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Zulu phrasebook

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Zulu phrasebook

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Zulu is the language of the Zulu people, the majority of them living in South Africa.

Pronunciation guide


Zulu vowels are very similar to those found in english. However, Zulu is a tonal language, so the meaning of some words depends on whether you use a high or low pitch. For instance, "Unjani?" with a high tone on the u means "how are you?" whereas a low thone on the u means "How are they?"


t like the t in "tea"

k somewhere between a K and a G in English

kh this is a digraph; it is pronounced like a hard k in english, like k in "kick". Not pronounced like "ch" in the Scottish "loch"

h like English h

hh A digraph. this is a voiced h, like "ch" in the Scottish "loch", but softer.

y Like the English y

b Like the English b

Click Consonants

Zulu has three click consonants, represented by "c," "q," and "x" in written Zulu.

c: Click your tongue off the back of your teeth, like a disapproving "Tsk tsk."

x: This sounds like the click made to summon a horse. Click the side of your tongue off your molars, on either or both sides of your mouth.

q: This is the hardest click. It should sound somewhat like a cork being popped from a bottle. Put your tongue on the edge of your hard palate, and pull it of sharply. This will take some practice.

Common diphthongs

Phrase list



"Hello" to one person


"Hello" to a group of people


"How are you?" (singular 'you')


"How are you?" (plural 'you')


I'm fine.

Sikhona We;re fine

Ungubani igama lakho?

"What's your name?"

Igama lami ngingu_____

"My name is _____"


"Can you help me?"


"How much (does it cost)?"


"What's the time?"


"Where are you from?"

Ngiphuma ______.

"I come from" ___________.

Uyasikhuluma isiNgisi?

"Do you speak English?"


"Thank you"

Sala kahle / Hamba kahle

"Stay well / Go well" (used as 'goodbye')


Police Amapoyisa

Where is the Police Station?

Ikuphi iPolice Station?

I will call the Police.

Ngizobiza amaPoyisa


Numbers in Zulu are quite complex, with them all acting as adjectives that alter the subsequent word. the numbers listed below are the traditional Zulu numbers, but virtually all Zulu speakers use the English counting system for convenience.

zero - iqanda (

one - kunye

two - kubili

three - kuthathu

four - kune

five - isihlanu

six - isithupha

seven - isikhombisa

eight - isishiyagalombili

nine - isishiyagalolunye

ten - ishumi

eleven - ishumi nanye

twelve - ishumi nambili

thirteen - ishumi nantathu

fourteen - ishumi nane

fifteen - ishumi nesihlanu

sixteen - ishumi nesithupha

seventeen - ishumi nesikhombisa

eighteen - ishumi nesishiyagalombili

nineteen - ishumi nesishiyagalolunye

twenty - amashumi amabili

twenty-one - amashumi amabili nanye

twenty-two - amashumi amabili nambili

twenty-three - amashumi amabili nantathu

twenty-four - amashumi amabili nane

twenty-five - amashumi amabili nesihlanu

twenty-six - amashumi amabili nesithupha

twenty-seven - amashumi amabili nesikhombisa

twenty-eight - amashumi amabili nesishiyagalombili

twenty-nine - amashumi amabili nesishiyagalolunye

thirty - amashumi amathathu

forty - amashumi amane

fifty - amashumi amahlanu

sixty - amashumi ayisithupha

seventy - amashumi ayisikhombisa

eighty - amashumi ayisishiyagalombili

ninety - amashumi ayisishiyagalolunye

hundred - ikhulu

one hundred one - ikhulu nanye

one hundred two - ikhulu nambili

two hundred - amakhulu amabili

three hundred - amakhulu amathathu

four hundred - amakhulu amane

five hundred - amakhulu amahlanu

six hundred - amakhulu ayisithupha

seven hundred - amakhulu ayisikhombisa

eight hundred - amakhulu ayisishiyagalombili

nine hundred - amakhulu ayisishiyagalolunye

thousand - inkulungwane

two thousand - izinkulungwane ezimbili

three thousand - izinkulungwane ezintathu

four thousand - izinkulungwane ezine

five thousand - izinkulungwane ezinhlanu

six thousand - izinkulungwane eziyisithupha

seven thousand - izinkulungwane eziyisikhombisa

eight thousand - izinkulungwane eziyisishiyagalombili

nine thousand - izinkulungwane eziyisishiyagalolunye

ten thousand - izinkulungwane eziyishumi

eleven thousand - izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezinanye

twelve thousand - izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezimbili

thirteen thousand - izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezintathu

fourteen thousand - izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezine

fifteen thousand - izinkulungwane eziyishumi ezinhlanu

sixteen thousand - izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisithupha

seventeen thousand - izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisikhombisa

eighteen thousand - izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisishiyagalombili

nineteen thousand - izinkulungwane eziyishumi eziyisishiyagalolunye

twenty thousand - izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamabili

thirty thousand - izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamathathu

forty thousand - izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamane

fifty thousand - izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamahlanu

sixty thousand - izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamathupha

seventy thousand - izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamakhombisa

eighty thousand - izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamaisishiyagalombili

ninety thousand - izinkulungwane eziamashumi eziamaisishiyagalolunye

hundred thousand - izinkulungwane eziyikhulu

two hundred thousand - izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamabili

three hundred thousand - izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamathathu

four hundred thousand - izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamane

five hundred thousand - izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamahlanu

six hundred thousand - izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamathupha

seven hundred thousand - izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamakhombisa

eight hundred thousand - izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamaisishiyagalombili

nine hundred thousand - izinkulungwane eziamakhulu eziamaisishiyagalolunye

one million - isigidi


Clock time



Monday - uMsombuluko

Tuesday - uLwesibili

Wednesday - uLwesithathu

Thursday - uLwesine

Friday - uLwesihlanu

Saturday - uMgqibelo

Sunday - iSonto


Writing time and date


blue - luhlaza okwesibhakabhaka

orange - i-orenji

purple - iPhephuli

green - luhlaza

gray - mpunga

brown -nsundu

black - mnyama

white - mhlophe


[English word] - [Zulu word] ([plural Zulu word])

car - imoto (amamoto)

bus - ibhasi (amabhasi)

ship -umkhumbhi (imikhumbhi)

plane - indiza, ibhanoyi (izindiza, amabhanoyi)

motorcycle - ithukathuka (amathukathuka)

train - isitimela (izitimela)

Bus and train

   (ibhasi)  (isitimela) 










iphoyisa (amaphoyisa) police

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