Negating Sentences in Yoruba: A Beginner’s Guide
3 mins read

Negating Sentences in Yoruba: A Beginner’s Guide

Negation in Yoruba, the language spoken by the Yoruba people in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, is an essential aspect of forming sentences. If you are learning Yoruba, understanding how to negate sentences will help you communicate more effectively. This guide will take you through the basics of negation in Yoruba, provide short examples, and offer a vocabulary table to get you started.

Basic Rules for Negating Sentences

In Yoruba, negation is typically achieved by using the word “kò” before the verb in a sentence. Let’s go through the steps to negate a sentence:

  1. Identify the verb in the sentence.
  2. Place the word “kò” before the verb.

Let’s look at some examples:


  1. Affirmative: Mo nlo (I am going). Negative: Mi ò nlo (I am not going).
  2. Affirmative: Ounje naa dun (The food is delicious). Negative: Ounje naa kò dun (The food is not delicious).
  3. Affirmative: Wọ́n fẹ́́ kí n lọ (They want me to go). Negative: Wọ́n kò fẹ́́ kí n lọ (They do not want me to go).

Notice that “kò” is used before the verb to indicate negation. In some cases, especially in spoken Yoruba, you might hear “mi ò” instead of “mo kò”. Both are correct, but “kò” is more formal and universally understood.

More Examples with Vocabulary

Here are more sentences with their negative forms to help you practice:

Affirmative SentenceNegative SentenceVocabulary
Mo fẹ́ lati ṣeré (I want to play)Mi ò fẹ́ lati ṣeré (I do not want to play)fẹ́ (want), ṣeré (play)
Ọmọ náà sun (The child is sleeping)Ọmọ náà kò sun (The child is not sleeping)ọmọ (child), sun (sleep)
A fẹ́ jùmọ́ lọ (We want to go together)A kò fẹ́ jùmọ́ lọ (We do not want to go together)fẹ́ (want), jùmọ́ (together), lọ (go)
Ounje naa wuyi (The food is attractive)Ounje naa kò wuyi (The food is not attractive)ounje (food), wuyi (attractive)
Wọ́n kọ́ mi (They taught me)Wọ́n kò kọ́ mi (They did not teach me)kọ́ (teach), mi (me)

Vocabulary Table

Here is a table with some common Yoruba words used in the examples:

naaThe (used for emphasis)


Negating sentences in Yoruba is straightforward once you get the hang of it. Remember, the key is to place “kò” before the verb to negate the action. With practice, you will become more comfortable with forming both affirmative and negative sentences in Yoruba.

Keep practicing with the examples and vocabulary provided, and you will soon find yourself more confident in your Yoruba language skills!