Native toUganda
RegionTooro Kingdom
Native speakers
(490,000 cited 1991 census)[1]
Standard forms
  • Tuku
Language codes
ISO 639-3ttj
CountryObukama bwa Tooro

Tooro (/tɔːr/) or Rutooro (/rˈtɔːr/, Orutooro, IPA: [oɾutóːɾo]) is a Bantu language spoken mainly by the Tooro people (Abatooro) from the Tooro Kingdom in western Uganda. There are three main areas where Tooro as a language is mainly used: Kabarole District, Kyenjojo District and Kyegegwa District. Tooro is unique among Bantu languages as it lacks lexical tone.[3] It is most closely related to Runyoro.



Tooro has 5 short vowels and 5 corresponding long vowels. It also has 3 diphthongs.

Tooro vowels[4]
Front Back
Close i[a][b] u[a]
Close-mid e o
Open a
  1. ^ a b /i/ and /u/ can devoice between two voiceless consonants or word-finally (e.g. okutu [okú̥tu̥] "ear"). /i/ is often interchangeable with /u/ dialectally (e.g. enyima/enyuma "underside").
  2. ^ /i/ can optionally be centralised to /ɨ/, especially when adjacent to /u/ (e.g. omumiro [omumɨ́ɾo] "throat").

Nasal vowels

Vowels followed by a nasal cluster tend to be nasalised, even to the point that the nasal consonant is barely heard (e.g. Abakonjo [aβakṍːⁿd͡ʒo] "Konjo people").[5]: xiv 

Vowel lengthening

Vowels can be lengthened in these contexts:[5]: xv–xvii 

Vowel shortening

Word-final long vowels are shortened, except if they are in the penultimate syllable of a noun phrase. As a result, the inherently long final vowel in obuso "forehead" and the phonetically long final vowel in omutwe "head" are shortened in isolation but are lengthened after a monosyllabic qualifier (obuso bwe [oβusóː βwe] "his/her forehead"; omutwe gwe [omutwéː gwe] "his/her head").[5]: xiv 


Tooro has 3 diphthongs, /ai/, /oi/ and /au/, the latter only being attested in 3 words, 2 being English loanwords (autu "vegetable cooking oil", etauni < Eng. "town", etaulo < Eng. "towel").[5]: xviii  In some dialects, /ai/ is pronounced as [ei].[citation needed]

Vowel hiatus resolution

Tooro has different ways of resolving vowel hiatus in individual words or in between words:[4]

Mid vowel harmony

Some suffixes that are added to verbs exhibit mid vowel harmony, where the vowel in the suffix (/i/ or /u/) is lowered to a mid vowel (/e/ or /o/ respectively) if the vowel in the ultimate syllable of the verb root is a mid vowel (e.g. okucumbira "to cook for someone"; okusekera "to laugh for someone"). Mid vowel harmony does not apply if consonant mutation to the verb root also applies, instead only the consonant mutation in the verb root applies (e.g. ngenzire (from the root √-gend-) "I went (and the effect remains)" instead of *ngenzere).[6]


Tooro consonants[4][5]: ix–x 
Bilabial Labio-dental Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p b[a] t d[b] k[c] g
Fricative β f v s z h[d]
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ[e]
Tap ɾ
Trill r[f]
Approximant l[g] j w
  1. ^ /b/ is mostly used in foreign loanwords and as a post-nasal allophone of /β/.
  2. ^ /d/ is mostly an allophone of /ɾ/ after a nasal consonant.
  3. ^ /k/ can optionally be palatalised as [c] before /i/ or /j/ (e.g. kyange [cáŋge]).[5]
  4. ^ /h/ becomes /p/ after a nasal consonant. /hj/ is often pronounced [ç] or [ʃ].
  5. ^ [ŋ] is an allophone of /n/ before /g/.
  6. ^ /r/ is the result of a vowel dropped between two /ɾ/ sounds (e.g. omurro < omuriro "fire"). This vowel-dropping does not happen if the second /ɾ/ is followed by a semivowel (/j, w/).[5]
  7. ^ [l] is an allophone of /ɾ/ word-initially before /e, i/ or after /a, o, u/ and before /e, i/ (as in aliire "he/she has eaten"). /l, r/ also becomes /d/ before a nasal (as in n-li → ndi [ń̩di] "I am").

