Ateso Adjectives

Invariable adjectives

There are few true adjectives, that is, words existing solely as adjectives, in Ateso. Those which exist usually agree with the the noun they qualify in gender and number by approperiate changes of prefix or suffix. The adjective kere —whole or all, is invariable and can be used with masculine, feminine or neuter nouns, both singular and plural.

            Itunga kere. —- All the people or men.

            Etogo kere. —- The whole house.

Some adjectives are used in an invariable forms.

Variable adjectives

Some adjectives vary according to a number and gender. The most common are;

            Masculine                             Feminine                               Neuter

                Edis                                Adis                                  Idis

               Ngol                                Ngin                                      Ngin

               Ece                              Ace                                  Ice

               Edio                             Adio                                 Idio

                Bon                               Bon                                     Bonik

                Elope                           Alope                                Ilope

                Ikulepek                             Akulepek                         Ikulepek

E.g.     Akiro adis — Any news / Few words

            Edio egali. —- Any bicycle

            Idio ibore —- Any thing

            Ngolitunganan — Every man (-i is inserted for  euphony)

The latter are the same forms as those of the demonstrative adjectives but always precede the noun when used in this sense. The noun prefix of the noun is always dropped and adjective and nun are written as one word.

E.g.     Aberu ngin — That woman / That is a woman (depends on the tone)

            Nginiberu — Every woman

            Ngolikiliokit —- Every man.

Other and some

E.g.     Icetunga —- Some men /people

            Acetunga —- Some women.

This adjective is writen as part of the noun usually, but not always preceding it. The noun prefix is dropped when the adjectives precedes.

Some, other and any

E.g.     Emamei ediotuan/ediotunganan? — Is there no one?

            Emamei adiotuan/adiotunganan? — Is there no female?

This adjective is also written as part of the noun and always precedes it. The noun prefix is dropped. It is used in the singular format onl.


E.g.     Isio bonik. — Only us.

            Kesi bonik — Only them.

            Ngin bon. — Only her.

            Ngol bon. — Only him

Note that this adjective changes according to the noun’s number but not according to its gender, although there is a modern tendency for this adjective to become invariable.

Them and thing

E.g.     Itunga ikulepek —- The men/people themselves.

            Angor akulepek —- The women themselves.

            Ibore ilopet —- The entire thing ot that thing.


E.g.     Elope etogo. —- The owner of the house (male)

            Alope amotoka. — The owner of the car. (female)

            Ilope emotoka. —- The owner of the car. (Nueter)

Adjectives formed from verbs

The lack of true adjectives is overcome by using quality verbs.

E.g.     Epol emong. — The ox/bull is big.

            Akoto emong loepol. —- I want a big bull (a bull which is big)

            Koyau akipi nuikidioko —- Bring a little water.

Adjectives formed from nouns.

Where a quality verb does not exist, the gap is filled by using a relative pronoun and a noun.

E.g.     Ekitoi loberu —- A female tree (A tree which is a woman)

            Idwe lukiliok —- Male children (Boys)

            Idwe lungor —- Female children (Girls)

Also by using a possesive particle and a noun

E.g.     Etunganan loka acoa. —- A wise man (A man of wosdom)

Ka and Kanuka —- and ,  with & on behalf of

When a noun which is qualified by an adjective is preceded by the particle ka (and & with) or by the preposition kanuka (on behalf of), the ka must must be repeated with the adjective.

E.g.     Kanuka etunganan kaloejok. —- On behalf of a good man.

            Elal (elalak) —- It is wide

            Ekalanyana (ekalanyaka). —- Being idle/ lazy

            Aswam (ki) —- Work (to work)

            Aiswama (ki) / Kiswama —- Work

            Aswamisinei. —- Types work/ work or beheavior.

            Esamai (isama) —- Swamp (s)

            Emaido —- Groundnuts

            Ajon —- Beer

            Imiot(imioi) —- Chick(s)

            Nepepe ka —- With me


  • Bring (singular) plenty of water for my large dog.
  • There is only little water.
  • It is only a few people who can drink a lot of beer.
  • The women themselves wanted to cultivate only groundnuts.
  • He has very beautiful hens.
  • The swamp is very wide.
  • All the people cannot go to Wera.
  • The old man told the lazy buys to work in the garden.
  • Who knows all the names?
  • That wicked man.
  • I have seen that wise woman with that fierce man.
  • Let us build a new house.
  • This one is too small.
  • I did all this work by myself.