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How To Say ‘Hello’ in Swahili, and Other Swahili Greetings!

How to Say Hello in Swahili

So, you’re heading for Kenya to travel or work. Awesome! You’re in for an amazing adventure! It’s a beautiful country, steeped in a rich culture that may be very unlike your own.

However, showing respect to the locals is a big deal in every country around the world. A respectful manner and attitude could open doors for you that would otherwise remain mystifyingly closed. Aside from just knowing ‘Thank you’ in Swahili, greeting someone correctly in Swahili could incline a local to treat you more favorably than otherwise! So, the clever thing to do would be to learn Swahili greetings before you embark on your journey. Swahili greetings are different from other languages and probably not what you’d expect. But if learning how to say ‘Hello!’ in Swahili in easy and fun ways is important to you, you’ve come to the right place at SwahiliPod101.

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1. Must-Know Swahili Greetings

Start straight away with this greeting lesson. It’s short, but it packs a punch!

This short, but powerful lesson teaches you the basic ways to greet someone correctly in Swahili! At SwahiliPod101, you will be taught the correct pronunciation and intonation, as well as the correct times to greet in Swahili. And you will have fun!

The focus of this lesson is greetings in Swahili

Topic 1: How to greet when meeting

Sentence from the lesson:
Habari!
“Hello!”

It is the most commonly used informal greeting. Habari means “hi” or “hello.” We use it when we meet people. We can use this greeting with friends or relatives, but also with people we don’t know.
And the formal way of greeting people is Shikamoo!
During the evening we say: Habari ya jioni! Jioni is Swahili for “evening,” so Habari ya jioni means “good evening.”
Habari and Habari ya jioni are used when we meet someone, but when we leave, we don’t say these greetings again.

Topic 2: How to use parting expressions

Sentence from the lesson:
Kwaheri.
“Goodbye.”

Kwaheri means “good-bye.”
Finally, in Swahili we have an expression meaning “see you soon” that can be considered both formal and informal: Tuonane tena.

Language Tip

In formal situations, Kenyans commonly greet each other by shaking hands. But, if we meet someone we are very friendly with, we hug each other. Don’t be afraid to do it with your Kenyan friends—it’s normal!

2. Common Ways to Say Hello in Swahili

Swahili Greetings

Standing at the airport in a foreign country for the first time can be a somewhat scary experience for anyone, especially if you need assistance. However, don’t worry – at SwahiliPod101 we teach you how to quickly get a local’s attention with friendly, correct Swahili greetings! You are more likely to get helped this way.

Here is our Swahili greetings list of all the general ways to address a person upon meeting. It is tailored for formal and informal situations.

1- Good morning.

Habari za asubuhi.

‘Good morning’ in Swahili is acceptable any time between approximately 5:30am and 12:00pm, when the day is still young. And smile – it’s the universal ice-breaker!

2- Good evening

Habari za jioni.

This greeting is one you would use casually when night begins to fall. Address your friends, close family or close acquaintances, and those who are not your superiors, with this phrase.

3- How are you?

U hali gani?

Show your friendly interest in another person’s well-being by asking this question. This is the casual greeting form that you would use with your friends and family. For the sake of the friendship, it would be good to listen carefully to the answer! It shows caring and selflessness on your part.

4- How have you been?

Umeshindaje?

This is a good question to ask someone you have not seen for a while. The inference is that some catching-up is needed!

5- What’s up?

Kuna nini?

An universally informal and energetic way to greet your friends or equals! Literally, it means ‘What’s going on in your life?’, yet often no answer is expected. It’s just a greeting! Crazy, right?!

6- Long time no see.

Siku nyingi sijakuona.

This phrase means is another greeting comment that means “I have not seen you for a while!” Often, no response is expected, except to reciprocate.

7- Hey!

Hey!

This is a friendly exclamation to greet your friends or equals with. Reserve its use more for people you see regularly!

Saying Hello

8- Good afternoon.

