Hausa 101

Hausa Peace Corps Course

Hausa Peace Corps CourseSannu! This Hausa course was developed by the U.S. Peace Corps for its volunteers going to Niger. It can be useful as a primer for learning the basics of the Hausa language. You can listen and follow along to each lesson or download the whole course directly.

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Hausa historically is primarily the name of a language rather than of a people. By extension, it has come to be used to describe the majority group of northern Nigerians and south-central Nigeriens, linked by a sense of unity based on a common language, history and customs. Ethnically, however, there exists some heterogeneity within this group, and religion-wise there are a few Christian and animist Hausa as well as many Muslim Hausa.

The present-day Hausa people originate from the Hausa Bakwai, the seven historical states of Kano, Katsina, Daura, Zazzau (Zaria), Biram, Gobir and Rano, which form the nucleus of the Kano, North Central and North-western states of Nigeria and of the contiguous portion of Niger Republic. These states flourished some 400 years ago; Kano city is reputed to be a thousand years old. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Fulani of Sokoto incorporated the governments of the Hausa Bakwai into the Sokoto empire, the foundation of the political entity recognized up to 1966 as the Northern Region of Nigeria. The kingdom of Bornu, along with the remainder of present-day North-eastern, Benu-Plateau and Kwara states, remained outside the mainstream of Hausa and later Fulani influence.

Those ancient states where Hausa was spoken, but not as a mother tongue, were known as the Banza Bakwai, the seven ‘illegitimate’ ones. They included such areas as Ilorin (Yoruba), Nupe, Yauri, Kebbi, Kwararafa (Jukun), Gwari and Zamfara. Gwari is a term still used to refer contemptuously to one who haltingly stammers out pidgin-Hausa: Bagwari ne. Its opposite, the flattery given to a foreigner who speaks fluent Hausa, is ‘Ya iya Hausa kama jakin Kano,’ literally he speaks Hausa like a Kano donkey, as the Kano dialect is the one normally accepted as ‘standard’ Hausa.

Hausa is classified by J. H. Greenberg as a member of the Chadic group of the Afroasiatic family of languages. It is, therefore, more closely related genetically to Arabic, Hebrew, Berber and other members of the Afroasiatic family than are most of the rest of the languages of sub-Saharan Africa. To this extent, Hausa is not a ‘typical’ African language. The conceptual framework of the Hausa-speaking peoples expressed through the language is, however, definitely African and bears a close relationship to that expressed through more ‘typically’ African Niger-Kordofanian languages to the south of Hausa.

The cultural influence of the Near East upon the Hausa people is, however, quite prominent and is reflected in the language. The influence of Muslim thought and culture may be said to permeate many aspects of Hausa life and language. Borrowings of concepts (especially religious and philosophical) and vocabulary are recognizable at every turn.

As one result of early Muslim influence, Hausa has a literary tradition extending back several centuries before contact with Western culture. Hausa was first written in an Arabic script known as ajami. Today this representation of the language is largely restricted to Muslim scholars, diviners (malamai) and their Koranic schools, having been superceded for most purposes by the Roman script (minus the diacritics).

Lesson 1 – Pronunciation

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a “a” as in “father” (hanya = road)
e “ay” as in “day” (gemi = beard)
i sometimes as in English “big” and sometimes as in English “machine” (cikin = in) (ji = to hear)
o as in “bone” (To! = Okay!)
u “oo” as in “tooth” (kudi = money)


b, d, n, k, l, m, n, t, w, z are as in English
c is always pronounced like the “ch” of “church”
f Varies according to region; Around Zinder it is like an English “f,” but as one continues west in Niger, it takes on more of an “hw” or “h” sound. (fad’i = to say, is pronounced “hwad’i” in western regions, and Filingué is pronounced “Hilingué”)
g is always hard, as in “goose”
j like the French “j” in “juillet”
n often has an “ng” quality to it, like the word “bang”
r is rolled as in Italian or Spanish
s is always like the word “say;” never like in the word “please”
y is like in the word “yes”

Special Sounds in Hausa

b’ (kub’ewa = okra)
d’ (d’aki = house, room)
k’ (k’ak’a = how)
ts (tsada = expensive)
‘y (‘ya = daughter)

