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HomeLanguage LearningHi there in Swahili - “Habari?” and 14 Extra Swahili Greetings (and...

Hi there in Swahili – “Habari?” and 14 Extra Swahili Greetings (and Their Response!)

What if I advised you there isn’t any precise translation for “good day” in Swahili, and but there are dozens of the way to greet individuals?

While you’re studying a brand new language, one of many first belongings you’ll wish to know is how one can say “good day.” Salutations are a necessary a part of the Swahili language and tradition, and Swahili is so wealthy in several types of hellos that conversations of greetings can proceed for minutes.

Whether or not you might be planning a visit to Tanzania or Kenya or simply wish to impress a good friend, listed below are a number of the most typical “good day” phrases that will help you sound like a local Swahili speaker!

Say “Hi there” in Swahili to Your Mates: Colloquial Swahili Greetings

Swahili values friendliness. It’s necessary to study the commonest colloquial phrases to keep away from sounding stiff.

Almost the entire colloquial greetings are literally questions that require a sure response from the listener.

I will provide you with essentially the most commonplace response for every set of questions, but in addition present a bit on phrases that may be flexibly utilized as responses to any of the questions.

1. Habari?

Habari actually means “information”.

Habari can be utilized in many various sentences, equivalent to Habari za asubuhi/mchana/jioni? (actually “[What is] the information of the morning/afternoon/night?”). This expresses how English audio system would say “good morning/afternoon/night.”

You may add nearly any noun after za, equivalent to kazi (“work”) to ask “How’s work?” or familia (“household”) or kwako (“your house”) to ask “How’s your loved ones?”

Additionally, you will hear ya as a substitute of za (ex. Habari ya asubuhi?) with no change in that means. Equally Habari yako/zako? (“[What is] your information?”) as nicely. In case you are asking two or extra individuals, you’d say Habari yenu/zenu? as a substitute.

Habari will typically be used alone (as simply Habari?) or could also be eliminated when a phrase trails after it, creating questions like Za kwako? and Za jioni?

Normal response: Nzuri

2. Mambo?

Actually that means “issues” or “affairs,” mambo is the plural type of jambo. It’s one of the generally used greetings in informal Swahili speech.

A fast word: many foreigners might be advised to greet individuals with jambo, which was popularized by the hit music “Jambo Bwana.” Nonetheless, you’ll nearly by no means hear a local Swahili-speaking grownup greeting different native audio system with jambo. It’s principally used only for vacationers!

To sound like an area, use mambo as a substitute.

Normal response: Mazuri or poa (“cool”)

3. Vipi?

Vipi actually means “how?” and can be utilized alone or together with one other phrase or phrase. For instance, you possibly can pair it with mambo to turn out to be Mambo vipi? It’s as informal as “How’s it going?”

There is no such thing as a specific commonplace reply, so you possibly can reply with no matter you want from the part “Past the Normal Responses” under.

4. Upo?

“You might be [here]?” This can be a contextual phrase that’s exhausting to translate actually and threw me off the primary time I got here throughout it. “After all I’m right here. You see me proper right here,” I assumed.

Nonetheless, I shortly realized that is one other frequent greeting to ask how you might be. It’s now one among my favorites for its simplicity and shortness!

It might even be used if the speaker hasn’t seen the listener for a bit.

In case you are greeting two or extra individuals, you’ll say Mpo? as a substitute. You may additionally hear -ko changing -po (leading to Uko?, and many others.), though that is much less frequent.

Normal response: Nipo (“I’m” – for one particular person) or tupo (“we’re” – for 2 or extra individuals)

5. Niambie

Niambie! (“Inform me!”) This enthusiastic greeting is often brief for sentences like niambie habari yako (“inform me your information”). It’s not a query, however it’s nonetheless inquiring about how you might be, often between people who find themselves already on pleasant phrases with one another.

You may additionally hear sema (“say”) utilized in the identical approach as niambie on this case.

There is no such thing as a precise commonplace response, so you possibly can say no matter you are feeling, equivalent to mzuri (“good”), niko poa (“I’m cool”), or sina jipya (“I don’t have something new”).

6. Inakuwaje?

“How is it?” That is nearly the identical phrase as utilized in sure dialects of English.

