Sona Grammar Basics

This extremely brief and incomplete summary assumes that you are familiar with the general idea of Sona and the rules of pronunciation. It also assumes that you either understand terms like “morpheme” and “copula” or you are willing to look up the definitions.


The English definite and indefinite articles (the, a, an) are normally not translated into Sona. The word en sometimes serves as an emphatic article: en gelen = The Book, that very book, the only book that matters in this context.


Plural status of a noun can be indicated by the suffix -e but this is only done when necessary (not as often as English marks plural status). lenie = letters. Plural is not marked after a numeral: mi ima do can = I have two cases. If the noun ends with -a, -e, -o or -n, then -y- is inserted before -e: raye = men, peceye = boots, rugoye = wheels, kanye = buildings.


Adjectives are often formed by adding -o to some other type of word: ikio = sudden, molio = fertile. Often -y- must be inserted before -o: atayo = wide, dengayo = dental. However not every word ending with o is an adjective: pomo = apple, hairo = the sun.

Another common adjective ending is -vio “having the quality of”: igevio = sticky, juvio = happy, savio = wise.

Comparative and superlative can be formed with the prefix e-: evanyo vandi = a darker night, en evanyo vandi = the darkest night. The prefix e- is followed by -y- if the following morpheme starts with a, e, or o: eyaka ra = a taller man, en eyaka ra = the tallest man.


Adverbs are often formed by adding -(y)u to some other type of word: ireyu = repeatedly, fuyu = externally, akiu = quickly. Not every word ending with u is an adverb.

“Adverbs of rest and motion” are formed with the prefix a- and the suffix -li respectively: afu = located outside, fuli = moving outwards.


The most common forms of verbs are:

da ru = to go  —  infinitive
ru = go, goes  —  present
ruto = went  —  simple past
va ru = will go  —  future
ruha or ru = go!  —  imperative

-cio creates the active participle: inecio ra = a sleeping man, ulacio dure = a singing tree.

-nio or -ni passive: abuni = beloved, udeni = broken, seni = the view (that which is seen), ulani = song (that which is sung)

The suffix -i can form an adverbial clause that refers to a verb’s action or state:
perui homali mi seto inecio xen. = (While) walking homewards I saw a sleeping dog.
zii jun mi akasi ki. = Being young I get up early.


The personal pronouns are:
mi I, me, my  — mie we, us, our
tu you (singular), your  — tue you (plural), your
on he, him, his  — onye they, their (masculine)
an she, her  — anye they, their (feminine)
en it, its  — enye they, their (neuter)
ti they, them, their (without reference to gender)

Sona does not use the personal pronouns as often as English. You may omit them whenever they are not absolutely necessary for communication.

There is no distinct possessive form. The possessing pronoun can be suffixed onto the noun: mi kadi or kadimi = my head.

Pronouns can be affixed to a verb, with the subject appearing as a prefix and the object appearing as a suffix: mi sa ti or misati = I know them; tu sa an or tusayan = you know her.

ci is the relative pronoun. ra ci sa ti = the man who knows them.


The copula zi “be, is, am, are, were,” is often omitted when doing so causes no confusion: on inya = he (is) here, in kan ta this building (is) large. The phrase ti bara could be interpreted either as “their soldiers” or “they are soldiers,” but this ambiguity could be avoided by rephrasing it as either barati or ti zi bara.

zi can be suffixed onto another word as in atozi “to be old,” un ra atozi “that man is old.”

existential sentences

Sentences about the existence, presence or location of something are constructed in this manner:

mi zia homa. = I am at home.
asesi! zia ipe. = Look out! There’s a snake!
na zia bivelen. = There is no toilet paper.
zikeya ipa lia on? = Is there enough room for him?
tu fa to semi ken na zia huvan. = You might have seen me if there had not been a fog.


The interrogative particle ke forms words like keji = who?, kena = what?, keri = when?, keta = how much?

There is no change of word order in a question: tu ima su = you have water, tu imake su? = do you have water?

Note that ke is often suffixed onto the verb: tu sake laba Sona? = do you know how to speak Sona? Also, ke is used as an infix in a few words like zikeya.

gender, agent, human

Gender of a creature can be marked by the prefix ra- male or zan- female: zanyibo = cow, raibo = bull, zanpi = hen, rapi = cock.

-ra and -zan used as suffixes can sometimes be interpreted as “an X which is male” or “an X which is female”: kora = boy (child which is male), kozan = girl (child which is female). Some of these words have a vaguely agentive sense: kisara = a learner (student) who is male.

-ci at the end of a compound sometimes means agent, do-er, “one who does the stated activity.” kaci = leader, peruci = pedestrian (one who walks), kisaci = student (either male or female).

-ji (human being) at the end of a compound means “person (of unstated gender) who has the quality or is associated with the activity.” soji = friend, boji = blood relative, ubiji = servant.

common noun suffixes

At the end of compound words, the following morphemes often have the meanings given here and usually indicate that the words are nouns:

-na inorganic thing: pana bread, suna liquid, lana word.
-ga organic thing: kinga root, tega arm, denga tooth.
-ne abstract state/thing: mane position, tane size, sane knowledge.
-bi tool, utensil: cobi knife, jabi brush, tebi handle.
-da action: ruda motion, meda thought, ageda meeting.
-kan building: alakan hotel, jokan church, abakan prison.
-cia business: bocia butchershop, panacia bakery.
-ma locality: sama school, unama island, akema mountain.


Names of countries end in -ia: Italia, Fransia. Male inhabitants are indicated by -i, female by -a: Fransi = Frenchman, Itala = Italian woman.


1 enna, 2 do, 3 tin, 4 ca, 5 pen, 6 xi, 7 zun, 8 atu, 9 nun, 10 dici, 11 ennadici or endici, 12 dodici.

Ordinal adjectives are formed with the suffix -(y)o: enyo = first, doyo = second, tinyo = third.

Number of iterations is expressed by the prefix e-: eyen = once, edo = twice, etin = three times.


document assembled by Richard K Harrison
Creative Commons NonCommercial-ShareAlike license

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