Amharic phrasebook

Soft drink bottles in Ethiopia often have their names written in Amharic. This Coca-Cola bottle demonstrates how each Amharic character corresponds to a consonant and vowel pair in English. ኮ="co" ካ="ca" ኮ="co" ላ="la".

Amharic is the main language of north central Ethiopia.

Phrase list


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. (ሃይ )
How are you? (respectful to elder) 
Dehina newot? (ደህና ነዎት?)
How are you (informal, to a man) 
Endemin-neh? (እንደምን ነህ? )
How are you (informal, to a woman) 
Endemin-nesh? ( )
Fine, thank you. 
Dehna Negn. ( )
What is your name? (to a man)
Simeh man naw? (ስምህ ማን ነው?)
What is your name? (to a woman)
Simish man naw? (ስምሽ ማን ነው?)
My name is ______ . 
Sime ______ yibalal. ( _____ .)
Pleased to meet you. 
siletewaweqin dess bilognal . (ስለተዋወቅን ደስ ብሎኛል)
Ebakih. (to a man) (እባክህ)
Ebakish. (to a woman) (እባክሽ)
Thank you (very much). 
(Betam) ahmesugenalew. ((በጣም) አመሰግናለሁ )
You're welcome. 
Minem Aydelem. (meaning 'no problem' 'ምንም አይደለም')
awo. (አዎ )
aye; aydelem. (አይ አይደለም)
ishi (እሺ )
Excuse me. (getting attention) 
Yiqirta. (ይቅርታ )
Excuse me. Do you have a minute 
Yiqirta, anda gazay ( ?)
Excuse me. (begging pardon) 
Yiqirta. (ይቅርታ )
I'm sorry. 
Yiqirta. (ይቅርታ )
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) (እንግሊዘኛ ትችላለህ ?)
Do you speak English? 
Englizegna tichiyalesh? (to a woman) (እንግሊዘኛ ትችያለሽ ?)
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
Englizegna yemichel sew ale? (እንግሊዘኛ የሚችል ሰው አለ ?)
! ( !)
Look out! 
! ( !)
Good morning. 
Dehna aderk (to a young man) (ደህና አደርክ?): Dehna aderu (Elderly man/ more formal) (ደህና አደሩ?)
Good morning. 
Dehna adersh (to a woman) (ደህና አደርሽ?):Dehna aderu (Elderly woman/ more formal) (ደህና አደሩ?)
Good morning. 
Dehna aderachu ( more than one person) (ደህና አደራቹ?)
Good evening. 
Dehna ameshachu ( more than one person) (ደህና አመሻቹ?)
Good night. 
Dehna eder. (pronounced Denadur)(to a man) (ደህና እደር)
Good night. 
Dehna ederee. (pronounced Denaduree)(to a woman) (ደህና እደሪ)
Good night (to sleep) 
. ( )
I don't understand. 
Algebagnem. (አልገባኝም )
Where is the toilet? 
Metatebiya bet 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


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


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



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?

fifty c entice: hamsa santim money: genzeb


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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