Passive Forms in Ateso

Use of the passive form

The passive form is used, as in English to indicatethe action of the verb is done to, not done by, the subject. But it is impossible to express agency (i.e. ”By

 whom” — Ingai bo. ) with this form; thus such sentences as ”the house was built  by us” —- Isio iduki etogo … cannot be translated literally into Ateso. In Ateso, sentences are turned around like in French and use active form, ”we built the house” — Isio iduki ekai. In other instances, the reflexive form is preferred.

The nearest translation of the passive voice in Ateso is rendered as in French on or German man:

E.g. on fait — it is done (adaun or adau eong); 

      man spracht — it is said (elimoritai or apponi olimorai).

Formation of passive form

The same personal prefixes are used as in active form. It is, however, but rarely that persons other than the third person are used.All present tenses are formed by adding -io to the root in all persons, singular or plural.

Infinitive        Aiduk —- To build                          Edukio — To be built(It will be built)

Present          Inomi —- He will beat                   Inomio — He will be beaten

                        Inomete — They will beat            Inomio — They will be beaten

Subjunctive / Imperative. It should be noted that the personal prefix of the first person plural is ko– in ko class verbs and ki– in ki class verbs. Other personal prefixes are the same as for the active. The subjunctive/imperative is formed by adding the suffix -I to the root in the first and second persons and the suffix -ai or -oi, according to the usual rule, in the third person.

E.g. Kinom ngesi — Let him beat          Kinomai ngesi — Let him be beaten.

In derived verbs the suffix -I is not added in the first and second persons.

Past tense (Aponi)

Aponi is used instead of the auxiliary abu in all persons with subjunctive or imperative forms.

E.g.     Abu Kemon                                                             — I did beat or hit

            Aponi kenomi eong                                 — I was beaten or hit

            Apotu kinomata                                       — They beat

            Aponi kinomai                                            — They were beaten

            Aponi eong kacakakin akan                — I was beaten

            Aponi eong kacakakinai kwap            — I was thrown down

            Aponi ngesi kacakakinai kwap            — He was thrown down

 Past tense (a- or e-), is formed regularly.

E.g.     Enomio ngesi                                              — He was being beaten.

The perfect tense (-it) is formed by adding -itai to the root for all persons, singular and plural.

E.g.     Inomit ngesi — He beat               Inomitai ngesi — He was beaten

            Inomitos kesi — They beat          Inomitai kesi — They were beaten

Continuous verbs: add -oi or -ai to the root for all persons, singular and plural, in the present tense.

E.g.     Akoto eong — I want                  Kakotoi eong — I was needed

            Inera ngesi — He is talking                      Ineritai  — They talked


Aijukar (ki)               —        To Send to

Ebela (Ibelai)          —        Stick (Sticks)

Epege (Ipegei)       —        Pig(s)

Ebalua(Ibaluan)    —        Letter(s)


  • This was the letter that was being written.
  • I have not been sent to Soroti.
  • I was told to wash the clothes here.
  • All these clothes will be washed tomorrow if there is enough soap.
  • Among all the children Oselle was the favourite.
  • My father’s bull were seen yesterday.