The Info List - Amharic

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AMHARIC (አማርኛ) (/æmˈhærɪk/ or /ɑːmˈhɑːrɪk/ ; Amharic: _Amarəñña_, IPA: ( listen )) is an Afro-Asiatic language of the Semitic branch and is a member of the Ethiosemitic group. It is spoken as a mother tongue by the Amhara and other populations residing in major cities and towns of Ethiopia . The language serves as the official working language of Ethiopia, and is also the official or working language of several of the states within the federal system. Amharic is the second-most widely spoken Semitic language in the world after Arabic .

It is written (left-to-right) using Amharic Fidel (ፊደል), which grew out of the Ge\'ez abugida —called, in Ethiopian Semitic languages (ፊደል) _fidel_ ("writing system", "letter", or "character") and (አቡጊዳ) _abugida_ (from the first four Ethiopic letters, which gave rise to the modern linguistic term abugida ).

There is no agreed way of transliterating Amharic into Roman characters . The Amharic examples in the sections below use one system that is common, though not universal, among linguists specialising in Ethiopian Semitic languages.


* 1 Background * 2 Phonology

* 3 Writing system

* 3.1 Alphasyllabary * 3.2 Gemination * 3.3 Punctuation

* 4 Grammar

* 4.1 Pronouns

* 4.1.1 Personal pronouns * 4.1.2 Reflexive pronouns * 4.1.3 Demonstrative pronouns

* 4.2 Nouns

* 4.2.1 Gender

* Specifiers

* 4.2.2 Plural

* Archaic forms

* 4.2.3 Definiteness * 4.2.4 Accusative * 4.2.5 Nominalisation

* 4.3 Verbs

* 4.3.1 Conjugation

* 4.3.2 Gerund

* Verbal use * Adverbial use

* 4.4 Adjectives

* 4.4.1 Nominal patterns * 4.4.2 Denominalizing suffixes * 4.4.3 Prefix _yǝ_ * 4.4.4 Adjective noun complex

* 5 Dialects * 6 Literature * 7 Rastafari movement * 8 Software * 9 See also

* 10 References

* 10.1 Grammar * 10.2 Dictionaries

* 11 External links


It has been the working language of courts, language of trade and everyday communications, the military, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church since the late 12th century and remains the official language of Ethiopia today. As of the 2007 census, Amharic is spoken by 21.6 million native speakers in Ethiopia and 4 million secondary speakers in Ethiopia. Additionally, 3 million emigrants outside of Ethiopia speak the language. Most of the Ethiopian Jewish communities in Ethiopia and Israel speak Amharic. In Washington DC, Amharic became one of the six non-English languages in the Language Access Act of 2004, which allows government services and education in Amharic. Furthermore, Amharic is considered a holy language by the Rastafari (ራስ ተፈሪ) religion and is widely used among its followers worldwide. It is the most widely spoken language in the Horn of Africa.




NASAL m n ɲ (ñ)


k ʔ (ʾ)



EJECTIVE pʼ (p̣) tʼ (ṭ)

kʼ (q)


tʃ (č)


dʒ (ǧ)


tsʼ (ṣ) tʃʼ (č̣)



VOICED v* z ʒ (ž)


l j (y) w



* – Only in loanwords

The Amharic ejective consonants correspond to the Proto-Semitic "emphatic consonants ", usually transcribed with a dot below the letter. The consonant and vowel tables give these symbols in parentheses where they differ from the standard IPA symbols. The vowels of Amharic on a vowel chart .



HIGH i ɨ (ə) u

MID e ə (ä) o




_ The Ethiopic (or Ge'ez) writing system is visible on the side of this Ethiopian Airlines Fokker 50 : it reads "Ethiopia's": የኢትዮጵያ ye-ʾityop̣p̣ya_. See also: Ge\'ez script and Amharic Braille

The Amharic script is an abugida , and the graphemes of the Amharic writing system are called _fidel_. Each character represents a consonant+vowel sequence, but the basic shape of each character is determined by the consonant, which is modified for the vowel. Some consonant phonemes are written by more than one series of characters: /ʔ /, /s /, /sʼ /, and /h / (the last one has _four_ distinct letter forms). This is because these _fidel_ originally represented distinct sounds, but phonological changes merged them. The citation form for each series is the consonant+_ä_ form, i.e. the first column of the _fidel_. The Amharic script is included in Unicode, and glyphs are included in fonts available with major operating systems. _ A modern usage of Amharic: the label of a Coca-Cola bottle. The script reads ኮካ-ኮላ (koka-kola_).



