This is one area in which isiZulu is fundamentally different from isiLungu.

In isiLungu, there are tendencies toward creating compound verb-forms using prepositions (partially in the isiJalimani family (verander, income ensovoorts), but also in isiLatini (perfacere, inducere etcetera) and isiGiliki (katabaino, periphrazo kai ta loipa). These verb-forms are quite often paired up with a prepositional phrase that repeats the one found in the verb. Yet they do not have the same regular formation as isiZulu, and they are mostly concerned with attaching direction to the verb. They do little else apart from that.

Whereas izimpambosi do many things, other than simply giving direction. In fact, there is only one impambosi to do with that – the impambosi yokwenzela or applied verbal extension.

BTW, if you’re feeling a bit lost at this point, you can check out a summary of impambosi. Beware, though – this post is a grammatical one.

The impambosi I’m going to focus on in this post is the impambosi yokwenzisa – the causative verbal extension. Its usual form is -IS-, though sometimes that changes to simply -S- or even -Z-. And here’s how it works:

take any verb that doesn’t usually take an object – e.g. ngizoya (I shall go)

add -IS- after the stem, and you can give it an object – ngizobayisa (I shall make them go)

This pattern is repeated throughout the language, and can be used with almost any verb.Some very common ones follow:

funda (learn) – fundisa (cause learning / teach)

bhala (write) – bhalisa (cause writing / register)

khathala (weary) – khathaza (cause weariness / vex / worry)

sebenza (function) – sebenzisa (cause functioning / use)

dumala (be depressed) – dumaza (depress / disappoint)

dla (consume) – dlisa (cause to consume / poison)

This impambosi is often used in conjunction with others, such as eyokwenzela (the applied), eyokwenzana (the reciprocal) and eyokwenzeka (the neuter). Here, in no particular order, are some common examples:

qina > qinisa > qiniseka > qinisekisa = be strong / firm / true > make strong / firm / true (confirm, ratify, encourage) > be made strong/firm  (be proved, be true, be fulfilled, be true)> cause to be strengthened etc.

zwa > zwakala > zwakalisa = perceive > be perceived and perceptible > cause to be perceived and perceptible (voice concerns etc.)

bhala > bhalisa > bhalisela = make mark > cause to make mark (register) > cause to make mark for/to/at (register for/to/at)

lunga > lungisa > lungisela = be straight/right/ready > cause to be straight/right/ready (arrange, tidy, correct) > cause to be straight/right/ready for/to/at (cater)

khathaza > khathazeka > khathazekile = cause weariness (vex, worry someone) > be caused to be weary (be vexed or worried) > be in a state where one has been caused to be weary (be vexed or worried)

ehluka > ehlukana > ehlukanisa >ehlukanisela = be different > be different from one another > cause to be different from one another (categorise, separate, differentiate) > cause to be different from one another for/to/at (divide among, separate for)

donsa > donsisana = pull / attract > help or cause one another to pull (give mutual assistance)


Needless to say, using the impambosi yokwenzisa is an important part of speaking fluently ngesiZulu. The basic idea here is this:

if your English sentence can be expressed using ‘make’ or cause’, then it’s most probably a causative form ngesiZulu. Here are some English verbs expressed by causatives ngesiZulu:

inform (cause to know) – azisa

show (cause to appear) – veza (velisa)

encourage (cause to be energetic) – khuthaza (khuthalisa)

interview (cause to speak to one another) – khulumisana

debate (cause to be at variance with one another) – phikisana

Now go forth, and make use of this marvellous verbal extension in everyday life. Be aware of the way it works, so that when you see one you can dig into it and understand it more fully.

Up next, impambosi yokwenzeka.