NOUN
MODIFIERS



Nouns modified by adjectives

 

and other words expressing qualities

COMMENTS ON "QUALITY" WORDS IN HAUSA

English expresses qualities almost entirely using adjectives ('white cow', 'strong cow', 'hungry cow', etc.). Hausa does have some adjectives, but most qualities are expressed using nouns corresponding to English 'strength', 'hunger', etc. When modifying a noun by some quality word in Hausa, the construction will differ depending on whether the quality word is an adjective or a noun.

See a fuller discussion of expression of qualities in Hausa.

NOUNS MODIFIED BY ADJECTIVES: 'white cow'

The most commonly heard way of modifying a noun by an adjective is as follows:

  1. Placement: the adjective precedes the noun
      
  2. Form: the adjective agrees in gender or plurality with the noun
      
  3. Linker: the adjective carries the "linker" (-r for feminine nouns, -n for masculine or plural)

See a list of most of the common simple adjectives of Hausa.

Masculine nouns farin rago
dogon yaro
sabon littafi
'white ram'
'
tall boy'
'
new book'
Feminine nouns farar saniya
doguwar yarinya
sabuwar takarda
'white cow'
'
tall girl'
'
new paper'
Plural nouns fararen shanu
dogwayen yara
sababbin littattafai
'white cows'
'
tall children'
'
new books'

The word order Noun + Adjective is also possible. Using this order, the adjective must agree with the noun in gender or plurality, but no linker connects the noun and adjective. The meaning is essentially the same as the Adjective + Noun order, though the Noun + Adjective order tends to place emphasis on the adjective, i.e. 'a WHITE cow' rather than 'a BLACK cow'.

Masculine nouns rago fari
yaro
dogo
littafi
sabo
'white ram'
'
tall boy'
'
new book'
Feminine nouns saniya fara
yarinya
doguwa
takarda
sabuwa
'white cow'
'
tall girl'
'
new paper'
Plural nouns shanu farare
yara
dogwaye
littattafai
sababbi
'white cows'
'
tall children'
'
new books'

NOUNS MODIFIED BY NOUNS EXPRESSING QUALITIES: 'strong cow'

Hausa expresses most concepts involving "qualities" using nouns rather than adjectives.

See a list of some of the commonly used Hausa quality nouns.

To use a quality noun as a modifier of another noun, the words are linked using mai 'possessor of...' for singular nouns (both masculine and feminine) and masu 'possessors of...' for plural nouns, i.e. the literal translation of the Hausa expression meaning 'strong cow' would be 'cow possessor of strength'.

Singular nouns jaki mai k'arfi
saniya mai
k'arfi
yaro mai
wayo
yarinya mai
wayo
'strong donkey'
'strong
cow'
'clever
boy'
'clever
girl'
Plural nouns shanu masu k'arfi
yara masu
wayo
'strong cattle'
'clever
children'

A few expressions using quality nouns may take the form Noun-linker Quality noun. There are essentially fixed expressions, not a method of modification can be used with just any noun + any quality noun.

ruwan sanyi
ruwan
zafi
lemon
zak'i
lemon
tsami
mutumin
kirki
mutumin
banza
'cold water'
'
hot water'
'
orange' ("citrus-of sweetness")
'
lime' ("citrus-of sourness")
'
nice person'
'
worthless person'

Nouns modified by numbers

 

In Hausa, the number follows the noun it modifies. In Kano Hausa, animate nouns generally require the plural form of the noun with numbers above 'one'. Inanimate nouns often use the singular form even with numbers above 'one', though the plural form is also possible.

saniya d'aya
shanu
biyu
mutum
d'aya
mutane
biyar
gida
goma or gidaje goma
kujera
ashirin or kujeru ashirin
'one cow'
'
two cows'
'
one person'
'
five people'
'
ten houses'
'
twenty chairs'

The word nawa? 'how many?, how much?' is just like a number in terms of its position and requirements on plural forms of nouns.

shanu nawa?
mutane
nawa?
gida
nawa? or gidaje nawa?
kujera
nawa? or kujeru nawa?
'how many cows?'
'
how many people?'
'
how many houses?'
'
how many chairs?'

There is one situation where the plural form of the noun is not used. This is when thing modified by the number represents a unit, such as a quantity of money, a quantity of purchased items, or a span of time.

Naira hamsin
Naira
nawa?
kashi
uku
buhu
goma
shekara
ashirin
shekara nawa?
wata
biyu
not *Nairori hamsin
not *Nairori nawa?
(kashi has no commonly used plural)
not *buhuna goma
not *shekaru ashirin
not *shekaru nawa?
not *watanni biyu
'fifty Naira'
'
how many Naira?'
'
three piles' (of fruits, etc. on display)
'
ten bags'
'
twenty years'
'
how many years?'
'
two months'