Swahili useful phrases


Note: Greetings in Swahili are a crucial aspect of Swahili culture; it is not uncommon for a conversation to last five minutes before it actually moves beyond saying “Hello”. There is no generic word for “Hello” in the language, rather there are numerous options depending on the relative ages and/or race of the people involved, as well as singular and plural forms. A non-comprehensive list would include “hujambo” (reply “sijambo”) for two people of similar age and race, “jambo” (reply “jambo”) for between white and black people, “Shikamoo” (reply “Marahaba”) for a young person to an elderly person, “Hodi” (reply “Karibu”) when in the doorway of a house. There are additionally numerous informal greetings such as “Mambo”, “Safi”, and many more. Farewells are abrupt or even non-existent.

Translation Phrase Pronunciation
Swahili Kiswahili (kee-swa-HEE-lee)
hello Jambo (ja m boh)
good-bye kwa heri (kwa HAY-ree)
please tafadhali (tah-fah-tha-lee)
thank you asante (ah-SAHN-tey)
that one yule (YOO-lay)
how much? ngapi (ng-AH-pee)
where? wapi (WA-pee)
English Kiingereza (kee-ing-reza)
yes ndiyo (nn-DEE-yoh)
no hapana
no worries hakuna matata (ha-KOO-na ma-TA-ta)