Lesson 2 – Greetings Vocabulary

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English Hausa
work aiki
blessings barka
night dare
excuse gafara
greetings gaisuwa
tiredness gajiya
house, home, family gida
tomorrow gobe
thanking, gratitude godiya
to rest hutawa
family iyali
body jiki
state of good health lahiya
male teacher, sir malam
female teacher, madam malama
evening, afternoon marece
in the afternoon da marece
day, daytime, sun rana
during the day, at midday da rana
the morning sahe
in the morning da sahe
hello, hi sannu
(expr.) that’s right, bravo yawwa

Lesson 3 – Common Greetings

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Typical Greetings

English Hausa
Good morning, did you sleep well? Ina kwana?
Yes my health is good Lahiya lau
How is your house or your family? Ina gida
Everyone in my house is well Gida duka lahiya
How is your tiredness? Ina gajiya?
I am not tired Babu gajiya
How is your work? Ina aiki?
No problem Aiki da godiya
Okay, see you later To, sai anjima

Introducing Oneself

English Hausa
My name is Mani Sunana Mani
What is your name? (to male) Mi sunanka?
What is your name? (to female) Mi sunanki?
My name is Jemilla Sunana Jemilla
I am Nigerien (for male) Ni mutumen Nijar ne
I am Nigerien (for female) Ni mutumniyar Nijar ce
And you? (for male) Kai Fa?
And you? (for female) Ke fa?
I am Malian Ni mutumen Mali ne
I am Malian (for female) Ni mutumniyar Mali ce
I am a teacher, and you? (for male) Ni malamin makaranta ne kai fa ?
I am a teacher, and you? (for female) Ni malamar makaranta ce, Ke fa?
I am a doctor/nurse (for male) Ni likita ne
I am a doctor/nurse (for female) Ni likita ce

Lesson 4 – More Greetings

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English Hausa
Hello! Sannu!
Greetings on your work! Sannu da aiki!
Greetings on your effort! Sannu da kokari!
Greetings at (around) noon! Sannu da rana!
Greetings on your coming! Welcome! Sannu da zuwa!
Greetings on your resting! Sannu da hutawa!
Greetings on your visit! Thanks for taking the time to visit! Sannu da kula!
Greetings on your chat! Sannu da hira!
Greetings on your intentions/plans! Sannu da niyya!
Greetings on your coming! Barka da zuwa!
Greetings on the early morning! Barka da asuba!
Greetings in the morning! Barka da kwana!
Greetings at noon! Barka da rana!
Greetings in the afternoon! Barka da ini!
Greetings on the market! Barka da kasuwa!
Greetings on the birth! Barka da haihuwa!
Greetings on the marriage! Barka da arme/aure!
Greetings on the holiday! Barka da salla!
Greetings on drinking water! (used during the month of Ramadan) Barka da shan ruwa!
Greetings on the new year! Barka da sabuwa shekara!

Lesson 5 – Saying Goodbye

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English Hausa
See you later (lit. until later) Sai anjima
See you tomorrow Sai gobe
See you some day/another day Sai wata rana
Until your return (f./m.) Sai ka/kin dawo
Happy celebration Barka da salla
See you in a year Sai badi
May we sleep in health (Good Night) Mu kwana lahiya
May we sleep with a blessing Mu kwan da alheri

Lesson 6 – Dialogue

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English Hausa
G : Peace be with you. G: Salamu alaikum.
R: And also with you. R: Amin. Alaikum salam.
G: How did you sleep? G: Ina kwana?
R: In health. R: Lahiya lau.
G: How’s the work? G: Ina aiki?
R: (I’m) grateful for the work. R: Aiki da godiya.
G: How’s the tiredness? G: Ina gajiya?
R: No tiredness. R: Babu gajiya.
G: How’s the family? G: Ina gida?
R: The family is in health. R: Gida lahiya lau.
G: How did you pass the day? G: Ina ini?
R: In health. R: Lahiya lau.
G: See you later. G: Sai anjima.
R: Okay, see you later. R: To, sai anjima.