ä/e U I A ē ə , ∅ O ʷä/ue ʷI/UI ʷA/UA ʷē/Uē ʷə

H ሀ ሁ ሂ ሃ ሄ ህ ሆ

L ለ ሉ ሊ ላ ሌ ል ሎ

ĥ ሐ ሑ ሒ ሓ ሔ ሕ ሖ

M መ ሙ ሚ ማ ሜ ም ሞ

SS/ś ሠ ሡ ሢ ሣ ሤ ሥ ሦ

R ረ ሩ ሪ ራ ሬ ር ሮ

S ሰ ሱ ሲ ሳ ሴ ስ ሶ

SH ሸ ሹ ሺ ሻ ሼ ሽ ሾ

Q ቀ ቁ ቂ ቃ ቄ ቅ ቆ ቈ ቊ ቋ ቌ ቍ

B በ ቡ ቢ ባ ቤ ብ ቦ

V ቨ ቩ ቪ ቫ ቬ ቭ ቮ

T ተ ቱ ቲ ታ ቴ ት ቶ

CH ቸ ቹ ቺ ቻ ቼ ች ቾ

HH/ħ ኀ ኁ ኂ ኃ ኄ ኅ ኆ ኈ ኊ ኋ ኌ ኍ

N ነ ኑ ኒ ና ኔ ን ኖ

NY ኘ ኙ ኚ ኛ ኜ ኝ ኞ

A አ ኡ ኢ ኣ ኤ እ ኦ

K ከ ኩ ኪ ካ ኬ ክ ኮ ኰ ኲ ኳ ኴ ኵ

KH ኸ ኹ ኺ ኻ ኼ ኽ ኾ ዀ ዂ ዃ ዄ ዅ

W ወ ዉ ዊ ዋ ዌ ው ዎ

A ዐ ዑ ዒ ዓ ዔ ዕ ዖ

Z ዘ ዙ ዚ ዛ ዜ ዝ ዞ

ZH ዠ ዡ ዢ ዣ ዤ ዥ ዦ

Y የ ዩ ዪ ያ ዬ ይ ዮ

D ደ ዱ ዲ ዳ ዴ ድ ዶ

ǧ ጀ ጁ ጂ ጃ ጄ ጅ ጆ

G ገ ጉ ጊ ጋ ጌ ግ ጎ ጐ ጒ ጓ ጔ ጕ

ț ጠ ጡ ጢ ጣ ጤ ጥ ጦ

CH\' ጨ ጩ ጪ ጫ ጬ ጭ ጮ

ṗ ጰ ጱ ጲ ጳ ጴ ጵ ጶ

TS ጸ ጹ ጺ ጻ ጼ ጽ ጾ

TZ ፀ ፁ ፂ ፃ ፄ ፅ ፆ

F ፈ ፉ ፊ ፋ ፌ ፍ ፎ

P ፐ ፑ ፒ ፓ ፔ ፕ ፖ

ä/e U I A ē ə , ∅ O ʷ/ue ʷI/UI ʷA/UA ʷē/Uē ʷə


As in most other Ethiopian Semitic languages , gemination is contrastive in Amharic. That is, consonant length can distinguish words from one another; for example, _alä_ 'he said', _allä_ 'there is'; _yǝmätall_ 'he hits', _yǝmmättall_ 'he is hit'. Gemination is not indicated in Amharic orthography, but Amharic readers typically do not find this to be a problem. This property of the writing system is analogous to the vowels of Arabic and Hebrew or the tones of many Bantu languages, which are not normally indicated in writing. Ethiopian novelist Haddis Alemayehu , who was an advocate of Amharic orthography reform, indicated gemination in his novel _Fǝqǝr Ǝskä Mäqabǝr_ by placing a dot above the characters whose consonants were geminated, but this practice is rare.


