How to Say I Love You in Swahili

Three Parts:Saying I Love YouUsing the Right PronunciationUnderstanding the Swahili Language

Swahili, a Bantu language that is spoken throughout much of east Africa, is the most widely spoken African language in the world. Over 50 million people speak the language. If you want to say "I love you" in Swahili, it's actually very simple. It's just one word.

Part 1
Saying I Love You

  1. Image titled Say I Love You in Swahili Step 1
    Say "Ninakupenda" or "Nakupenda." These are the two ways you can say "I love you" in Swahili. "Ni-" means "I," and the single word represents the entire sentence in Swahili. "-kupenda" means love in Swahili.
    • Colloquial Swahili speakers will drop the initial prefix "Ni-" and simply say "Nakupenda." Either "Ninakupenda" or "Nakupenda" are both accurate. The shorter version is simply more commonly used by native speakers, similar to how native American speakers might more frequently say "bye" instead of "goodbye."
    • Other translations of "Ninakupenda" and "Nakupenda" are "affirmation of romantic feeling" and "affirmation of affection or deep caring." [1]
    • The phrase can be used with a lover or spouse or a family member.
  2. Image titled Say I Love You in Swahili Step 2
    Say "Nakupenda sana" or "Ninakupenda sana." These phrases both mean "I love you very much." Sometimes you want to emphasize how much you love someone or use other terms of endearment. There are many different ways you can do this in Swahili. [2]
    • To call someone "my love," say, "manzi wangu." [3]
    • To say, "I love you too," say, "Ninakupenda pia."
    • To say, "I love you, my angel," say, "Ninakupenda malaika wangu." [4]
  3. Image titled Say I Love You in Swahili Step 3
    Don't repeat pronouns. Some sites on the Internet will steer you incorrectly. The shorter version is the correct one. All you need to learn is a single word: Ninakupenda (or Nakupenda).
    • Some sites don't understand that in Swahili the prefix "Ni-" is the subject "I."
    • Thus, you don't need to say "Mimi ninakupenda wewe" because it literally means "I I you love you" with the "I" repeated twice. That's silly.

Part 2
Using the Right Pronunciation

  1. Image titled Say I Love You in Swahili Step 4
    Pronounce "I love you" right. In Swahili, words are accented on the second-to-last syllable. People won't know what you're saying if you don't get the pronunciation right.
    • The correct pronunciation is "Nah-koo-PEND-ah."
    • The correct pronunciation of the less colloquial version of "I love you" is "Nee-nah-koo-PEND-ah." [5]
  2. Image titled Say I Love You in Swahili Step 5
    Learn how to pronounce Swahili vowels. There are just five vowels in the Swahili language: a, e, i, o, and u. The vowels are pronounced the same way they are pronounced in Japanese, Italian, and Spanish. This is important to understand if you are using another term of endearment.
    • For example, "Ninakupenda pia" is pronounced "Nee-nah-koo-PEND-ah pee-ah."
    • A is pronounced "ah" (like "father")
    • E is pronounced "eh" (like "egg")
    • I is pronounced "ee" (like "tree")
    • O is pronounced "oh" (like "oval")
    • U is pronounced "oo" (like "room")
    • There are no silent vowels in Swahili. You must pronounce each vowel in a sentence. [6]
  3. Image titled Say I Love You in Swahili Step 6
    Learn how to pronounce consonants in Swahili. There are many consonants in Swahili that are pronounced the same way as they are pronounced in the English language.
    • The letters "n" and "m" are pronounced the same way they are pronounced in English. The difference is that, in Swahili, sometimes another consonant will follow the "n," and it also must be pronounced. For example, "Ndugu" is a word that means relative.
    • Consonants pronounced the same way they are pronounced in English include the letters p, s, t, v, w, y, and z.
    • Understand how to pronounce consonant pairings. For example, "ch" is pronounced like the "ch" in "chair." And "sh" is pronounced like the "sh" in "shut." "Gh" can be pronounced with a hard "g" as in the English word "garden."

Part 3
Understanding the Swahili Language

  1. Image titled Say I Love You in Swahili Step 7
    Learn how verbs work in Swahili. Unlike English, Swahili verbs include both the subject and the tense. Figuring out a little bit about how the Swahili language works conceptually will help you say "I love you" properly.
    • For example, the word "Ninakula" is actually a complete sentence which means "I am eating" in Swahili. "Ni-" is the portion of the word that indicates the subject of the sentence: "I." That's why the English phrase "I love you" is also just a single word in Swahili.
    • As another example, the way you say "I don't need" to indicate you don't want to buy something is simply, "Sihitaji."
    • To say "I am lost," you say, "Nimepotea."
  2. Image titled Say I Love You in Swahili Step 8
    Realize that Swahili doesn't have gender preferences built into its language. Pronouns are the same in the language for all genders. So, you say "I love you" the same way to a man as you would say the phrase to a woman.
    • This means there are not different words used for he, him, she or her.
    • The prefix "a-" is used for "he" or "she" alike. Swahili was ahead of the curve in this respect. The language is essentially gender neutral.
  3. Image titled Say I Love You in Swahili Step 9
    Study Swahili online. The Internet has made it easier than ever before to learn foreign languages. There are many resources available for Swahili training. This will improve your vocabulary and pronunciation so you can better communicate with the person you love. If you want to tell someone you love them in Swahili, why not learn how to say more?
    • Buy an audio CD or textbook. These days, it's easy to learn a foreign language by purchasing audio CD lessons or textbooks online. Some language exchange programs online will match you with a native speaker.
    • You can also find You Tube videos for free that teach you how to say key Swahili phrases.
  4. Image titled Say I Love You in Swahili Step 10
    Take lessons at a university. Universities throughout the world, including in America and Africa, offer Swahili lessons. In Africa, the Institute of Kiswahili and Foreign Languages at the State University of Zanzibar offers lessons in the Swahili language. [7]
    • Ohio State University is an example of an American university offering Swahili language training. Learning the language will help you better understand the culture, which should improve your relationship with the person you love, if they are a native Swahili speaker. [8]
    • Swahili (or Kiswahili as people speaking the language call it) is the African indigenous language that is the most studied and most important.


  • Know where Swahili is spoken. It is the official language of two African countries, Kenya and Tanzania, and is also spoken on the East coast of Africa and in some islands off Somalia.
  • Millions of other people speak Swahili as a second language in countries such as Uganda, East Zaire, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Yemen, and Oman, for starters. [9]

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