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Learn a Language Sunday: Amharic Basics


Some phrases in this phrasebook still need to be translated. If you know anything about this language, you can help by plunging forward and translating a phrase.

It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice

Just for the sake of being “friendly,” please do not use the informal greetings with the elderly, dignitaries or generally with people who are not your friends. Respect for elderly and people with authority is paramount in Ethiopia. Therefore, in order not to give your acquaintance a wrong impression of yourself, make sure you adjust your behaviour according to the circumstances.

Hello. (formal)

Tena yistilign. (ጤና ይስጥልኝ )

Hello. (informal)

Selam. (ሰላም )

Hello. (informal between friends)

Halo. ( )

How are you? (respectful to elder)

Dehina newot? ( ደህና ነዎት?)

How are you (informal, to a man)

Endemin-neh? ( )

How are you (informal, to a woman)

Endemin-nesh? ( )

Fine, thank you.

Dunna ñuey. ( )

What is your name? (to a man)

Simeh man naw? ( ?)

What is your name? (to a woman)

Simish man naw? ( ?)

My name is ______ .

Sime ______ yibalal. ( _____ .)

Pleased to meet you.

siletewaweqin dess bilognal . (ስለተዋወቅን ደስ ብሎኛል)


Ebakih. (to a man)


Ebakish. (to a woman)

Thank you (very much).

(Betam) ahmesugenalew. ( )

You’re welcome.

Minem Aydelem. (meaning ‘no problem’ )


awo. ( )


aye; aydelem. ( )


ishi ( )

Excuse me. (getting attention)

Yiqirta. ( )

Excuse me. Do you have a minute

Yiqirta, anda gazay ( )

Excuse me. (begging pardon)

Yiqirta. ( )

I’m sorry.

Yiqirta. ( )

I don’t understand.



Dehna hun. (to a man)


Dehna hugni. (to a woman)

Goodbye (informal)

Ciao. (Taken from Italian)

I can’t speak name of language [well].

[ ]. ( [ ])

Do you speak English?

Englizegna tichilaleh? (to a man)

Do you speak English?

Englizegna tichiyalesh? (to a woman)

Is there someone here who speaks English?

Englizegna michel sew aleh/alew?


‘erdata! ( !)

I’m sick.


Look out!

! ( !)

Good morning.

Dehna aderk (to a young man): Dehna aderu (Elderly man/ more formal)

Good morning.

Dehna adersh (to a woman):Dehna aderu (Elderly woman/ more formal)

Good morning.

Dehna aderachu ( more than one person)

Good evening.

. ( )

Good night.

Dehna eder. (pronounced Denadur)(to a man)

Good night.

Dehna ederee. (pronounced Denaduree)(to a woman)

Good night (to sleep)

. ( )

I don’t understand.

Algebagnem. ( )

Where is the toilet?

Shintabet yet new?



0 = Zero

1 = And

2 = Hoolet

3 = Sost

4 = Arat

5 = Amest

6 = Sidist

7 = Sebat

8 = Sement

9 = ZeTegn

10 = Aser

11 = Asra-and

12 = Asra-hoolet

20 = Haya

21 = Haya-and

30 = Selasa

40 = Arba

50 = Hamsa

60 = Silsa

70 = Seba

80 = Semanya

90 = ZeTena

100 = Meto

200 = Hoolet-meto

300 = Sost-meto

1000 = Shee

2000 = Hoolet-shee


[edit]Clock time

The day starts at 1 se’at ke tewatu(o’clock in the morning) = 7am

2 se’at = 8am

3 se’at = 9am

4 se’at = 10am

5 se’at = 11am

6 se’at = 12pm

7 se’at = 1pm

8 se’at = 2pm

9 se’at = 3pm

10 se’at = 4pm

11 se’at = 5pm

12 se’at = 6pm

1 se’at ke’mishitu (o’clock in the evening) = 7pm

2 se’at = 8pm

3 se’at = 9pm

4 se’at = 10pm

5 se’at = 11pm

6 se’at ke’lelitu (o’clock in the night) = 12am

7 se’at = 1am

8 se’at = 2am

9 se’at = 3am

10 se’at = 4am

11 se’at = 5am

12 se’at = 6am



Sunday = Ehood

Monday = Segno

Tuesday = Maksegno

Wednesday = Erob

Thursday = Hamoos

Friday = Arb

Saturday = Qdame


September = Meskerem

October = Tikimt

November = Hidar

December = Tahisas

January = Tir

February = Yekatit

March = Megabit

April = Miyaziya

May = Ginbot

June = Senay

July = Hamle

August = Nehasie

[edit]Writing time and date


Black = Tiqoor

White = NeCH

Red = Qey

Blue = Semayawi

Green = Arengwade

Yellow = BiCHa

Brown = Buna’aynet/Buna’ma

Purple = WeynTej

Pink = Rose

Orange = Bertukan

Baby blue = Wuhama semayawi

Dark blue = DemaQ semayawi


[edit]Bus and train


Right = Qegn

Left = G’ra

Straight ahead = QeTita menged

Opposite = TeQarani/Feet’lefeet

Adjacent = ATegeb/Gon

Turn left = wede g’ra taTef(to a guy)/taTefi(to a girl)/taTefu (to more than one person or to an elderly)

Turn right = wede Qegn taTef(to a guy)/taTefi(to a girl)/taTefu (to more than one person or to an elderly)




How much?

Sint new?


Bread (Ethiopian)




Meat (red)










Coffee shop

bunna bet

I am a vegetarian

Siga albuelam (literally, “I don’t eat meat”;)

coffee with milk

Buna b’Wetet

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