Lesson 34: Twi Adjectives (Edin Nkyerɛkyerɛmu) | Twi Grammar

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Adjectives are words used to modify/describe nouns in sentences. English examples of adjectives include tall, short, old, small, red, beautiful, smart, etc.

In English, adjectives mostly appear immediately before the noun or noun phrase that they modify.

For example:

1. The smart boy topped the class.

2. She denied the old man entry.

 

English adjectives may also come after the word they describe.

For example:

3. Kofi is tall.

4. She is beautiful.

 

In English, the forms of adjectives remain the same whether they modify singular or plural nouns. This should come as good news to English language learners.

Ok, enough of English adjectives. Let’s proceed to explore Twi adjectives; that’s why we’re here today.

 

There are different types of Twi adjectives:

Type Example
Numeric du (ten), aduonu (twenty), apem (thousand)
Quantitative bebree/pii (many/more), nyinaa (all), ɛfa (half), mua (full), etc.
Qualitative kɔkɔɔ (fair complexion), tenten (tall), kankan (smelly)
Demonstrative yei (this), ɛno (that), yeinom (these), ɛnonom (those)
Possessive me (my), wo (your), ne (his/her), wɔn (their)
Interrogative bɛn (which), hwan (who), deɛn (what)

 

Some sentential examples:

 

Number

Example English Translation
nka mewɔ tɛkyerɛma apem a, nka mɛyi Onyankopɔn ayɛ if I had a thousand tongues, I would’ve praised God
Kwame ware mmaa du Kwame is married to ten women

 

Quantity

Example English Translation
nnipa pii ka Akan kasa many people speak the Akan language
ɔmaa me kosua mua He/she gave me a full egg

 

Colour

Example English Translation
sɛ wopɛ se fitaa a, twi if you want white teeth, brush
ɔkra tuntum no ayera the black cat is missing

 

Size

Example English Translation
watwa dua kɛseɛ no he/she has cut the big tree
Akosua se ɔmpɛ barima tiatia Akosua says she doesn’t like/want a short man

 

Opinion

Example English Translation
okunu pa, hwan na ɔbɛnya a good husband, who’ll get? (who wouldn’t want one?)
yafunu bɔne nnim sɛ masa a bad stomach doesn’t care if you’ve administered an enema

 

Shape

Example English Translation
adeɛ korokorowa bi da nsuo no mu a rounded thing is lying in the water
abaayewa feaa no didii Kofi atɛm the lean girl insulted Kofi

 

We stated earlier that English adjectives mostly appear immediately before the noun or noun phrase that they modify. From the examples above (1 – 11), it appears this is different with Twi adjectives. Indeed, Twi adjectives, unlike the English ones, mostly appear after the noun or noun phrase that they modify or describe. Here, they may appear immediately after the noun/noun phrase that they modify, or, after the main verb. Let’s take a look at examples of Twi adjectives appearing immediately after what they modify/describe.

 

GL: Gloss

DEF: Definite article

INDEF: Indefinite article

PERF: Perfect tense

PAST: Past tense

 

Example English Translation

aboa kɛseɛ no awu

GL: animal big DEF die-PAST

the big animal has died

ɔtɔɔ amena donkodonko bi mu

GL: he/she-fall-PAST pit deep INDEF inside

he/she fell into a deep pit

Kofi anoa aduane dɛdɛɛdɛ bi

GL: Kofi PERF-PAST-cook meal delicious INDEF

Kofi has cooked a delicious meal

 

Now let’s check out examples of Twi adjectives appearing after the verb.

 

Example English Translation

ɔbaa yi ho yɛ

GL: woman/lady/girl this side is beautiful/nice

this woman/lady is beautiful

adaka no mu yɛ duru

GL: box DEF inside is heavy

the box is heavy

Aduane no yɛ

GL: food DEF is delicious

The food is delicious

 

Quite often, Twi adjectives take on different forms depending on whether they appear immediately after what they modify, or after the verb. For instance, if we take the set of examples used right above (15 – 17) and move the adjectives to the positions immediately after the respective nouns, the forms of the adjectives will change. Let’s try.