Habari za mchana.

‘Good afternoon’ in Swahili is an informal greeting and is used during the second part of the day. The appropriate period falls, in most cultures, from 12:00am till sunset.

9- How’s it going?

Unaendelea aje?

This greeting phrase basically means the same as ‘How are things progressing?’, ‘How are things going in your life?’ or even ‘What’s up?’ Depending on the friendship, a lengthy answer is not always expected.

10- It’s nice to see you again.

Ni vizuri kukuona tena.

This friendly, welcoming phrase is best used after greeting someone you have not seen for a while. If you mean it, you will make the person feel special! This is a good thing to say to make someone feel welcome in Swahili.

11- How’s everything?

Kila kitu kiko vipi?

This is a variation of ‘How’s it going?’ Use casually with your equals or close acquaintances.

12- How’s your day?

Siku yako imekuaje?

Ask this when you’re speaking to your Swahili friend during the day. It’s a friendly phrase to start a conversation with.

13- Yo!

Yo!

Yo! is English slang and a universal greeting popular among young men of most nationalities. Rather don’t answer the phone with this, unless you know your caller well!

14- Hello!

Jambo!

Suitable for use in most settings, situations and persons, this is an important Swahili greeting to know. Be sure to master this word first at SwahiliPod101!

15- It’s nice to meet you.

Ni vyema kukutana na wewe.

When meeting someone for the first time, this is a polite and friendly way to welcome them. It means you are happy to make their acquaintance.

3. Why Should You Choose SwahiliPod101 To Learn How To Greet In Swahili?

Online learning systems abound, and it’s not easy to know which one will suit your needs best. This means you have to be careful and select a system with a good reputation, and that has proven longevity. SwahiliPod101, which is part of InnovativeLearning.com, ticks all the boxes! With millions of lesson downloads and over a decade of teaching, we can say with confidence that this is one of the best language learning systems on the web. Why is it such an excellent system? Let us count the ways…

Swahili Teacher

1- Video Presentations with Native Speakers

Friendly native Swahili speakers guide you step-by-step through the process of learning vocabulary, phrases and much more. They demonstrate correct pronunciation and emphasis of the words, so as to ensure that you speak like a native when you’re done! Watching the enthusiastic tutors makes not only for a pleasant and more personal experience – it also allows you to copy mouth and lip movements. It’s like learning from your own Swahili friend in your own home!

2- Superb Flexibility with 24/7 Access to Learning Material – Anywhere and on Any Device connected to the Internet!

PC, Android, iPhone, iPad, laptop, even TV – whatever device you prefer! Go online with our FREE app to do your lessons, no matter where you are or which device you are using. All you need is a good internet connection to log on and learn to speak Swahili at your own pace, in your own place!

3- Pronunciation Tool Ensures You Really Speak Swahili!

In any language, correct pronunciation is often crucial. The nuances in language require this, or you could find yourself saying things you don’t mean. You will find our Pronunciation Tool invaluable to wrap your mouth around the correct way to greet in Swahili!

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4- Our Content is Always New and Dynamic

Every week, new audio and video lessons are uploaded, so as to keep our promise that learning Swahili with SwahiliPod101 is always fun and exciting! In addition, you will get access to bonus material and basic Swahili phrases. These are a fantastic way to build your comprehension and speaking skills!

5- Need to Fast Track your Learning? We Have the Solution!

Most learning activities are more fun when you’re not doing them alone. For this reason we developed Premium PLUS, which gives you a personal tutor – 24/7! Also, this way you’re likely to learn to speak Swahili much faster!

So, if our lively Swahili blog is not enough for you, just upgrade to Premium PLUS to get your very own teacher. Personalised goals and lessons based on your needs, assessment of your progress, non-stop feedback and many other super features makes this a very attractive option.

Say ‘Hello’ to a wonderful, exciting way to learn another language, and learn how to say ‘Hello’ in Swahili in no time! You will be very happy you did!