Kiswahili Beginners Guide

BASIC SWAHILI

English as one of the languages in Kenya, is understood by many Kenyans. This is particularly in the larger towns and at lodges, camps and game parks. However, a little of our official languages Swahili will often get you a very long way!


The vowels in Swahili are pronounced as follows:

  • a as in father
  • e as in bed
  • i as in tin
  • o as in or
  • u as in truth.


HELPFUL WORDS AND PHRASES

General

  • Hello - Jambo!
  • How are you? - Habari?
  • Good, fine - Mzuri
  • Bad - Mbaya
  • Thank you (very much) - Asante (sana)
  • Please - Tafadhali
  • Goodbye - Kwaheri
  • Welcome - Karibu
  • Friend - Rafiki
  • No problem - Hakuna matata
  • Excuse me - Samahani
  • Sorry - Pole
  • Quickly - Haraka
  • Slowly - Pole pole
  • Yes - Ndio
  • No - Hapana.



Shopping

  • Shop - Duka
  • Money - Fedha/Pesa
  • How much? - Bei gani?/Ngapi?
  • Expensive (very) - Ghali (sana)
  • Cheap - Rahisi
  • Please give me a discount - Tafadhali nipunguzie
  • Clothes - Nguo
  • Shoes - Viatu
  • Newspaper - Gazeti.



Eating Out

  • A lot - Mingi
  • Another - Ingine
  • Beer - Pombe
  • Big - Kubwa
  • Bread - Mkate
  • Butter - Siagi
  • Chicken - Kuku
  • Coffee - Kahawa
  • Cold - Baridi
  • Egg(s) - Yai (mayai)
  • Enough - Tosha
  • Fish - Samaki
  • Food - Chakula
  • Fruit - Matunda
  • Hot/fire - Moto
  • Meat - Nyama
  • Milk - Maziwa
  • Potato - Kiazi
  • Rice - Wali
  • Salt - Chumvi
  • Small - Kidogo
  • Sugar - Sukari
  • Tea - Chai
  • Vegetables - Mboga
  • Water - Maji.



Animals

  • Leopard - Chui
  • Rhinoceros - Kifaru
  • Buffalo - Nyati
  • Lion - Simba
  • Elephant - Ndovu
  • Cheetah - Duma
  • Baboon/Monkey - Nyani
  • Zebra - Punda milia
  • Giraffe - Twiga
  • Impala - Swara
  • Hyena - Fisi
  • Warthog - Ngiri
  • Hippo - Kiboko.



Numbers

  • One - Moja
  • Two - Mbili
  • Three - Tatu
  • Four - Nne
  • Five - Tano
  • Six - Sita
  • Seven - Saba
  • Eight - Nane
  • Nine - Tisa
  • Ten - Kumi
  • Twenty - Ishirini
  • Thirty - Thelathini
  • Forty - Arobaini
  • Fifty - Hamsini
  • Sixty - Sitini
  • Seventy - Sabani
  • Eighty - Themanini
  • Ninety - Tisini
  • One hundred - Mia moja
  • Two hundred - Mia mbili
  • One thousand - Elfu moja.



Time

  • Now - Sasa
  • Today - Leo
  • Tomorrow - Kesho
  • Yesterday - Jana
  • Morning - Asubuhi
  • Afternoon - Alasiri
  • Evening - Jioni
  • Night - Usiku
  • Day - Siku
  • Week - Wiki
  • Month - Mwezi
  • Hour - Saa
  • What time is it? - Saa ngapi?
  • Sunday - Jumapili
  • Monday - Jumatatu
  • Tuesday - Jumanne
  • Wednesday - Jumatano
  • Thursday - Alhamisi
  • Friday - Ijumaa
  • Saturday - Jumamosi.



Useful Words

  • Man - Mwanaume
  • Woman - Mwanamke
  • Child (children) - Mtoto (watoto)
  • Old man (men) - Mzee (wazee)
  • Girl - Msichana
  • Boy - Kijana
  • Teacher - Mwalimu
  • Citizens - Wananchi
  • House - Nyumba
  • Farm - Shamba
  • Post office - Posta
  • Bank - Benki
  • Hotel - Hoteli
  • Hospital - Hospitali
  • Taxi/Car - Taxi/Gari
  • Where? - Wapi?
  • Why? - Kwa nini?
  • When? - Lini?
  • Who? - Nani?



Useful Phrases

  • Bring - Lete
  • May I have? - Tafadhali nipe?
  • I want - Ninataka
  • Come/Let’s go - Twende
  • Where are you going? - Una kwenda wapi?
  • What’s your name? - Jina yako nani?
  • My name is… - Jina yangu ni…
  • Where do you come from? - Unatoka wapi?
  • I am lost - Nimepotea
  • Stop here - Simama hapa
  • Wait here - Ngoja hapa
  • Where is the hotel? - Hoteli iko wapi?
  • Where is the toilet? - Choo iko wapi?