Consonant mutation

Certain suffixes, specifically the perfective -ir (not to be confused with the applicative -ir), the nominalizer -i, the short causative -i, and the long causative -is cause the consonant before it to be mutated.[6]

The first two suffixes mutate /ɾ, d͡ʒ/ or [d] to [z] and /t/ to [s] (e.g. barubasire "they have walked" < √-rubat- "to walk"; omubaizi "carpenter < √-baij- "to do carpentry"). However, perfective -ir mutates /d͡ʒ/ to [z] inconsistently (e.g. baizire "they have come" < √-ij- "to come"; bahiijire "they have panted" < √-hiij- "to pant"), and most of the time, it can be used with or without mutation (e.g. babaijire ~ babaizire "they have done carpentry" < √-baij-). The distinction between the perfective and applicative -ir is important as the applicative -ir cannot cause mutation (e.g. okurubatira "to walk for" < okurubata "to walk"). Additionally, only the unmutated perfective -ir can cause mutation, as the mutated form, -iz, cannot cause mutation (e.g. beereze "they have cleaned < √-eer "to clean" instead of *beezize).[6]

Causative -i also mutates /ɾ/ or [d] to [z] and [t] to [s] (no instance has been found of causative -i mutating /d͡ʒ/). Since the /zj/ and /sj/ clusters are not permitted in Tooro"s phonotactics, the /j/ is dropped (e.g. okukwasa "to make touch" < *okukwasya < okukwata "to touch").[6]

Finally, causative -is only mutates /ɾ/ to [z] (e.g. okuhazisa "to cause to scratch" < okuhara "to scratch"). It cannot mutate /d͡ʒ/, [d] or /t/ (e.g. okutundisa "to cause to sell" < okutunda "to sell" instead of *okutunzisa).[6]


Tooro has 2 main tones (high and low, low tone being the default), and 2 other tones (falling and rising) that appear in restricted circumstances. It is worth mentioning that vowels and nasal consonants can have a high tone (e.g. nnywa [ń̩ɲwa] "I drink").

High tone

Although Tooro lacks lexical tone, it has grammatical tone in the form of the high tone. In isolation, the high tone always falls on the penultimate syllable of a word, however, when a noun is modified by a following disyllabic adjective, the noun loses its high tone except if the noun functions as a predicate. -ona "all, whole" and -ombi "both" are exceptions to this, as they let the noun keep its high tone. Additionally, a noun followed by a monosyllabic adjective makes the high tone fall on the last syllable of the noun. An adjective with more than two syllables morphologically lets the noun keep its high tone. This means that ondi "the other (person, class 1)" & endi "the other (class 9)" are considered trisyllabic as they are derived from o-o-ndi/e-e-ndi and overlong vowels are not permissible. Thus, the only difference between [omuːntu óːndi] "another person" and [omúːntu óːndi] "the other person" is the high tone of the noun.[3] Demonstratives also let the noun keep its high tone, regardless if the demonstrative has only 1 or 2 syllables.

Falling tone

A falling tone appears in two cases:

Rising tone

Rising tone is very rare, and only occurs in one case where a monosyllabic noun stem which has no noun prefix is used without an augment word-finally (e.g. enu ka [eːnǔ ka] "this is a house").


The following syllable types are allowed in native Tooro words, where V stands for a vowel (short or long), C a consonant, N a nasal consonant, and G a glide.

Note that since these rules only apply to native Tooro words, loanwords like Kristo "Christ" may break them.


Tooro uses the same orthography as Nyoro.

Tooro orthography[4][7]
a aa b bb c d e ee f g h i ii j k l
/a/ /aː/ /β/ /b/ /tʃ/ /d/ /e/ /eː/ /f/ /g/ /h/ /i/ /iː/ /dʒ/ /k/ /l/
m n[a] ny[b] o oo p r rr s t u uu v w y z
/m/ /n/ /ɲ/ /o/ /oː/ /p/ /ɾ/ /r/ /s/ /t/ /u/ /uː/ /v/ /w/ /j/ /z/
  1. ^ /nj/ is written as ⟨ni⟩ in all contexts (e.g. okunia [okúnja] "to defecate").
  2. ^ /ɲː/ (normally pronounced [ɲ], but still lengthens the vowel before it) is written as ⟨nny⟩ in all contexts (e.g. okunnyaga [okuˑɲáɡa] "to kidnap me").

