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Hausa phrasebook

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Hausa is one of Africa's single most spoken languages. A member of the Chadic branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages it is spoken as a first language by about 34 million people, and as a second language by about 15 million more. Native speakers of Hausa are mostly to be found in the in the north of Nigeria and in the African country of Niger (where it is an official language), but the language is widely used as a lingua franca in a larger geographic band across sahelian Africa north of the Congo basin, and the west of central Sudan.

As a lingua-franca, Hausa is especially prevalent in Ghana, used by Hausa traders in zango (Hausa urban districts) in major cities. It is also used by Fulani herdsmen, Dagomba/Gurunsi farmers as a second language, by the official Islamic clergy of the country, and as an inter-ethnic group lingua-franca north and east of all Akan dominated areas. In total, Hausa speakers in Ghana number between 4-7 million of all Hausa-speakers, making it a very handy language to know in the marketplace.

Hausa is also used extensively in Cameroon alongside Fulani in the far north and as far south as Gabon.

In Central/Northeast Africa, Hausa is used in Chad and Sudan among the Hausa-Fulani communities, and smaller Muslim tribal groups, in and around Khartoum and Kordofan (in addition to Arabic). Two famous Sudanese singers, Fadimatu and Sabrin, occasionally sing in Hausa on the popular Sudanese national television programme Nogoum, noting the increasing recognition of the Hausa language in otherwise Arabic-dominated Sudanese society.

Hausa is a tonal language which employs two distinct tones, high and low, but doesn't sound as distinctly tonal as other African languages. There are also many special implosive and explosive consonants used in Hausa that may have to learned by ear, but are completely comprehensible without mastering. Hausa employs a 5 vowel system like Spanish (a, e, i, o, u) , and grammar is considerably easy to learn. It is Hausa's general ease of use that has contributed to it becoming one of Africa's most spoken languages.

Pronunciation guide[edit]


like 'a' in "cat"
like 'e' in "let"
like 'i' in "pit"
like 'o' in "toll"
like 'u' in "lute"


like 'b' in "bat" but there is also an implosive b, a sound not in English

Phrase list[edit]


Sannu but the commonest polite greeting is Salama alaikum, peace be upon you. Salaam alaikum is a Muslim greeting, more commonly used by men than women.
A gaishai ka (ki) Hello, or I greet you. Used as a more formal salutation, or if you find someone at hard at work.
How are you? 
ا نا لافييا /Kana Lafiya (addressing males) or Kina lafiya (addressing females)?
Lafiya lau. (in health)
What is your name? 
Mai sunan ka?
My name is ______ . 
suna na _____.
You may do best to simply respond to friendly greetings as they come at you. Lahiya or lahiya lau is nearly always a polite response.
Sannu da aiki (said to someone at work)
sannu kadai (hello back)
Sannu da zuwa (welcome, greetings on your arrival)
sannu kadai (hello back)
ina gajiya (how is the tiredness)
ba gajiya (fine, no tiredness)
ina dan uwa'en ka (ki) (how are your relatives, your family)
lafiya lau
Ina kwana (good morning, literally how did you sleep)
I do not speak Hausa (literally I do not hear Hausa) 
Ba na jin Hausa
I do not understand 
Ban gane ba

Nice to meet you. 
Ina farin cikin haduwa da kai (an English greeting, not a Hausa one)
Don Allah
Thank you. 
Na gode.
You're welcome. 
barka da zuwa or sannu da zuwa (in the sense of welcoming someone)
Ba kome (in response to someone thanking you)
A (sounded as letter 'a' but drawn out like 'ayyy' not 'ahhh')
A'a (sounded as 'ah ah')
Please listen to me
(getting attention) : Don Allah ji mana
Excuse me please
(begging pardon) : Gafara Don Allah
I'm sorry. 
Yi hak'uri
Sai an jima.
See you tomorrow
Sai Gobe
I can't speak 'Swedish' [well]. 
Ba na jin harshen Swedish
Do you speak English? 
Ka na jin harshen turanci kuwa?
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
Akwai mai jin harshen turanci kusa?
Look out! 
A lura sosai!
Good morning. 
Ina kwana?
Good evening. 
Barka da yamma
Good night. 
Allah ya ba mu alheri
Good night (to sleep) 
Mu kwana lafiya
I don't understand. 
Ban gane ba
Where is the toilet? 
Ina makewayi ya ke?

In Daily Life[edit]

Let's go 
Mu je
Let's go to the market 
Mu tahi kasuwa
Let's go home 
Mu tahi gida
Where are you going? 
Ina za ka je? (Masculine), Ina za ki je(Feminine)
Small boy 
mai noma
Where do you come from? 
Daga ina ka zo? or ina ka zo daga?
What country do you come from? 
Wani gari kafai to?
zo or Zo nan (come here)
Where did you going? 
ina ka na je
Do you understand (Hausa) 
Kana jin harshen Hausa
Small Small 
Ka'dan ka'dan
Is it good?* or It is good 
yena da kyau? or tai kyau?
What is this? 
Menene wan nan?
What are you doing? 
Menene Ka na yi?
Okay, yes, you're welcome* 
Too, Yoo *common in Ghana to use when speaking Hausa
I like you 
Ina so'n ka (mas.) ina so'n ki (fem.)

In the Market[edit]

Good Market With you 
Allah abiba kasuwa
How much? 
Can I buy some? 
zan siya abu
Can I have some? 
Nasu mu
Can I buy (Milk)
Densay (Madera)?
Last price? 
Nawane gaskiya
Give me clean water to drink 
Bani ruwa in sha
Drinkable water 
Ruwan sha
Food is delicious (Literally Food gets delicious) 
Abincin ku yana dad'i
wake, wace
rice dumplings  


  • Sannu: Hello
  • Na gode: Thank You
  • Ina jin yunwa: I'm Hungry
  • Ina son ruwa: I want water
  • Ko ba ha'ka ba? Is that not so?
  • Gaskiya? True?
  • Sai wata rana. Until another day (Goodbye)
  • Akwai labari? Is there any news?
  • Na ji dadi. I am pleased
  • Madallah! Excellent! (often used at the end of the greetings if all is well)
  • Na gaji. I am tired.

I na zaka(ki) ce? Where do you want to go?

Bin iya yi ba. I don't know how to do it.

Zan tafi. I'm leaving.

Na gani. I understand.

A kwe abinchi? Is there food?

Na koshi. I'm full (after eating).

Me ka(kin) ce? What did you say?

Bari. Leave it.

Zauna. Sit down.

Ta fita. She has gone out.

Ya je aiki. He has gone to work.

Ka iya yi? Do you know how to do it?

Ina son mota dan Allah. I would like a car please.

Ina zan kwana? Where would I stay?

Kana de Kud'i? Do you have money?

Bani de kud'i. I don't have money.

Ba na so. I don't like it.

Ina so. I like it.

Shanu Cattle

Zomo Hare

Rakoomi Camel

Rakoomin dadje Giraffe

Doki Horse

Dan doka Police

Kanna sha taba? Do you smoke? (lit; Do you drink cigarettes)

Kana/Kina shan giya? Do you(masculine/feminine) drink alcohol?

Sarki A chief

Aboki Friend

Zaki Lion

Geewa Elephant

Geewan Ruwa Nile perch (Lit: Elephant of the waters)

Bai kome It doesn't matter

Wasa Playing

Kadaka zo gobe Don't come tomorrow

Mata ta gudo. Your wife has run away.

Wuta fire/electricity

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