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Basic Amharic Phrases For Travelling In Ethiopia

In this post, I’ll guide you through some basic Amharic phrases.

Speaking even a little bit of Amharic can really transform your Ethiopian adventure. It will help you connect with the local people and allow you to share and embrace their traditions.

Ethiopia has an epic tapestry of ancient cultures and breathtaking landscapes. I’ve been to Ethiopia twice and love the huge breadth of experiences on offer here. There’s nowhere on Earth quite like it.

From the vibrant city of Addis Ababa and the castles of Gondar to the otherworldly Danakil depression and the jaw-dropping Simien Mountains, this incredible country has something for every adventurous traveller.

Basic Words in Amharic

Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia. It’s spoken by over 31 million people as a first language and 25 million more as a second language. Amharic is also a Semitic language, meaning it shares roots with Arabic and Hebrew.

Start your Amharic adventure with these basic words. They’re your first steps into a rich new linguistic world, perfect for everyday interactions and making connections.

  • ሰላም – Selam – Hello
  • ደህና እንደሚሉ – Dehna endemenelu – Goodbye
  • አመሰግናለሁ – Ameseginalehu – Thank you
  • አንደኛው ሰላም – Andenaw selam – You’re welcome
  • እባክህ – Ebakih – Please
  • አዎ – Awo – Yes
  • አይ – Ay – No
  • እንደምን አደራ – Endemen adera – Good morning
  • መልካም ምሽት – Melkam mishiṭ – Good evening
  • መልካም ቀትር – Melkam keter – Good afternoon
  • እንዳልቻልኩ – Endalechalehu – Excuse me
  • ምግብ – Migeb – Food
  • ውሃ – Wuha – Water
  • መጠለቀቂያ – Met’elek’ekiya – Bathroom

Remember, these are just the basics. Getting a strong grasp on the Amharic language takes time and practice, but every journey starts with one step.

Ethiopian orthodox priest dressed in white reading from an old bible in Lalibela

Check out this itinerary for visiting Ethiopia.

Common Amharic Phrases

Next, move on to these common phrases to feel more at home with Amharic. They’re the essentials for daily conversations, helping you blend in with the locals.

  • እንዴት ነህ? – Endet neh? – How are you?
  • እኔ ጥሩ ነኝ፣ አመሰግናለሁ – Ene tiru neng, ameseginalehu – I’m good, thanks
  • መገናኘትህን ደስ አለኝ – Megena’gnetihin des aleng – Nice to meet you
  • ስሜ… ነው – Sime… new – My name is…
  • ይቅርታ – Yiqerta – I’m sorry
  • እባክህ – Ebakih – Excuse me
  • ረዳት ሊሰጠኝ ትችላለህ? – Redat lisegen tich’laleh? – Can you help me?
  • እጅግ ውብ ነው – Ejig wub new – How beautiful!
  • እነሆ እንደምናይ – Eneho endemenay – See you
  • እነሆ እንደምናይ በኋላ – Eneho endemenay bela – See you later
  • በጥሩ እድል – Betiru edil – Good luck!

Basic Amharic Phrases for Travellers

For adventurous travellers, these phrases will serve as your everyday toolkit. Navigate your journey through Ethiopia with confidence, from its lively markets and ancient cities to its unique landscapes.

  • እኔ ምኞ አለኝ – Ene menjo aleñ – I have a reservation
  • መጠለቀቂያ ወዴት ነው? – Met’elek’ekiya wedet new? – Where are the bathrooms, please?
  • እንዴት እንደምመጣ…? – Endet endememeta…? – How do I get to ___?
  • ይህ ስኬል ስንት ነው? – Yih sikel sint new? – How much is this?
  • እንግሊዝኛ ትናገራለህ? – Englizinya tenageraleh? – Do you speak English?
  • እባክህ እቅርብ ሆቴል ወዴት ነው? – Ebakih eqirib hotel wedet new? – Where is the nearest hotel?
  • እኔ ጠፋሁ። ረዳት ሊሰጠኝ ትችላለህ? – Ene teffah. Redat lisegen tich’laleh? – I’m lost. Can you help me?
  • ይህ አካባቢ አስተማማኝ ነው? – Yih akababi astemamagn new? – Is this area safe?
  • በሌሊት ይህ አካባቢ አስተማማኝ ነው? – Belelit yih akababi astemamagn new? – Is this area safe at night?
People walking on the road in Addis Ababa with blue and white minibus taxis behind

Useful Amharic Phrases for Information

Information is key, and these phrases will help you get it. They’re ideal for asking questions and understanding the world around you in Ethiopia.