Vowel hiatus resolution between words is not indicated in the orthography, except for some short words like na "and", -a "of" or nka "approximately" (e.g. okusoma ekitabu [okusóm‿eːkitáβu] "to read a book"; ky'abantu [c‿aβáːntu] "of (class 7) the people"). Doubled vowels are not used in environments where vowel lengthening can be easily predicted (e.g. in a penultimate syllable before a nasal cluster). Tone is not represented in the orthography.


Noun classes

Like most Bantu languages, Tooro has noun classes, shown in the table below (augment vowels in brackets).

Tooro noun classes
Class number Prefix Typical meaning(s) Example
1[8] (o)mu- Humans omuntu "person"
1a[5] ∅- Kinship terms, foreign professions (subclass of class 1) nyoko "your mother"
2 (a)ba- Plural of class 1 abantu "people"
2a[5] (∅)baa- Plural of class 1a (subclass of class 2) baanyoko "your mothers"
3 (o)mu- Plants omuti "tree"
4 (e)mi- Plural of class 3 emiti "trees"
5 (e)ri-[a], (e)i-[b] Large things, state of being eriiso "eye"
6 (a)ma- Plural of class 5, class 15 and sometimes class 14, liquids (mass nouns) amaiso "eyes"
7 (e)ki- Inanimate objects, augmentatives ekitabu "book", "bed"
8 (e)bi- Plural of class 7 ebitabu "books", "beds"
9 (e)n-, (e)∅-, ∅- Animals, colours, loanwords embuzi "goat"
10 (e)n-, (e)∅- Plural of class 9 and class 11 endimi "tongues"
11 (o)ru- Languages, abstract nouns orulimi "tongue"
12 (a)ka- Abstract nouns, diminutives akame "rabbit, hare"
13 (o)tu- Plural diminutives otume "small rabbits"
14 (o)bu- Abstract nouns, kingdoms, plural of class 12, sometimes singular of class 6[5][9] obume "rabbits, hares"
15 (o)ku- Infinitives, verbal nouns okulya "eating, to eat"
16 (a)ha-[c] Locatives (on)[10] ahantu "place"
17[d] (o)ku- Locatives (way, path), adverbs kubi "badly, in a bad way", kunu "this way"
18 (o)mu-[e] Locatives (in)[10] omunju "in the house"
(19) (e)i-[b] ? enyuma/enyima "underside"
  1. ^ Without the augment, ri- is realised as li- [li-].
  2. ^ a b With the augment, ei- is realised as i- [iː-].
  3. ^ ha-, when it forms adverbial locative nouns, is never used with an augment.
  4. ^ Class 17 is no longer productive.
  5. ^ If used with an augment, class 18 implies a definite noun. If used without one, it implies an indefinite noun, Compare omutauni 'in the town' with mutauni 'in a town, in town'.

A noun is made augmentless (i.e. without an augment, equivalent to the base state in Luganda) in these circumstances:

Compare the following examples:[3]


Independent pronouns

Person/Class singular plural
1st person nyowe, nye[a] itwe
2nd person iwe inywe
3rd person/Cl. 1/2 uwe bo
Class 3/4 gwo yo
Class 5/6 ryo go
Class 7/8 kyo byo
Class 9/10 yo zo
Class 11/10 rwo (zo)
Class 12/14 ko bwo
Class 13 N/A two
Class 15/6 kwo (go)
Class 16 ho N/A
  1. ^ nye is optionally used after a monosyllabic word such as na, nka or ni 'it is' (e.g. ni nye "it's me").

Relative pronouns

Class singular plural
Class 1/2 ou aba
Class 3/4 ogu ei
Class 5/6 eri aga
Class 7/8 eki ebi
Class 9/10 ei ezi
Class 11/10 oru (ezi)
Class 12/14 aka obu
Class 13 N/A otu
Class 15/6 oku (aga)
Class 16 aha N/A

Pronominal concords

Possessive pronouns and some other words like -a "of" and -ndi "another" are inflected depending on the noun class of the noun being qualified:

Tooro subject/pronominal concord prefixes[5][9]
Class number Prefix (before a consonant Prefix (before a vowel) Example (-ange, "my")
1 o- w- wange
2 ba- b- bange
3 gu- gw- gwange
4 e- y- yange
5 li- ly- lyange
6 ga- g- gange
7 ki- ky- kyange
8 bi- by- byange
9 e- y- yange
10 zi- z- zange
11 ru- rw- rwange
12 ka- k- kange
14 bu- bw- bwange
15 ku- kw- kwange
16 ha- h- hange

These words support augments. For possessive pronouns, the augment conveys the meaning of "own" (e.g. omwana owange "my own child", instead of omwana wange "my child, any of my children"). For other words, it conveys definiteness (e.g. embuzi eya Bagonza "the house of Bagonza" instead of embuzi ya Bagonza "a house of Bagonza").[5]: 415–425 


Demonstratives in Tooro can optionally be placed before or after the noun (e.g. omuntu onu / onu omuntu "this person").

