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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

120 Core Swahili Phrases — Fundamental Swahili To Get Alongside in East Africa

Swahili phrases are similar to English phrases. By that I imply that they haven’t any gender, no accents, and they’re pronounced as they’re learn.

For those who thought Swahili was going to be too laborious 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 footwear that will help you out.

On this put up, I’ll break the language down within the simplest way doable 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 instructing you a couple of slang phrases that everybody makes use of.

10 Most Fundamental Swahili Phrases

For those who’re solely going to be taught 10 Swahili phrases, these are the must-knows!

  • Habari – “Hey”
  • 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”

42 Fundamental Swahili Nouns

Benny, the founding father of Fluent in 3 Months means that top-of-the-line methods to hack a language is to be taught based mostly on phrases that you simply use every single day.

I’ll now introduce you to some phrases you’ll hear rather a lot, particularly when shifting round.

13 Swahili Phrases for Time

  • Siku – “Day”
  • Wiki – “Week”
  • Mwezi – “Month”
  • Leo – “Right now”
  • Jana – “Yesterday”
  • Juzi – “The day earlier than yesterday”
  • Kesho – “Tomorrow”
  • Saa – “Hour”
  • Dakika – “Minute”
  • Saa – “Time”
  • Kabla – “Earlier than”
  • Baada – “After”
  • Sasa – “Now”

10 Swahili Phrases for Locations

  • 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”

8 Swahili Phrases for Issues

  • Hoteli – “Lodge”
  • Simu – “Cellphone”
  • Kitu – “One thing”
  • Nyumba – “Home”
  • Gari – “Automobile”
  • Chakula – “Meals”
  • Chai – “Tea”
  • Maji – “Water”

11 Swahili Phrases for Folks

  • Mwanamke – “Lady”
  • Mwanaume – “Man”
  • Mzee – “Previous man/respectful manner of referring to a person”
  • Mama – Previous lady/respectful manner of referring to a girl
  • Msichana – “Lady”
  • Kijana – “Boy”
  • Rafiki – “Pal”
  • Mtu – “Individual”
  • Bwana – “Husband”
  • Mke – “Spouse”
  • Jina – “Identify”

25 Widespread Swahili Verbs

These are the 25 commonest Swahili verbs it is advisable know.

Swahili is fairly straightforward to grasp, as a result of all it is advisable 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 start out with ku-

  • Kufanya – “To do”
  • Kuwa – “To be”
  • Kuwa – “To turn 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 chortle”
  • Kusoma – “To learn”

19 Easy Swahili Adjectives and Adverbs

Like different languages, Swahili has many adjectives you possibly can use to make your sentences extra vibrant.

Figuring out these is what’s going to set you other than a typical foreigner, and you’ll be handled very effectively if you should utilize these adjectives.

  • Mingi – “Many, a number of”
  • Kidogo – “Few”
  • Kubwa – “Massive”
  • Ndogo – “Small”
  • Refu – “Tall”
  • Fupi – “Brief”
  • Karibu – “Close to”
  • Mbali – “Far”
  • Poa – “Good, good”
  • Mbaya – “Unhealthy”
  • Rahisi – “Simple”
  • Ngumu – “Tough”
  • Poa/maridadi – “Stunning”
  • Mbaya – “Ugly”
  • Tamu – “Scrumptious”
  • Moto – “Scorching”
  • Baridi – “Chilly”
  • Sana – “Very”

Professional tip: For those who go to purchase one thing from a store, particularly curio gadgets, you’ll almost definitely 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 abruptly and also you’ll undoubtedly get a reduction.

5 Core Swahili Conjunctions and Connectors

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 here are 5 widespread ones in Swahili:

  • Lakini – “However, nonetheless”
  • Pia – “Additionally”
  • Kwa mfano – “For instance”
  • Kwa hivyo – “So”
  • Halafu – “Then”

Swahili Pronouns

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 here are some examples:

  • “The driving force is coming. He went to purchase some soda” – Dereva anakuja. Ameenda kununua soda.
  • “The company 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, then you definately want to have the ability to use them within the sentence.

So listed below 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 check with somebody as “you”. It is vitally offensive.

East Africa has a nasty 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 title. For those who don’t know their title and they’re shut, stroll as much as them and begin by greeting them. For those who don’t know their title and they’re far-off, use hand gestures. Whoever sees you waving will draw the individual’s consideration towards you.

Bonus: 5 Cool Swahili Phrases to Speak in The East African Avenue Slang

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 provide you. We dumped the Swahili we learnt in class and developed our personal model for ease of communication and it’s fairly completely different from formal Swahili.

That mentioned, listed below are 5 slang phrases you should utilize to sound like a real Kenyan.