Punctuation includes the following: section mark word separator full stop (period) comma semicolon colon Preface colon (introduces speech from a descriptive prefix) question mark paragraph separator


Simple Amharic sentences

One may construct simple Amharic sentences by using a subject and a predicate . Here are a few simple sentences: ኢትዮጵያ አፍሪቃ ውስጥ ናት ʾItyop̣p̣ya ʾAfrika wǝsṭ nat (lit., Ethiopia Africa inside is) ' Ethiopia is in Africa.' ልጁ ተኝቷል Lǝǧu täññǝtʷall. (lit., the boy asleep is) _-u_ is a definite article. _Lǝǧ_ is 'boy'. _Lǝǧu_ is 'the boy' 'The boy is asleep.' አየሩ ደስ ይላል Ayyäru däss yǝlall. (lit., the weather pleasant is) 'The weather is pleasant.' እሱ ወደ ከተማ መጣ Ǝssu wädä kätäma mäṭṭa. (lit., he to city came) 'He came to the city.'


Personal Pronouns

In most languages, there is a small number of basic distinctions of person , number , and often gender that play a role within the grammar of the language. The distinctions within the basic set of independent personal pronouns can be seen in English _I_, Amharic እኔ _ǝne_; English _she_, Amharic እሷ _ǝsswa_. In Amharic, as in other Semitic languages, the same distinctions appear in three other places in their grammar. Subject–verb agreement

All Amharic verbs agree with their subjects ; that is, the person, number, and (second- and third-person singular) gender of the subject of the verb are marked by suffixes or prefixes on the verb. Because the affixes that signal subject agreement vary greatly with the particular verb tense /aspect /mood , they are normally not considered to be pronouns and are discussed elsewhere in this article under verb conjugation . Object pronoun suffixes

Amharic verbs often have additional morphology that indicates the person, number, and (second- and third-person singular) gender of the object of the verb.

አልማዝን አየኋት

_almazǝn_ ayyähʷ-AT

Almaz-ACC I-saw-HER

'I saw Almaz'

While morphemes such as _-at_ in this example are sometimes described as signaling object agreement, analogous to subject agreement, they are more often thought of as object pronoun suffixes because, unlike the markers of subject agreement, they do not vary significantly with the tense/aspect/mood of the verb. For arguments of the verb other than the subject or the object, there are two separate sets of related suffixes, one with a benefactive meaning (_to_, _for_), the other with an adversative or locative meaning (_against',_ to the detriment of_,_ on', _at_).

ለአልማዝ በሩን ከፈትኩላት

_läʾalmaz_ bärrun käffätku-LLAT

for-Almaz door-DEF -ACC I-opened-FOR-HER

'I opened the door for Almaz'

በአልማዝ በሩን ዘጋሁባት

_bäʾalmaz_ bärrun zäggahu-BBAT

on-Almaz door-DEF -ACC I-closed-ON-HER

'I closed the door on Almaz (to her detriment)'

Morphemes such as _-llat_ and _-bbat_ in these examples will be referred to in this article as PREPOSITIONAL OBJECT PRONOUN SUFFIXES because they correspond to prepositional phrases such as _for her_ and _on her_, to distinguish them from the DIRECT OBJECT PRONOUN SUFFIXES such as _-at_ 'her'. Possessive suffixes

Amharic has a further set of morphemes that are suffixed to nouns, signalling possession : ቤት _bet_ 'house', ቤቴ _bete_, _my house_, ቤቷ; _betwa_, _her house_.

In each of these four aspects of the grammar, independent pronouns, subject–verb agreement, object pronoun suffixes, and possessive suffixes, Amharic distinguishes eight combinations of person, number, and gender. For first person, there is a two-way distinction between singular (_I_) and plural (_we_), whereas for second and third persons, there is a distinction between singular and plural and within the singular a further distinction between masculine and feminine (_you m. sg._, _you f. sg._, _you pl._, _he_, _she_, _they_).

