Akan (Twi) Prefixes (Nsianimu) | Twi Grammar

Ready to take your Twi learning to the next level? Join our FLUENCY CLUB for an interactive, more effective learning experience.

NOTE: We have a new YouTube channel. Please CLICK HERE to visit and subscribe to it for video lessons.

In our last lesson, we were introduced to Twi affixes. We said an affix is a word element that can be attached to a word’s root to form a new word. We mentioned that if an affix is attached to the beginning of the root, we call it a prefix (nsianimu). If it is attached at the end of the root, it is known as the suffix (nsiakyire). In today’s lesson, we are looking at the first type of Twi affixes: nsianimu (prefix).

Our main aim will be to familiarise ourselves with the various prefixes we have in Twi.

What is a prefix?

Need we define it again? Well, a prefix, known in Twi as nsianimu, is a type of affix that is attached to the beginning of a word’s root to form a new word with a new meaning.

Examples of Twi prefixes

Nsianimu (prefix)ExampleBreakdown



ako (fight/war)

asa (dance, noun)

ayera (has disappeared)

a + ko (fight, verb)

a + sa (dance, verb)

(perfect marker) + yera (disappear)




Okristoni (Christian)

osuani (learner)

osukuuni (student)

O + Kristo (Christ) + ni (performer suffix)

o + sua (learn) + ni (performer suffix)

o + sukuu (school) + ni (performer suffix)




ɔdɔ (love, noun)

ɔsom (worship, noun)

ɔkɛseɛ (the big fellow)

ɔ + dɔ (love, verb)

ɔ + som (worship, verb)

ɔ + kɛseɛ (big, adjective)




mmadwoa (lumps)

mma (don’t give)

mfa (don’t take)

m + badwoa (lump)

m + ma (give)

m + fa (take)




ntɛfrɛ (cockroaches)

nsafoa (keys)

ntakra (feathers)

n + tɛfrɛ (cockroach)

n + safoa (key)

n + takra (feather)




ɛdɔm (crowd)

ɛkɔm (hunger)

ɛse (teeth)

ɛ + dɔm

ɛ + kɔm

ɛ + se




edin (name, noun)

esum (darkness)

ehu (fear)

e + din

e + sum

e + hu




ampɛbrɛ (a lazy person)

ampesie (a kind of dish)

ampe (a kind of game)

am + pɛ (like) + brɛ (tiredness)

am + pɛ (find) + sie (hide)

am + pe




Antobam (an Akan name)

Antoa (name of a river/town)

Ankaa (orange)

An + to + bam

An + toa

An + kaa




(the progressive tense marker)

renom (is drinking)

resere (is laughing)

redwene (is thinking)

re + nom (drink)

re + sere (laugh)

re + dwene (think)



(future tense marker)

nom (will drink)

sere (will laugh)

dwene (will think)

bɛ + nom (drink)

bɛ + sere (laugh)

bɛ + dwene (think)


1. In some words, the removal of some of the prefixes above does not change their meanings. This is typically so with words that come with the o, ɛ and e For example, you can use either of the pairs below to mean the same thing.

  • Okristoni (Christian) or Kristoni (Christian)
  • Osukuuni (student) or Sukuuni (Christian)
  • Ɛdɔm (crowd) or Dɔm (crowd)
  • Ɛdwoada (Monday) or Dwoada (Monday)
  • Esum (darkness) or Sum (darkness)
  • Edin (name, noun) or Din (name, noun)

2. When the m and n prefixes are attached to verbs, they typically negate them. On the other hand, if m or n is prefixed to a noun, it is most likely being used to form its plural. For example:

  • n+kraman (dog) = nkraman (dogs)
  • m+paneɛ (needle) = mpaneɛ (needles)
  • n+tɔ (buy) = ntɔ (don’t buy)
  • m+pra (sweep) = mpra (don’t sweep)

The lesson ends here. Please share and subscribe to the website, as well as our YouTube channel

Join Other Learners

Join our ever-growing community of learners and receive e-mail notifications whenever we publish new content.

Your privacy is of utmost importance to us. Your personal details will be kept confidential. Read our Privacy Policy.

Tikya Yaw
Follow me

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Find LEARNAKAN useful? Please support us with a donation below.

Join Our Fluency Club

✓ Well-structured e-courses
✓ Downloadable PDF notes
✓ Downloadable MP3 audio
✓ Quizzes
✓ Assignments
✓ Progress tracking
✓ Discussion groups
✓ International community of Twi learners...

Need Twi Study Materials?

✓ e-Books
✓ Paperbacks
✓ MP3 Audio Files

Related Lessons