Tooro demonstratives
Noun class Proximal



(that near you)


(that over there, rather near)


(that over there, rather far away)

1 onu ogu oli
2 banu abo bali
3 gunu ogu guli
4 enu egi egyo eri
5 linu eri eryo liri
6 ganu ago gali
7 kinu eki ekyo kiri
8 binu ebi ebyo biri
9 enu egi egyo eri
10 zinu ezi ezo ziri
11 runu oru ruli
12 kanu ako kali
13 tunu otu tuli
14 bunu obu buli
15 kunu oku kuli
16 hanu aho hali
17 kunu oku kuli
18 munu omu muli

Classes 16 and 17 are used as adverbs (i.e. hanu means "here", kunu "this way", hali "there", kuli "that way")


Tooro, like all Rutara languages, is a heavily agglutinative language, with verbs needing to agree with the tense, mood, subject and object in class and number.[12]






They have never caused it (class 7) to be given to him/her over there.

The morphological structure of a Tooro verb is:

Tooro morphological verb slots[4][12]
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
5a 5b 8a 8b 8c

ni-, ti-

Subject markers -ta- Tense-aspect-mood:

-ka-, -a-, -(r)aa-, -ri-, -kya-, -ku-

Direct object markers Indirect object markers Verb root Verb derivation suffixes (except -i-, -u-) -ir- (perfective) -i-, -u- Final vowel:

-a, -e


-mu, -ho, -yo

-ga -ge

Subject markers

Tooro subject markers[5]: 413–414 
Person/Class Prefix Person/Class Prefix
1st per. sg. n- 1st per. pl. tu-
2nd per. sg. o- 2nd per. pl. mu-
3rd per. sg./Cl. 1 a- 3rd per. sg./Cl. 2 ba-
Class 3 gu- Class 4 e-
Class 5 li- Class 6 ga-
Class 7 ki- Class 8 bi-
Class 9 e- Class 10 zi-
Class 11 ru- (Class 10) (zi-)
Class 12 ka- Class 14 bu-
N/A N/A Class 13 tu-
Class 15 ku- (Class 6) (ga-)
Class 16 ha- N/A N/A

Note the similarity to the subject concord prefixes. Only class 1 and 4 differ.

Object markers

Tooro object markers[5]: 414 
Person/Class Prefix Person/Class Prefix
1st per. sg. -n- 1st per. pl. -tu-
2nd per. sg. -ku- 2nd per. pl. -ba-
3rd per. sg./Cl. 1 -mu- 3rd per. sg./Cl. 2 -ba-
Class 3 -gu- Class 4 -gi-
Class 5 -li- Class 6 -ga-
Class 7 -ki- Class 8 -bi-
Class 9 -gi- Class 10 -zi-
Class 11 -ru- (Class 10) (-zi-)
Class 12 -ka- Class 14 -bu-
N/A N/A Class 13 -tu-
Class 15 -ku- (Class 6) (-ga-)
Class 16 -ha- N/A N/A
Reflexive -e- N/A N/A

Note the similarity to the subject markers, only class 1, 4 and 9 differ.

The object markers are used for direct and indirect objects. The indirect object marker comes before the direct object marker:





he/she gave it (class 7) to him/her

If the object marker is used with an object noun, the noun is made definite. Compare the following examples:

Verb derivation suffixes

Tooro has a lot of derivational affixes for verbs, most of them exhibiting mid vowel harmony.

