chapter  2
Using basic vocabulary and markers
Pages 4

A relative clause is a subordinate clause that qualifies a noun. Subordinate clauses that qualify the subject of the verb are called "subject relatives". Those which qualify the object of the verb are called "object relatives". In Swahili, the relative construction is formed by adding a relative marker to the verb or to the relative conjunction amba-, which appears before the verb. The relative marker corresponds to a "reference pronoun", which is a reduced form of the contrastive pronoun that attaches to different types of words. Accordingly, the contrastive pronoun yeye "him; her" corresponds to the reference pronoun/relative marker -ye, while the contrastive pronoun wao "them" corresponds to the reference pronoun/relative marker -o. Swahili has three types of relative constructions regarding the position of the relative marker. Specifically, the relative marker may attach to the conjunction amba-, which is used before the verb, but it can also be prefixed or suffixed to the verb.