Amharic is a pro-drop language : neutral sentences in which no element is emphasized normally omit independent pronouns: ኢትዮጵያዊ ነው _ʾityop̣p̣yawi näw_ 'he's Ethiopian', ጋበዝኳት _gabbäzkwat_ 'I invited her'. The Amharic words that translate _he_, _I_, and _her_ do not appear in these sentences as independent words. However, in such cases, the person, number, and (second- or third-person singular) gender of the subject and object are marked on the verb. When the subject or object in such sentences is emphasized, an independent pronoun is used: እሱ ኢትዮጵያዊ ነው _ǝSSU ʾityop̣p̣yawi näw_ 'HE\'s Ethiopian', እኔ ጋበዝኳት _ǝNE gabbäzkwat_ 'I invited her', እሷን ጋበዝኳት _ǝSSWAN gabbäzkwat_ 'I invited HER\'.

The table below shows alternatives for many of the forms. The choice depends on what precedes the form in question, usually whether this is a vowel or a consonant, for example, for the 1st person singular possessive suffix, አገሬ _agär-e_ 'my country', ገላዬ _gäla-ye_ 'my body'.




I እኔ ǝne -(ä/ǝ)ñ -(ǝ)llǝñ -(ǝ)bbǝñ -(y)e

you (m. sg.) አንተ antä -(ǝ)h -(ǝ)llǝh -(ǝ)bbǝh -(ǝ)h

you (f. sg.) አንቺ anči -(ǝ)š -(ǝ)llǝš -(ǝ)bbǝš -(ǝ)š

you (polite) እርስዎ ərswo -(ǝ)wo(t) -(ǝ)llǝwo(t) -(ǝ)bbǝwo(t) -wo

he እሱ ǝssu -(ä)w, -t -(ǝ)llät -(ǝ)bbät -(w)u

she እሷ ǝsswa -at -(ǝ)llat -(ǝ)bbat -wa

s/he (polite) እሳቸው ǝssaččäw -aččäw -(ǝ)llaččäw -(ǝ)bbaččäw -aččäw

we እኛ ǝñña -(ä/ǝ)n -(ǝ)llǝn -(ǝ)bbǝn -aččǝn

you (pl.) እናንተ ǝnnantä -aččǝhu -(ǝ)llaččǝhu -(ǝ)bbaččǝhu -aččǝhu

they እነሱ ǝnnässu -aččäw -(ǝ)llaččäw -(ǝ)bbaččäw -aččäw

Within second- and third-person singular, there are two additional polite independent pronouns, for reference to people to whom the speaker wishes to show respect. This usage is an example of the so-called T–V distinction that is made in many languages. The polite pronouns in Amharic are እርስዎ _ǝrswo_ 'you (sg. polite)'. and እሳቸው _ǝssaččäw_ 's/he (polite)'. Although these forms are singular semantically—they refer to one person—they correspond to third-person plural elsewhere in the grammar, as is common in other T–V systems. For the possessive pronouns, however, the polite 2nd person has the special suffix _-wo_ 'your sg. pol.'

For possessive pronouns (_mine_, _yours_, etc.), Amharic adds the independent pronouns to the preposition _yä-_ 'of': የኔ _yäne_ 'mine', ያንተ _yantä_ 'yours m. sg.', ያንቺ _yanči_ 'yours f. sg.', የሷ _yässwa_ 'hers', etc.

Reflexive Pronouns

For reflexive pronouns ('myself', 'yourself', etc.), Amharic adds the possessive suffixes to the noun ራስ _ras_ 'head': ራሴ _rase_ 'myself', ራሷ _raswa_ 'herself', etc.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Like English, Amharic makes a two-way distinction between near ('this, these') and far ('that, those') demonstrative expressions (pronouns, adjectives, adverbs). Besides number, as in English, Amharic also distinguishes masculine and feminine gender in the singular.

