Causative Verb Form

Causing an action to occur ie "make return". There a few different forms of the causative verb ending in Kiswahili but typically verbs end in a -sha or -za

There are two rule sets you can apply here, depending on what makes more sense.

Rule Set One (1)

Verbs ending with a, i or u, use -isha

Take off the final vowel to get the verb root, if the nearest vowel is now a, i or u then add -isha

Kula (to eat)

-lisha (to be fed ie to cause to eat)

Kurudi (to return)

-rudisha (to cause to return)

Verbs ending with e or o, use -esha

If the verb roots' nearest reaming vowel is e or o then add -esha

Kusoma (to read)

-somesha (to cause to read ie teach)

Kutoa (to take out, deliver)

-toesha (to cause to take out)

Verbs roots ending with k, -sha

If the verb root form ends in -k use -sha

Kupaka (to apply)

-pakasha (to cause to apply)

Kukumbuka (to remember)

-kumbusha (to remind, cause to remember)

Verb roots ending with n, -nya

If the verb root ends with -n, use -nya in the causative form

Kupona (to get better, recover)

-ponya (to heal, to cause to recover)

Kuchana (to comb, to tear)

-chanya (to cause to tear)

Exceptions that use -za

Some verbs use -za in their causative form such as kulala

Kulala (to sleep)

-laza (to cause to sleep, to admit to hospital)

Kuuma ( to hurt)

-umiza (to cause pain)

Rule Set Two (2)

Verb with a, i or u use -isha

Kufanya (to do)


Kuanza (to start)

-anzisha (to cause to start, to inaugurate)

Verb with e or o use -esha

Kukopa (to borrow)

-kopesha (to cause to borrow)

Kuenda (to go)

-endesha (to cause to move, to drive)

Some double verbs ending with -za

When the verb ends with a double vowel, use the -za form

Kupotea (to lose)

-poteza (to cause to lose)

Kujaa (to fill)

-jaza (cause to fill)

Some double verbs ending with -lisha, -lesha

Kufua (to clean)

-fulisha (to cause to clean)

Kutoa (to take out)

-tolesha (to cause to take out)

Verbs ending with -ka or -ta use -sha

Kuruka (to jump)

-rusha (to throw)

Kupata (to get)

-pasha (to cause to get warm)


Kupenda (to like/love)

-pendeza (to cause to like/love, to be attractive)

Kulala (to sleep)

-laza (to cause to sleep, to admit)

NB: Causative form can cause some slight changes in meaning such as ruka → rusha.

NB: Some forms such as double vowels need to be learnt by example, as the rules try to promote sound harmony.

Causatives from Adjectives and Nouns

Can form causative verbs from adjectives and nouns using -isha or -esha based on rules 1 and 2.

-safi (clean)

Safisha (to clean)

Bora (good, better)

Boresah (to make better, to improve)

Rahisi (easy)

Rahisisha (to simplify)

Maana (meaning)

Maanisha (to mean)

Sababu (cause, reason)

Sababisha (to cause)

1 - From Swahili as a living language

2 - From KIU's summary of grammer forms

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