Tooro verb derivation suffixes[5]: xxiv–xxv 
Prefix Meaning Example
after /a, i, u/ after /e, o/ after /a, i, u/ after /e, o/
-ir -er applicative suffix okucumbira "to cook for someone" < okucumba "to cook" okutemera "to cut (using a machete/axe) for someone" < okutema "to cut (using a machete/axe)"
-is -es instrumental,causative suffix okucumbisa "to cook using something, to make someone cook" < okucumba okutemesa "to cut using something, to make someone cut" < okutema
-i [a] causative suffix okucumbya "to cause to cook" < okucumba
-u, -ibw (after /j/, /w/, /s/, /z/) passive suffix okucumbwa "to be cooked" < okucumba, okuliibwa "to be eaten" < okulya "to eat"
-uːr -oːr transitive suffix okuhumbuura "to revive (tr.)" < okuhumba (not used) okuhomoora "to detach"
-uːk -oːk intransitive suffix okuhumbuuka "to revive (intr.)" < okuhumba okuhomooka "to come off"
-ur, -urr -or, -orr reversive transitive suffix okuhabura "to put someone in the right way" < okuhaba "to get lost", okuzingurra "to disentangle" < okuzinga "to wind up, to entangle" okusoborra "to untangle"
-uk, -uruk -ok, -orok reversive intransitive suffix okuhabuka "to come back from the wrong way" < okuhaba, okuzinguruka "to become disentangled" < okuzinga okusoboroka "to become untangled"
-ik -ek stative, positional transitive suffix okuhendeka "to have a bone broken" < okuhenda "to break (tr.)"
-an, -angan associative suffix okutomeran(gan)a "to collide with each other" < okutomera "to collide"
-ar intransitive suffix okusigara "to remain" < okusiga "to leave (tr.)"
-am positional intransitive suffix okusitama "to squat" < okusita (not used)
-iriz -erez insistent suffix okuhondereza "to follow someone wherever they go" < okuhonda "to follow"
-iːriz -eːrez repetitive suffix okusekeereza "to laugh repeatedly" < okuseka "to laugh"
-aniz repetitive suffix okulengesaniza "to imitate repeatedly" < okulengesa "to imitate"
-irr -err intensive suffix okwanguhirra "to be very light/easy" < okwanguha "to be light/easy"
  1. ^ -i is always placed immediately before the final vowel of a verb (e.g. bagondeze < ba-gond-er-i-e "they loved") except if a verb whose root ends in /t/ has the -ir suffix (applicative or perfective). In this case, -i is inserted twice: once before the root, and again before the final vowel (e.g. okurooseza < o-ku-root-i-er-i-a "to cause to dream for").

Reduplication is also used for some verbs (e.g. okutematema "to cut into small pieces using a machete").

Verb conjugations

Below are some verb conjugations in Tooro with examples that use the subject marker n- "I" and the verb root √-gend- "go". Perfective -ir is subject to mid vowel harmony and causes consonant mutation. Note that SM stands for "subject marker" and RT stands for "root".

Tooro verb conjugations[5]: xxv–xxix [7][12]
Aspect ↘ Completives Incompletives
Tense ↓ Performative Perfective Retrospective Habitual Progressive Continuative
Remote past Affirmative SM-ka-RT-a

nkagenda "I went (before yesterday)"

SM-ka-ba SM-a-RT-a

nkaba nagenda "I had gone (before yesterday)"

SM-ka-ba SM-RT-ir-e

nkaba ngenzire "I had already gone (before yesterday)"


nagendaga "I used to go"

SM-ka-ba ni-SM-RT-a

nkaba ningenda "I was going (before yesterday)"

SM-ka-ba ni-SM-kya-RT-a

nkaba ninkyagenda "I was still going (before yesterday)"

Negative SM-ta-RT-e

ntagende "I didn't go (before yesterday)"

SM-ka-ba SM-ta-ka-RT-ir-e

nkaba ntakagenzire "I hadn't gone (before yesterday)"

SM-ka-ba SM-ta-(ka-)RT-ir-e

nkaba nta(ka)genzire "I hadn't already gone (before yesterday)"


tinagendaga "I used to not go"

SM-ka-ba SM-ta-ku-RT-a

nkaba ntakugenda "I wasn't going (before yesterday)"

SM-ka-ba SM-ta-kya-RT-a

nkaba ntakyagenda "I wasn't still going (before yesterday)"

Near past Affirmative SM-RT-ir-e-ge

ngenzirege "I went (today/yesterday)"

SM-ba-ir-e SM-a-RT-a

mbaire nagenda "I had gone (today/yesterday)"

SM-ba-ir-e SM-RT-ir-e

mbaire ngenzire "I had already gone (today/yesterday)"


nagendaga "I used to go"

SM-ba-ir-e ni-SM-RT-a

mbaire ningenda "I was going (today/yesterday)"

SM-ba-ir-e ni-SM-kya-RT-a

mbaire ninkyagenda "I was still going (today/ yesterday)"

Negative ti-SM-RT-ir-e-ge

tingenzirege "I didn't go (today/yesterday)"

