Learn Dagbanli (Dagbanli Bɔhimbu)

Present Continuous

The present continuous, also called the present progressive, is a verb form that combines the present tense with the continuous aspect. In English, the present continuous is made from the present tense of the verb be and the –ing form of a verb: eg.
I am … working
She is …. running

In Dagbani, to achieve the present continuous from the present tense of a verb we use: ra, na, or ta. These forms are used without objects to the verb.

O chana – He/She is walking – (Verb is Chama)

Bi dara – They are buying – (Verb is Da)

O birta – He/She is sowing – (Verb is Biri)

VerbPresent ContinuousIn English
ChamaO ChenaHe/She/It is walking
Da/DaabuBi dara/Bi DaaraThey are buying/They are pushing
BiriO bir'ta He/She is sowing


When they are used with objects, we get the forms -di, -ti, -ni and -ri.

O damdi zim = He/She/It is stiring flour

O diri saɣim = He/She/It is eating tuo zaafi

Bi chani daa = They are going to the market


The endings : –imi or –mi or –rimi could also be used to define a present continuos tense. This is not certainly the academically defined verb inflection, however, you will most likely use imi, mi or rimi to define present continuous on a daily basis.


Question in English Question in Dagbani
Who? ŋuni?
What? Bo?
Where? Ya?

Asking Questions About What’s Happening in The Moment

Question (Dagbani)
Answer (Dagbani) Question (English) Answer (English)
Bo ka a niŋda? N guurimi What are you doing? I am running
Bo ka bia maa niŋda? Bia maa dirila bindirigu What is the child doing? The child is eating food.
Bo ka paɣa maa niŋda? Paɣa maa bohindila Dagbani. What is the woman doing? The woman is learning Dagbani.

A Conversation


(1) Me: Dasiba Kataali.

(2) You: Nnaa, Timtooni.

(3) Me: A chɛnla shikuru?

(4) You: Aayi, n bi chɛni shikuru.

(5) Me: Ka ya ka a chana?

(6) You: N chɛnla tuma ni.

(7) Me: Tuma ni? A pa tumdila tuma?

(8) You: iin, n pa tumdila tuma.


(1) Me: Good morning Kataali.

(2) You: Greetings, Timtooni.

(3) Me: Are you going to school?

(4) You: No, I am not going to school.

(5) Me: Then where are you going?

(6) You: I am going to work

(7) Me: Work place? You now work?

(8) You: Yes, I now work


Present Continuous – Negative

To give a negative response to a present continuous question, add any of the “bi” before the continuous verb. Example:

N bi guura = I am not running

Personal pronouns (Dagbani) Personal pronoun (English) Negation (Dagbani) Negation  (English)
n I N bi I do not/ I am not
a You A bi You do not/ You are not
o He/She/It O bi He/She/It does not / He/She/It is not
bi They Bi bi They do not/ They are not
ti We Ti Bi We do not/ We are not

Negation in Dagbani depends on the verb. Negating a pronoun even though written the same could mean differently. It depends on the verbs “being” and “doing”.

“N” is used to refer to the personal Pronoun “I”
“A” is used to refer to personal Pronoun “you”
“O” is used to refer to personal Pronoun “he/she/it”
“Bi” is used to refer to personal Pronoun “they”

“Ti” is used to refer to personal Pronoun “we”

Dagbani English
N bi zaya. N ʒimi. I am not standing. I am sitting.
A bi dira. A nyurimi. You are not eating. You are drinking.
O bi kuhira. O larimi. He/She/It is not crying. He/She/It is laughing.
Bɛ bi chana. Bɛ guurimi. They are not walking. They are running.
Ti bi karinda. Ti warimi. We are not learning. We are dancing.


ɛ, ɣ, ŋ, ɔ, and ʒ

Guurimi = running

Niŋda = doing

Bindirigu = food

Bia = child

Dirila = eating

Bɔhim = learn

Bɔhindila = learning

paɣa =  woman

Tuma = work

Tumdila = working

Chanila = going

Shikuru = school

iin = yes

Aayi = No


Found any issues, feel free to suggest changes here! Thank you for your contribution.


Lesson by:
Rasheeda Yehuza