Useful Xhosa Phrases for Visitors to Cape Town


With eleven official languages you would think that communicating in Cape Town would be an issue. In fact, the opposite is true. You’ll find it surprisingly easy. All Capetonians speak a little bit of English and most are fluent in the language. Yet, the most spoken African language in Cape Town is IsiXhosa, which is widely spoken in the Western and Eastern Cape, including by many of the staff at our African restaurant. If you really want to endear yourself to Xhosa locals, here are some useful words and phrases with which to familiarise yourself.

Hello – Molo (singular) Molweni (plural)
How are you? – Unjani? (singular) Kunjani? (plural)
I’m fine thanks and you? – Ndiphilile?
What is your name? – Ungubani igama lakho? Igama lakho?
My name is … – Igama lam ngu …
Where are you from? Uvela phi?
I’m from … – Ndivela e …
I don’t understand – Andiva
Please write it down – Cela uyibhale phantsi
Do you speak …? – Uyakwazi ukethetha …?
How much is this?  – Yimalini?
Thank you – Ndiyabulela / Enkosi
Where’s the toilet? – Liphi igumbi langasese
Yes – Ewe
No – Hayi
I am sorry – Ndicela uxolo
Please – Ndicela / Ndiyacela
Excuse me (to get attention) – Ndicela uxolo / uxolo
Excuse me (to beg pardon) – Uxolo andivanga
I don’t understand – Andiqondi
Now – Ngoku
Yesterday – Izolo
One – Nye
Two – Mbini
Three – Ntathu
Four – Ne
Five – Ntlanu
Six – Ntandathu
Seven – Xhenxe
Eight – Bhozo
Nine – Lithoba
Ten – Lishuymi
Computer – Ikhompyutha
Email – Iposi yeinthanethi
Internet – I-inthanethi

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Pronouncing the clicks, consonants and vowels is another matter altogether and requires some clever tongue manouvering. Clicks are represented by the alphabet letters c, x and q. In spite of the odd innocent giggle at your expense, first language Xhosa speakers will respect you for trying and will in all likelihood encourage you by helping you with your clicking and manouvering.

The next time you come to Cape Town or to GOLD Restaurant for that matter, ask one of our friendly Xhosa-speaking staff to teach you some words and phrases. For more on the Xhosa language and some additional words and phrases go to:

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