Ngwaa (Verbs)

Verbs are words used to show action.

Overall, in Igbo, the infinitive form of the verb begins either with an i or ị depending on vowel harmony. The infinitive form of the verb, also called the infinitive marker, refers to the most simple version of the verb preceded by the word “to” such as “to see.”

Igbo infinitive verb: i/ị + action verb root

Igbo infinitive form examples:

ịbịa  [ị + bịa] – to come

ime  [i + me ] – to do

ide[i + de] – to write


To learn how to conjugate Igbo verbs in various tenses, check out the following links:

Igbo Verbs Present Tense

Igbo Verbs Past Tense

Igbo Verbs Future Tense


How to Make Igbo Verbs Negative

Common Igbo Verbs

Verb Suffixes

Note: Please keep in mind the following.

Present Simple Tense vs Present Continuous Tense

Present Simple Tense Example: I eat.

Present Continuous Tense Example: I am eating.

In my research, I have found some people that say the present simple tense in Igbo is the same as the present continuous tense in Igbo. I am not sure if this is true across all dialects or not. If true, both of the example sentences above could be translated to M na-eri or A na m eri. I assume you would have to use context clues to know what present tense the person is using.


Transitive Verbs

Many verbs in Igbo are transitive which means that they need to be followed by a noun to complete their action in a sentence. For example, in Igbo, you usually have to say “I eat food” and not just “I eat.” Or, you would have to say, “I run a race”, not just “I run”.


to eat (food) – iri (nri)

to pray (a prayer) – ikpe (ekpere)


Verb Differences in Different Dialects

Your dialect may spell verbs differently than what is listed on my lessons. For example, the verb “bụ” (to be) can be written as “wụ” in some dialects. Also, the way to format Igbo verbs in present, past, future, and negated tense also varies across dialects. My lessons show some of the most common ways to conjugate verbs in Igbo that I have come across.



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