Swahili phrases are similar to English phrases. By that I imply that they don’t have any gender, no accents, and they’re pronounced as they’re learn.
In case you thought Swahili was going to be too onerous to be taught, this could enable you really feel extra assured!
I’m a local Swahili speaker and I’m going to place myself in your sneakers that can assist you out.
On this submit, I’ll break the language down within the simplest way potential and train you phrases that you’ll truly use, not what you’d discover in textbooks or in a generic language course.
I’ll then introduce you to the center of East Africa by educating you just a few slang phrases that everybody makes use of.
In case you’re solely going to be taught 10 Swahili phrases, these are the must-knows!
- Habari – “Good day”
- Kwaheri – “Goodbye”
- Ndio – “Sure”
- Sawa – “Okay”
- Hapana – “No”
- Tafadhali – “Please”
- Asante – “Thanks”
- Karibu – “You’re welcome”
- Samahani – “I’m sorry”
- Sijui – “I don’t know”
Benny, the founding father of Fluent in 3 Months means that probably the greatest methods to hack a language is to be taught primarily based on phrases that you simply use each day.
I’ll now introduce you to some phrases you’ll hear lots, particularly when transferring round.
- Siku – “Day”
- Wiki – “Week”
- Mwezi – “Month”
- Leo – “At this time”
- Jana – “Yesterday”
- Juzi – “The day earlier than yesterday”
- Kesho – “Tomorrow”
- Saa – “Hour”
- Dakika – “Minute”
- Saa – “Time”
- Kabla – “Earlier than”
- Baada – “After”
- Sasa – “Now”
- Hapa – “Right here”
- Pale – “There” – if it’s shut
- Huko – “There” – if it’s far
- Pahali – “Place”
- Shule – “College”
- Duka – “Store”
- Kazi – “Work”
- Bafu – “Toilet”
- Nyumbani – “Residence”
- Nchi – “Nation”
- Hoteli – “Lodge”
- Simu – “Cellphone”
- Kitu – “One thing”
- Nyumba – “Home”
- Gari – “Automobile”
- Chakula – “Meals”
- Chai – “Tea”
- Maji – “Water”
- Mwanamke – “Girl”
- Mwanaume – “Man”
- Mzee – “Outdated man/respectful approach of referring to a person”
- Mama – Outdated girl/respectful approach of referring to a lady
- Msichana – “Woman”
- Kijana – “Boy”
- Rafiki – “Buddy”
- Mtu – “Individual”
- Bwana – “Husband”
- Mke – “Spouse”
- Jina – “Title”
These are the 25 commonest Swahili verbs it’s essential to know.
Swahili is fairly simple to grasp, as a result of all it’s essential to do is add the phrase ku earlier than a verb to make it full.
That is like in English the place you add “-ing” to a verb to make it a gerund, which suggests “come” turns into “coming” and “stroll” turns into “strolling”.
In Swahili, as an alternative of including the letters on the again like a suffix, we place them on the entrance and so if we have been to make use of the instance within the earlier sentence, kuja (come) turns into kukuja and tembea turns into kutembea.
Beneath are some widespread examples. Discover that every verb is conjugated to begin with ku-
- Kufanya – “To do”
- Kuwa – “To be”
- Kuwa – “To develop into”
- Kusema – “To say”
- Kuja – “To come back”
- Kwenda – “To go”
- Kuweza kufanya – “To have the ability to do”
- Kuona – “To see”
- Kutuma – “To ship”
- Kuwa na – “To have”
- Kuchukua – “To take”
- Kungoja – “To attend”
- Kukutana – “To satisfy”
- Kuishi – “To stay”
- Kufikiri – “To suppose”
- Kupa – “To offer”
- Kupata – “To obtain”
- Kujua – “To know”
- Kutengeneza – “To make”
- Kutumia – “To make use of”
- Kusoma – “To be taught”
- Kula – “To eat”
- Kunywa – “To drink”
- Kucheka – “To chuckle”
- Kusoma – “To learn”
Like different languages, Swahili has many adjectives you might use to make your sentences extra vibrant.
Understanding these is what’s going to set you other than a typical foreigner, and you can be handled very effectively if you should utilize these adjectives.