  • ጥያቄ አለኝ – Tiyäq’e aläñ – I have a question
  • በአማርኛ ይህን ምን ይሉታል? – Be’amariñña yihin min yilutal? – What is this called in Amharic?
  • እባክህ በዝሆን ተናገር – Ebakih bezi’hon tänager – Can you speak slower, please?
  • አማርኛ በጥሩ አልናገርም – Amariñña bet’iru alnägerim – I do not speak Amharic very well
  • አልገባኝም – Algebagnim – I do not understand
  • እባክህ እንደገና ተናገር – Ebakih endägna tänager – Can you repeat that please?
  • መረጃ አስፈላጊ ነኝ – Märäja asäflägi neng – I need information
  • መረጃ ቤት ወዴት ነው? – Märäja bet wedet new? – Where is the information office?
  • ይህ ምን ማለት ነው? – Yih min mälet new? – What does this mean?
  • ሰዓት ምን ነው? – Sä’at min new? – What time is it?
  • ኢሜል አድራሻህ ምንድነው? – Imel aderashaḥ mändenew? – What’s your email address?
  • በአማርኛ ____ እንዴት ይላሉ? – Be’amariñña ____ endet yelalu? – How do you say ____ in Amharic?
  • ይህ/ያው ምንድነው? – Yih/yaw mändenew? – What is this/that?
  • ስልክህን ማስጠቀም እችላለሁ? – Sïlk’iñn mast’äq’em ich’älalehu? – Can I use your phone?

Useful Phrases for Directions in Amharic

Lost? Not anymore. These direction phrases in Amharic will guide you to your destination, and help you enjoy the journey in the process.

  • … ወዴት ነው? – … wedet new? – Where is the…?
  • … እንዴት እንደምመጣ? – … endet endememeta? – How do I get to…?
  • በካርታ ማሳየት ትችላለህ? – Be’karta masayet tich’laleh? – Can you show me on the map?
  • ቀጥ ብለህ ሂድ – Qät bilih hid – Go straight ahead
  • ቀኝ/ግራ ተመለስ – Qen/gira tämäläs – Turn right/left
  • ቅርብ/ሩቅ ነው – Q’irb/rūq new – It’s near/far
  • በጎነት ላይ ነው – Be’gonet lay new – It’s around the corner
  • ይህ ጎነቱ ነው – Yih gonetu new – This is the corner
  • … ለመሄድ መንገድ ምንድነው? – … lämähed menged mändenew? – Which way is it to…?
  • በእግር ሄድ ወይስ ታክሲ አስፈላጊ ነው? – Be’ïgïr hid weyis takisi asäflägi new? – Can I walk there or do I need a taxi?
  • መን ተስጋ? – Men tesga? – Which direction?
  • ቢሎጊያ መታይ? – Biloogiya metay? – Is it uphill or downhill?
White pickup truck carrying passengers in the back crossing a flooded road in Ethiopia

Basic Amharic Phrases for Transportation

Navigating Ethiopian cities and towns isn’t as daunting as it may seem, and you can travel smoothly with these transportation phrases. They’re essential for getting around, whether you’re catching a bus or hailing a taxi.

  • ታክሲ ከየት እንደምንገኝ? – Taksi k’eyet endemengen? – Where can I get a taxi?
  • … ለመሄድ እንዴት ይከፍላል? – … lämähed endet yik’fälal? – How much does it cost to go to…?
  • ወደ… ልሄድ እፈልጋለሁ – Wedä… lihëd effälagalähu – I want to go to…
  • ባስ ማቆሚያ ወዴት ነው? – Bas maqomiya wedet new? – Where is the bus stop?
  • ባስ ማዞሪያ ወዴት ነው? – Bas mazoriya wedet new? – Where is the bus station?
  • የሚቀጥለው ባስ መቼ ይሄዳል? – Yemiqät’äläw bas mätche yihëdal? – What time does the next bus leave?
  • ወደ… መድረስ ለመኖር ስንት ጊዜ ይፈልጋል? – Wädä… mädäres lämänor sïnt gïzë yifälgal? – How long does it take to get to…?
  • እንዴት እንደምድረስ ወደ አየር መስክ? – Endet endemädäres wedä ayer mesk? – How do I get to the airport?
  • ይህ ባስ ወደ… ይሄዳል? – Yih bas wedä… yihëdal? – Does this bus go to…?
  • የምዝገባ ቲኬት እፈልጋለሁ – Yemïzgebä tik’et effälagalähu – I need a round trip ticket
  • ቲኬት ወዴት እንደምገዛ? – Tiket wedet endemgeza? – Where do I buy tickets?