Amharic demonstrative pronouns NUMBER, GENDER NEAR FAR


FEMININE ይቺ yǝčči, ይህች yǝhǝčč ያቺ yačči

PLURAL እነዚህ ǝnnäzzih እነዚያ ǝnnäzziya

There are also separate demonstratives for formal reference, comparable to the formal personal pronouns: እኚህ _ǝññih_ 'this, these (formal)' and እኒያ _ǝnniya_ 'that, those (formal)'.

The singular pronouns have combining forms beginning with _zz_ instead of _y_ when they follow a preposition: ስለዚህ _sǝläzzih_ 'because of this; therefore', እንደዚያ _ǝndäzziya_ 'like that'. Note that the plural demonstratives, like the second and third person plural personal pronouns, are formed by adding the plural prefix እነ _ǝnnä-_ to the singular masculine forms.


Amharic nouns can be primary or derived. A noun like _ǝgǝr_ 'foot, leg' is primary, and a noun like _ǝgr-äñña_ 'pedestrian' is a derived noun.


Amharic nouns can have a masculine or feminine gender . There are several ways to express gender. An example is the old suffix _-t_ for femininity. This suffix is no longer productive and is limited to certain patterns and some isolated nouns. Nouns and adjectives ending in _-awi_ usually take the suffix _-t_ to form the feminine form, e.g. _ityop̣p̣ya-(a)wi_ ' Ethiopian (m.)' vs. _ityop̣p̣ya-wi-t_ ' Ethiopian (f.)'; _sämay-awi_ 'heavenly (m.)' vs. _sämay-awi-t_ 'heavenly (f.)'. This suffix also occurs in nouns and adjective based on the pattern _qǝt(t)ul_, e.g. _nǝgus_ 'king' vs. _nǝgǝs-t_ 'queen' and _qǝddus_ 'holy (m.)' vs. _qǝddǝs-t_ 'holy (f.)'.

Some nouns and adjectives take a feminine marker _-it_: _lǝǧ_ 'child, boy' vs. _lǝǧ-it_ 'girl'; _bäg_ 'sheep, ram' vs. _bäg-it_ 'ewe'; _šǝmagǝlle_ 'senior, elder (m.)' vs. _šǝmagǝll-it_ 'old woman'; _t'ot'a_ 'monkey' vs. _t'ot'-it_ 'monkey (f.)'. Some nouns have this feminine marker without having a masculine opposite, e.g. _šärär-it_ 'spider', _azur-it_ 'whirlpool, eddy'. There are, however, also nouns having this _-it_ suffix that are treated as masculine: _säraw-it_ 'army', _nägar-it_ 'big drum'.

The feminine gender is not only used to indicate biological gender, but may also be used to express smallness, e.g. _bet-it-u_ 'the little house' (lit. house-FEM-DEF). The feminine marker can also serve to express tenderness or sympathy.


Amharic has special words that can be used to indicate the gender of people and animals. For people, _wänd_ is used for masculinity and _set_ for femininity, e.g. _wänd lǝǧ_ 'boy', _set lǝǧ_ 'girl'; _wänd hakim_ 'physician, doctor (m.)', _set hakim_ 'physician, doctor (f.)'. For animals, the words _täbat_, _awra_, or _wänd_ (less usual) can be used to indicate masculine gender, and _anəst_ or _set_ to indicate feminine gender. Examples: _täbat t'ǝǧa_ 'calf (m.)'; _awra doro_ 'cock (rooster)'; _set doro_ 'hen'.


The plural suffix _-očč_ is used to express plurality of nouns. Some morphophonological alternations occur depending on the final consonant or vowel. For nouns ending in a consonant, plain _-očč_ is used: _bet_ 'house' becomes _bet-očč_ 'houses'. For nouns ending in a back vowel (-a, -o, -u), the suffix takes the form _-ʷočč_, e.g. _wǝšša_ 'dog', _wǝšša-ʷočč_ 'dogs'; _käbäro_ 'drum', _käbäro-ʷočč_ 'drums'. Nouns that end in a front vowel pluralize using _-ʷočč_ or _-yočč_, e.g. _ṣähafi_ 'scholar', _ṣähafi-ʷočč_ or _ṣähafi-yočč_ 'scholars'. Another possibility for nouns ending in a vowel is to delete the vowel and use plain _očč_, as in _wǝšš-očč_ 'dogs'.