SM-ba-ir-e SM-ta-ka-RT-ir-e

mbaire ntakagenzire "I hadn't gone (today/yesterday)"

SM-ba-ir-e SM-ta-(ka-)RT-ir-e

mbaire nta(ka)genzire "I hadn't already gone (today/yesterday)"


tinagendaga "I used to not go"

SM-ba-ir-e SM-ta-ku-RT-a

mbaire ntakugenda "I wasn't going (today/yesterday)"

SM-ba-ir-e SM-ta-kya-RT-a

mbaire ntakyagenda "I wasn't still going (today/yesterday)"

"Memorial present", hodiernal past Affirmative SM-a-RT-a

nagenda "I just went (a moment ago)"

SM-a-ba SM-a-RT-a

naba nagenda "I had just gone (a moment ago)"

SM-a-ba SM-RT-ir-e

naba ngenzire "I had already just gone (a moment ago)"


ngenda "I go"

SM-a-ba ni-SM-RT-a

naba ningenda "I was just going (a moment)"

SM-a-ba ni-SM-kya-RT-a

naba ninkyagenda "I was still going (a moment ago)"

Negative ti-SM-a-RT-a

tinagenda "I didn't go (a moment ago)"

SM-a-ba SM-ta-ka-RT-ir-e

naba ntakagenzire "I hadn't just gone (a moment ago)"

SM-a-ba SM-ta-(ka-)RT-ir-e

naba nta(ka)genzire "I hadn't already just gone (a moment ago)"


tingenda "I don't go"

SM-a-ba SM-ta-ku-RT-a

naba ntakugenda "I wasn't just going (a moment ago)"

SM-a-ba SM-ta-kya-RT-a

naba ntakyagenda "I wasn't still going (a moment ago)"

"Experience perfective" Affirmative N/A SM-ra-RT-ir-e

ndagenzire "I have at some point gone"

Negative SM-ka-RT-a-ga

nkagendaga "I have never gone"

"Sufficient perfective" Affirmative N/A SM-a-RT-ir-e

nagenzire "I have sufficiently gone, I have gone enough"

Negative ti-SM-RT-ir-e e-ki-ku-mar-a

tingenzire ekikumara "I haven't gone enough"

Present Affirmative (ni-SM-RT-a)

(ningenda "I am going")


nagenda "I have just gone"


ngenzire "I have already gone"


ngenda "I go"


ningenda "I am going"


ninkyagenda "I am still going"

Negative (ti-SM-(ru-)ku-RT-a)

(tin(du)kugenda "I am not going")


tinagenda "I haven't just gone"


tin(ka)genzire "I haven't already gone"


tingenda "I don't go"


tin(du)kugenda "I am not going"


tinkyagenda "I am still not going"

Near future Affirmative SM-raa-RT-a

ndaagenda "I will go (today/tomorrow)"

SM-raa-ba SM-a-RT-a

ndaaba nagenda "I will have gone (today/tomorrow)"

SM-raa-ba SM-RT-ir-e

ndaaba ngenzire "I will have already gone (today/tomorrow)"


ndaagendaga "I will always go"

SM-raa-ba ni-SM-RT-a

ndaaba ningenda "I will be going (today/tomorrow)"

SM-raa-ba ni-SM-kya-RT-a

ndaaba ninkyagenda "I will still be going (today/tomorrow)"

Negative ti-SM-aa-RT-e

tinaagende "I won't go (today/tomorrow)"

SM-daa-ba SM-ta-ka-RT-ir-e

ndaaba ntakagenzire "I won't have gone (today/tomorrow)"

SM-raa-ba SM-ta-(ka-)RT-ir-e

ndaaba nta(ka)genzire "I won't have already gone (today/tomorrow)"


tinaagendege "I won't always go"

SM-raa-ba SM-ta-ku-RT-a

ndaaba ntakugenda "I won't be going (today/tomorrow)"

SM-raa-ba SM-ta-kya-RT-a

ndaaba ntakyagenda "I won't still be going (today/tomorrow)"

Remote future Affirmative SM-ri-RT-a

ndigenda "I will go (after tomorrow)"

SM-ri-ba SM-a-RT-a

ndiba nagenda "I will have gone (after tomorrow)"

SM-ri-ba SM-RT-ir-e

ndiba ngenzire "I will have already gone (after tomorrow)"


ndaagendaga "I will always go"

