Grammar Note: Greetings

There are two forms used in greetings, jambo and habari. The form jambo is used in opening greetings while habari is used in subsequent exchanges of greetings. The literal translation of jambo is 'matter', 'thing', 'affair.' As it can be seen in section one of the dialogues, the form jambo is used with specific prefixes

singular plural
1st person sijambo hatujambo
2nd person hujambo hamjambo
3rd person hajambo hawajambo

The prefixes are also the negative forms of each of the persons. Thus when someone says hujambo, it literally means 'you have nothing the matter with you (i.e. you are fine).' The response sijambo is an affirmation which literally means 'I have no news (I am fine).'

Habari literally means 'news.' Thus, habari gani means 'what news do you have (i.e. how are things).' In section one, in the conversations, we have habari za hapa 'how are things here', habari za safari 'how was your trip.' The form habari can be used when asking about people (habari za baba), about the home (habari za nyumbani), about classes (habari za masomo) and so forth.

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