  • Unaitwa? – “What’s your title?”
  • Noma sana – “Superb, nice”, or “that’s loopy”
  • Fiti kabisa – “The very best, actually nice,”
  • Baadaye – “Goodbye, so long”
  • Niaje bro – “Hey, brother”

For those who communicate to me utilizing any of those phrases, you’ll be my new finest good friend. 🙂

Now that you already know a couple of Swahili phrases, I want to clarify to you why Swahili phrases aren’t that arduous to be taught…

5 Causes Why Swahili Phrases Are Simple to Be taught

For those who can communicate English, Swahili can be fairly just like what you might be used to.

1. Swahili Phrases Have No Gender

After I began studying German, I used to be taken abruptly by the truth that a “canine” is masculine, a “cat” is female and a “rabbit” is impartial. At first, I assumed 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 may 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, should you say “the automotive”, you might be being extra exact than should you mentioned, “a automotive”. In Swahili, “the automotive” is ile gari, whereas “a automotive” continues to be ile gari. Easy, proper?

2. You Don’t Should Be taught Swahili Pronouns

In most languages, you must know which pronoun to make use of in a sentence. This modifications relying on who or what you might be referring to.

Which means in case you are speaking about an individual, then you definately use “I”, “you”, “he”, “she”, “they”, e.t.c, and in case you are speaking about one thing then you definately 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 here are some examples:

“Ronaldo is among the finest gamers on this planet. He has scored very many objectives.” – Ronaldo ni mmoja wa wachezaji bora kabisa wa kandanda. Amefunga mabao mengi sana.

She mentioned the canine ate her guide…however everyone knows it didn’t.” – Alisema mbwa alikula kitabu chake. Lakini sote twajua kwamba hakula.

3. Phrases in Swahili Are Pronounced as They Are Learn

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 wholly awkward affair.

On prime 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.

4. Nouns Are Referred to Solely as Both Animate or Inanimate

If you find yourself referring to one thing in Swahili, the one factor that determines the phrase you employ to check with it’s if the factor is alive or not.

Which means demonstrative pronouns, corresponding to “this” and “that”, are the identical for dwelling issues and the identical for non-living issues. Let’s have a look at the tables beneath:

Examples in singular kind Examples in plural kind
This individual Huyu mtu These folks Hawa watu
This desk Hii meza These tables Hizi meza
This cat Huyu paka These cats Hawa paka
This automotive Hii gari These automobiles 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 might be good to go.

Notice: There may be one exception – vegetation.

Crops are neither known as being animate or inanimate, and the descriptive pronoun used modifications relying on the noun class (ngeli) of the merchandise you might be 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’ll be able to develop this sense too by listening and talking.

Happily, you may get alongside 90% of the time with out ever referring to a plant in Swahili, however should you’d wish to be taught on-line naturally, you possibly can strive the Fluent in 3 Months methodology.

Associated studying: The Greatest Podcasts to Be taught Swahili at Any Stage

5. There Are Little Variations Between the Formal and Casual Variations of Phrases

I’ll clarify this level with an instance. Whereas there are many variations of the Swahili phrase for “whats up”, the commonest one is habari.

If you wish to be formal, then you possibly can say hujambo in case you are greeting one individual, or hamjambo if there are numerous folks.

Right here’s the issue: many individuals will have a look at you in a really bizarre manner should you use the formal model, a lot so that you simply’d be higher off merely saying “whats up”.

It is because nobody makes use of hujambo/hamjambo, and I’d advise you to not use it until you might be on the coast, the place the language is way more well mannered because the tradition may be very completely different from different elements of the nation.

If you’re in Kenya and actually need to get alongside like a real Kenyan, listed below are the widespread Swahili phrases you possibly can use for whats up:

Greeting Mode of use
Habari Will work 100% of the time
Mambo Use largely with associates, youthful folks or folks on the market, resort and so on.
Vipi Use largely with associates, youthful folks or folks on the market, resort and so on.
Niaje The easiest way to greet a Kenyan.
Sasa Use solely with youngsters

Let me put this into perspective…

When some associates came to visit from Finland and learnt the phrase mambo, everybody they greeted was very happy and didn’t have a look at them as common vacationers.

And the way did Obama greet folks whereas in Kenya? He mentioned “niaje”!

Attention-grabbing, proper?

Now right here’s a bit of problem: in case you are 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.

How one can Be taught Swahili Phrases and Communicate Higher Than 90% of Foreigners

If you’re a foreigner in East Africa, folks will immediately know you aren’t from round even in case you are not white, and you’ll draw consideration everytime you communicate.

For those who, nonetheless, communicate some Swahili, the folks you meet can be shocked and also you’ll obtain lots of favours in return.

The issue is which you can solely communicate effectively should you be taught by immersion, and if that’s not an possibility, you possibly can strive the Fluent in 3 Months methodology and it’s possible you’ll begin talking Swahili in as little as 7 days.

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