Besides using the normal external plural (_-očč_), nouns and adjectives can be pluralized by way of reduplicating one of the _radicals_. For example, _wäyzäro_ 'lady' can take the normal plural, yielding _wäyzär-očč_, but _wäyzazər_ 'ladies' is also found (Leslau 1995:173).

Some kinship -terms have two plural forms with a slightly different meaning. For example, _wändǝmm_ 'brother' can be pluralized as _wändǝmm-očč_ 'brothers' but also as _wändǝmmam-ač_ 'brothers of each other'. Likewise, _ǝhǝt_ 'sister' can be pluralized as _ǝhǝt-očč_ ('sisters'), but also as _ǝtǝmm-am-ač_ 'sisters of each other'.

In compound words , the plural marker is suffixed to the second noun: _betä krǝstiyan_ 'church' (lit. house of Christian) becomes _betä krǝstiyan-očč_ 'churches'.

Archaic Forms

Amsalu Aklilu has pointed out that Amharic has inherited a large number of old plural forms directly from Classical Ethiopic (Ge\'ez) (Leslau 1995:172). There are basically two archaic pluralising strategies, called external and internal plural. The external plural consists of adding the suffix _-an_ (usually masculine) or _-at_ (usually feminine) to the singular form. The internal plural employs vowel quality or apophony to pluralize words, similar to English _man_ vs. _men_ and _goose_ vs. _geese_. Sometimes combinations of the two systems are found. The archaic plural forms are sometimes used to form new plurals, but this is only considered grammatical in more established cases.

* Examples of the external plural: _mämhǝr_ 'teacher', _mämhǝr-an_; _t'äbib_ 'wise person', _t'äbib-an_; _kahǝn_ 'priest', _kahǝn-at_; _qal_ 'word', _qal-at_. * Examples of the internal plural: _dǝngǝl_ 'virgin', _dänagǝl_; _hagär_ 'land', _ahǝgur_. * Examples of combined systems: _nǝgus_ 'king', _nägäs-t_; _kokäb_ 'star', _käwakǝb-t_; _mäs'ǝhaf_ 'book', _mäs'ahǝf-t_.


If a noun is definite or _specified_, this is expressed by a suffix, the _article_, which is -_u_ or -_w_ for masculine singular nouns and -_wa_, -_itwa_ or -_ätwa_ for feminine singular nouns. For example:


bet bet-u gäräd gärad-wa

house the house maid the maid

In singular forms, this article distinguishes between the male and female gender; in plural forms this distinction is absent, and all definites are marked with -_u_, e.g. bet-očč-u 'houses', gäräd-očč-u 'maids'. As in the plural, morphophonological alternations occur depending on the final consonant or vowel.


Amharic has an accusative marker, -_(ə)n_. Its use is related to the definiteness of the object, thus Amharic shows differential object marking . In general, if the object is definite, possessed, or a proper noun, the accusative must be used (Leslau 1995: pp. 181 ff.).

lǝǧ-u wǝšša-w-ǝn abbarär-ä.

child-def dog-def-acc drove away-3msSUBJ

'The child drove the dog away.'

*lǝǧ-u wǝšša-w abbarär-ä.

child-def dog-def drove away

'The child drove the dog away.'

The accusative suffix is usually placed after the first word of the noun phrase:

Yǝh-ǝn sä’at gäzz-ä.

this-acc watch buy-3msSUBJ

'He bought this watch.'


Amharic has various ways to derive nouns from other words or other nouns. One way of nominalising consists of a form of _vowel agreement_ (similar vowels on similar places) inside the three-radical structures typical of Semitic languages . For example:

* CəCäC: — _ṭǝbäb_ 'wisdom'; _hǝmäm_ 'sickness' * CəCCaC-e: — _wǝffar-e_ 'obesity'; _č'ǝkkan-e_ 'cruelty' * CəC-ät: — _rǝṭb-ät_ 'moistness'; _'ǝwq-ät_ 'knowledge'; _wəfr-ät_ 'fatness'.

