Pronouns

The following forms of pronouns are used in Sesotho: (1) the subject concord use pronominally; (2) absolute pronouns; (3) demonstrative pronouns; (4) qualificative pronouns; and (5) quantitative pronouns.

 

Subject concord used pronominally

The subject concord can be used to represent a subject. For example instead of writing "Dinotshi di a sebetsa." (The bees are working.) one can write "Di a sebetsa." (They are working.)

The relevant concord for the subject (noun) can then be chosen (SEE: Nouns & noun classes)

Class  1 2 1a 2a 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 14 15
Subject concord o ba o ba o e le a se di e di bo ho

Note that the subject concord does not represent gender and that "o" can mean "he" or "she". 
This kind of meaning is usually derived from the context in which an utterance or text appears.

Examples:
Bana ba tsamaya sekolong. (The children walk to school.) > Ba tsamaya sekolong (They walk to school.)
Ausi o thusa mme. (Older sister helps mother.) > O thusa mme. (She helps mother.)
Motswalle o palama baesekele. (Friend rides a bicycle.) > O palama baesekele. (He rides a bicycle.)
Katse e nwa lebese. (The cat drinks milk.) > E nwa lebese. (It drinks milk.)


Absolute pronouns

This kind of pronoun is used to indicate a noun.

  Singular Translation Plural Translation
First person nna I rona we
Second person wena you lona you
Third person yena he/she bona they

According to noun class they are:

Class  1 2 1a 2a 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 14 15
Subject concord o ba o ba o e le a se di e di bo ho
Absolute pronoun yena bona yena bona wona yona lona ona sona tsona yona tsona bona hona
Translation he/she they he/she they it they it they it they it they it it

Example:
Ke bona dikoloi. (I see the cars.) > Ke bona tsona. (I see them.)


Demonstrative pronouns

With the use of demonstrative pronouns the position of something in relation to a speaker (or writer) can be indicated. There are three positions (with two forms) usually translated as "here", "there" and "yonder". These pronouns are also determined by the noun class.

Class Subject
concord
Here There Yonder
1 2 1 2 1 2
1 o enwa eo eno eo yane elwa
2 ba bana baa bano bao bane bale
1a o enwa eo eno eo yane elwa
2a ba bana baa bano bao bane bale
3 o ona oo ono oo wane ola
4 e ena ee eno eo yane ela
5 le lena lee leno leo lane lela
6 a ana aa ano ao ane ale
7 se sena see seno seo sane sela
8 di tsena tsee tseno tseo tsane tsela
9 e ena ee eno eo yane ela
10 di tsena tsee tseno tseo tsane tsela
14 bo bona boo bono boo bane bola
15 ho hona hoo hono hoo hane hola

Examples:
O bona monna enwa. (She sees this man.)
Ke batla bohobe bono. (I want that bread.)
Ngwanana o bala buka yane. (The girl reads that book.) 


Qualificative pronouns

The qualificative pronoun qualifies a particular noun. Here adjectival concord; possessive concord and enumerative concord can be noted.

To indicate possession the possessive concord should be used. This is again determined by the noun class.

Class Subject
concord
Possessive
concord
1 o wa
2 ba ba
1a o wa
2a ba ba
3 o wa
4 e ya
5 le la
6 a a
7 se sa
8 di tsa
9 e ya
10 di tsa
14 bo ba
15 ho ha

This possessive concord joins two nouns or pronouns to indicate possession.

Examples:
Banna ba ka. (My children.)
Batswadi ba rona. (Our parents.)
Dijo tsa hao. (Your food. / your - singular)
Pina ya lona. (Your song. / your - plural)
Letsoho la hae. (His/her hand.)
Aubuti o batla ho kganna koloi ya ka. (Older brother wants to drive my car.)

The enumerative concord refers to the use of numbers in relation to nouns. Note that for most classes (except for 8, 9 and 10) the class prefix is added to the number.

Examples:
motho ya mong (one person)
katse e le nngwe (one cat)
batho ba bararo (three people)
dintja tse hlano (five dogs)
koloi ya pele (first car)
baesekele ya bobedi (second car) [bo- prefix indicates a sequence.]


Quantitative pronouns

This kind of pronoun is used to indicate a quantity of a noun. The stem -hle is used with prefixes determined from the class prefixes to create the word "all".

Class Subject
concord
Quantitative
pronoun
1 o wohle
2 ba bohle
1a o wohle
2a ba bohle
3 o wohle
4 e yohle
5 le lohle
6 a ohle
7 se sohle
8 di tsohle
9 e yohle
10 di tsohle
14 bo bohle
15 ho hohle

Examples:
bana bohle (all the children)
dikgoho tsohle (all the chickens)
mosadi wohle (the whole woman)
Morekisi o rekisa dieta tsohle. (The salesperson sells all the shoes.)


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J. Olivier (2009)