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Lingala is a Bantu language spoken throughout the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) and a large part of the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), as well as to some degree in Angola and the Central African Republic.

Lingala being a tonal language, tone is a distinguishing feature in minimal pairs, e.g.: moto (human being) and motó (head), or kokoma (to write) and kokóma (to arrive). There are two tones possible, the normal one is low and the second one is high.


The complete alphabet is as follows:
a b d e ɛ f g (h) i j k l m n o ɔ p s t u w y

The accents above vowels indicate the tones :

  • no accent for default tone, the low tone
  • acute accent for the high tone
  • circumflex for descending tone
  • caron for ascending tone

The Verb

Verb tenses consist of a verb radical (R) with prefixes and suffixes. Dictionary lookup form is -R+a.

Sample verb: -ɔnga

The numbers below refer to paragraph numbers in the reference cited below. vp indicates pronominal prefix.

  • 107. Infinitive: -ɔnga
  • 109. Imperative: -ɔngá
  • 113. Near past tense: vp+-ɔngí
  • 115. Remote past tense: vp+-ɔngákí
  • 117. Future tense: vp+-ɔnga
  • 118. Recurrent present: vp+-ɔngaka
  • 119. Simple present: vp+-ɔnga
  • 126. Subjunctive: vp´+-ɔnga

Conjugate other Lingala verbs

Click verbs to see the tenses above!

Pronominal prefixes

Sg.3a-he, she
Pl.3ba-they (persons)
Pl.3i-they (things)


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