Lesson 7 – Useful Phrases

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English Hausa
Where are you from? (m.) Daga ina kake? (m.)
Where are you from? (f.) Daga ina kike? (f.)
I am from America. Daga Amerika nike.
I “hear” Hausa a little. (small small) Ina jin Hausa kadan kadan.
I don’t understand. Ban gane ba.
I don’t know. Ban sani ba.
Speak slowly. Fadi sannu sannu.
Alright! That’s great! Yawwa! Ya yi kyau!
Thanks! I’m grateful! Sannu! Na gode!

Lesson 8 – Days and Months

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English Hausa
Monday Litinin
Tuesday Talata
Wednesday Laraba
Thursday Alhamis
Friday Juma’a
Saturday Subdu/Asabar
Sunday Lahadi
What day is it? Wace rana ce Yau?
Today is Monday Yau litinin ce
January Janairu
February Fabarairu
March Maris
April Afrilu
May Mayu
June Yuni
July Yuli
August Agusta
September Satumba
October Oktoba
November Nuwamba
December Disamba

Lesson 9 – Time

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English Hausa
Today Yau
Later on In an jima
At noon Da marece
After sunset In rana ta fadi
Ago Yau da…
A while ago Dazu
Two weeks ago Yau da sati biyu
A long time ago Da dadewa
Not so long ago Ba’a dade ba
Next month Watan gobe
Next year Badi
Soon Nan gaba kadan
Yesterday Jiya
The day before yesterday Shekaran jiya
At that moment Lokacin nan
Last year Bara
The year before last Bara waccan
Tomorrow Gobe
The day after tomorrow Jibi
Two days from now Gata

Lesson 10 – Numbers 1 to 20

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Number Hausa
1 daya
2 biyu
3 ukku
4 hudu
5 biyar
6 shidda
7 bakwai
8 takwas
9 tara
10 goma
11 goma sha daya
12 goma sha biyu
13 goma sha ukku
14 goma sha hudu
15 goma sha biyar
16 goma sha shida
17 goma sha bakwai
18 goma sha takwas
19 goma sha tara
20 ashirin

Lesson 11 – Numbers 21 to 1,000,000

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Number Hausa
21 ashirin da daya
22 ashirin da biyu
23 ashirin da ukku
24 ashirin da hudu
25 ashirin da biyar
26 ashirin da shida
27 ashirin da bakwai
28 ashirin da takwas
29 ashirin da tara
30 talatin
40 arba’in
50 hamsin
60 sittin
70 saba’in
80 tamanin
90 gomiya tara
100 dari
200 dari biyu
300 dari ukku
1,000 dubu
2,000 dubu biyu
10,000 dubu goma
999,999 dubu dari tara da gomiya tara da tara da dari tara da gomiya tara da tara
1,000,000 miliyon guda

Lesson 12 – Money

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Number Hausa
5 francs dala
10 francs dala biyu
15 francs dala ukku
20 francs dala hudu
25 francs dala biyar
30 francs dala shidda
35 francs dala bakwai
40 francs dala takwas
45 francs dala tara
50 francs dala goma
55 francs dala goma sha daya
60 francs dala goma sha biyu
65 francs dala goma sha ukku
70 francs dala goma sha hudu
75 francs dala goma sha biyar
80 francs dala goma sha shidda
85 francs dala goma sha bakwai
90 francs dala goma sha takwas
95 francs dala goma sha tara
100 francs dala ashirin
110 francs dala ashirin da biyu
150 francs dala talatin
200 francs dala arba’in
250 francs dala hamsin
275 francs dala hamsin da biyar
300 francs dala sittin
350 francs dala saba’in
400 francs dala tamanin
450 francs dala tasa’in
500 francs dala dari
1,000 francs jikka
1,500 francs (dala) dari ukku
2,000 francs jikka biyu
5,000 francs jikka biyar
10,000 francs jikka goma

