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:
See a list of most of the common simple adjectives of Hausa.
|Masculine nouns||farin rago
|Feminine nouns||farar saniya
|Plural nouns||fararen shanu
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'.
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'.
saniya mai k'arfi
yaro mai wayo
yarinya mai wayo
yara masu wayo
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.
'orange' ("citrus-of sweetness")
'lime' ("citrus-of sourness")
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.
gida goma or gidaje goma
kujera ashirin or kujeru ashirin
The word nawa? 'how many?, how much?' is just like a number in terms of its position and requirements on plural forms of nouns.
gida nawa? or gidaje nawa?
kujera nawa? or kujeru nawa?
'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.
|not *Nairori hamsin
not *Nairori nawa?
(kashi has no commonly used plural)
not *buhuna goma
not *shekaru ashirin
not *shekaru nawa?
not *watanni biyu
'how many Naira?'
'three piles' (of fruits, etc. on display)
'how many years?'