Akan (Twi) Verbs | Adeyɔ | Twi Grammar

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So far, we have learnt about Akan (Twi) nouns, how to form their plurals, and how to join words, phrases, clauses and sentences together using a number of Akan (Twi) conjunctions. Now let’s turn our attention to Twi verbs. After all, we’ll need these if we intend forming complete sentences.

What is a Verb? | Adeyɔ ne Deɛn?

I’m sure you know what a verb is, but just so we are on the same page, let’s quickly borrow the Cambridge online dictionary’s definition of the term. The dictionary defines a verb as a word or phrase that describes an action, condition, or experience. In other words, verbs are those ‘activity’ words that signal actions and states of being. Examples include “to (throw)”, “nya (get)”, “soa (carry)”, “pra (sweep)”, etc.

Types of Verbs

From the definition of verbs above, we can deduce two main types: action verbs and stative verbs (state of being verbs).

In English, there is a third category of verbs known as helping verbs (auxiliary verbs). As its name suggests, helping verbs do not stand on their own in sentences; they typically help other main verbs to express grammatical tense, aspect, mood, and voice.

Examples of helping verbs are in bold and italicized in the following set of examples; the main verbs directly follow them.

1. I will come to your house.

2. He was made king.

3. I have eaten the food.

In Twi, fortunately for us, grammatical indications such as tense and aspect are done by way of inflections on the verbs and not as separate words (helping verbs). Let’s look at examples 1 – 3 above in Twi. The tense/aspect markers are in bold, italicized and underlined.

4. Mɛba wo fie (I will come to your house).

5. Wɔsii no hene (They made (enstooled) him king).

6. Madi aduane no (I have eaten the food).

Since the function of helping verbs are achieved by way of tense and aspect markers on the verbs and not as separate words, we will only look at the two (other) main types of verbs: action and stative verbs.

Action Verbs

Action verbs express physical and mental actions. You need an action verb if you’d like to talk about someone or something doing something, be it physical or mental.

Examples of action verbs in Twi include “soa (carry)”, “popa (clean)”, “pagya (lift)”, “dwene (think, actively)”, “pia (push)”, “noa (cook)”, “ (kick)”, etc. Click here to read more about Twi action verbs, and to check out more examples of same.

Usage Examples

7. Menoa aduane

     I cook food

8. Dwene wo ho.

    Think about yourself

9. Pagya adaka no.

    Lift the box.

10. Kofi soaa akonnwa no.

      Kofi carried the chair.

11. Kwadwo, bɔɔlo no.

      Kwadwo, kick the ball.

Stative Verbs

As opposed to action verbs above, stative verbs do not express actions; they express states of being. Twi examples include “hunu (see)”, “ (have, possession)”, “te (hear)”, “ (love)”, etc. For more on Twi stative verbs, click here.

Usage Examples

12. Ama  no.

      Ama loves him/her.

13. Mehunuu Akosua.

      I saw Akosua.

14. Ɔte deɛ mereka no.

      He/she hears what I’m saying.

15. Me asomdwoeɛ.

      I have peace.

Our next two lessons will be dedicated to exploring in little more detail the two main verb types introduced above. If you found this lesson useful, do spread the word. You may start by sharing our lessons on the various social media platforms.

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Tikya Yaw
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6 thoughts on “Akan (Twi) Verbs | Adeyɔ | Twi Grammar”

  1. Another great grammar lesson, Yaw. Very helpful and easy to understand.
    I am really glad I found this website and so grateful for the work you are all doing to teach us the akan language.
    Always looking forward to the next lesson 🙂
    Kind regards from Germany!
    Medaase paa


  2. Dear ɔkyerɛkyerɛni Yaw,
    dear co-students of the Asante Twi lessons (learnakan.com),
    Yesterday I started to learn about the tenses of verbs. I had a kind of inspiration when I pondered today about it.
    The Twi word for family is “abusua”. The lesson about verbs has let me separate the word in “abu” and “sua”. “abu” as the Present Perfect of “bu” = “have respect(ed)” and “sua” the infinitive of “to learn”. I might be wrong, but now “abusua” seems to have the meaning of the place where children have respect for the elderly and learn from them, as well as the elderly respect the children and having the responsibility to teach them. At least this interpretation helps me to understand the deep and warm feeling of respect for the elderly persons which you can find in Ashanti and lets me also understand the advices you easily receive. It leads me to an understanding that family is also an obligation to rise children by teaching them, whether with actions or with words. It makes me feel in love with this word. This word emphasizes the necessity of “nyansa” = “wisdom”, that we only achieve if we learn and employ what we have learned.
    The word “family” means a lot for me. It meant to me the group of my beloved ones. But till today I did not know the literal meaning. Due to my Twi lesson I took some time to look it up. Family comes from the Latin word “famulus” which means “servant”. “Familia” is the Latin and therefore also Italian word for the English word “family” with the meaning “Group of all servants”. So family in our culture means to serve each other. That gives us as a part of a family the protection of the group of servants but also the obligation to participate to the other group members in service. And it expresses also that we belong to that group.
    I think that the combination of both, “family” and “abusua” enrich our understanding of what family/abusua is about. It is about to serve each other in respect and the obligation of teaching and learning to make everybody independent in his/her life, still belonging to that group. For this I think we should think about both. Something like “abu family sua”.
    That is to me what makes it so interesting to learn another language. It is to dive into the other understanding from the source of the different wording. The wording of “abusua” obviously helped the Ashanti to stay strong in respect and learning and keep up family structures. So words are important! They transport messages and encourage us to do right. For this I am thankful for the word “abusua” and my encounter with the Asante Twi language.
    To see the understanding behind such words is helping me to keep up the importance of this group of people that God has set us in. We do not have to let anybody from outside to destroy these important family structures. “Modern life” often tries to take us out of it. But modern does not always means that it is good. We need to verify before we judge to the either side. Let us keep up the good traditions and modern things that help us to keep up our abufamilysua. That will make us wise.
    Have a nice day!


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