Lesson 13 – Food

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English Hausa
Pineapple Abarba
Food Abinci
Beverage Abinsha
Candy Alawa
Onion Albasa
Banana, Plantain Ayaba
Hot Pepper Barkono
Peanut resin (w/ oil removed) Kuli kuli
Bread Burodi
Dates Dabino
Sweet Potato Dankali
Irish Potato Dankalin turawa
Sorghum Dawa
Yam Doya
Fried Wheat-Flour Cake Hwanke
Wheat Flour Hulawa
Powder Gari
Wheat Flour Powder Garin hulawa
Millet Flour Powder Garin hatsi
Corn/Maize Powder Garin masara
Cassava Flour Garin rogo
Salt Gishiri
Kola nut Goro
Peanuts Gujiya
Millet Hatsi
Squash Kabewa
Cloves Karamfani
Carrot Karoti
Condiments for soup/sauce Kayan miya
Fish Kihi
Fried bean cake Kosai
Okra Kubewa
Ginger (literally “the pepper w/ leprosy”) Kuturun yaji
Eggs Kwai
Orange Lemu
Lemon Lemun tsami
Oil Mai
Peanut Oil Man gujiya
Cow butter Man shanu
Melon Malo
Mango Mangwaro
Fried millet-flour cake Masa
Sauce, soup, stew Miya
Potato Kwambitar
Cassava (“manioc”) Rogo
Salad, lettuce Salati
Chewing gum Shingwam
Rice Shinkahwa
Cabbage (“chou”) Shu
Sugar Sukari
Garlic Tafarnuwa
Hot pepper Barkono
Peanut Butter Tigadige
Tomato Tomati
Hot pepper (var.) Tonka
Beans Wake
Local eggplant, bitter tomato Yalo
Spice mixture used on foods/sauce Yaji
Honey Zuma

Lesson 14 – Measurements

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English Hausa
Plastic jug Bido
Sack Buhu
Large 40 liter bottle Bumburutu
Bottle Butali
Bundle of grain Dami
Gram Garam
A little, a few Kadan
Measured pile Kashi
Kilogram Kilo
Cup Kwap
Enamelware bowl Kwano
Liter Litar
Meter Metir
40 liter plastic receptacle Ruduwa
Packet Pake
Bowl used for measuring quantities of cereal, grains, etc. Tiya
Ton Tan
Oil drum Tano
Yard Yadi

Lesson 15 – Questions

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English Hausa
How much is it? Nawa ne?
It is twenty francs. Dala ashirin ne.
How much is each? Nawa nawa ne?
They are twenty-five francs each. Dala biyar biyar ne.
How much are the matches? Nawa ne kudin ashana?
How much is a pile of potatoes? Nawa ne kashin dankalin turawa?
How much/how many? Nawa?
When? Yaushe?
How? Kaka/yaya?
What? Mi?
Where? Ina?
Why/for what reason? Dommi/saboda mi?
Who? Wa?
Which? (Fem.) Wace?
Which? (Masc.) Wane?

Lesson 16 – Expressing Needs

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English Hausa
What do you want? Mi kake so?
I want a soda. Ina son lemon kwalba.
What do you need? Mi kike bukata?
I need money. Ina bukata kudi.
Where do you want to go? Ina kuke so ku tahi?
We want to go to the market. Muna so mu tahi kasuwa.
What do you want to do? Mi kake so ka yi?
I want to study. Ina so in yi karatu.
What do you want? Mi kuke so?
We want water. Muna son ruwa.
What do you want? Mi kake so?
Please, I’d like some change. Don Allah, ina son canji.
What do you want? Mi kike so?
I want food. Ina son abinci.
Do you like coffee? Kina son kafe?
No. I don’t like coffee. A’a. Ba ni son kafe.
What do you want to eat? Mi kake so ka ci?
I want to eat rice and sauce Ina so in ci shinkafa da miya
Is she hungry? Tana jin yunwa?
She’s not hungry. Ba ta jin yunwa.
Why does she need money? Dommi take buk’ata kud’i?
She needs money because she wants to buy a pagne. Tana bukata kud’i saboda tana so ta sayi zane.
Where are you going? Ina za ka?
I want to go to the toilet. Ina so in je makewaya.
What does he feel? Mi yake ji?
He is thirsty. Yana jin kishirwa.
What is it? What’s up? Mine ne?
It’s nothing. Babu komi.
How do you feel? Kaka kike ji?
I’m sleepy. Ina jin kwana.
They are not sleepy. Ba su jin barci.
What do you need? Mi kike bukata?
I need letters from home!! Ina bukata wasik’u daga gida!!