SM-ri-ba ni-SM-RT-a

ndiba ningenda "I will be going (after tomorrow)"

SM-ri-ba ni-SM-kya-RT-a

ndiba ninkyagenda "I will still be going (after tomorrow)"

Negative ti-SM-ri-RT-a

tindigenda "I won't go (after tomorrow)"

SM-ri-ba SM-ta-ka-RT-ir-e

ndiba ntakagenzire "I won't have gone (after tomorrow)"

SM-ri-ba SM-ta-(ka-)RT-ir-e

ndiba nta(ka)genzire "I won't have already gone (after tomorrow)"


tinaagendege "I won't always go"

SM-ri-ba SM-ta-ku-RT-a

ndiba ntakugenda "I won't be going (after tomorrow)"

SM-ri-ba SM-ta-kya-RT-a

ndiba ntakyagenda "I won't still be going (after tomorrow)"

Irrealis moods
Imperative RT-a

Genda! "Go!"

Prohibitive Singular o-ta-RT-a

Otagenda! "Don't go!"

Plural mu-ta-RT-a

Mutagenda! "Don't go!"

Subjunctive Affirmative SM-RT-e

ngende "I should go, I may go"

Negative SM-ta-RT-a

ntagenda "I shouldn't go, I may not go"

Subjunctive habitual Affirmative SM-RT-e-ge

ngendege "I should always go, I should keep going"

Negative not attested, expected to be *SM-ta-RT-a-ga
Hortative Affirmative ka SM-RT-e

ka ngende "let me go"

Negative ka SM-ta-ku-RT-a

ka ntakugenda "don't let me go"

Hypothetical Affirmative SM-aa-ku-RT-a

naakugenda "I can go"

Negative ti-SM-aa-ku-RT-a

tinaakugenda "I can't go"

Conditional Affirmative SM-aa-ku-RT-ir-e

naakugenzire "I would have gone, I would go"

Negative ti-SM-aa-ku-RT-ir-e

tinaakugenzire "I wouldn't have gone, I wouldn't go"


In Tooro, the numbers 1 to 5 are numerical adjectives that need to agree with the noun they qualify, whereas the numbers 6 to 10 are numerical nouns that do not agree with the qualified noun. For abstract counting, the class 10 inflection of the numerical adjective is used. 20 to 50, 200 to 500 and 2000 to 5000 are expressed using the plural of 10, 100 and 1000 respectively with the cardinal numbers for 2 to 5. 60 to 100, 600 to 1000 and 6000 to 10,000 are numerical nouns derived from the same roots as 6 to 10.

Tooro numbers (1–10,000)
1–5 6–10

(class 3/5)

10–50 60–100 (class 9/7) 100–500 600–1000 (class 11) 1000–5000 6000–10,000 (class 12)
1 – -mu 6 – mukaaga (10 – ikumi) 60 – nkaaga (100 – kikumi) 600 – rukaaga (1000 – rukumi) 6000 – kakaaga
2 – -biri 7 – musanju 20 – (makumi) abiri 70 – nsanju 200 – (bikumi) bibiri 700 – rusanju 2000 – nkumi ibiri 7000 – kasanju
3 – -satu 8 – munaana 30 – (makumi) asatu 80 – kinaana 300 – (bikumi) bisatu 800 – runaana 3000 – nkumi isatu 8000 – kanaana
4 – -na 9 – mwenda 40 – (makumi) ana 90 – kyenda 400 – (bikumi) bbina 900 – rwenda 4000 – nkumi ina 9000 – kenda
5 – -taano 10 – ikumi 50 – (makumi) ataano 100 – kikumi 500 – (bikumi) bitaano 1000 – rukumi 5000 – nkumi itaano 1000 – kakumi, omutwaro


In Tooro, time is counted in a 12-hour time convention from sunrise to sunset, with 7:00 am being the first hour of the day and 6:00 pm being the twelfth. Same goes for 7:00pm and 6:00 am respectively. To tell time, use saaha ("hour") + the corresponding number of the hour (equivalent of subtracting 6 from the A.M./P.M. system). The class 16 locative class is used for time (e.g. tukahika hasaaha ikumi "we arrived at four o'clock").

