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Swahili Phrases For Tourists

Guest Author - Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu

Although you do not need Swahili to visit Kenya, you may want to know a few phrases. Here are some of the more common Swahili words you may hear and want to use. If you click on the Swahili words you will be able to hear the pronunciations. The audio files are in wav format.

Greetings:

These are basically the equivalent of "Hi, how are you?" with the response being "good or well".

Greeting Response
Jambo!
Habari?
Sasa?
Jambo sana!
Mzuri
Fiti

After "Jambo" you could add bwana for "Jambo bwana" (for a man), mama (for a woman), or mtoto (for a child).

Where is...

To ask where something is you would say "wapi?" along with whatever it is you want to find. For example to ask where the post office is you'd say "Wapi posta?" Here are some other places you may want to find...

Place Swahili
Bathroom
Hotel
A form of transportation
Choo
Hoteli
Matatu (daladala in Tanzania)

Even if you were to say "Wapi post office?" mixing Swahili and English that's alright. It's perfectly acceptable to mix the two languages in Kenya. In Tanzania, however, they are more formal with their Swahili and it's best to stick with Swahili grammar rules as much as possible.

Other Useful Phrases:

Phrase Swahili
Thank you
Thank you very much
How many shillings?
How much money?
No
Yes
Please
Sorry
Water
Tea
Coffee
Beer
Goodbye
Asante
Asante sana
Shilingi ngapi?
Pesa ngapi?
Hapana
Ndiyo
Tafadhali
Pole
Maji
Chai
Kahawa
Pombe
Kwaheri

Oh yes, if you hear someone talking about "mzungu" - that's you!

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Content copyright © 2013 by Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Dawn Denton for details.

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