Oromo is a Cushitic language spoken in most parts of Ethiopia and northern parts of Kenya. It is the third most widely spoken language in Africa, after Hausa and Arabic. Oromos live in many regions as a result of expansion from their homeland in the highlands of Ethiopia beginning in the 16th century. Despite this wide geographic spread Oromos from inside and outside of Ethiopia can communicate with each other with relative ease.
Verbs inflect for person, gender, number, tense-aspect, mood, and voice. Tense marking does not play a major role in the language – the language divides events in time in two ways: complete (perfective/past) and incomplete (progressive – involving the present or future). Compound tenses are possible and are formed with a variety of auxiliary verbs. Several grammatical moods are attested: indicative, interrogative, imperative, and jussive (a directive mood that signals a speaker’s command, permission, or agreement).
The first person singular present and past affirmative forms require the suffix -n to appear on the word preceding the verb or the word nan before the verb. The negative particle hin, shown as a separate word in the table, is sometimes written as a prefix on the verb.
|Past tense||Present tense||Jussive, Imperative|
|Main clause||Subordinate clause|
|Sg.1||-n beeke||hin beekne||-n beeka||hin beeku||-n beeku||hin beekne||haa beeku||hin beekin|
|Sg.2||beekte||beekta||hin beektu||beektu||beeki||hin beek(i)in|
|Sg.3 m||beeke||beeka||hin beeku||beeku||haa beeku||hin beekin|
|Sg.3 f||beekte||beekti||hin beektu||beektu||haa beektu|
|Pl.1||beekne||beekna||hin beeknu||beeknu||haa beeknu|
|Pl.2||beektani||beektu, beektan(i)||hin beektan||beektani||beekaa||hin beek(i)inaa|
|Pl.3||beekani||beeku, beekan(i)||hin beekan||beekani||haa beekanu||hin beekin|