Lesson 17 – Bargaining

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English Hausa
A: Good morning shopkeeper. Ina kwana mai kanti.
B: Good morning Binta, what do you want? Lahiya lau Binta, mi kike so?
A: I want soap, how much is it? Ina son sabuli, nawa ne kudin?
B: Hundred and fifty francs Dala talatin ne.
A: OK, here are two-hundred francs, give me change. To, ga dala arba’in, bani canji.
B: There is your change. To, ga canji.
A: See you later. Sai an jima.
B: See you later. To, mu jima dayawa.

Lesson 18 – Weather

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English Hausa
Today it’s hot and humid. Yau ana gumi.
Today it’s hot. Yau ana zahi.
Today it’s cold. Yau ana sanyi.
Today it’s sunny. Yau ana rana.
Today it’s windy. Yau ana iska.
Today it’s stormy. Yau akwai hadari.
Rainy season Damana
Dry season Rani
Harvest season Kaka
Hot muggy season before the rains come Bazara

Lesson 19 – To Be (The Ne/Ce Sandwich)

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The particles ne (masculine) and ce (feminine) are used with the following pronouns when talking about something you “are” (such as a teacher, a woman, an American, etc.)
English Hausa
I am ni…ne/ce
You are (f.) ke…ce
You are (m.) kai…ne
She is ita…ce
He is shi…ne
We are mu…ne*
You are (pl.) ku…ne*
They are su…ne*
Note: The plural pronouns (mu, ku, su) always take a “ne,” regardless of whether the subjects are masculine or feminine. Example: Su mata ne. They are women.
English Hausa
They are Americans. Su Amerikawa ne.
She is a student. (Literally “a daughter of the school”) Ita d’iya lakwol ce.
I am a woman. Ni mace ce.
You are guardians. Ku masu gadi ne.
We are Hausas. Mu Hausawa ne.
He is a man. Shi namiji ne.
You can also use the pronoun with the ne (masculine) or ce (feminine) to say, “It is I…”
English Hausa
It is I. (f./m.) Ni ce. Ni ne.
It is you. (f.) Ke ce.
It is you. (m.) Kai ne.
It is she. Ita ce.
It is he. Shi ne.
It is we. Mu ne.
It is you. (pl.) Ku ne.
It is they. Su ne.

Lesson 20 – To Be (Negation)

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To negate the ne/ce form, put one “ba” after the pronoun and one “ba” either before or after the ne/ce.
English Hausa
They are not Americans. Su ba Amerikawa ba ne.
They are not Americans. Su ba Amerikawa ne ba.
Negating the simple pronoun plus ne/ce is as follows:
English Hausa
It is not I. (f.) Ba ni ba ce.
It is not they. Ba su ba ne.
It is not he. Ba shi ba ne.
The ne/ce particles are also used to express the verb “to be” without the pronouns, for example: “It is…” or “They are…” Masculine nouns can end in any letter.
English Hausa
It’s a notebook. Littahi ne.
They are pants. Wando ne.
It’s a camel. Rak’umi ne.
It’s Abdou. Abdou ne.
They are women. Mata ne.
Most feminine nouns in Hausa will end in –a, with a couple of masculine exceptions:
English Hausa
Name Suna
Meat Nama
Moon Wata
House Gida
Water Ruwa
Rooster Zakara
For feminine nouns, the ce particle is used for expressing “to be.”
English Hausa
It’s Haoua. Haoua ce.
It’s a hat. Hula ce.
It’s a paper. Takarda ce.
Ne is used for masculine and plural nouns, as all plurals are treated as masculine regardless of whether the singular is masculine or feminine.
English Hausa
It’s a woman. Mace ce.
It’s a man. Namiji ne.
It’s a chair. Kujera ce.
They are women. Mata ne.
They are men. Maza ne.
They are chairs. Kujeru ne.

