Yoruba Basics


In this post, we will be sharing with you some of the rules that guides the writing of Yorùbá language. Over time, we discovered that people make a lot of mistakes when writing in this language. These rules will guide you to write Yorùbá the right way. Take a look at them….

No consonant clusters:

This writing rule says that there should be no consonant clusters in Yorùbá words. There are exceptions for cases where the nasal consonant ‘m/n’ stands as a syllable. For instance, in words like ‘nǹkan (something), Gbangba (in the open)’.

Consonants do not end words in Yorùbá Language:

Yorùbá language has 5 nasal vowels that are not usually visible in the Alphabets generally, They are “an, ẹn, in, ọn, un”. Any Yorùbá word that ends with a consonant, ends with any of these nasal vowels.
Whenever words are borrowed into Yorùbá Language, they are usually coined so they can fit into this rule. Let’s look at these words:
Facebook – Fesibúùkù
Instagram – Íńsítágíráàmù
Internet – Íńtánẹ́ẹ̀tì
Samuel – Sámúẹ́lì

Tonal marks are necessary in
Yorùbá Language because of heteronyms:

We also have heteronyms in Yorùbá Language, as a matter of fact we have so many of them. This is why it is necessary to learn the Yorùbá tonal marks and how to use them very well so we can avoid writing ‘ara (body)’ instead of ‘àrá (thunder)’, ‘ife (cup)’ instead of ‘ìfẹ́ (love). Let’s take a look at this:
Ogun (War)
Ògún (God of War)
Ogún (Inheritance/Twenty)
Ògùn (state)
Oògùn (medicine, charm)
Òógùn (sweat)
Ó gùn (It is long)
Ó gún (He pound…)

What about this…
Agbọ́n (Hornet)
Àgbọn (Coconut)
Agbọ̀n (Basket)
Àgbọ̀n (Jaw)
A gbọ́n (We are wise)
A gbọ̀n (We trembled)

Without tonal marks, it will be so difficult to discern what you mean when you write ‘ogun’, same goes for ‘agbon.

Writing out Yorùbá words fully:

This Yorùbá rule says it is important to write out the complete number of Vowels you hear in a word. Many people write out just one vowel in words where such vowel has duplicates. Let’s take a look at these examples:
Aláàánú (the merciful) – many people write this as alanu
Àlàáfíà (Peace) – mostly written as alafia
Ẹ káàárọ̀ (Good morning) – mostly written as ẹ kaaro/karo
Oríṣìíríṣi (various, different) – mostly written as orisirisi.

Writing of words as single words (Stop word clustering):

In this case, many people write two Yorùbá words together in a sentence. Just as it is not possible to write ‘amcoming’ in ‘I am coming’, Yorùbá words too should not be jam-packed. For instance, people write things like:

‘Mo nbo’ instead of ‘Mò ń bọ̀’
‘Moti gbọ́’ instead of ‘mo ti gbọ́’
‘Kini’ instead of ‘Kí ni’
‘Bawoni’ instead of ‘Báwo ni’
(The syllabic ‘n’ stands alone in a sentence)

Have you learnt something? Let us hear from you in the comment section


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