Verbs in Kah do not inflect for tense, gender, number. This means they have one basic form that is modified by individual constituents surrounding it.

 

Aspect

Kah has no tenses like in English. Only three aspects are marked: perfect, imperfect and future aspect, and those are indicated only when they can not be derived from the context and it is necessary to express them in order to be able to understand a sentence. The aspect markers and their independent meanings are:

kwi  - already, indicates the action has already taken place

la  - to be at, indicates the action is still taking place

denu - to go, indicates an action will take place in the future

kwiku - before, ever, indicates an action has ever taken place

lum - about to, on the brink of, indicates an action is about to take place

janja - usually, have the habit of, indicates an action usually takes place

Examples of  the use of these markers are:

Jan kwi kwanza

john already do homework

John did his homework

Jan la kwanza

john be at do homework

John is doing his homework

Jan denu kwanza

john go do homework

John will do his homework

Jan kwiku kwanza ha?

john ever do homework q.

Has John ever done his homework?

Jan lum kwanza

john about do homework

John was just about to do his homework

Jan janja kwanza la zekita

john usually do homework

John usually does his homework in the evening

The fact tense is not expressed means there is no one-on-one translation possible in many cases. A sentence like uma la kiza can have various meanings in the English counterpart translation:

uma la kiza

mother be at eat

mother is eating

mother was eating

mother will be eating

When a sentence needs to be more specific, these markers can be combined, but this is rarely necessary:

uma denu la kiza

mother go be at eat

mother will be eating

 

Mood

Besides the aspect markers, there are some markers expressing a number of moods:

ke  - intend, indicates the action could take place, "would", "how I wish"

om  - "let's!" "may you" indicates the wish that the action takes place

tinti  - should, ought to, indicates the action should be taking place, "should"

ke kiza!

intend eat

how I would like to eat that!

om denu!

opt go

let's go!

tinti ka si tunti!

should speak few surpass

you should talk less!

 

Imperative

The imperative mood in Kah usually is unmarked. In written form it often is characterized by the use of an exclamation mark:

wehim wa!

listen me

listen to me!

de!

come

come here!

In spoken language, the stress which is associated with an imperative clause tends to cause the stressed vowel to be elongated:

de!

denu!

wehim!

[de:]

[de:nu]

[wehi:m]

Sometimes the imperative verb is accompanied by the focus marker lo to enhance the stress:

lo wehim wa!

foc listen me

now, listen to me!

de lo!

come foc

come here, now!

A polite request is introduced by the verb soi which translates as please in most settings.

soi wehim wa

please listen me

please listen to me

soi nubo

please enter

do come in

An adhortative is accompanied by the interjection oi:

oi jam!

adhort do

well come on!

oi pon dodil!

adhort push doorbell

ring the bell already!

 

Conjunctive

The conjunctive mood usually is introduced by the conjunctive clause marker en which is followed directly by a verbal clause:

keju en wehim wa

want that listen me

I want you to listen to me

uba ka en nong tus

father say that not be permitted

Father said that it was not allowed

nong jo en de

not know that come

I don't know whether he comes

Of course, when necessary, personal pronouns can be included in conjunctive phrases:

nong jo en yu de

not know that he come

I don't know whether he comes

keju en li wehim wa

want that you listen me

I want you to listen to me

Also, the marker en may be omitted when the relation between the various clauses and their constituents is obvious:

nong jo yu de

not know he come

I don't know whether he comes

keju li wehim wa

want you listen me

I want you to listen to me