Swahili Alphabet

Swahili Alphabet

All vowel sounds are short. For example:

A as in 'car'
E as in 'red'
I as the 'ee' sound in 'peel'
O as in 'off'
U as the 'oo' sound in 'cool'


These never vary in sound.

B as in 'bat'
C is only found coupled with H as CH. This is pronounced as the CH in 'church'.
D as in 'duck'
F as in 'far'
G as in 'give'
H as in 'hit'
J as in 'jump'
K as in 'kite'
L as in 'lick'
M as in 'men'
N as in 'not'
P as in 'pea'
R as in 'rake'
S as in 'stop'
T as in 'time'
V as in 'vine'
W as in 'will'
Y as in 'yam'
Z as in 'zoo'

A note about consonants:
If a consonant occurs without a vowel at the beginning of a word, it is usually given it's own syllable. For example:
mtoto (child) is pronounced M-TOE-TOE
ndiyo (four) is pronounced N-DEE-YO

The Swahili alphabet contains 24 letters. The letters Q and X are not included in the Swahili alphabet.


Lonely Planet Swahili PhrasebookThese are not considered as separate letters.

CH as in 'church'
DH as the TH is 'that', never the TH in 'think'
GH a voiced gutteral sound
KH found in Arabic words only. A voiceless gutteral sound similar to the Scottish CH in 'loch'
NG' similar to the NG sound in 'singer'
NG each consonent is given its normal pronunciation. Ngapi (how much) is pronounced N-GAW-PEE
NY as in 'Kenya'
SH as in 'shop'
TH as in 'think'

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