A Concise Grammar of the Malagasy Language/Adverbs


In the Malagasy language adverbs, especially those of place and time, are numerous.

A. But adverbs of quality or manner are few, their place being supplied—
1. by adjectives; as, mihìra tsàra, 'to sing well'. A more common and very useful idiom, is the reversal of this phrase, the adjective still keeping its adjectival force, while the verb is exchanged for a relative noun in the 'limiting accusative' case; as, tsàra-fihìra, 'good as regards the manner of singing'.
2. by prepositional phrases or compound prepositions. These are formed by joining an- as a prefix to root-nouns, as an-dràriny, 'justly'; to abstract nouns, as an-kafetsèna (from fètsy) , 'cunningly'; to relative nouns, as àm-pifehèzana (from fèhy), 'with authority, authoritatively'; to verbal nouns in -ana, as àn-tsivalànana (from vàlana), 'crossways'; to active verbs in the future tense, as àn-kamàndrika (from fàndrika), 'with a view to entrap', 'deceitfully'.
3. by verbs; as, apètraka mìtsivàlana, 'placed crossways'.

B. The Adverbs of negative, affirmation, or doubt, are the following:—

èny, yes. angàha, angàmba, perhaps.
tsìa, no. tòkony hò, probably.
tsỳ, not. sèndra, perchance.
àza, let not (the sign of prohibition). tàhiny, perchance.

Of the two last words, tàhiny is used of suppositions, sèndra not of suppositions. Thus, sèndra nahìta àzy ìzy, 'he happened to meet them'; ràha tàhiny mahìta àzy ìzy, 'if he should happen to meet them'.

C. The interrogative adverbs are the following:—

1. Of place:—
aìza, (present), taìza (past), where?
hò aìza (future), whither? going where?
àvy taìza (lit. came from where?), whence? from what place?
2. Of time:—
ovìana (past) ràhovìana (future), when? [contracted from ràha, ovìana].
3. Of manner, &c.:—
ahòana, how? (used also as an interjection, How!)
manào (past, nanào; future, hanào) ahòana, in what manner, of what kind or quality? [literally, doing what? or, acting how?]
atào (past, natào; future, hatào) ahòana, how? (implying difficulty or impossibility).
[literally, done how?]
atào can take as its agent either a suffix pronoun (as hatàoko ahòana, how can I do it?) or a noun (as, hatàon' nỳ òlona ahòana nò fandòsitra, 'how shall the people escape'? (literally, what shall the people do as regards a way of escape?) This last idiom is a common use of the modal noun.

D. Adverbs of place are very numerous. The following list shows fourteen of them, which are closely connected with the demonstrative pronouns both in form and in meaning:—

The chief adverbs of place are the following:
etỳ, èto, here; èo, ètsy, èny, eròa, erỳ, there;
atỳ, àto, here; ào, àtsy, àny, aròa, arỳ, there.

These different forms cannot be interchanged at pleasure, because the choice of one form rather than another depends upon the distance of the place spoken of.

The forms beginning with a belong rather to the vague and unseen, while those with e to what is seen, and clearly pointed out; as, atỳ an-tàny, here on earth; etỳ an-tànako, 'here in my hand'; aò am-bàta, in a box'; èo imàsonào, 'before your eyes'.

Repetition of adverbs of place sometimes occurs (as, àny an-èfitra àny, 'there in the desert'); but it is not compulsory, as in the case of demonstrative pronouns.

Tenses of Adverbs—The only two kinds of adverbs which have tenses are those of (1) time, and (2) interrogation: and of these, t is the sign of the past tense, and of the future; thus, atỳ, am here; tatỳ, was here; hò atỳ, will be here;—aìza, where is? taìza, where was? hò aìza, where will be?

Adverbial verbs are made from adverbs by putting the active prefix mank- before them; as, mànkatỳ, to come here; mankàny, to go there. Of these verbs, only mankàny has an imperative mood (mànkanèsa) or a relative voice (ànkanèsana), These are made to serve with all the other adverbs of place; as, mànkanèsa atỳ hìanào, 'come here'; nahòana nò tsỳ nànkanèsanào tàny? 'why did you not go there'?

With àvy (coming) put before them, they imply 'motion from', and are equivalent to hence, thence; as, àvy èo ìzy, 'he is coming thence, he is coming hither'.

Adverbs of place are made indefinite in meaning by being repeated with inserted; as, àtohòàto (or, àto hò àto), hereabouts; tèohòèo, thereabouts. They are also often used to express relations of time (as, tèo, recently, lately), especially when used indefinitely (as, tàtohòàto, or tàto hò àto, lately).

E. The chief abverbs of time are the following:—

Anìo, to-day (future).
Àndro àny, to-day (past).
Omàly, yesterday.
Ampìtso, to-morrow.
Àndrotrìny àndrotrizaỳ, at that day (past).
Rehèfa, rehèfèfa, presently.
Ràha àfaka àtsy hò àtsy kokòa, after a time, (i.e. some days).
Ràhatrizaỳ, hereafter (indefinite future).
Fahìny, formerly.
Fahizàny, fàhizaỳ, at that time,—(fàha- is so used with many words to express past time).
Hàtrizaỳ, since the time of.
Hàtrizaìhàtrizaỳ, from of old, from eternity (indefinite past).
Ankèhitrìny, ankèhitrìo, now, at the present time.
Izào, àmin' izào,
Vào faìngana (or haìngana), quite recently.
Mandrìtra nỳ àndro, all day long.
Tontòlo àndro,
Màndrakarìva (màndraka, until; harìva, evening), continually
Matètika, often.
Indraìndraỳ [i.e. indrày, once repeated], sometimes.
Isan-àndro, daily, every day, sany is used with so many words.
Isam-bòlana, monthly, every month.
Tsỳ—intsòny, no longer,—not any more.
Àmin' izaỳ (present), thereupon, upon that.
Tàmin' izaỳ (past),
Miàrakàminizaỳ (miàraka àmin' izaỳ) at that moment, immediately (present).
niàraka tàmin' izaỳ, at that moment, immediately, (past).
Sahàdy, already, so early.
Ràhatèo, already, beforehand.

F. The chief adverbs of manner and degree are the following:—

Fàtratra, earnestly.
Tsimòramòra, easily.
Tsikèlikèly, little by little.
Tsipòtipòtika, piecemeal, in small quantities, bit by bit.
Loàtra, too, exceedingly.
Kòa, too, also.
Kòsa, on the contrary, on the other hand.
Àza, even.
Àvy, apiece, each, individually (as, nomèna sikàjy àvy ìzy, 'they were given sixpence each').
Saìky, or saìka, almost, all but (used of something nearly, but not quite, effected).
Vaìky, or vaìka,
Sàmy, respectively, individually, wholly. Sàmy precedes, and àvokòa follows, the qualified word; as, sàmy màrina (or, màrina àvokòa) ìzy rehètra, 'they are all (individually) true'.
Hakìtro, to the heels. The prefix ha- (short for hàtra, 'up to') is so used with the name of almost any part of the body.