- Mingi – “Many, a number of”
- Kidogo – “Few”
- Kubwa – “Large”
- Ndogo – “Small”
- Refu – “Tall”
- Fupi – “Quick”
- Karibu – “Close to”
- Mbali – “Far”
- Poa – “Good, good”
- Mbaya – “Dangerous”
- Rahisi – “Straightforward”
- Ngumu – “Troublesome”
- Poa/maridadi – “Stunning”
- Mbaya – “Ugly”
- Tamu – “Scrumptious”
- Moto – “Scorching”
- Baridi – “Chilly”
- Sana – “Very”
Professional tip: In case you go to purchase one thing from a store, particularly curio gadgets, you’ll probably be charged much more than locals.
Right here’s what to do:
When the vendor mentions the value, simply smile and say Hiyo pesa ni mingi sana. Niuzie vizuri. (“That’s some huge cash. Promote it to me at a greater value.”)
You’ll catch the vendor unexpectedly and also you’ll positively get a reduction.
If you wish to be fluent in any language, conjunctions are tremendous useful. They provide you a second to suppose and assist to attach your sentences easily.
Listed below are 5 widespread ones in Swahili:
- Lakini – “However, nevertheless”
- Pia – “Additionally”
- Kwa mfano – “For instance”
- Kwa hivyo – “So”
- Halafu – “Then”
There aren’t many pronouns in Swahili. More often than not they aren’t even needed as a result of they’re absorbed into the sentence.
Listed below are some examples:
- “The motive force is coming. He went to purchase some soda” – Dereva anakuja. Ameenda kununua soda.
- “The friends are late as a result of they stopped in Nairobi” – Wageni wamechelewa kwa sababu walisimama Nairobi.
As you possibly can see, the translated sentences appear to have no pronouns, and that’s as a result of the pronoun has been built-in into the verb.
Nevertheless, it’s nonetheless good to know the pronouns. If it’s not clear who or what you’re speaking about, you then want to have the ability to use them within the sentence.
So listed here are the Swahili pronouns
- Mimi – “I”
- Wewe – “You”
- Yeye – “He”
- Yeye – “She”
- Wale – “They”
- Sisi – “We”
- Hii – “This”
- Ile – “That”
Professional tip: By no means consult with somebody as “you”. It is rather offensive.
East Africa has a foul aftertaste of white colonialists and everytime you disrespect somebody, they really feel that you’re behaving like a colonialist and can keep away from speaking to you.
If you wish to name somebody, use their identify. In case you don’t know their identify and they’re shut, stroll as much as them and begin by greeting them. In case you don’t know their identify and they’re far-off, use hand gestures. Whoever sees you waving will draw the individual’s consideration towards you.
Would you wish to be the good foreigner in East Africa? Then be taught some slang.
Everybody on the road makes use of the slang phrases I’m about to offer you. We dumped the Swahili we learnt in class and developed our personal model for ease of communication and it’s fairly totally different from formal Swahili.
That stated, listed here are 5 slang phrases you should utilize to sound like a real Kenyan.
- Unaitwa? – “What’s your identify?”
- Noma sana – “Wonderful, nice”, or “that’s loopy”
- Fiti kabisa – “One of the best, actually nice,”
- Baadaye – “Goodbye, so long”
- Niaje bro – “Good day, brother”
In case you converse to me utilizing any of those phrases, you’ll be my new finest good friend. 🙂
Now that just a few Swahili phrases, I want to clarify to you why Swahili phrases aren’t that onerous to be taught…
In case you can converse English, Swahili might be fairly just like what you’re used to.
After I began studying German, I used to be taken unexpectedly by the truth that a “canine” is masculine, a “cat” is female and a “rabbit” is impartial. At first, I believed that solely phrases for dwelling issues have a gender… Solely to seek out out that “beer” is impartial however “glass” is masculine.
A lot confusion!
In distinction, Swahili could be very easy. Not solely there aren’t any genders, however we don’t even use articles, whether or not particular or indefinite!
Let me offer you an instance: in English, for those who say “the automotive”, you’re being extra exact than for those who stated, “a automotive”. In Swahili, “the automotive” is ile gari, whereas “a automotive” remains to be ile gari. Easy, proper?
In most languages, it’s important to know which pronoun to make use of in a sentence. This modifications relying on who or what you’re referring to.
Because of this if you’re speaking about an individual, you then use “I”, “you”, “he”, “she”, “they”, e.t.c, and if you’re speaking about one thing you then use “it”.