 

Example English Translation

ɔbaa fɛfɛɛfɛ/hoɔfɛfoɔ no ada

GL: woman/lady/girl beautiful DEF-sleep-PAST

the beautiful woman has slept

adaka duruduru no yɛ me dea

GL: box heavy DEF is mine

the heavy boxy is mine

aduane dɛdɛɛdɛ no asa

GL: meal delicious DEF finish-PAST

the delicious meal is finished

 

Let’s look at more examples of Twi adjectives that have different forms depending on where they appear in relation to the position of the word/phrase they describe.

 

Twi Adjectives appearing right after what they modify

Example (Twi) English Translation
matwa samina denneennen no mu I’ve cut the hard soap into two
Yaw de bokiti harehare no maa me Yaw gave me the lightweight bucket
ɔwɔ kraman tantaantan bi he/she has a (certain) ugly dog
ɔbɔdamni no atwe nkrantɛ nnamnam bi the mentally challenged has pulled out a sharp cutlass
ɔso dadeɛ duruduru bi he/she is carrying a (certain) heavy metal

Twi Adjectives appearing after the main verb

Example (Twi) English Translation
samina no yɛ den the soap is hard
me bokiti no mu yɛ hare my bucket is lightweight
kraman yi ho yɛ tan the dog is ugly
nkrantɛ no yɛ nam the cutlass is sharp
dadeɛ no mu yɛ duru the metal is heavy

 

There are certain Twi adjectives that have the same forms irrespective of where they appear in a sentence (whether they appear immediately after the noun/noun phrase that they describe or after the main verb).

After what they modify After the verb

ɛdan foforɔ no yɛ me dea

(the new house is mine)

ɛdan no yɛ foforɔ

(the house is new)

mewɔ odwan fitaa

(I have a white sheep)

odwan no yɛ fitaa

(the sheep is white)

Kwadwo pɛ ɔbaa kɔkɔɔ aware

(Kwadwo wants a fair complexioned woman to marry)

ɔbaa no yɛ kɔkɔɔ

(the woman is fair in complexion)

 

Another difference between English and Twi adjectives has to do with their markedness for plurality. We stated earlier that in English, the forms of adjectives remain the same whether they are used to describe/modify a singular or plural noun. For instance, the adjective ‘small’ in the phrase “the small house” does not change in form if we change ‘house’ to its plural form ‘houses’ (the big houses).

On the other hand, there are Twi adjectives that are marked for plurality. So depending on whether they are used to qualify a singular or plural noun, these adjectives assume different forms.

Some examples:

 

Singular Adjective Plural Adjective English Translation
aboa kɛseɛ mmoa akɛseɛ big animal/big animals
dua tenten nnua atenten tall tree/tall trees
akonnwa ketewa nkonnwa nketewa small chair/small chairs
abirekyie tuntum mmirekyie atuntum black goat/black goats
nipa tiatia nnipa ntiantia short person/short people

 

Other Twi adjectives, just like English adjectives, maintain their forms whether or not they qualify a singular or plural noun.

 

Singular Adjective Plural Adjective English Translation
akwadaa bɔne nkwadaa bɔne bad child/bad children
ɔman ba pa aman mma pa good citizen/good citizens

 

Let’s end here. You’ll encounter other examples of Twi adjectives in the sentence examples we’ve used in the previous lessons, as well as what we’ll be using in future lessons. Please observe them critically when you do, noting down any peculiarity you may find.

 

If you don’t understand anything, you can send me an e-mail via [email protected]. You may also leave your questions in the comments section below. Thank you for reading.




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Tikya Yaw
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2 Responses
    1. Yaw

      Hi Garvy, there’s going to be a dedicated lessons on Twi senstence structure and formation. These part of speech lessons are intended to prepare students towards those. Because we’ll be combining these parts of speech, in their appropriate (word) orders to form the sentences. Medaase.

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