There are also several nominalising suffixes.

* _-ǝnna_: — 'relation'; _krǝst-ənna_ 'Christianity'; _sənf-ənna_ 'laziness'; _qes-ǝnna_ 'priesthood'. * _-e_, suffixed to place name X, yields 'a person from X': _goǧǧam-e_ 'someone from Gojjam '. * _-äñña_ and _-täñña_ serve to express profession, or some relationship with the base noun: _ǝgr-äñña_ 'pedestrian' (from _ǝgǝr_ 'foot'); _bärr-äñña_ 'gate-keeper' (from _bärr_ 'gate'). * _-ǝnnät_ and _-nnät_ — '-ness'; _ityop̣p̣yawi-nnät_ 'Ethiopianness'; _qǝrb-ənnät_ 'nearness' (from _qǝrb_ 'near').



As in other Semitic languages , Amharic verbs use a combination of prefixes and suffixes to indicate the subject, distinguishing 3 persons, two numbers and (in all persons except first-person and "honorific" pronouns) two genders.


Along with the infinitive and the present participle, the gerund is one of three non-finite verb forms. The infinitive is a nominalized verb, the present participle expresses incomplete action, and the gerund expresses completed action, e.g. _ali məsa_ _BäLTO_ _wädä gäbäya hedä_ 'Ali, having eaten lunch, went to the market'. There are several usages of the gerund depending on its morpho-syntactic features.

Verbal Use

The gerund functions as the head of a subordinate clause (see the example above). There may be more than one gerund in one sentence. The gerund is used to form the following tense forms:

* present perfect _NäGRO_ _-all/näbbär_ 'He has said'. * past perfect _NäGRO_ _näbbär_ 'He had said'. * possible perfect _NäGRO_ _yǝhonall_ 'He (probably) has said'.

Adverbial Use

The gerund can be used as an adverb: _ALFO ALFO_ _yǝsǝqall_ 'Sometimes he laughs'. (From ማለፍ 'to pass'; lit. "passing passing") _ǝne_ _DäGMO_ _mämṭat ǝfällǝgallähu_ 'I also want to come'. (From መድገም 'to repeat'; lit. "I, repeating, want to come")


Adjectives are words or constructions used to qualify nouns. Adjectives in Amharic can be formed in several ways: they can be based on nominal patterns, or derived from nouns, verbs and other parts of speech. Adjectives can be nominalized by way of suffixing the nominal article (see Nouns above). Amharic has few primary adjectives. Some examples are _dägg_ 'kind, generous', _dǝda_ 'mute, dumb, silent', _bi č̣a_ 'yellow'.

Nominal Patterns

CäCCaC — _käbbad_ 'heavy'; _läggas_ 'generous' CäC(C)iC — _räqiq_ 'fine, subtle'; _addis_ 'new' CäC(C)aCa — _säbara_ 'broken'; _ṭämama_ 'bent, wrinkled' CəC(C)əC — _bǝlǝh_ 'intelligent, smart'; _dǝbbǝq'_ 'hidden' CəC(C)uC — _kǝbur_ 'worthy, dignified'; _t'ǝqur_ 'black'; _qəddus_ 'holy'

Denominalizing Suffixes

-äñña — _hayl-äñña_ 'powerful' (from _hayl_ 'power'); _ǝwnät-äñña_ 'true' (from _ǝwnät_ 'truth') -täñña — _aläm-täñña_ 'secular' (from _aläm_ 'world') -awi — _lǝbb-awi_ 'intelligent' (from _lǝbb_ 'heart'); _mǝdr-awi_ 'earthly' (from _mǝdr_ 'earth'); _haymanot-awi_ 'religious' (from _haymanot_ 'religion')

Prefix _yǝ_

_yǝ-kätäma_ 'urban' (lit. 'from the city'); _yǝ-krästänna_ 'Christian' (lit. 'of Christianity'); _yǝ-wǝšhet_ 'wrong' (lit. 'of falsehood').

