Oromo is officially written since 1991 with the Latin alphabet. Before that, the Ethiopian script was mainly used, but under the government of Haile Selassie it was forbidden to write Oromo at all. The Arabic alphabet was also used and isolated in the 19th century, before the conquest of most Oromo areas by Ethiopia, also the Latin script (introduced by missionaries).
At least 99% of Oromo spokespersons live in Ethiopia, most of them in Oromia (Oromiyaa), most in Kenya, but there are also about 42,000 speakers in Somalia. In Ethiopia, it is the language with the largest number of native speakers (31.6%) and the fifth largest in Africa. In addition to the native speakers, members of other ethnic groups who are in contact with the Oromo speak this language.
Before the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974, it was forbidden to publish or broadcast anything in Oromo, and the few published works such as Onesimos Nesib's Bible translation and the previous Bible translation of Johann Ludwig Krapf and Ruufoo were written in Ethiopian script. After the revolution, the government launched a literacy campaign in several languages, including Oromo. However, plans for teaching Oromo did not materialize prior to the overthrow of the Mengistu Haile Mariam government, with the exception of those controlled by the Oromo Liberation Front.
In Oromo sentences in which the subject is not emphasized need no personal pronoun, such as kaleessa dhufne = we came yesterday. In this sentence, the word "we" does not appear, but person and number are recognizable by the verb dhufne, since it contains the suffix -ne. If the subject is particularly important in the sentence, one can also use a personal pronoun: nuti kaleessa dhufne. The lower table shows all personal and possessive pronouns, with many variations depending on the dialect. Possessive pronouns are sometimes used as nominal suffixes, and in some dialects there is no distinction between male and female in the first and second person.
In the Oromo, a verb consists of at least one stem representing the lexical meaning and suffixes indicating a grammatical time or aspect and congruent with the subject. For example, the verbal form dhufne "we came" consists of the stem dhuf- "come" and the suffix -ne, which indicates the tempus preterite and the subject of the 1st person plural.