Lesson 21 – To Be (-na Form)

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English Hausa
I/I am ina
You/you are (f.) kina
You/you are (m.) kana
She/she is tana
He/he is shina/yana*
One/one is ana
We/we are muna
You/you are (pl.) kuna
They/they are suna
The second form of the verb “to be” is the –na form. It is also referred to as the locative form, and it can be used in four ways.
1. It can locate the pronoun or subject in a particular place.
English Hausa
I am at home. Ina gida.
They are at the market. Suna kasuwa.
You are here. Kuna nan.
2. It can express a particular state, especially used in greetings such as:
English Hausa
Are you in health? Kuna lahiya?
Are they in health? Suna lahiya?
Are we in health? Muna lahiya?
3. Used with the word “da” meaning “with,” it can act as the verb “to have,” literally to be “with something.”
English Hausa
She has (is with) money. Tana da kudi.
They have (are with) children. Suna da yara.
I have (am with) fever. Ina da masassara.
4. The use of the –na form can also express a verbal action.
English Hausa
You go/you are going. Kuna tahiya.
She speaks (is speaking) Hausa. Tana magana Hausa.
We feel (are) hungry. Muna jin yunwa.

Lesson 22 – Future Tense

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The future tense is formed easily by putting the word “za” before the pronoun to mean “going” as in “going” to do something.
English Hausa
I am going… za ni/zan
You (f.) are going… za ki
You (m.) are going… za ka
She is going… za ta
He is going… za shi/zai
One is going… za a
We are going… za mu
You are going… (pl.) za ku
They are going… za su

English Hausa
We are going to eat food now. Za mu cin abinci yanzu.
I am going to give you 100 cfa. Za ni ba ka dala ashirin.
When is he going? Yaushe za shi tahi?
I am going to go to Agadez. Zan tahi Agadez.
To negate the future tense, put one ba at the beginning of the sentence and one ba either after the verb or towards the end of the sentence.
English Hausa
We are not going to eat food. Ba za mu cin abinci ba.
I am not going to give you 100 cfa. Ba za ni ba ka ba dala ashirin.
He is not going. Ba za shi tahi ba.

Lesson 23 – Past Tense

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The past tense pronouns, also called the completed form, are what set the tense in sentences, as opposed to verbs in English.
English Hausa
I was/I did na
You were/you did (f.) kin
You were/you did (m.) ka
She was/she did ta
He was/he did ya*
We were/we did mun
You were/you did (pl.) kun
They were/they did sun
Note the present forms shina and yana always become ya in the past tense.
English Hausa
I sat on the chair. Na zamna bisa kujera.
I have sat on the chair.  
I was sitting on the chair.  
You came from Zinder. Kun taho daga Zinder.
You have come from Zinder.  
You were coming from Zinder.  
He went (together) with Issaka. Ya tahi tare da Issaka.
He has gone (together) with Issaka.  
He was going (together) with Issaka.

Lesson 24 – Past Tense Negative

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The past tense negative ALWAYS takes two ba’s, which is how you can tell the difference from the present tense. One ba goes at the beginning and one goes either after the verb or at the end of the sentence.
English Hausa
I wasn’t/I didn’t ban…ba
You weren’t/you didn’t (f.) ba ki…ba
You weren’t/you didn’t (m.) ba ka…ba
She wasn’t/she didn’t ba ta…ba
He wasn’t/he didn’t bai…ba
We weren’t/we didn’t ba mu…ba
You weren’t/you didn’t (pl.) ba ku…ba
They weren’t/they didn’t ba su.…ba
Note the past tense ya is contracted to bai…ba in the past tense.
English Hausa
I didn’t sit on the chair. Ban zamna bisa kujera ba.
I haven’t sat on the chair.  
I hadn’t sat on the chair.  
You didn’t come from Zinder. Ba ku taho daga Zinder ba.
You haven’t come from Zinder.  
You hadn’t come from Zinder.  
He didn’t go (together) with Issa. Bai tahi tare da Issa ba.
He hasn’t gone (together) with Issa.  
He hadn’t gone (together) with Issa.
You can see how the pronouns set the tense in Hausa in the following examples:
English Hausa
She doesn’t come in here. Ba ta shigo nan.
She didn’t come in here. Ba ta shigo nan ba.
We don’t give money. Ba mu bada kudi.
We didn’t give money. Ba mu bada kudi ba.

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