛ? I don’t know If I’ve been writing it wrong all these years but I typically write a sentence like this: “Saa sika yɛ me deɛ – That money is mine”. Or even, “Me deɛ, mempɛ wɔn aduaneɛ o- As for me, I don’t like their food o”.

    Meda wo aseɛ!

    Kwabenata Brian Smith

    1. Yaw

      Yes, there is a difference and you rightly distinguished between them with your examples. “dea” is attached to the respective pronoun to indicate possessiveness. Me dea, wo dea, mo dea, etc. Me deɛ = for me/as for me, wo deɛ = for you/as for you, mo deɛ = for you/as for you (plural).

      1. Kwabenata

        So, in that case I can use either one?

        Saa sika yɛ me deɛ
        Saa sika yɛ me dea

        Me dea, mempɛ wɔn aduaneɛ o
        Me deɛ, mempɛ wɔn aduaneɛ o

        Are all of these examples correct?

        1. Yaw

          Nah, for the first two examples, some people SAY either without people raising eyebrows but in writing (and in fact, correctly) you should stick with “dea” when dealing with the possessive.
          The third example is outrightly wrong. It has to be “Me deɛ, mempɛ wɔn aduane o”. And oh, it’s “aduane”, not “aduaneɛ”. You simply cannot use “me dea” within that context.

          Fourth sentence is correct.

  3. Ebo Kwabena

    Greetings, Yaw, and many thanks for this invaluable and desperately needed resource! You do Twi and Ghanaian culture a great service with your works. That said, I’m hoping you can help clarify a few somewhat related points for me:

    First, where in twi sentences do object pronouns fall? Are there strict rules for this or is there some flexibility? For instance, noting the examples above, I suspect that the object pronouns immediately follow the corresponding verb by default, as with the most basic example, “kofi abu no”. However, this gets complicated a bit for me when the verb (or pronoun?) “maa” is considered… which leads to my second query below.

    Secondly, can you help shed light on the role of the verb ‘maa (to give/be for)?’ which seems to function as an indirect object pronoun? When is this used and when shouldn’t it be? For instance, is it correct to say “Maame gyaa y3n nkwan” as above, instead of saying ‘Maame gyaa nkwan maa y3n’? I’ve noted that in all other examples, ‘maa’ is used and thus the direct object pronoun falls at the end of the sentence (in addition to following the corresponding verb). Yet, following the example used for ‘y3n’, for ‘mo’ could you not just as well have written ‘Mek)) mo nsuo’ instead of “Mek)) nsuo maano” as written above?

    Lastly, (and at risk of crowding this comment too much), can you please break down the sentence from the example above for the object pronoun ‘wo’: “)de abaa no b)) wo”. What I don’t understand here is the meaning or function of “de”, attached to the subject pronoun. Is this a verb meaning “to use”? Or is it the word ‘with’ – if so, why is it connected to the subject pronoun?

    Your assistance in clarifying this for me would be greatly appreciated!
    Meda wo ase,

    E-K

  4. Brian Pearce

    Sorry if I’m jumping ahead, but about the example: maame gyaa yɛn nkwan, isn’t the object nkwan ? while y3n is a bit more distant.
    If the example in English had been: Mam left us with them, how would you translate: Mam left them with us, in Twi ?

    Thank you so much for your hard work in developing this series.

    1. Yaw

      You aren’t, Brian:). The confusion with that example comes from the fact that it has two objects: a direct object (nkwan) and an indirect object (yɛn). The latter is identified as the object because we are dealing with pronouns and not nouns. Nonetheless, I think a much simpler example would’ve served the purpose here. Like “Maame boo yɛn (Mum beat us).

      And no, “mum left us with them” would’ve been “maame de yɛn gyaa wɔn (literally: mum take us left them).

      We will get there. Keep it up. Thank you

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