Habitual and Not Yet Tenses

Use of habitual tense

Iteso wear clothes — Enapitos Iteso igoen or enapenenete Iteso igoen. In English the Ateso version may mean ‘Iteso are  wearing clothes’ or ‘Iteso always wear clothes’. This difference in meaning can in Ateso be expressed by a different tense, the habitual tense. This tense is used to denote the habit or

custom of a person or people.

Formation of the habitual tense

The habitual tense is formed by adding the ending -oi to the perfect (-it) tense in the singular and first person plural and the ending -s in the second and third

person plural.

For example;    

  1.       Alip (ki) — to ask, to beg
  2.       Elipitoi —- I have a habbit of begging
  3.       Ailipitoi —-The habbit of begging
  4.       Ilipitoi — he’s  a habitual begger
  5.       Kilipitoi — we were habitually begging
  6.       Ilipitos — you are pertually begging or asking
  7.       Ilipitos – they are perpetually begging

This tense is commonly used with repetitive verbs (see appendix 1) in both ko and ki classes. Its use with simple verbs is extremely limited. Verbs in the habitual tense rarely take an object.

“Not yet”: The Ateso words eringa and eroko mean “not yet” or “still”. When used  to mean “still” they are followed by indicative tenses;

            Eroko edou etepi — It is still raining

            Eringa ejai ne — He is still here

When used to mean “not yet” they are followed by a special tense. Formation of “not yet” tense: The “not yet” tense is formed by adding the prefix ke– in ko class verbs and ki– in ki class verbs to the root, and by adding the suffix o after roots in close vowels and -a after roots in open vowels or a.

AIDUK (ko) — to build                  AILIP (ki) — to ask

Keduko — when it is built            Kilipa —- when asked

The initial k is often dropped.

            Eroko kebuno — He has not yet come.

            Eringa isio keloto — We have not yet gone

Mam is occassionally used with the ”not yet” tense:

e.g.   Eriko ebuno — She/he has not yet come

But if the particle ber is used with mam the indicative tenses must be used:

e.g.     mam ber ebunit —- She/he has not yet come

Use of the ”not yet” tense: The ”not yet” tense is used to translate ”before” in

such phrases such as ”he cried before he had boarded the bus”.

E.g.     Eringa ngesi keduko etogo(direct translation Before he built the house”) — He has not yet built a house

            Eroko ngesi kebuno (direct translation ”Before he come” )— He has not yet come.

The time expressed by ”not yet” tense depends on the main clause:

E.g.     Abu eong kadau ainyam eroko Oselle kebuno — I had finished eating before Oselle came.

            Adauni eong ainyam eringa Oselle kebuno — I will have finished eating before Oselle comes.

The uses of the ”dependent perfect” or ”when” tense are described. The ”when” tense is used to translate ”after” in the same way as”not yet” tense is used to translate ”before”. As  with the ”not yet” tense the time expressed by the ”when” tense depends on the main clause;

E.g.    Alosi Ngariam kabongu komanikor —- I am going to Ngariam whan I get back from the garden.

          Abu kalot Kapelebyong kabongu komanikor –— I went to Kapelebyong when I returned from the garden.


Aingit (ki) – To ask

Anyaraun (ko) – To call

Alimokin (ko) – To tell

Aiirar (ki) – To hear

Ainap (ko) – To wear

Awaragan(awaragasia) – Story (stories) / Folklore(folklores)

Emukule (Imukulen) – Skin(skins)/ Hide(Hides)

Naarai – Because