Learn Dagbanli (Dagbanli Bɔhimbu)

Telling Time in Dagbanli


In this unit, we are going to learn how to tell time in Dagbani. Time can be measured by periods of the day (morning, afternoon and evening), days, weeks, a circle of market days (dakulo), months, semesters, seasons and years.


 1 Vocabulary connected to time

asiba                                    morning

wuntaŋa ni                         in the afternoon

zaawuni                              evening

yuŋ                                      night

minti                                   minute

hawa                                    hour

ŋme                                     strike

ni pirigili                            and half

yaɣi                                     past

che                                      few moments

di che biɛla                        in a few moments



Di che biɛla ni kurigu ata –  It’s left with some few minutes to three o’ clock.

Kurigu anu yaɣi minti pishiIt is five twenty.


2 One to twelve hours

kurigu yini                          one o’ clock

kurigu ayi                            two o’ clock

kurigu ata                            three o’clock

kurigu anahi                        four o’ clock

kurigu anu                           five o’ clock

kurigu ayobu                       six o’ clock

kurigu ayopɔin                    seven o’ clock

kurigu anii                          eight o’ clock

kurigu awei                         nine o’ clock

kurigu pia                            ten o’ clock

kurigu pia ni yini                eleven o’ clock

agbaa                                   twelve o’ clock



3 Using ante-meridian

In Dagbani, we use morning, afternoon, evening and night to make reference to specific time we are talking about. For instance,

asiba kurigu ata                               3.00 a.m

yuŋ agbaa                                        12.00 a.m

asiba kurigu ata                               3.00 a.m


4 Using post meridian

wuntaŋa ni kurigu yini                           1.00 p.m

zaawuni kurigu anahi                             4.00 p.m

yuŋ kurigu anii                                        8.00 p.m


5 Expressing “Half of an hour”                 

kurigu yini yaɣi minti pihita           1.30

kurigu awei yaɣi minti pihita         9.30

kurigu yini che minti pihita            12.30

kurigu anu che minti pihita            4.30

Unless scheduling a time for someone, the a.m or p.m is not often added. For instance, if one asks for the time, since both of them know that it is morning, afternoon or evening; the answer may be similar to those above.

Saha dini m-bɔŋɔ                kurigu ata che minti pihita

‘What time is this’              3.30


6 Other Expressions

kurigu yini yaɣi minti anu              1.05

kurigu yini yaɣi minti pia               1.10

kurigu ata yaɣi minti pia ni anu      3.15

kurigu anahi yaɣi minti pishi ni anu   4.25

kurigu ayi che minti pishi ni anu    1.35

kurigu ata che minti anu                 2.55


7 Exercises

Read the following times in Dagbani

6.30             5.20             5.05             7.55         9.45

4.20 a.m      7.45 a.m      8.35 a.m      11.00 a.m        12.00 a.m

5.30 p.m      1.25 p.m      12.20 p.m    12.00 p.m        11.59 p.m



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Lesson by: Osman
Reference: Adam, P. P. (2013). Dagbani an Introductory Course for Beginners. Koforidua: Pedaddo Ventures.