Pronouns and the "verbal piece"

There are at least three different kinds of pronouns:
  1. independent pronouns (which have essentially the same distributional properties as nouns);
  2. what Saeed calls "verbal pronouns" (subject pronouns that occur in a designated preverbal position along with other functional elements);
  3. object pronouns (which are are also preverbal clitics), of which their are two kinds;
  4. possessives.

Independent pronouns

These can be subjects or objects, heads of relative clauses, can be focused, etc. They are ordinarily followed by a determiner (by default the definite article ka/ta), a conjunction, or a focus marker. For the form with the definite article, subject marking and so forth works in the ordinary way.
 Person With definite article Subject form +CONJ Short form (with optative)
1 sing. aniga anigu an(i) an
2 sing. adiga adigu ad(i) ad
3 sing. masc. isaga isagu is(a) ha
3 sing. fem. iyada iyadu iya ha
1 pl. exclusive annaga annagu anna annu
1 pl. inclusive innaga innagu inna aynu
2 pl. idinka idinku idin ad
3 pl. iyaga iyagu iya ha

All independent pronouns are masculine except for iyada 'she, her' which is feminine.

The forms listed in the column labelled +CONJ omit the determiner suffix and sometimes the final vowel. In most dialects they only occur with certain conjunctions (-na 'and', -se 'but'), or with the focus marker baa, and only in some combinations with these. Examples:

Anna waan arkey.        'I also saw (it).'
Adna waad aragtey.      'You also saw (it).'
Isna wuu arkay.         'He also saw (it).'
Iyana way aragtey.      'She also saw (it).'
Annana waannu aragney.  'We (exl.) also saw (it).'
Innana weynu aragney.   'We (incl.) also saw (it).'
Idinna weydin aragteen. 'You (pl.) also saw (it).'
Iyana wey arkeen.       'They also saw (it).'

Aninase?     'But how about me?'   (also anise?)
Adinase?     'But how about you?'  (also adise?)
Isnase?      'But how about him?'
Iyanase?     'But how about her?'
Annanase?    'But how about us (excl.)?'
Innanase?    'But how about us (incl.)?'
Idinnase?    'But how about you (pl.)?' (also idinse?)
Iyanase?     'But how about them?'

Adna    suuqa  buu      kugu   arkay.   'He also saw you at the market (trans?)'
ad+ na  suuqa  baa   uu ku+ ku arkay
you and market FOCUS he you at saw.

Anaa tegey.   'It is I who went.'   [from an(i) + baa]
Adaa tegey.   'It is you who went.' [from ad(i) + baa]
(only 1st and 2nd singular pronouns can be contracted in focus constructions).

Apparently all of the above examples could also have the full pronoun forms, e.g. aniganase? in place of aninase?

Special pronoun forms are used as optative subjects, as exemplified below. These in fact should probably be treated as "verbal pronouns".

Cuntada keen ee an cuno        'Bring the food so I may eat (it).'
Cuntada keen ee ad cuntid      ' . . .            you . . . '
Cuntada keen ee ha cuno        ' . . .            he  . . . '
Cuntada keen ee ha cunto       ' . . .            she  . . . '
Cuntada keen ee annu cunno     ' . . .            we (incl.) . . . '
Cuntada keen ee aynu cunno     ' . . .            we (excl.) . . . '
Cuntada keen ee aydin cunteen  ' . . .            you (pl.) . . . '
Cuntada keen ee ha cuneen      ' . . .            they  . . . '

Verbal pronouns

What Saeed calls "the verbal piece" has maximally the structure examplified in the table below:
Sentence Subject Pronoun Object Pronoun 
(first series)
Locatives Negative Deictics Object Pronoun 
(second series)
1. aan ku arkay
2. aan ku ku arkay
3. uu ku soo noqday
4. uu na u soo kaa diray
5. ay na u-ka qaadeen
6. (*) i u ma soo iibinin

1. Waan ku arkay.   'I saw you.'
2. Waan kugu arkay. 'I saw you in (it.)'
3. Wuu ku soo noqday. 'He came back to (it).'
4. Wuu noo soo kaa diray. 'He sent us back to you.'
5. Way nooga qaadeen. 'They took (it) from (him) for us.'
6. Iima soo iibinin. 'He didn't buy it for me.'

