Do you want to learn Swahili before you go for you vacation to Kenya or any Swahili nation in Africa? this site has some Kiswahili basic s for you.
JAMBO is one of the most common words you will hear spoken throughout Kenya. This is the simplest Swahili greeting, and is often the first word learned by visitors to Kenya. Swahili (locally referred to as KiSwahili) is Kenya's national language.
Swahili originated on the East African coast, as a trade language used by both Arabs and coastal tribes. The language incorporated elements of both classical Arabic and Bantu dialects, and became the mother tongue of the Swahili people who themselves rose from the intermarriage of Arab and African cultures.
The word Swahili itself came from the Arabicfor 'coast' Sahel. But the language became a pervasive influence, and a regional lingua franca, becoming widely used throughout Kenya and Tanzania. Today, the language is also used in regions of Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Congo and Zambia, and is the most widely spoken African language. In Kenya, most people generally speak a tribal language at home, use Swahili as an everyday language, and English for business.
Swahili is a relatively simple language, being highly phonetic with a rigid grammar. The only difficulty in learning Swahili comes from the extensive use of prefixes, suffixes and infixes, and a class system for nouns.
Coastal Swahili remains the most pure, and the Island of Zanzibar is considered the home of the language.
The further away from the coast that you travel, the less sophisticated the language generally becomes, and grammar is slightly more flexible. Nairobi has now become the home of Sheng, a fashionable Creole of Swahili, Kikuyu, English and slang.
Still, even a little Swahili goes a long way in Kenya. It is worth learning a little, and most Kenyans are thrilled to hear visitors attempt to use any Swahili at all.
The following guide will let you try out some basic Swahili:
Jambo or Hujambo Hello, good day, how are you? (multy-purpose greeting, means"problems?")
Jambo or Sijambo (the response)No problems
Habari? How are things? (literally"news?")
Nzuri Fine, good, terrible
Hodi! Hellow? Anyone in? (said on knocking or entering)
Karibu Come in, enter, welcome(also said on offering something)
Kwaheri/ ni Goodbye to one/ many
Asante/ ni Thank you to one/ many
Sana Very(acommon emphasis)
Bwana Mister, the equivalent of monsieur in French
Mama Like the French madame or madamoiselle, for adult women
Kijana Youth, teenager(pl,vijana)
Mtoto Child, kid(pl,watoto)
Jina lako nani? What’s your name?/ What
Unaitwaje? Are you called?
My name is / I am called Jina langu ni/ Ninaitwa
Where are you from? Unatoka wapi?
Where are you staying? Unakaa wapi
I am from Ninatoka
I am staying (at / in). Ninakaa
See you Tutaonana ( Lit. "We shall meet")
Yes Ndiyo (Lit. it is so)
I don’t understand Sifahamu / Sielewi
I don’t speak Swahili but Sisemi Kiswahili, lakini
How so you say in Swahili? Unasemaje na Kiswahili
Could you repeat that? Sema tena (Lit. speak again)
Speak slowly Sema pole pole
I don’t know Sijui
Soon Sasa hivi
Why? Kwa nini?
Because Kwa sababu
(It) is (they) are Ni (a useful connector when you cant think of any)
Isn’t it? Siyo?
I’m British / American / German / French / Italian Mimi Mwingereza / Mwamerika / Mdachi / Mfaransa / Mwitaliano
Where can I stay? Naweza Kukaa wapi?
Can I stay here? Naweza kukaa hapa?
Toilet, bathroom Choo, bafu
Washing water Maji ya kuosha
Hot/cold water Maji moto/baridi
I’m hungry Ninasikia njaa
I’m thirsty Nina kiu
Is there any? Iko… or Kuna?…
Yes there is… Iko…or kuna…
No there isn’t any Hakuna
How much? Ngapi?
What price? Bei gani?
How much does it cost? Pesa Ngapi?
I want… Nataka
I don’t want Sitaki
Give me/Bring me (can I have?) Nipe/Niletee
Fifty cents Sumni
Reduce the price,come down a little Punguza kidogo
Post office Posta
I’m ill Mimi mgonjwa
Bus/es Bas,basi / mabasi
Car /s, Vehicle/ s Gari/ Magari
Boat / Ship Chombo / Meli
Road, path Njia/ ndia
On foot/ Walking Kwa miguu
When does it leave Inaondoka lini?
When will you arrive? Tutafika lini?
Slowly Polo pole
Fast, quickly Haraka
Wait! / hang on a moment! Ngoja!/ ngoja kidogo!
Where are you going Unaenda wapi
To where? Mpaka wapi?
From where? Kutoka wapi?
How many kilometers? Kilometa ngapi?
I’m going to Naenda
Move along, squeeze up a little Songa!/ songa kidogo!
Let’s go, carry on Twende, endelea
Straight ahead Moja kwa moja
I want to get off here Nataka kushuka hapa
The car has broken down Gari imearibika
What time is it? Saa ngapi
Four o’clock Saa nne
Quarter past Na robo
Half past Na nusu
Quarter to Kasa robo
Day time Mchana
Night time Usiku
Last/ this/ next week Wiki iliopita/ hii/ ijayo
This year Mwaka huu
This month Mwezi huu
11 Kumi na moja
12 Kumi na mbili
21 Ishirini na moja
100 Mia moja
121 Mia moja na ishirini na moja
Warning! Angalia!/ Onyo!
Fierce dog! Mbwa mkali!
No entry! Hakuna njia!
Good -zuri(with a prefix at the front)
A lot of -ingi
Other/ Another Ingine
Not bad Si mbaya
Ok, right, fine Sawa
Fine, cool Safi
Just, only Tu(kitanda kimoja tu-just ona bed)
Thing/ s Kitu/ vitu
Problems, hassles Wasiwasi, matata
No problem Hakuna wasiwasi/ Hakuna matata
Sorry, pardon Samahani
It’s nothing Si kitu
Excuse me (let me through) Hebu
What’s up? Namna gani?
If God wills it Inshallah (heard often on the coast)
Take a picture of me! Piga picha mimi!
Help the poor! Saidia maskini!