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.

Classifiers for Rational Nouns

dini group of people
edi deity, spirit, departed ancestor
ele person
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'

List of Classifiers