Nuer Field Project

Nouns Verbs Verb Book Expressions Pedagogical Grammar of Nuer Translation of Genesis in Nuer Others

Lesson 16

This lesson continues with the Personal Pronoun.

  1. Dä̲muɔɔr a ni̲? La̲ri̲ ɛ ɤä̲.
    Where is your brother? Tell it to me.
  2. Cä̲ jɛ naŋ rɛy cëŋ min wa̲̩r. man go̲o̲rɛ jɛ. Cɛ kɔ cɔl min wa̲r. Kɛ ɤöö go̲o̲rɛ jɛ. Ɣä̲n cä̲ jɛ naŋ. Cä̲ jɛ ka̲m man. Man ci̲ lɔcdɛ tɛɛth.
    I took him to the village last night. his mother wants him she called us last night because she wants him. I took him. I gave him to his mother. His mother her heart is happy.


  1. The personal pronoun occurs in the subjective, objective and locative cases. The subjective case you have learned. The objective and locative are the same form. The objective occurs as a) object of the verb, both direct and indirect and b) as object of the prepositions [kä̲], [kɛ], and [ɛ]. It occurs in the locative case in the same environments as do nouns.

    Objective and Locative Cases

    Singular Plural

    ɤä̲ -- me us -- kɔn (in)
    ji̲ -- you us -- kɔ(ex)
    -- him
    you --
    them --

    Note: In the 2nd ad 3rd singular the consonants j- are often dropped shortening the words to [i̲] and [ɛ]. This situation occurs following the assimilated verb particle, following the subject of the verb or following the verb. Instances will be given below.


Direct Object of the Verb
1st Aspect: [Ɣä̲n göörä̲ ji̲.] -- I want you.
2nd Aspect: Cä̲ jɛ go̲r. -- I wanted it.
  Cä̲ ɛ go̲r. -- I wanted it.
  Ci̲ ɤä̲n ɛ go̲r. -- I wanted it [E. Nuer]
3rd Aspect: Bɛ kɛ lua̲k. -- He will help them.

In the Emphatic position of word order the object occurs as follows:

1st Aspect: Wu̲t ɛmɔ go̲o̲rɛ ni̲ ji̲. -- That man want you.
2nd Aspect: Wu̲t ɛm1 cɛ go̲r ni̲ ji̲. -- That man wanted you.
3rd Aspect: Wu̲t ɛmɔ bɛ go̲r ni̲ ji̲. -- That man will want you.

Indirect Object of the Verb
1st Aspect: Ɣä̲n la̲rä̲ jɛ ji̲. -- I am telling it to you.
2nd Aspect: Cä̲ jɛ la̲r i̲. -- I told it to you.
  Wu̲t ɛmɔ cɛ duɔ̲ɔ̲r ɛmɔ ka̲m ɤä̲. -- That man gave that thing to me.
  Note: This word order may be switched. e.g.
  Wu̲t ɛmɔ cɛ ɤä̲ ka̲m duɔ̲ɔ̲r ɛmɔ. -- That man gave me that thing.
3rd Aspect: Bi̲ ɤä̲n ɛ nöŋ yɛ i̲ru̲u̲n. -- I will bring it to you tomorrow. (E. Nuer)

Direct Object of the Preposition

Cä̲ wä̲ kä̲kɛ. -- I went to them.
Ba̲a̲ kɛ kɛ kɛɛl. -- I came together with them.
Note: The preposition [ɛ] takes the pronoun in the nominative case.


[Yio̲w a kɛ.] -- The money is with/at them. i.e. They have the money.
[Duɔ̲ɔ̲r ïndan a ni̲? Jɛn a ji̲! ] -- Where is the thing of a little while ago? It is with/at you! i.e. you have it.

Prepositions -- Nuer has 3 proper prepositions. They are [kɛ], [kä̲], and [ɛ]. Their major contribution is to function with the verbs in prepositional phrases with nouns, pronouns and verbal nouns as their objects.


  1. [kɛ] basically means "with", i.e. in accompaniment with a person (however, it is more common to say, for example, I and he went than to say I went with him), or in collaboration with a person, or in close connection with some thing. [kɛ] is always lo tone.
  2. [kä̲] basically means "to" or "from" depending largely on the verb which is used. Since Nuer verbs often indicate direction to or from, the preposition is subject to the verb meaning. [kä̲] is always hi tone.
  3. [ɛ] basically means "by" i.e. the agent of some action.

[kɛ] occurs in the following environments:

  1. With the verb showing agency or accompaniment.
  2. With all intransitive verbs to complete their meaning.
  3. With the verb [nyɔk] "to repeat" in a phrase with a verbal noun to indicate the action which is or is not to be repeated.

[kɛ̲] occurs in the following environments:

  1. With verbs if movement to or from.
  2. With the transitive verb [jak] "to cause" in a phrase with the verb stem (2nd Aspect) indicating what was caused. (The phrase takes the place of an English infinitive.)
  3. With the adjectival verb in the 1st Aspect to indicate comparison.

[ɛ] occurs in the following environments:

  1. With Passive verbs to indicate the agent of the action (and not infrequently in sentences with Active voice verbs).
Nuer Field Project Nouns Verbs Verb Book Expressions Grammar Genesis Others