Basic Amharic Phrases About Accommodation

Settle into your Ethiopian stay with ease. These accommodation phrases ensure your comfort and help you communicate your needs effectively.

  • ክፍለ ሆቴል አለን? – Kifle hotel alen? – Do you have any rooms available?
  • በሌሊት ዋጋ ስንት ነው? – Belelit waga sint new? – How much does it cost per night?
  • በዋጋው ውስጥ ቁርስ አለ? – BeWagaw wist kurs ale? – Is breakfast included in the price?
  • የሁለት አልጋ ክፍለ ሆቴል አለን? – Yehulet alga kifle hotel alen? – I need a double room
  • ከሁለት አልጋ ካለበት ክፍለ ሆቴል አለ? – Kehulet alga kalebet kifle hotel ale? – Is there a room with two beds?
  • ነጻ ዊፊ አለ? – Netsa Wi-Fi ale? – Is there free Wi-Fi?
  • አየር መቀያየር አለ? – Ayer mek’ayayer ale? – Is there air conditioning?
  • ሊፍት ወዴት ነው? – Lift wedet new? – Where is the elevator?
  • ጂም ወዴት ነው? – Jim wedet new? – Where is the gym?
  • ክፍለ ሆቴል መመዝገብ እፈልጋለሁ – Kifle hotel memezgeb felegalehu – I would like to book a room
  • ክፍለ ሆቴል አገልግሎት አለ? – Kifle hotel agelgelot ale? – Is there room service?
  • ክፍሉ ነጭ አይደለም – Kifilu nech aydelem – The room is dirty
  • በዚህ ሆቴል ተጠንቀቅኛለሁ – Bezih hotel tetenek’ek’ñalehu – I feel safe in this hotel
  • ፖሊክ አዳፒተር አለን? – Polik adaptor alen? – Do you have a plug adaptor?
  • በጎ እይታ ያለውን ክፍለ ሆቴል እፈልጋለሁ – Bego eyita yalewun kifle hotel felegalehu – I want a room with a nice view
  • በክፍሉ ውስጥ መሰለፍ አለ? – BeKifilu wist mesalef ale? – Is there a safe in the room?
  • እባክህ በጠዋት ሰዓት ሰባት እንደምትነሳኝ – Ebakih bet’wat saat sebat endemet’nasagn – Can you wake me up at 7 a.m.?
  • ለህፃን አልጋ እፈልጋለሁ – Lehets’an alga felegalehu – I need a crib for the baby
  • መውጣት ሰዓት ምንጊዜ ነው? – Mewtat saat mïnigzé new? – What’s the check-out time?

Helpful Amharic Phrases for Shopping

When you venture into the vibrant world of Ethiopian marketplaces, having a basic grasp of Amharic can dramatically transform your shopping experience.

From making simple requests, and inquiries about prices, to bargaining and expressing your satisfaction or dissatisfaction, learning these common shopping phrases can be very handy.

