LESSON #70: Please, Excuse me, Sorry & Thank you in Swahili

If you like me had a teacher that emphasised on the importance of these 4 phrases then you must know just how much weight they are given in any culture/language. I have touched on these previously but what I’ll be doing is telling you about their different variations as well.

1) Please

  • Tafadhali
  • Naomba-ok granted this cannot be used in place of tafadhali, rather it would be used in a different setting, if you know japanese think using ‘onegaishimasu’ & ‘kudasai’, they both mean ‘please’ but cannot be used interchangeably. (Naomba is more of I am begging…. (insert whatever you oh so desperately wish for)


Tafadhali nipe maji/nipe maji tafadhali-give me water please

Naomba maji- I am asking (earnestly) for water

2) Excuse me

  • Samahani
  • kumradhi- you often hear news anchors say this when they make a mistake (it’s very formal)
  • ***Naomba njia-this is used if you are asking people to give you way, in English you can say may I pass please but you can also just say excuse me and people make way for you. It’s pretty much the same in Swahili.


Samahani, nina swali-excuse me, I have a question

Kumradhi, watazamaji- pardon me viewers

3) Sorry

  • Samahani
  • Naomba msamaha
  • Tafadhali nisamehe
  • Niwie radhi/naomba radhi


Samahani kwa kukukosea-I’m sorry for wronging you (is that even correct English?!!)

Naomba msamaha kwa kukukosea (I am asking for forgiveness….)

Tafadhali nisamehe kwa kukukosea (Please forgive me….)

Niwie radhi/naomba radhi kwa kukukosea (Forgive me…..)…btw ‘radhi’ has a lot of different meanings, might be worth checking it out.

Now let’s break down this tongue-twister-ish word (kukukosea):

Ku-infinitive to

Ku-object marker for you (2nd pers sing)

Kosea-wrong somebody

4) Thank you

  • Asante
  • Shukran
  • Nashukuru


Asante kwa msaada wako- thank you for your help

Natoa shukran kwa msaada wako- I am offering (my) thanks for your help

Nashukuru kwa msaada wako- I am thankful for your help

***Note I’ve only covered 1st person singular,  so you’d of course need to change up the subject prefixes if referring to 2nd/3rd…person.

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