Plural Nouns in Yoruba

Plural Nouns in Yoruba

Hmm, today’s lesson is a sweet one!

Welcome back! Today we will be going over how to put Yoruba Nouns into their plural forms.

In English to change a noun from its singular to its plural form, all we usually have to do is just add an ‘s’ or ‘es’ to the noun.

For example
Shoe –> Shoes
Book –> Books
Bus –> Buses
Dish–> Dishes

In Yoruba there are three main ways to show that a noun is in its plural form.

1. Using the word ‘àwọn’
2. From context
3. Using numbers or expressions of plurality

Want to start the lessons from the beginning?

1. Using the word àwọn

First method! A way to expressly show that a noun is in its plural form in Yoruba is to just put the word ‘àwọn’ before the noun.

For example

ilé = house
àwọn ilé = houses

ọkọ̀ = vehicle
àwọn ọkọ̀ = vehicles

obìnrin = Woman
àwọn obìnrin = Women

ọkùnrin = Man
àwọn ọkùnrin = Men

ajá = dog
àwọn ajá = dogs

2. From context

Method Number 2, knowing from context!

Sometimes in Yoruba it is not expressly indicated if a noun is in its plural form or in its singular form, so in these instances you will have to know by context.

Mo rà ìwé
I bought a book
I bought books

The sentence above can mean ‘I bought a book’ or ‘I bought books’. This means that when someone is speaking Yoruba to you, if you want to know whether the noun in a sentence is singular or plural and they don’t use the word àwọn before the noun, you will have to know from context.

3. Using numbers or expressions of plurality

The third way of expressing that a noun is in its plural form in Yoruba, is through using words that express plurality such as ‘púpọ̀’ (meaning a lot) or a number.

The numbers from 1 to 10 in Yoruba are:

English(Standard )Yoruba NumbersYoruba Cardinal Numbers
One oókankan
Four ẹẹ́rin mẹ́rin
Yoruba numbers and Yoruba cardinals

When do you use (Standard) Yoruba Numbers and Cardinal Yoruba Numbers?

If you were doing a maths equation you would use the Standard Yoruba Numbers (as seen in the middle column of the table above). If you were using a number to describe a noun you would use a Cardinal Yoruba Number.

For example

Maths equation

5 – 1 = ẹẹ́rin
4 – 2 = eéjì

Describing Nouns

Ìwé mẹ́ta = Three books
Àga méjì = Two chairs

Now that the Yoruba numbers have been explained, we will go back to how to express plurality using words such as ‘púpọ̀’ (meaning a lot) and numbers.

Púpọ̀ to express plurality

Púpọ̀ means many or a lot and can be used to express plurality.

For example

  1. Mo tà ìwé púpọ̀
    I sold many books

Púpọ̀ was used in the above sentence to express plurality, to show that more than one book was sold.

Numbers to express plurality

Numbers can be used to express plurality.

For example

  1. Mo tà ìwé mẹ́ta
    I sold three books

  2. O rà ìwé mẹ́rin
    He bought six books

Because cardinal numbers greater than one have been used alongside the nouns, we can tell that the nouns are plural.

Today we covered several different ways to show that nouns are in their plural forms in Yoruba, this should help you to improve your Yoruba understanding.