8 Common Ways to Say Thank You in Swahili

Asante is one of the most common ways to say thank you in Swahili. The language is one of the Bantu family of languages spoken widely in East Africa. Within that region, you will find over 150 million fluent speakers of the language. That said, learning Swahili will come in handy if you are planning to visit DR Congo, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, etc..

Interestingly, the language is by far one of the easiest African languages to learn. As a matter of fact, chances are that you already know some words you only do not know are Swahili. For example, “Hakuna Matata,” which became popular after the release of Disney’s “Lion King” in 1994.

This article will teach you basic ways to say “Thank you” in Swahili and a few other words and phrases for everyday use. Also, you will learn contextual use of the words and phrases and simple responses to them. Learning a new language is not as difficult as you think. Here are some of the best ways to learn a language fast and at your own pace.

8 Ways to Say “Thank You” in Swahili

Source: iStock

There are multiple ways to say thank you;” however, the context of the conversation will denote the expression of gratitude. Don’t fret. As we said earlier, Swahili is one of the easiest languages to learn, and below are ten ways to show appreciation using the language. 

1. Asante Thank You

Asante, as in ah-san-tay, means “Thank you” and is a universal way to show appreciation to someone for a kind gesture. This word tops this list because it would be helpful and best to be as polite as possible while speaking with natives. Peradventure, someone tells you “Asante,” you respond with “Karibu,” which means “welcome.”

Sentence Example

Context: You visit a friend and he’s offering you some food.

  • Friend: Ungependa kula?
  • Translation: Would you like to eat?
  • You: Ndiyo! Asante
  • Translation: Yes! Thank you!

2. Asante sana – Thank you very much

Sana means “very” or “very much.” The word stresses and adds extra weight to Asante. In essence, “thank you very much” or “thanks a lot” portrays a deeper sense of gratitude to someone or people. Asante sana works for both formal and informal settings alike.

Sentence Example

Context: After spending time with your friend. Now, you are on your way out.

  • Friend: Ilikuwa nzuri kukuona.
  • Translation: It was nice seeing you.
  • You: Asante sana kwa chakula.
  • Translation: Thank you very much for the food.

3. Hivyo ni vizuri sana kwako – That’s very kind of you

This sentence is appropriate when someone does something thoughtful and unexpected, and you need to appreciate him/her. For example, you can use this sentence if a person offers you his seat, which is clearly not convenient. It only tells the person that you do not take the kind gesture for granted.

Sentence Example

Context: You have been standing for long and a stranger offers you his seat.

  • Stranger: Chukua kikao changu.
  • Translation: Take my sit.
  • You: Hviyo ni vizuri sana kwako. Asante sana!
  • Translation: That’s very kind of you. Thank you very much!

4. Shukrani – Thank you

Shukrani is an alternative to Asante; you can use both interchangeably. Pronounced as shoo-ku-ran-ni, the word works in casual and semi-formal settings with friends and family. However, shukrani sana is best used in more formal situations or when addressing elders or superiors. Like Asante sana, shukrani sana means “Thank you very much.”

Sentence Example

Context: You were invited to a company’s social function.

  • Speaker: Tunafurahi kuwa nawe hapa.
  • Translation: We are glad to have you here.
  • You: Shukrani sana!
  • Translation: Thanks a lot!

5. Asante kwa kunifikiria kwako – Thank you for your consideration

Use this sentence to appreciate someone for their patience or for giving you their time. As you would say to a recruiter, if your job application is considered, the phrase works when you need to thank a person for their interest in you. Alternatively, you can say “Asante kwa muda wako”, meaning thank you for your time.

Sentence Example

Context: You submitted a project proposal to a company and you receive a call from a manager or representative.

  • Speaker: Tungependa kufanya kazi na wewe.
  • Translation: We would like to work with you.
  • You: Asante kwa kunifikiria kwako!
  • Translation: Thank you for your consideration!

6. Nashukuru – Thank you

Correctly pronounced as na-shoo-koo-roo, the word is just another way to say “Thank you.” It can also mean “I appreciate it.” For example, if your friend comes to pick you up from the airport, you can say “Asante sana mwenzangu. Nashukuru!” The word “mwenzangu” means “my friend.”

Sentence Example

Context: Your friend comes to pick you from the airport.

  • You: Nashukuru kwa ishara.
  • Translation: I appreciate the gesture.

7. Asante kwa zawadi – Thank you for the gift

It’s only right that you show appreciation when you receive gifts because the gifter deems it fit to honor you. There are several ways to thank someone for gifting you an item; however, you say “Asante kwa zawadi” to keep it simple. It is pronounced as written.

Sentence Example:

Context: You are with a friend and you want to let him know you got him a gift.

  • You: Nimekupata kitu
  • Translation: I got you something.
  • Friend: Wow! Asante kwa zawadi.
  • Translation: Wow! Thanks for the gift.

8. Asante kwa kutumia muda na sisi – Thank you for spending time with us

You will need this sentence, especially if you plan to host a hangout, party, meeting, what have you. If people have taken out time to honor your invitation, then you should appreciate them for it. Therefore, when you say, “Asante kwa kutumia muda na sisi,” you’re simply saying “I acknowledge your presence and do not take it for granted.”

Sentence Example

Context: You went for a hangout with a friend and his family.

