Igbo Pronouns

Igbo Pronouns 

Welcome back!

In today’s lesson, we are going to be expanding on your Igbo learning by looking at Igbo pronouns and how they work in simple sentences,

So to start off, pronouns in Igbo are called “ǹnọ̀chíàhà”, which literally means “noun replacer”.

Igbo pronouns

Igbo PronounEnglish Pronoun
ḿI, me
i, ị́, gị́You
ó, ọ́, yáHe/She/It
ànyị́We
únùYou (plural)
They

The Igbo Vowel Harmony Rule

You may have noticed above that two of the pronouns, “He/She/It” and “You” had multiple options for the Igbo pronoun.

So you need to know which one to pick when you’re making Igbo sentences using an Igbo Pronoun.

To know which word to use you need to know something called the Igbo Vowel Harmony rule, which I will explain now.

Essentially, Igbo has two main groups of vowels, I will refer to them as Group 1 and Group 2.

Group 1 has light vowels while Group 2 has heavy vowels.

Group 1 contains the following vowels

e, i, o, u

Group 2 contains the following vowels

a, ị, ọ, ụ

To know which pronoun to use (when there are multiple pronoun options available) you need to look at the first vowel off the word straight after the pronouns.

I’m going to show you a simple five step method to find out which pronoun you should use.

How to choose the right Igbo pronoun for a sentence

  1. Write out the sentence you want to translate into Igbo
  2. Translate every part of the sentence except the vowel
  3. Look at the first vowel of the word immediately following the pronoun
  4. Find the group that vowel belongs to
  5. Choose the pronoun from the equivalent vowel group

Example 1

How to choose the right Igbo pronoun

We’re going to translate the sentence “He went to church” to Igbo

  1. Write out the sentence you want to translate into Igbo

He went to church

  1. Translate every part of the sentence except the vowel

He gàrà ụ́kà

  1. Look at the first vowel of the word immediately following the pronoun

à

  1. Find the group that vowel belongs to

Group 2

  1. Choose the pronoun from the equivalent vowel group

The pronoun “he” can be “ó, ọ́, yá” of those three words the one that can be found in Group 2 (a, ị, ọ, ụ) is “ọ” so the pronoun to use in that sentence is “ọ́”.

Ọ́ gàrà ụ́kà

Let’s do another example

Example 2

How to choose the right Igbo pronoun

We’re going to translate the sentence “You cooked food” to Igbo

  1. Write out the sentence you want to translate into Igbo

You cooked food

  1. Translate every part of the sentence except the vowel

You sìrì ńrí

  1. Look at the first vowel of the word immediately following the pronoun

ì

  1. Find the group that vowel belongs to

Group 1

  1. Choose the pronoun from the equivalent vowel group

The pronoun “you” can be “i, ị́, gị́” of those three words the one that can be found in Group 1 (e, i, o, u) is “ì” so the pronoun to use in that sentence is “Í”.

Í sìrì ńrí

Example 3

How to choose the right Igbo pronoun

We’re going to translate the sentence “You read (book)” to Igbo

  1. Write out the sentence you want to translate into Igbo

You read (book)

  1. Translate every part of the sentence except the vowel

You gụ̀rụ̀ ákwụ́kwọ́

  1. Look at the first vowel of the word immediately following the pronoun

ụ̀

  1. Find the group that vowel belongs to

Group 2

  1. Choose the pronoun from the equivalent vowel group

The pronoun “you” can be “i, ị́, gị́” of those three words the one that can be found in Group 1 (a, ị, ọ, ụ) is “ị” so the pronoun to use in that sentence is “ị́”.

Ị́ gụ̀rụ̀ ákwụ́kwọ́

Now that you’ve got the hang of choosing the right Igbo pronoun here are some more examples of Igbo pronouns in sentences.

Igbo Pronouns in Sentences

EnglishIgbo
We are dancingÀnyị́ nà-àgbá égwū
They came hereHà bị̀àrà ébé à
He/she and Emeka are friendsYá na Èméká bụ̀ ényì
You will go to the marketGị́ gà-àgá áhịā

The special case of “I” in Igbo

“m” which means “I” in Igbo is treated differently to other pronouns in Igbo.

The “I” comes in the middle of the sentence as it comes after the verb, see some of the examples below.

Examples sentences with the pronoun “I” in Igbo

EnglishYoruba
I love youÁhụ̀rụ̀ m gị̀ n’ànyà
I went to schoolÁgàrà m ụ́lọ̀ákwụ́kwọ́

That’s all for today on Igbo pronouns, it might seem a little tricky at first, but keep coming back to this lesson and it will get a lot easier.

You are getting there, keep learning and having fun!