Useful Swahili Words & Phrases You Need To Learn

Useful Swahili Words & Phrases You Need To Learn :

If you are traveling to Tanzania or East Africa, soon then you may find it helpful to know how to say hello and goodbye as well as make a few exchanges with the locals in their language. By learning some basic Swahili words and phrases, you will make a local’s day by communicating with them in a word or two that they know. While it can be a little intimidating having someone talk to you in a language that you don’t know very well, people always appreciate even the littlest effort it takes to learn some basic Swahili words and Phrases.

Learn some basic Swahili words communication.

To make it extra easy for you, we have compiled a list of the most common and useful phrases you might hear and need to use while on your trip.

English to Swahili Translation


Jambo? / hujambo? (how are you?) – Sijambo (I am fine)

Habari? (how are you?) – nzuri (fine)

Shikamoo (a young person greeting an elder) – Marahaba

Goodbye – Kwaheri

See you later – Tutaonana baadaye (often shortened to baadaye)

For more casual interactions among peers while walking on the streets, you might also hear some of

these Swahili greetings:

Mambo – What’s up?

Vipi – How?

Sema – Speak?

The replies to these greetings can be:

Safi – Clean; fine; cool

Poa – Cool

Freshi – Fresh (Swahili slang for the English word fresh).


Saying “thank you” and other courtesies in English to Swahili Translation

Thank you – Asante

Thank you – Asanteni (to more than one person)

No thank you – Hapana asante

Thank you very much – Asante sana

Please – Tafadhali

Sorry – Pole

Very Sorry – Pole sana

No worries – Hakuna matata

No problem – Hamna shida

Welcome – Karibu

Welcome – Karibuni (to more than one person )

Excuse me – Samahani

What is your name? – Jina lako nani?

My name is XX – Jina langu ni XX

Nice to meet you – Ninafuraha kukutana nawe


Agreements and disagreements in English to Swahili Translation

Ok – Sawa

Yes – Ndiyo

No – Hapana

I understand – Naelewa

I don’t understand – Sielewi

I like it – Ninaipenda

I don’t like it – Siipendi

Do you like it? – Je unaipenda?



Me – Mimi

You – Wewe

Him/Her – Yeye

Mine – Yangu

Yours – Yako

His/hers – Yake

Ours – Yetu


Questions in English to Swahili Translation

What? – Nini?

Where? – Wapi?

Which? – Ipi? (or Gani?)

Who? – Nani?


Descriptions in English to Swahili Translation

Big – Kubwa

Small – Kidogo

Short – Fupi

Long – Ndefu

Color – Rangi

Black – Nyeusi

Red – Nyekundu

Blue – Buluu

White – Nyeupe

Green – Kijani

Days and months

Sunday – Jumapili

Monday – Jumatatu

Tuesday – Jumanne

Wednesday – Jumatana

Thursday – Alhamisi

Friday – Ijumaa

Saturday – Jumamosi

January – Januari

February – Februari

March – Marchi

April – Aprili

May – Mei

June – Juni

July – Julai

August – Agosti

September – Septemba

October – Oktoba

November – Novemba

December – Desemba


Shopping in English to Swahili Translation

Store/shop – Duka

Price – Bei

Money – Pesa

Cash – Pesa taslimu

How much? – Pesa ngapi?

It is cheap – Ni bei rahisi

It is expensive – Ni bei ghali

Do you give discounts? – Je, Unapunguza bei?

Please reduce the price – Tafadhali punguza bei

How do I pay? – Ninalipaje?

I have a credit/debit card – Nina kadi


Eating out in English to Swahili Translation

Eat – Kula

Food – Chakula

Menu – Menyu

Bill – Bili

Hot – Moto.

Cold – Baridi.

Drinks – Vinywaji

Cold drink – Kinywaji baridi

Fruit juice – Maji ya matunda

Beer – Bia

Cold beer – Bia baridi

Tea – Chai

Coffee – Kahawa

Soup – Supu

Chicken – Kuku

Meat – Nyama

Fish – Samaki

Rice – Wali

Vegetables – Mboga

Drinking water – Maji ya kunywa

I am vegetarian – Sili nyama

It is delicious – Ni tamu sana.


Happy Holidays in English to Swahili Translation

Happy birthday – Furaha ya siku ya kuzaliwa.

Merry Christmas – Krismasi njema.

Happy new year – Heri ya mwaka mpya.

So there you have it. Some basic Swahili words and phrases that will help you out during any visit to Tanzania. If you’d like to learn more, then we can recommend an app called Duolingo, which has just recently added Swahili to its learning courses.

Join us for an unforgettable trip of a life time on a Tanzanian Safari Tours !


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