In examples 1-5 above, the subject verbal pronoun follows (and coalesces with) the positive declarative classifier w(aa).
The negative ma may occur with a subject verbal pronoun in the place of waa, but more often the pronoun is omitted in the negative and ma occurs in the position indicated.

Cf. the page on locative and deictic preverbal particles.

Subject verbal pronouns

The basic subject pronoun forms are:
1 sing. aan
2 sing. aad
3 sing. masc. uu
3 sing. fem. ay
1 pl. excl. aannu (aan)
1 pl. incl. aynu
2 pl. aydin (aad)
3 pl. ay

Object pronouns

The first series of object pronouns are:
1 sing. i
2 sing. ku
3 sing. masc. -
3 sing. fem. -
1 pl. excl. na
1 pl. incl. ina
2 pl. idin
3 pl. -

The second series of object pronouns is:

1 sing. kay
2 sing. kaa
3 sing. masc. -
3 sing. fem. -
1 pl. excl. kayo
1 pl. incl. keen
2 pl. kiin
3 pl. -

There are no 3rd person object pronouns in either series -- when a transitive verb (or a verbal particle) lacks an overt object or object pronoun, a third person pronoun (vague as to gender and number) is assumed.

Note that this implied pronoun is NOT an indefinite -- if an indefinite meaning is intended, it must be explicitly signaled:

Wuu arkay.                 'He saw it/him/her/them.' NOT 'He saw something.'

Wax       buu      arkay.  'He saw something,' or 'It was something that he saw.'
wax       baa   uu arkay
something FOCUS he saw

The second-series pronouns are used when a second (overt) object pronoun is needed and there is already a first-series pronoun. However, apparently the order of association of object pronoun types with verbal arguments is free, so that:

Ilaah baa na kaa siiyey.
God   FOCUS us you gave.

can mean either "God gave you to us" or "God gave us to you."

This is said to be true even when one of the arguments is a verbal object and the other a pronominal object:

Way        iga     kiin     qaadeen.
waa   ay   i  ka   kiin     qaadeen
CLASS they me from you(pl.) took

Way        idinka        kay qaadeen
waa   ay   idin     ka   kay qaadeen
CLASS they you(pl.) from me  took

are both said to be able to mean either "they took me from you" or "they took you from me", according to Saeed, though "some speakers prefer ... the indirect object ... in the second series form, while others prefer ... the direct object ... in the second series form. The difference may, in part, be dialectal, but learners should be aware of both possibilities."


 The bare possessive morphemes are:
-ay 1 sg.
-aa 2 sg.
-iis 3 sg. masc.
-eed 3 sg. fem.
-aya 1 pl. excl.
-een 1 pl. incl.
-iin 2 pl.
-ood 3 pl.

They occur in the postnominal determiner string, and will always be preceded the gender agreement markers /-k-/ masc. or /-t-/ fem.

For (certain?) cases of inalienable possession, this may be all: ninkeed 'her husband', abbahaa 'your father'. However, other possessives must be followed by a form of the definite articles ka/ta kii/tii:

-kayga -tayda 1 sg.
-kaaga -taada 2 sg.
-kiisa -tiisa 3 sg. masc.
-keeda -teeda 3 sg. fem.
-kayaga -tayaga 1 pl. excl.
-keenna -teenna 1 pl. incl.
-kiinna -tinna 2 pl.
-kooda -tooda 3 pl.

As you can see, the entries in the table able are not all the regular morphophonemic reflexes of ka/ta. For instance, -kiis + ka should give -kiiska not -kiisa. When the possessive ends in a consonant, the first consonant of the article is dropped.


Magacaa?           [What's] your name?
Magacaygu waa X.   My name is X. (-u here is the subject marker)
Magaciis?          [What's] his name?
Magaciisu waa X.   His name is X.
Magaceed?          [What's] her name?
Magaceedu waa X.   Her name is X.
Shandad            suitcase
Shandadda          the suitcase
Shandado           suitcases
Shandadaha         the suitcases
Shandaddaada       your suitcase
Shandadahaaga      your suitcases
Shandadahaygii     my suitcases (previously discussed)

Cases of inalienable possession may at least sometimes optionally have definite articles appended. Whether these are morphophonologically regular or not is unclear.

Some Somali possessive constructions have no counterparts in (modern) English, especially those that act as the functional equivalent of genitives or postpositions.