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Language

Basic Swahili Phrases for Travelers

Swahili is the official language of Kenya and is spoken by the majority of the inhabitants of Mombasa.  Although English is also widely spoken, it is useful to know some common words and phrases to use whilst visiting Mombasa and rural areas along the coast.

  • Hello = Jambo / hujambo / Salama
  • How are you? = Habari gani
  • Fine (response) = Nzuri
  • Goodbye = Kwa heri / Kwa herini (more than one person)
  • See You Later = Tutaonana
  • Nice to meet you = Nafurahi kukuona
  • Goodnight = Lala salama

Civilities

  • Yes = Ndiyo
  • No = Hapana
  • Thank you = Asante
  • Thank you very much = Asante Sana
  • Please = Tafadhali
  • OK = Sawa
  • Excuse me = Samahani
  • You’re Welcome = Starehe
  • Can you help me? = Tafadhali, naomba msaada
  • What is your name? = Jina lako nani?
  • My name is = Jina langu ni … (NAME)
  • Where are you from? = Unatoka wapi?
  • I’m from .. = Natokea … (PLACE)
  • May I take a picture? = Naomba kupiga picha
  • Do you speak English? = Unasema kiingereza?
  • Do you speak Swahili? = Una ongea Kiswahili?
  • Just a little bit = Kidogo tu!
  • How do you say in Swahili? = Unasemaje kwa Kiswahili
  • I don’t understand = Sielewi
  • Friend = Rafiki

Getting Around

  • Where is the … = (PLACE/THING) ni wapi?
  • Airport = uwanja wa ndege
  • Bus station = stesheni ya basi
  • Bus stop = bas stendi
  • Taxi stand = stendi ya teksi
  • Train Station = stesheni ya treni
  • Bank = benki
  • Market = soko
  • Police station = kituo cha polisi
  • Post Office = posta
  • Tourist Office = ofisi ya watali
  • Toilet/bathroom = choo
  • What time is the … leaving? = … inaondoka saa ngapi?
  • Bus = basi
  • Minibus = matatu (Kenya); dalla dalla (Tanzania)
  • Plane = ndege
  • Train = treni/gari la moshi
  • Is there a bus going to … ? = Kuna basi ya …?
  • I’d like to buy a ticket = Nataka kununua tikiti
  • Is it near = Ni karibu?
  • Is it far = Ni mbali
  • There = huko
  • Over there = pale
  • Ticket = tikiti
  • Where are you going? = Unakwenda wapi?
  • How much is the fare? = Nauli ni kiasi gani?
  • Hotel = hoteli
  • Room = chumba
  • Reservation = akiba
  • Are there any vacancies for tonight? = Mna nafasi leo usiko? (Kenya: Iko nafasi leo usiku?)
  • No vacancies = Hamna nafasi. (Kenya: Hakuna nafasi)
  • How much is it per night? = ni bei gani kwa usiku?
  • Mosquito net = chandalua

Days and Numbers

  • Today = leo
  • Tomorrow = kesho
  • Yesterday = jana
  • Now = sasa
  • Later = baadaye
  • Every day = kila siku
  • Monday = Jumatatu
  • Tuesday = Jumanne
  • Wednesday = Jumatano
  • Thursday = Alhamisi
  • Friday = Ijumaa
  • Saturday = Jumamosi
  • Sunday = Jumapili
  • 1 = moja
  • 2 = mbili
  • 3 = tatu
  • 4 = nne
  • 5 = tano
  • 6 = sita
  • 7 = saba
  • 8 = nane
  • 9 = tisa
  • 10 = kumi
  • 11 = kumi na moja (ten and one)
  • 12 = kumi na mbili (ten and two)
  • 20 = ishirini
  • 21 = ishirni na moja (twenty and one)
  • 30 = thelathini
  • 40 = arobaini
  • 50 = hamsini
  • 60 = sitini
  • 70 = sabini
  • 80 = themanini
  • 90 = tisini
  • 100 = mia
  • 200 = mia mbili
  • 1000 = elfu
  • 100,000 = laki

Food and Drinks

  • I’d like = nataka …
  • Food = chakula
  • Hot/cold = ya moto/baridi
  • Water = maji
  • Hot water = maji ya moto
  • Drinking water = maji ya kunywa
  • Soda (soft drinks) = soda
  • Beer = bia
  • Milk = maziwa
  • Meat = nyama
  • Chicken = nyama kuku
  • Fish = samaki
  • Beef = nyama ng’ombe
  • BBQ meat = nyama choma
  • Fruit = matunda
  • Vegetables = mboga

Health

  • Where can I find a … = Naweza kupata … wapi?
  • Doctor = daktari/mganga
  • Hospital = hospitali
  • Medical Center = matibabu
  • I’m sick = mimi ni mgonjwa
  • I need a doctor = nataka kuona daktari
  • It hurts here = naumwa hapa
  • Fever = homa
  • Malaria = melaria
  • Headache = umwa kichwa
  • Diarrhoea = harisha/endesha
  • Vomiting = tapika
  • Medicine = dawa

Animals

When you’re on Safariin East Africa, even though we will provide you with English speaking tour guides, many of the guides and trackers will speak Swahili

  • Animal = wanyama
  • Lion = Simba
  • Buffalo = Nyati / Mbogo
  • Cheetah = Duma / Chita
  • Cow = N’gombe
  • Elephant = Tembo / Ndovuh
  • Giraffe = Twiga
  • Goat = Mbuzi
  • Hippo = Kiboko
  • Hyena = Fisi
  • Leopard = Chui
  • Rhino = Kifaru
  • Warthog = Ngiri
  • Wildebeest = Nyumbu
  • Zebra = Punda milia
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