Kenya is a country that uses both Swahili and English as languages that unite us and enable us to communicate with one another. Many Kenyans, especially in the rural areas, prefer to speak in either their mother tongue or Swahili.  English is especially commonly used in the major cities, particularly in upmarket urban areas.

Generally, as you approach someone, one must start by greeting the person to show politeness in order to be assisted.

Below are some of the word one can use while maybe asking for directions, bargaining, and common knowledge:

GREETINGS

  • Habari yako? – How are you? (Singular)
  • Habari zenu? – How are you (plural)

 

DIRECTIONS

  • Njia ya kuenda (intended place) ni wapi ? – Show me directions to (intended place)
  • Niko wapi ? – Where am I ?
  • Hapa ni wapi? – Where are we?
  • Ni mbali? – Is it far?
  • Tutafika saa ngapi? – What time will it reach

 

POLITE WORDS

  • Tafadhali – Please
  • Asante – Thank you
  • Nisaidie – Help me
  • Tafadhali unisaidie – Please help me
  • Naweza nunua? – May I buy?

 

BUYING AND BARGAINING

  • Pesa ngapi? – How much?
  • Niko na shillingi 200 peke yake – I only have 200 shillings
  • Punguza bei yako tafadhali – Please reduce your price

 

COMMON WORDS

  • Sawa – Ok
  • Pole – Sorry (Expressing sympathy)
  • Pole sana – Very sorry
  • Hapana – No
  • Ndio – Yes
  • Kuja – Come
  • Narudi – Am coming back
  • Kesho – Tomorrow
  • Leo – Today
  • Hapa – here
  • Wacha – leave it
  • Wacha tu! – Just leave it
  • Twende – let’s go
  • Simama – Stop, or Stand up, depending on the context

 

ANIMALS

  • Cheetah – Duma
  • Leopard – Chui
  • Elephant – Tembo
  • Buffalo – Nyati
  • Giraffe – Twiga
  • Lion – Simba
  • Rhino – Kifaru
  • Zebra – Pundamilia