Types of verbs taking non-wa Verbal Nouns

We can divide verbs which take non-wa verbal nouns into four main groups:

(1) Intransitive Verbs

Many intransitive verbs end in a short vowel and form their verbal noun simply by lengthening the final vowel. There are two main groups of these intransitive verbs:

  1. Intransitive verbs which end in -a and begin in Low tone or have all High tones. The verb b’ata ‘get lost’, which has High-Low tones, also has a verbal noun with lenghthened final vowel.
  2. Intransitive verbs which end in -i or -u
Find here a list of intransitive verbs which lengthen their final vowel to form their verbal noun

2) Variable Vowel Verbs

Variable Vowel Verbs are verbs which change their final vowels depending on the kind of objects they take. All Variable Vowel Verbs have non-wa verbal nouns. There is no way to predict which class of non-wa verbal noun a Variable Vowel Verb will take.

(3) Irregular Verbs

Hausa has only a small number of “irregular” verbs, i.e. verbs which do not fit patterns of the majority of verbs. Even some of the irregular verbs fit into classes which show regularities but which have only a small number of members. All irregular verbs take non-wa verbal nouns. Below are the classes of irregular verbs, grouped according to how they form their verbal nouns:

  1. Monosyllabic verbs: Nearly all monosyllabic verbs form their verbal noun by lengthening the vowel and adding falling tone, e.g ci ‘eat’ with lengthened vowel and falling tone to meaning ‘eating’. 
  2. Intransitive verbs ending in -i or -u: A few such verbs form a verbal noun with a feminine suffix, e.g. gaji ‘get tired’ with verbal noun gajiya
  3. Transitive verbs with High-High tones ending in -a: Such verbs have verbal nouns with High-Low tones and final -a, e.g. kira ‘call’. 
  4. The verbs sani ‘know’, bari ‘leave’, gani ‘see’: These three important verbs have verbal nouns identical to the base verbs. 
  5. The verbs zo ‘come’ and je ‘go’: These verbs share a verbal noun zuwa. The final “wa” of this verbal noun is not the -wa of -wa Verbal Nouns (zuwa ends in Low tone, but verbal noun -wa is High) nor a feminine suffix (zuwa is a masculine noun). 
  6. The verb hau‘mount, climb’: This verb has the verbal noun hawa, which is a Hi-Hi-a verbal noun.
  7. The verb ba ‘give’: This is the most irregular verb in Hausa. Its verbal noun is bayarwa, which is a regular -wa verbal noun! See a table with all the forms of ba‘give’.

(4) Verbs that have both -wa and non-wa Verbal Nouns

Many verbs that have -wa verbal nouns also have non-wa verbal nouns. There is no way to predict whether a verb which has a -wa verbal noun will also have a non-wa verbal noun, and as with Variable Vowel Verbs, there is no way to predict the class of non-wa verbal noun that one of these verbs might take. Often the non-wa verbal noun of such a verb will have a meaning other than or in addition to the name of the action of the verb, e.g.

Verb Verb meaning non-wa VN non-wa VN meaning
gina ‘build’ gini ‘structure’
raba ‘divide, distribute’ rabo ‘one’s share’

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