Swahili: alisema, akasema, and akisema


New Member
I have heard people in Kenya use all of the following to say "he said" in Swahili --
alisema, akasema, and akisema.
How do they differ?
When would you use the -li- vs. -ka- or -ki- marker?
  • The past tense marker is -li-, and is used in a main clause verb. The other two are dependent forms, and are not restricted to the past: -ki- is simultaneous and -ka- is consecutive. A simultaneous action could often be translated with the English -ing form:

    nalimsikia akisema . . . = I heard him saying . . . (= when/while he said)

    Consecutive actions are often used in past narrative, starting with the -li- tense, then each -ka- form corresponding to "and":

    alikwenda mjini akasema . . . = he went to the village and said . . .
    (cf. alikwenda akisema = he went saying)