Normal response: Nzuri

7. Unaendeleaje?

Unaendeleaje? interprets to “How have you ever been progressing?” It’s much like the English “How have issues been going?”

Though it’s nonetheless pretty informal, it exhibits that you simply’re within the listener and their affairs on a deeper stage than the greetings above. For that reason, you shouldn’t throw this phrase round fairly as calmly to individuals you don’t know or are assembly for the primary time.

You may additionally hear this as Unaendelea vipi? with vipi changing the je. This can be utilized to the entire phrases under ending in je with no change in that means. In case you are talking to a number of individuals, say Mnaendeleaje?

Normal response: Ninaendelea vizuri or just vizuri

8. Umeamkaje?

This can be a frequent option to greet somebody you care about within the morning. Whereas English audio system ask, “How did you sleep?” Swahili audio system mostly ask the query Umeamkaje? (“How did you get up?”)

Nonetheless, additionally it is attainable to ask Umelalaje (“How did you sleep?”), though it’s not used as regularly.

When greeting two or extra individuals, use Mmeamkaje? as a substitute.

Normal response: Nimeamka vizuri, vizuri, or salama (“peaceable”)


This phrase is fairly cool: “How have you ever gained?” It’s much like asking, “How was your day?”

Like the opposite phrases above, it’s used to dig a bit deeper. It’s typically used between associates, household, and group members. When asking this to a number of individuals, say Mmeshindaje?

Normal response: Nimeshinda vizuri or just vizuri

Past the Normal Responses

You might have seen that there’s a huge array of various commonplace responses.

Swahili has over a dozen totally different noun lessons (considerably akin to genders in lots of European languages), and most nouns, verbs, and adjectives should match in accordance with their class.

That is typically regarded as essentially the most tough facet of Swahili to get the hold of. This may increasingly appear daunting, however don’t fear: Here’s a shortcut to have you ever mastering greetings very quickly. There are a handful of responses that can be utilized for all of those greetings above that can be utilized no matter noun class. They embody (in descending order of slanginess):

  • Salama (“peaceable”)
  • Safi (“clear”)
  • Poa (“cool”)
  • Freshi (“contemporary”)
  • Shwari (“calm”)

Due to this fact, when somebody asks you, Habari za asubuhi? you possibly can reply, poa. When somebody asks you, Mambo? you possibly can reply, poa. When somebody asks you, Upo? you possibly can reply, nipo poa. And so forth and so forth, together with your selection of phrase from the listing above, relying on how hip you wish to appear.

The perfect half? Let me inform you.

Maybe because of their close to common applicability, these are a number of the most typical responses you’ll hear in colloquial Swahili. They’re much more frequent than a number of the commonplace responses.

Observe that the older the opposite particular person is, the extra doubtless they are going to stick with a phrase towards the highest of the listing, equivalent to salama or the usual response.

Additionally, this listing isn’t exhaustive. The responses embody an enormous array of road slang that’s ever evolving. Whereas I used to be dwelling in Tanzania, it appeared each month I discovered a brand new slang response, like mzuka or bie.These fluctuate relying on what a part of the Swahili-speaking world you might be in or the place the particular person you might be speaking to is from.

You too can strengthen any of the responses with sana (“very”), kabisa (“completely”), or tu (“simply”). You may reply to greetings with phrases equivalent to nzuri sana, nipo kabisa, or salama tu.

Take into account that even should you’re not doing nicely or feeling nice, it’s best to usually nonetheless reply in a constructive method to Swahili greetings. Normally, individuals don’t say, “Unhealthy” when requested, “How are you?”

In case you are shut with the opposite particular person and like to be sincere on a tough day, you possibly can categorical this with siyo poa sana (“I’m not superb”) or hivyo hivyo tu (“Simply okay”).

Well mannered Greetings

Studying well mannered and formal Swahili is equally necessary as studying the colloquialisms.


There might be occasions once you wish to be perceived as correct and displaying respect, and listed below are the very best methods to take action. Fortunately in these instances, the usual responses are the one responses attainable.

10. Hujambo?

This greeting has roots within the phrase jambo launched above and is a mildly formal option to greet somebody. It’s extra much like “good day” than the colloquial “hello” in English.

The equal when talking to a number of individuals is Hamjambo? That is typically used when speaking to strangers you don’t wish to sound too informal with, when giving a speech, or when an older particular person greets a youthful particular person.

