Kriol and English Differences

How are English and Kriol Different?

Following are some examples of the way that Kriol and English grammars are different. These differences do not mean that Kriol is wrong, just different.

African Syntactic Structure

The following example shows how basic Kriol grammar more closely follows the grammar of the African languages from which it developed rather than English. Yoruba is one of many language spoken in West Africa which may have been a source for the origin of Kriol grammar.

Yoruba ki-ni Ø nwon ta fun u? what+EMP they PST sell him
Kriol da weh Ø dehn mi sell ahn? EMP what
English what did they Ø sell him ?

While all three languages begin with a question word, Yoruba and Kriol add an emphasis marker (EMP) to emphasize that the phrase is a question. English follows with a verb (did) which established the tense for the verb, Yoruba and Kriol mark the tense right before the main verb. All three languages then insert a pronoun. Next, Yoruba and Kriol use a past tense marker preceding the verb, English uses an irregular verb that doesn’t show tense. All three languages end with a pronoun. Whenever Yoruba and English differ, Kriol follows the grammar of Yoruba.

Contrast of Copula Forms (the ‘to be’ Verb)

Kriol has two obviously related forms, English has five seemingly different forms:

Kriol English
Ai da di teacha! I am the teacher!
Yu da di teacha. You are the teacher.
Ih da di teacha. He/She is the teacher.
Ah da-mi di teacha. I was the teacher.
Yu da-mi di teacha. You were the teacher.
Ih da-mi di teacha. He/She was the teacher.

Kriol makes the distinction of a locative copula, English doesn’t.

Kriol English
Ih da di teacha. He/She is the teacher.
Ih deh da skool. He/She is at school.


Elimination of Copula

In adjectival constructions, the copula can be eliminated in Kriol, but not in English.

Kriol English
Di hous red. The house is (painted) red.

Contrast of Prepositions

English uses three different prepositions for which Kriol would use one.

Kriol English
Ih deh da skool. He/She is at school.
Ih gaan da skool. He/She went to school.
Ih deh da di bak a di bos. He/She is in the back of the bus.

Contrast of Meaning for ‘fi/fo’

The Kriol word ‘fi’ (sometimes pronounced ‘fo’) is used to convey several different meanings for which English must use different words or phrases:

Kriol English
Ih noh fi du dat.
He/She wasn’t supposed to do that.
Ih haad fi brok kuhune. It is hard to break cohune (nuts).
Ih gaan luk fi dat. He/She went to look for that.
Dis da fi shee house. This is her house.

Contrast of Pronouns

For the following phrase Kriol uses what in English would be considered a subject pronoun, while English uses an object pronoun.

Kriol English
Mek Ah du it. Let me do it.
Uses a subject pronoun. Uses an object pronoun.

However, in the following example Kriol uses an object pronoun while English would use a subject pronoun:

Kriol English
Mee noh noe. I don’t know.
Uses an object pronoun. Uses a subject pronoun.


Contrast in Question Structure

In the structure of a question, as in the following example, Kriol puts the verb at the end of the question, but English puts the verb in the middle and a pronoun at the end.

Kriol English
Da weh ih deh? Where is he?
EMP where he/she is