  • … እፈልጋለሁ – … felegalehu – I am looking for…
  • ዋጋው ስንት ነው? – Wagaw sint new? – How much does it cost?
  • ቅናሽ አለ? – Qenash ale? – Is there any discount?
  • ቅናሹ ስንት ነው? – Qenashu sint new? – How much is the discount?
  • እጅግ ከፍተኛ ነው – Ejig kefetegna new – That’s too expensive
  • ዋጋውን መቀነስ ትችላለህ? – Wagawin mekenes tich’laleh? – Can you lower the price?
  • በክሬዲት ካርድ መክፈል እችላለሁ? – BeKredit card mek’efel ich’laleh? – Can I pay with a credit card?
  • ብር ብቻ – Bir becha – Cash only
  • በዚህ ከፍተኛ ካለ እፈልጋለሁ – Bezih kefetegna kale felegalehu – Do you have this in a larger size?
  • በሌላ ቀለም ካለ እፈልጋለሁ – Belela k’elem kale felegalehu – Do you have this in another colour?
  • ይህን መመለስ እፈልጋለሁ – Yihin memelles felegalehu – I want to return this
  • የልብስ መለዋወጫ ወዴት ነው? – Yelebes melelawacha wedet new? – Where are the fitting rooms?
  • እባክህ ሱቅ ወዴት ነው? – Ebakih suq wedet new? – Excuse me, where’s the supermarket?
  • የአልባሳት መገናኛ ቤት ወዴት ነው? – Ye’albasat megenagna bet wedet new? – Where’s the clothing store?
  • እባክህ አካባቢያዊ ምርቶች ወዴት ልአገኛቸው? – Ebakih akababiyawi mirtotch wedet le’agenachew? – Where can I find local products?
  • መልካም ገና – Melkam gena – Merry Christmas (often used for special discounts during holidays)
  • ናፍቆት ነው – Nafkot new – I love it
  • ማህደ ነው – Mahed new – I don’t want it
  • እንዳለሁ ሁሉንም – Endalehu hulunim – I will come back later
  • ቤርቱካን – Bertukan – Orange (important for those fresh juice stalls!)
  • በታም ቆንጆ – Betam konjo – Very beautiful

Helpful Phrases for Dining Out in Ethiopia

Ethiopian cuisine is unique and rich in diversity. With such variety on offer, having a basic understanding of the local language can come to your aid.

Enhance your dining experiences with these phrases. They’re perfect for exploring Ethiopia’s rich culinary landscape and enjoying local delicacies.

  • Buna tinish yief – Please, a little coffee
  • ለሁለት ሰዎች በደረት ማስቀመጥ እችላለሁ? – Lehulet sewoch bederet maskemet kechilaleh? – Can I get a table for two?
  • እባክህ መነው አሳየኝ – Ebakih menew asayegn? – Can you please show me the menu?
  • የዛሬው ምርጥ ጭምብል ምንድነው? – Yezaerew mirt chimbil mndenew? – What is the dish of the day?
  • እኔ… ምንድነው ምንድነው ማድረግ እፈልጋለሁ – Ene… mndenew mndenew madreg effilgalehu – I would like…
  • እባክህ ምን መመክረኝ ትችላለህ? – Ebakih min memekregn tichilaleh? – Could you suggest something for me?
  • ምን ምንድነው መመገብ ታመነችላለህ? – Min mndenew memgeb tamenechilaleh? – What do you recommend to eat?
  • እኔ እስከ… አለርጌዜ – Ene eske… alergize – I’m allergic to…
  • ይህ ጭምብል ውስጥ… አለው? – Yih chimbil wist… alew? – Does this dish contain…?
  • እባክህ ምርቶች ለባለ ምግብ አልሆነው ለባለ ምግብ አለው? – Ebakih mirtotch lebale migeb alhonew lebale migeb alew? – Do you have vegetarian/vegan options?
  • እኔ ሥጋ/ዓሣ/ወተት አልበላሁም – Ene siga/as’a/wetet albelahum – I don’t eat meat/fish/dairy
  • ይህ ለባለ ምግብ አለው? – Yih lebale migeb alew? – Is this suitable for vegetarians?
  • Yek’ik’ wetat bet yelem – I don’t eat spicy food
  • Yefisik’ beyaynetu yehonk – Please bring a vegetarian platter
  • Yehiwot teganya telat’o – Remove the raw meat, please
  • Meseret yemiyamushal metat’eb – Please bring refilled lentils
  • ይህ ምንድነው? – Yih mndenew? – What is this?
  • እኔ ይህን ወደድሁ – Ene yihin wededehu – I like it
  • እባክህ የባለኝን ሂሳብ ምንድነው? – Ebakih yebalgenin hisab mndenew? – Can I have the bill, please?
  • በጣም ጣፋጭ ነበር! አመሰግናለሁ – Betam tafach neger! Ameseginalehu – It was delicious! Thank you
Priest in a monastery on an island on Lake Tana near Bahir Dar in Ethiopia

Amharic Question Words

Curiosity leads to discovery, and these question words in Amharic are your tools for uncovering the countless hidden gems of Ethiopia.