  • Speaker: Asante kwa kutumia muda na sisi
  • Translation: Thank you for spending time with us.
  • You: Raha ni yangu
  • Translation: The pleasure is mine.
Swahili Words & PhrasesEnglish Translations
AsanteThank you
Asante sanaThank you very much
Hivyo ni vizuri sana kwakoThat’s very kind of you
ShukranThank you
Asante kwa kunifikiria kwakoThank you for your consideration
NashukuruThank you
Asante kwa zawadiThank you for the gift
Asante kwa kutumia muda na sisiThank you for spending time with us

For more in-depth understanding, check out this video to learn six ways to say “Thank you” and “Welcome” in Swahili.

Common Swahili Phrases for Everyday Use

1. Jambo – Hello

Jambo, short for Hujambo, is the Swahili equivalent of the English “Hello.” The word is used majorly in three situations, firstly as a conversation starter, secondly as a greeting, and thirdly as a way to get the attention of who you want to talk with. The person, in turn, responds with the same word. Mind you, when addressing an elderly person or stranger, you should address them using “Jambo bwana” or “Jambo madam.” “Bwana” means “Sir.”

2. Habari gani – How are you?

When you want to know how someone is faring, simply ask, “Habari gani?” If you’re asked the question, you may respond, “Nzuri, asante. Na wewe?” which means “I’m fine, thanks. And you?” Both sentences are appropriate for formal and informal occasions alike. The word “Habari” equally means “Hello,” and therefore, can be used interchangeably with “Jambo.

3. Nzuri – Fine

Nzuri is the correct verbal expression connoting positive feedback about something. For example, if you come across a beautiful garden, you may say “Bustani ni nzuri,” meaning “The garden is beautiful.” Bustani is the Swahili translation for “Garden.”

In the same vein, Nzuri is an appropriate response to “How are you?” It literally means “I am fine/good.” Alternatively, you can answer “Sijambo” and still convey the same message.

4. Naendelea vyema – I am doing well

If you are asked “Unaendeleaje” (how are you doing?), you may respond with “Naendelea vyema,” meaning “I am doing well.” Pronounce this as nah-in-de-le-ha vee-yeh-ma.

5. Karibu – Welcome (to one person)

This is probably one of the first greetings you hear when you arrive at a location in any Swahili-speaking country. It literally means “You are welcome” and is accompanied by a smile. If you need to respond, simply say “Asante.” Also, if someone tells you “Asante” for some good you have done, you can equally say “Karibu.” When addressing the elderly, “Karibu sana” is more appropriate.

6. Karibuni – Welcome (to more than one person)

In simple terms, Karibuni is the plural form for Karibu. Thus, you may use the word when welcoming more than one person.

7. Ndiyo/Hapana – Yes/No

Perhaps, these do not need too much explanation. Ndiyo, pronounced n-dii-yor, means “No,” while Hapana means “Yes.” For example, if you are offered water, you may respond with either to show your interest. However, depending on the setting, you may want to add Asante to your response to show politeness.

8. Tutaonana Baadye – Goodbye for now

This expression is suitable when you and the person you’re with at a time need to disperse but intend to meet later. Tutaonana Baadaye also means “See you later/soon.”

9. Kwa Heri – Goodbye (for a long period of time)

When your vacation ends, and you have to travel back home, leaving your friends, this is the most suitable parting expression. For example, bidding farewell to your friends at the airport, saying “Kwa Heri” signifies “I won’t be seeing you in a long time.”

Swahili Words and PhrasesEnglish Translation
JamboHello
Habari gani?How are you?
NzuriFine
Naendelea vyemaI am doing well
KaribuWelcome
KaribuniWelcome (addressing multiple persons)
Ndiyo/HapanaYes/No
Tutaonana BaadayeGoodbye for now
Kwa HeriGoodbye
Source: Haiku Deck

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are some DO’s when greeting in Swahili?

Make certain that you always smile when greeting to show the genuineness of your intentions. Also, respect elders by bowing your head as you greet them. Finally, always say “Asante” as often as necessary.

2. What are some DONT’s when greeting in Swahili?

Though locals are largely accommodating and friendly to tourists, be mindful that you greet properly. Firstly, do not extend your left hand to shake someone. Secondly, do not tap elders on the back while greeting, instead, give a slight bow. Also, do not refuse a handshake. Locals in Tanzania especially love long handshakes, as it signifies friendship and acceptance. Lastly, request permission before taking pictures as there are cultural underpinnings.

3. How can I improve my Swahili pronunciation?

While Swahili is pretty easy to speak, you may be pronouncing some words wrong, especially if you’re adding an accent to your expressions. Secondly, take time to listen to native speakers speak; do not be too forward. Below are the correct pronunciation of the vowels:

  1. “A” – “ah,”
  2. “E” – “eh,”
  3. “I” – “ee”
  4. “O” – “oh,”
  5. “U” – “oo.”
Source: IXL

Start Speaking Swahili!

You have just learned eight ways to say thank you in Swahili alongside nine other everyday words and phrases. That was easy, right? Good thing the language is pretty easy to learn and understand. However, hiring Swahili tutors online is an excellent idea to broaden your speaking capacity. Also, learn how to say hello in different languages, including Bengali, Chinese, French, Russian, Turkish, etc. Finally, if you ever need expert language teachers, do not hesitate to navigate to AmazingTalker.

Saying thank you in Swahili can be emphasized by adding Asante. Other ways to say thank you are

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