Derived Verbs in Ateso

Use of derived verbs:

In English, the idea of action to for, away from, etc. is expressed by means of prepositions:

“We go to school.”             “Put it on the table.”

“Do it for me.”                      “Take it away.”

Ateso expresses these ideas by altering the form of the verb itself. This book deals only with four types of derived verbs: other types will be listed in Appendix I.

Formation of derived verbs: 

This alteration consists of adding one of three suffixes, –un, –ar (-or) and –akin (-okin), to the root, thereby forming a new verb which can be conjugated throughout. These three forms will be termed “motion towards “motion away” and “action for”:

e.g.     aicak (ko)—to throw

acakun (ko)—to throw (towards the speaker)

acakar (ko)—to throw (out or away from the speaker)

acakakin (ko)—to throw (for the speaker)

Note that although the infinitive in the root verb has the prefix ai-, the infinitive prefix in the derived verbs is a- in accordance with the rule given in Chapter 7 Possessives.

(i) “Motion towards” verbs: (a) The suffix –un shows that the action of the verb is directed towards the speaker:

e.g.     alomun (to come in) when the speaker himself is in the room.

(b) –un occasionally indicates the acquisition of a quality of benefit to the speaker:

e.g.     angaleu —to be healthy

angaleun—to become healthy

ejok — good

ejokun — to become good (to our benefit)


(ii) ” Motion away” verbs: (a) The suffix –ar (or –or after”close” vowel roots) shows that the action is directed away  from the speaker:

e.g.     alomar — to go out, when the speaker is in the room

abukor —-to pour away

  • ar also indicates the acquisition of a quality of no direct benefit to the speaker:

e.g.     ejok ngesi -he is good.

Ejokiar ngesi –if he becomes good (but no benefit to us).

(iii) ” Action for” verbs: (a) The suffix –akin (or –okin after close vowel roots) shows that the action is done for someone.

e.g.     aiwadikakin — to write for someone, or to someone

adukokin -to build for someone (hence: to (hence: to marry)

When a vowel precedes, the prepositional ending –akin or –okin usually becomes –ikin:

e.g.     ajaikin — to be at

(b) This form also expresses place on something, or movement on to something:

e.g.     acakakin–throw down (on the ground)

(iv) Causative verbs: There is a fourth type of derived verb known as “causative”. This derived verb expresses the idea of causing the action of the verb. E.g. “to heal” gives a causative form “to cause to heal” and hence “to cure”. Causative verbs are formed by adding a syllable immediately in front of the root.

The syllable so added is ta, te, ti, to or tu, the vowel corresponding to the vowel of the root of the verb.

E.g.     aiduk (ko)–to build                       aituduk (ki)–to cause to build

ailel (ko)—to be glad                  aitelel (ki) -to please

ainyam (ko) — to eat                  aitanyam (ki) — to feed

It should be noted that causative verbs formed in this way always belong to the ki class, whatever the class of the root verb.

Roots beginning with k and some other verbs have ai instead of ta, te, ti etc. aikam (ki)— to catch                        aisikam (ki)—to observe

(to cause to catch)

aimik (ki) — to refuse                   aisimik (ki)–to prohibit


In roots containing w, the w is moved to a position inside the

cusative syllable:

Aswam (kl) — to work                  aitwasam (ki) —  to cause to work

Agwel (ko) – to buy                      aitwegel (ki) – to couse to buy, to sell

Derived verbs as well as simple verbs  can have causative forms:

  1. aikam (ki) – to chatch             aisiikam (ki) — to cause to catch

aikamun (ki) — to catch                         aisikamun(ki) –to cause to catch (for oneself)

Conjugation of derived verbs:

With the exception of the subjunctive imperative form, which aupplies the past (abu) tense, the conjugation of derived verbs is regular. Many derived verbs have already been introduced in the vocabularies and used in the exercises.

The subjunctive/imperative is formed as follows:

(a) “Action towards” verbs in –un drop the final –n in the singular; in the plural –n is also dropped but –tu added.

(b) “Action away” verbs in –or or –ar drop the final –r in the singular; in the plural the –r is also dropped but –s is added.

(c) “Action for” verbs in –akin or –okin drop the final –in in the singular; in the plural the –in is also dropped but -is is added.

The full subjunctive/imperative is therefore as follows:

ABONGUN            ABONGOR            ABONGOKIN        

Kaboņgu               Kabongo              Kabongok

Koboņgu               Kobongo              Kobongok

Keboņgu               Kebongo              Kebongok


Kiboņgu                Kibongo                Kibongok

Kobongutu            Kobongosi            Kobongokisi

Kabongutu            Kabongosi            Kabongokisi

Kebongutu            Kebongosi            Kebongokis


Aibuk (Ko)–To Pour

Aiwadik (Ki) — To Write

Aljen (Ko) — To Know

Ayale (Ko) — To Be Healthy

Agwel (Ko) — To Buy

Aitep (Ko) — To Rain

Adisiar (Ko) — To Grow Less

Lim (Ko)* — Tell

Lom (Ko)* — Come out

Todu (Ki)* — Show

Bon (Ko)* — Return

Akiring (Singular Only) — Meat

Edou (Idoon) — Rain Cloud, Rain

Ebe—That (As In The Sentence: “We Know That It Will Rain”)


  • To pour away; to return here; to go out; to become healthy; to return there; to tell someone; to come in; to become big.
  • To heal; to use (to cause to do); to dress; to sell; to lessen; to increase.
  • Bring (plural) some milk quickly.
  • He wants this girl to get him some meat.
  • You liked all the stories which my father told you.
  • Do not (plural) go out. It is still raining.
  • Come here and let me tell you a story.
  • He knew his father was getting better.
  • We showed them our house and they showed us
  • If you work for me for three days, you can use