Ni y'a ... ye / [Nin ye à ... ye]

I know that when we want to say something like “this was a few days ago” we say: ni y’a tile damadama ye

I also know that two ye words are used to describe something, but what does the ni or nin with an a after the ye mean in this context? Thank you

The first word is nin and it means ‘this’.

The second word is (or a if you aren’t marking tone at all) and it means ‘he/she/it’. It refers to the specific event under discussion.

As an expression then, the whole thing means literally close to “This is its …” with the dot-dot-dot being a quantity of time. For example:

N taara Bamakɔ.
– I went to Bamako.

Tuma jumɛn?
– When?

Nin ye à tile saba ye
– It was three days ago. (lit. “This is its’ third day”)

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It can also be said:

– Tuma jumɛn?
– “Nin ye n tile (kile) saba ye” / “Bi ye n tile saba ye.”

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