In Swahili, the pronouns are absorbed into the sentence, and so that you don’t must know which pronoun to make use of, which means you find yourself with fewer phrases to be taught.
Listed below are some examples:
“Ronaldo is among the finest gamers on the earth. He has scored very many objectives.” – Ronaldo ni mmoja wa wachezaji bora kabisa wa kandanda. Amefunga mabao mengi sana.
“She stated the canine ate her e-book…however everyone knows it didn’t.” – Alisema mbwa alikula kitabu chake. Lakini sote twajua kwamba hakula.
Sure, in Swahili, there aren’t any umlauts that trigger pronunciation modifications, no silent letters that shouldn’t have been there within the first place, and no accents that make language acquisition a completely awkward affair.
On high of that, we don’t pronounce any letters otherwise from how they seem.
In German, for instance, the phrase welt is pronounced as velt, whereas vater is pronounced as fater.
This isn’t the case in Swahili as each phrase is pronounced as it’s learn.
If you end up referring to one thing in Swahili, the one factor that determines the phrase you utilize to consult with it’s if the factor is alive or not.
Because of this demonstrative pronouns, similar to “this” and “that”, are the identical for dwelling issues and the identical for non-living issues. Let’s take a look at the tables beneath:
|Examples in singular type||Examples in plural type|
|This individual||Huyu mtu||These individuals||Hawa watu|
|This desk||Hii meza||These tables||Hizi meza|
|This cat||Huyu paka||These cats||Hawa paka|
|This automotive||Hii gari||These vehicles||Hizi gari|
|This lion||Huyu simba||These lions||Hawa simba|
|This home||Hii nyumba||These homes||Hizi nyumba|
When you grasp the demonstrative pronouns, you’re good to go.
Notice: There may be one exception – crops.
Vegetation are neither known as being animate or inanimate, and the descriptive pronoun used modifications relying on the noun class (ngeli) of the merchandise you’re referring to.
That is very sophisticated, even for us Swahili audio system! However don’t fear. Don’t attempt to be taught any of this by coronary heart. We didn’t be taught it by coronary heart both, we simply learnt naturally by growing a really feel of what’s proper. You possibly can develop this sense too by means of listening and talking.
Thankfully, you may get alongside 90% of the time with out ever referring to a plant in Swahili, however for those who’d wish to be taught on-line naturally, you possibly can strive the Fluent in 3 Months technique.
Associated studying: The Greatest Podcasts to Be taught Swahili at Any Stage
I’ll clarify this level with an instance. Whereas there are many variations of the Swahili phrase for “hiya”, the commonest one is habari.
If you wish to be formal, then you might say hujambo if you’re greeting one individual, or hamjambo if there are a lot of individuals.
Right here’s the issue: many individuals will take a look at you in a really bizarre approach for those who use the formal model, a lot so that you simply’d be higher off merely saying “hiya”.
It is because nobody makes use of hujambo/hamjambo, and I’d advise you to not use it until you’re on the coast, the place the language is way more well mannered because the tradition could be very totally different from different components of the nation.
If you’re in Kenya and actually wish to get alongside like a real Kenyan, listed here are the widespread Swahili phrases you might use for hiya:
|Greeting||Mode of use|
|Habari||Will work 100% of the time|
|Mambo||Use principally with mates, youthful individuals or individuals on the market, lodge and many others.|
|Vipi||Use principally with mates, youthful individuals or individuals on the market, lodge and many others.|
|Niaje||The easiest way to greet a Kenyan.|
|Sasa||Use solely with youngsters|
Let me put this into perspective…
When some mates came to visit from Finland and learnt the phrase mambo, everybody they greeted was more than happy and didn’t take a look at them as common vacationers.
And the way did Obama greet individuals whereas in Kenya? He stated “niaje”!
Now right here’s a little bit problem: if you’re in Kenya, or have a good friend from East Africa which you can speak to or ship a message to, simply kind the phrase niaje and see the thrill you’ll trigger.
If you’re a foreigner in East Africa, individuals will immediately know you aren’t from round even if you’re not white, and you’ll draw consideration everytime you converse.
In case you, nevertheless, converse some Swahili, the individuals you meet might be shocked and also you’ll obtain a variety of favours in return.
The issue is which you can solely converse effectively for those who be taught by means of immersion, and if that’s not an choice, you possibly can strive the Fluent in 3 Months technique and you might begin talking Swahili in as little as 7 days.