Normal response: Sijambo (for one particular person) or hatujambo (for 2 or extra individuals)

11. Shikamoo

Swahili tradition holds age and standing in excessive regard. While you greet somebody considerably older or with extra authority than you, you might be anticipated to point out respect through the use of shikamoo.

A toddler could use this towards an grownup, a scholar towards a instructor, a younger grownup to an aged neighbor, a citizen to an elected official, an worker to a boss, and many others.

In case you are greeting a bunch of individuals you wish to present respect to, you can also make this phrase plural by saying shikamooni.

Normal response: Marahaba

12. Salaam Alaikum

The Swahili-speaking world is religiously numerous, and particularly if you’re in a predominantly Muslim space equivalent to Zanzibar you’ll not wish to miss utilizing Salaam Alaikum.

Actually that means “Peace be upon you,” it is a frequent greeting throughout the Islamic world, and it’s possible you’ll discover it spelled a couple of other ways in Swahili (equivalent to salam aleikum or a-salamu alaykum).

Even if you’re in a predominantly Christian space, if you realize the listener is Muslim, be happy to make use of this phrase.

Normal response: Walaikum assalam

Different Greetings

We’ve coated essentially the most universally relevant phrases, however there are nonetheless a handful of greetings for particular conditions we haven’t gotten to but.

Verify them out under!

13. Hodi

Use hodi when you find yourself coming into somebody’s residence or room. It’s the English equal of claiming, “knock knock,” or “Hi there, anybody residence?” You too can repeat the phrase twice with no change in that means, so you may also say hodi hodi.

In case you are the listener, reply with “welcome”: karibu (to 1 particular person) or karibuni (to 2 or extra individuals).

14. Habari za Siku Nyingi?

Habari za Siku Nyingi? is a Swahili model of “very long time, no see,” and actually means, “What’s the information of many days?” The response could be the identical as the opposite habari expressions within the first a part of this text.

You may additionally be greeted with siku nyingi sijakuona, (“Many days I’ve not seen you.”). Should you’re very shut with the opposite particular person, you possibly can nearly jokingly accuse them with Mbona huonekani? (“Why don’t you seem?”).

There’s no commonplace response, and you may simply greet the particular person again nevertheless you want.

15. Pole na Kazi

Pole is a quintessential Swahili phrase. It could imply something from “sorry” to “gradual,” and as we noticed above, kazi means “work.”

This expression can be utilized when greeting somebody who has been exerting effort at work or who has returned from their office, for instance. It exhibits you recognize that somebody has labored exhausting–nearly similar to otsukaresama in Japanese.

If you wish to present your appreciation to the listener that they’ve additionally been working exhausting, you possibly can reply with pole na wewe (“You too”) or in any other case merely asante (“Thanks”).

Pattern Dialog

As I discussed firstly, greetings in Swahili are so necessary that they will go on for a number of traces of dialogue. It’s truly fairly impolite to leap straight to the purpose with out asking somebody how they (and presumably their complete household) are doing first!

Listed here are two examples of dialogues displaying how individuals may very well greet one another in Swahili (and in reality, could go on for for much longer!)

Observe that the second particular person makes use of a special greeting from the primary.

Instance Dialogue 1: Between Mates

A: Upo?
B: Nipo. Mambo poa?
A: Mambo poa kabisa. Habari za familia?
B: Nzuri sana. Za kwako?
A: Salama tu.

Instance Dialogue 2: Between a Youthful and Older Neighbor

A: Shikamoo.
B: Marahaba. Hujambo?
A: Sijambo, asante. Habari za mchana?
B: Safi sana. Habari za kazi?
A: Habari za kazi nzuri.

“Hi there” in Swahili

There you could have it! 15 greetings to make use of in Swahili.

Don’t fear should you can’t bear in mind all of those phrases proper now. In case you are simply beginning out in your Swahili language journey, I like to recommend you select simply a few phrases. Use them till you get the hold of them.

In case you are extra skilled, attempt testing out a brand new greeting once in a while.

Tanzanians, Kenyans, and others from the Swahili-speaking world are extremely welcoming individuals and can fortunately greet you of their language, so that you’ll turn out to be a greeting grasp very quickly!



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