Learn basic Zulu phrases and words

The Zulu language is commonly referred to as ‘isiZulu’. Zulu is the most widely spoken home language of the eleven official languages of South Africa. There are over 8 million Zulu people in KwaZulu-Natal, hence it is useful to know a few words and phrases to help you communicate and get by. The Zulu people are best known for their rich culture, beliefs, elaborate traditional wear and battles fought in the past. Here are some basic words and phrases to help you on your journey of mastering the Zulu language.

Basic expressions in Zulu
Thank youNgiyabonga
Excuse meUxolo
I am sorryNgiyaxolisa
I love youNgiyakuthanda
How much is this?Kubiza malini?
Call the police!Biza amaphoyisa!
I don’t knowAngazi
Do you speak English?Ukhuluma isiNgisi na?
Do you speak Zulu?Ukhuluma isiZulu na?
I understandNgiyaqonda
I don’t understandAngizwa
What is your name?Ngubani igama lakho?
My name is…Igama lami ngu…
Good luckNgikufisela inhlanhla

Greetings in Zulu
Here are a few phrases to help you with your meet and greet.
Hello (To one person)Sawubona
Hello (To more than one person)Sanibonani
How are you?Unjani?
How are you? (To more than one person)Ninjani?
I am well, how are you?Ngisaphila, wena unjani?
How can I help you?Ngingakusiza ngani?
Goodbye (To person leaving)Hamba kahle (Go well)
Goodbye (If you are leaving)Sala kahle (Stay well)
Have a safe journeyUbe nohambo oluhle

Here is an example of a typical conversation

Ben: ‘Sawubona’ (Plural – ‘Sanibona’)
Peter: ‘Yebo sawubona’
Ben: ‘Kunjani’ or ‘Unjani’ (Plural –
Peter: ‘Ngisaphila, wena unjani’ (Plural –
‘Sisaphila, nina ninjani’)
Ben: ‘Nami ngisaphila’

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