Classifiers express the category or shape of the noun that is being classified. All nouns except for proper nouns take classifiers. Speakers have a choice of classifiers for each noun, depending on the noun class (rational, non-rational, possessed), and the context in which it is being used.
|dini||group of people|
|edi||deity, spirit, departed ancestor|
|gene||elder, respected, ancient (can also be used on ancient or venerated non-rational nouns)|
|isi||child (can also be used for animals, seedlings)|
|ŋe||any animate, generally used with celestial bodies and strangers, it has a pejorative effect when used with people one knows|
Classifiers attach as enclitics to determiners. The determiner plus classifier combination appears before the noun it classifies, if the noun appears at all. The determiner plus classifier can act as a pronoun for the noun in question.
Classifiers can also be used to derive nouns from other word classes. For example:
madusiyo [n] 'dwelling-place' from madu [v] 'dwell' + siyo [cls] 'place'
nikiyele [n] 'neighbor' from niki [m] 'nearby' + ele [cls] 'person'