Adjective Noun Complex

The adjective and the noun together are called the 'adjective noun complex'. In Amharic, the adjective precedes the noun, with the verb last; e.g. _kǝfu geta_ 'a bad master'; _tǝllǝq bet särra_ (lit. big house he-built) 'he built a big house'.

If the adjective noun complex is definite , the definite article is suffixed to the adjective and not to the noun, e.g. _tǝllǝq-u bet_ (lit. big-def house) 'the big house'. In a possessive construction, the adjective takes the definite article, and the noun takes the pronominal possessive suffix, e.g. _tǝllǝq-u bet-e_ (lit. big-def house-my) "my big house".

When enumerating adjectives using _-nna_ 'and', both adjectives take the definite article: _qonǧo-wa-nna astäway-wa lǝǧ mäṭṭačč_ (lit. pretty-def-and intelligent-def girl came) "the pretty and intelligent girl came". In the case of an indefinite plural adjective noun complex, the noun is plural and the adjective may be used in singular or in plural form. Thus, 'diligent students' can be rendered _tǝgu tämariʷočč_ (lit. diligent student-PLUR) or _təguʷočč tämariʷočč_ (lit. diligent-PLUR student-PLUR).


Not much has been published about Amharic dialect differences. All dialects are mutually intelligible, but certain minor variations are noted.

Mittwoch described a form of Amharic spoken by the descendants of Weyto language speakers, but it was likely not a dialect of Amharic so much as the result of incomplete language learning as the community shifted languages from Weyto to Amharic.


The Ethiopian anthem (since 1992) in Amharic, done on manual typewriter.

There is a growing body of literature in Amharic in many genres. This literature includes government proclamations and records, educational books, religious material, novels, poetry, proverb collections , dictionaries (monolingual and bilingual), technical manuals, medical topics, etc. The Holy Bible was first translated into Amharic by Abu Rumi in the early 19th century, but other translations of the Bible into Amharic have been done since. The most famous Amharic novel is _Fiqir Iske Meqabir_ (transliterated various ways) by Haddis Alemayehu (1909–2003), translated into English by Sisay Ayenew with the title _Love unto Crypt_, published in 2005 (ISBN 978-1-4184-9182-6 ).


The word Rastafari comes from _Ras Täfäri_, the pre-regnal title of Haile Selassie I , composed of the Amharic words _Ras_ (literally "Head", an Ethiopian title equivalent to duke ), and Haile Selassie's pre-regnal name, Tafari.

Many Rastafarians learn Amharic as a second language, as they consider it to be sacred. After Haile Selassie’s 1966 visit to Jamaica, study circles in Amharic were organized in Jamaica as part of the ongoing exploration of Pan-African identity and culture. Various reggae artists in the 1970s, including Ras Michael , Lincoln Thompson and Misty-in-Roots , have sung in Amharic, thus bringing the language to a wider audience. The Abyssinians have also used Amharic most notably in the song Satta Massagana . The title was believed to mean "Give thanks" however this phrase is incorrect. _Säţţä_ means "he gave" and the word _amässägänä_ for "thanks" or "praise" means "he thanked" or "he praised". The correct way to say "give thanks" in Amharic is one word, _misgana_. The word "satta" has become a common expression in Rastafari vocabulary meaning "to sit down and partake".


_ This section needs to be UPDATED. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (July 2014)_

Amharic is supported on most major Linux distributions, including Fedora and Ubuntu.

The Amharic script is included in Unicode , Nyala font is included on Windows 7 (see YouTube video) and Vista ( Amharic Language Interface Pack (LIP)) to display and edit using the Amharic Script. In February 2010, Microsoft released its Windows Vista operating system in Amharic, enabling Amharic speakers to use its operating system in their language.

Google has added Amharic to its Language Tools which allowed typing Amharic Script online without an Amharic Keyboard. Since 2004 Wikipedia has Amharic language Wiki that uses Ethiopic. In 2015 an Ethiopic rendering method for computers using a keystroke for the default and a maximum of two keystrokes for the rest of the glyphs was granted a patent by the U.S. government.


* IPA for Amharic


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