Greetings (Endamukya)

Greetings in Tooro differ depending on number (singular or plural):[13][14]

Sample text

Buli muntu aina obugabe bwe habwe rundi omukitebe n’abandi kutwara omumaiso kandi n’okwekamba kulinda n’okuhikiriza eby’obugabe bw’abantu n’obusinge bwabo kwetwara harulengo rw’ihanga n’orw’ensi yoona.[15]

















































buli mu-ntu a-ina o-bu-gabe bw-e habw-e rundi o-mu-ki-tebe na=a-ba-ndi ku-twar-a o-mu-ma-iso kandi na=o-kw-ekamb-a ku-lind-a na=o-ku-hikir-iz-a e-by-a=o-bu-gabe bw-a=a-ba-ntu na=o-bu-singe bw-abo kw-e-twar-a ha-ru-lengo rw-a=i-hanga na=o-rw-a=e-n-si y-oona

every CL1-person 3SG-have AUG-CL14-right CL14-3SG.POSS because.of-3SG.POSS or AUG.DEF-CL18.LOC-CL7-group and=AUG-CL2-other CL15.INF-take-FV AUG.DEF-CL18.LOC-CL6-eye and and=AUG-CL15.INF-strive.for-FV CL15.INF-protect-FV and=AUG-CL15.INF-arrive-APPL\CAUS-FV AUG.DEF-CL-GEN=AUG-CL14-right CL14-GEN=AUG-CL2.PL-person and=AUG-CL14-peace CL14-3PL.POSS CL15.INF-REFL-take-FV CL16.LOC-CL11-level CL11-GEN=CL5-nation and=AUG-CL11=AUG-CL9-earth CL9-all

Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.

(Article 1 of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms)

See also


  1. ^ Tooro at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  3. ^ a b c Kaji, Shigeki (2009-03-01). "Tone and syntax in Rutooro, a toneless Bantu language of Western Uganda". Language Sciences. Data and Theory: Papers in Phonology in Celebration of Charles W. Kisseberth. 31 (2): 239–247. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2008.12.006. ISSN 0388-0001.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bickmore, Lee (2021-08-22). "Phonological and Morphological Influences on Vowel Hiatus Resolution in Rutooro". Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus. 62: 2. doi:10.5842/62-0-900. ISSN 2224-3380.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Kaji, Shigeki (2007). A Rutooro Vocabulary. PanLex Project The Long Now Foundation. Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA). ISBN 978-4-87297-890-2.
  6. ^ a b c d e Bickmore, Lee (2019). "Unaltered morphemes as phonological triggers and targets in Rutooro". Journal of African Languages and Linguistics. 40.
  7. ^ a b Rubongoya, L.T. (2013). Katondogorozi y'Orunyoro-Rutooro n'Orungereza [Runyoro-Rutooro-English and English-Runyoro-Rutooro dictionary] (PDF). Kampala, Uganda: Modrug Publishers. ISBN 978-9970-9160-0-9.
  8. ^ Botne, Robert Dale Olson (2010). "Perfectives and perfects and pasts, oh my!: On the semantics of -ILE in Bantu". Africana Linguistica. 16 (1): 31–64. doi:10.3406/aflin.2010.987.
  9. ^ a b Kaji, Shigeki (2010-01-01). "A comparative study of tone of West Ugandan Bantu Languages, with particular focus on the tone loss in Tooro". ZAS Papers in Linguistics. 53: 99–107. doi:10.21248/zaspil.53.2010.394. ISSN 1435-9588.
  10. ^ a b Isingoma, Bebwa (December 2012). "Triadic constructions in Rutooro - Chapter 3. Properties of prepositional phrase constructions". ACAL Proceedings (Pp.149-160). Cascadilla: 1 – via ResearchGate.
  11. ^ Bickmore, Lee (2019). "Liquid realization in Rutooro". In Clem, Emily; Jenks, Peter; Sande, Hannah (eds.). Theory and description in African Linguistics: Selected papers from the 47th Annual Conference on African Linguistics. Language Science Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-3-96110-205-1.
  12. ^ a b c Muzale, Henry R.T. (1999). A reconstruction of the Proto-Rutara tense/aspect system (PDF). Canada: Ottawa : National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada. ISBN 9780612362093.
  13. ^ "Lesson 3". Kusemererwa Adyeri Emmanuel. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  14. ^ Businge, Julian; Norah Guma, Tracy (March 27, 2019). Yega Orutooro: Learn Rutooro Language. Greatness University Publishers. p. 10. ISBN 978-1913164942.
  15. ^ The Human Rights Centre Uganda (1999). Kurangirra ha bugabe bw’abarwanirra obugabe bw’abantu okw’Amahanga Ageetiraine (UN)

Further reading