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Useful Swahili phrases

A collection of useful phrases in Swahili, a Bantu language spoken in much of east Africa by about 140 million people.

To see these phrases in many other languages click on the English versions.

Key to abbreviations: sg = singular (said to one person), pl = plural (said to more than one person), inf = informal

English kiSwahili (Swahili)
Welcome Karibu (sg)
Karibuni (pl)
(General greeting)
Habari (inf)
Hujambo (sg)
Hamjambo (pl)
Sijambo (reply)
How are you? Habari?
Habari yako?
Habari gani?
Reply to 'How are you?' Nzuri
What's your name? Jina lako ni nani?
My name is ... Jina langu ni ...
Where are you from? Unatoka wapi?
I'm from ... Natoka ...
Pleased to meet you Nafurahi kukuona
Nimefurahi kukutana nawe
Good morning
(Morning greeting)
Habari ya asubuhi
Good afternoon
(Afternoon greeting)
Habari ya mchana
Good evening
(Evening greeting)
Habari ya jioni
Good night Usiku mwema
Lala salama (sleep well)
(Parting phrases)
Good luck Kila la kheri!
(Toasts used when drinking)
Maisha marefu!
Have a nice day Nakutakia siku njema!
Bon appetit /
Have a nice meal
Ufurahie chakula chako (sg)
Furahieni chakula chenu (pl)
Chakula chema
Bon voyage /
Have a good journey
Safari njema!
I understand Naelewa
I don't understand Sielewi
I don't know Sijui
Please speak more slowly Tafadhali sema polepole
Please write it down Waweza kuiandika?
Do you speak English? Unazungumza Kingereza?
Do you speak Swahili? Unazungumza Kiswahili?
Yes, a little
(reply to 'Do you speak ...?')
Ndiyo, kidogo tu
How do you say ... in Swahili? Unasemaje ... kwa Kiswahili?
Excuse me Samahani nipishe (to get past)
Samahani (to get attention or say sorry)
How much is this? Hii ni bei gani?
Sorry Samahani
Please Tafadhali
Thank you Asante
Asante sana (sg)
Asanteni (pl)
Reply to thank you Asante kwa kushukuru
No thanks Hapana asante
Where's the toilet? Choo kiko wapi?
This gentleman/lady will pay for everything Mtu huyu atalipia kila kitu
Would you like to dance with me? Tucheze ngoma?
Utapenda kudansi?
I love you Ninakupenda
Get well soon Ugua pole
Help! Msaada!
Fire! Moto!
Stop! Usifanye hivyo!
Go away! Nenda zako!
Leave me alone! Usinisumbue!
Call the police! Mwite polisi!
Christmas and New Year greetings Krismasi Njema
Heri ya krismasi
Heri ya mwaka mpya
Easter greetings Heri ya Sikukuu ya pasaka
Birthday greetings
Swahili birthday song
Nakutakia mema katika siku yako ya kuzaliwa!
Sikukuu njema ya kuzaliwa!
Furaha katika siku yako ya kuzaliwa!
Heri katika siku yako ya kuzaliwa!
My hovercraft is full of eels
Why this phrase?
Gari langu linaloangama limejaa na mikunga
One language is never enough Lugha moja haitoshi

Corrections, recordings and some translations from Ylanne Sorrows, Rushomesa Remigius, Dwayne Panzeter and Corona Cermak

Download all the audio files (Zip format, 2MB)

If you would like to make any corrections or additions to this page, or if you can provide recordings, please contact me. You can make recordings on you computer, tablet, phone or other device and email them to me. Audacity is a good, free sound recorder and editor. You can also make them online at, or similar sites.

Information about Swahili | Swahili phrases | Swahili numbers | Tower of Babel in Swahili | Swahili learning materials


Other collections of Swahili phrases

Learn Swahili: For Beginners and Travellers

Learn Swahili: For Beginners and Travellers

by G. O. Oyoo

- includes details of the Swahili alphabet and pronunciation; a guide to Swahili pronouns, sentence structure and sentence construction; useful words and phrases in various scenarios, and an English-Swahili dictionary.

Buy from:

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Phrases in other languages