  • ምን? – Min? – What?
  • ወዴት? – Wedet? – Where?
  • መቼ? – Metchu? – When?
  • ማን? – Man? – Who?
  • ለምን? – Lemin? – Why?
  • እንዴት? – Endet? – How?
  • እኛው? – Egnaw? – Which?
  • ስንት? – Sint? – How much?
  • ስንት አካባቢ? – Sint akababi? – How many?
  • የማን? – Yeman? – Whose?
  • ምንድነው? – Mndenew? – What is this?
  • እሱ ማን ነው? – Eshu man new? – Who is that?
  • እንዴት ነው? – Endet new? – How is it?
  • ለምን ነው? – Lemin new? – Why is it?
  • ምን አለበት? – Min alebat? – What is in…?
  • ወዴት ነው? – Wedet new? – Where is…?
  • እዚህ አለው? – Ezih alew? – Is there a…?

Numbers in Amharic

Understanding the Amharic numbering system is useful in a wide range of scenarios, especially when it comes to transactions, discussing times, and navigating transportation.

Below is a list of simple numbers along with some larger ones:

  • ዜሮ – Zēro – 0
  • አንድ – And – 1
  • ሁለት – Hulät – 2
  • ሶስት – Sost – 3
  • አራት – Arat – 4
  • አምስት – Amïst – 5
  • ስድስት – Sïdïst – 6
  • ሰባት – Säbat – 7
  • ስምንት – Sïmïnt – 8
  • ዘጠኝ – Zät’äñ – 9
  • አስር – Asïr – 10
  • አስራ አንድ – Asïra and – 11
  • አስራ ሁለት – Asïra hulät – 12
  • አስራ ሶስት – Asïra sost – 13
  • አስራ አራት – Asïra arat – 14
  • አስራ አምስት – Asïra amïst – 15
  • አስራ ስድስት – Asïra sïdïst – 16
  • አስራ ሰባት – Asïra säbat – 17
  • አስራ ስምንት – Asïra sïmïnt – 18
  • አስራ ዘጠኝ – Asïra zät’äñ – 19
  • ሃያ – Haya – 20
  • ሰላሳ – Selasa – 30
  • አርባ – Arba – 40
  • ሃምሳ – Hamsa – 50
  • ስልሳ – Sïlïsa – 60
  • ሰባ – Seba – 70
  • ሰማንያ – Sämanya – 80
  • ዘጠና – Zät’äna – 90
  • መቶ – Mäto – 100
  • ሺ – Shï – 1,000
  • አስር ሺ – Asïr shï – 10,000
  • መቶ ሺ – Mäto shï – 100,000
  • ሚሊዮን – Mïlyon – 1,000,000

To create numbers in between these, combine the tens and units. For example:

  • “Twenty-one” is ሃያ አንድ – Haya and
  • “Thirty-two” is ሰላሳ ሁለት – Selasa hulät

For numbers in the hundreds, thousands, and beyond, combine the larger number with the smaller. For instance:

  • “One hundred and twenty-three” is መቶ ሃያ ሶስት – Mäto haya sost
  • “Two thousand and nineteen” is ሁለት ሺ አስራ ዘጠኝ – Hulät shï asïra zät’äñ

See Also

Check out some of my other posts on learning Semitic languages for travel:

Final Thoughts

Now you have a collection of Amharic phrases and words that will open doors to new experiences and deeper connections in Ethiopia.

Learning a bit of Amharic before you travel to Ethiopia can be incredibly helpful in navigating everyday life and understanding the culture. Language bridges cultures and builds friendships, turning regular trips into life-changing journeys.

Embrace these phrases, let them guide your adventures, and immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of Ethiopia.

And, if you want to take your Amharic learning to the next level, check out amharicteacher.com.

IMPORTANT: Never travel without travel insurance!

Here are three companies that I’ve used, and thoroughly recommend:

  • HeyMondo – the best value travel insurance provider on the market. They cover virtually every country in the world, they have an easy-to-use app, and their policies are straightforward and upfront, with minimal (often no) deductibles and excesses.
  • SafetyWing – if you’re a digital nomad like me, it’s essential that you have suitable insurance. It’s super flexible and affordable, you can sign up for as little or as long as you want, and can activate and deactivate it whenever you need to.
  • World Nomads – for adventurous travellers, covers 200+ activities that many other insurers won’t, such as skydiving, heli-skiing, rock climbing, rafting, scuba diving, cliff jumping, and kiteboarding (not available for residents of every country – check here).

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