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The 31 Best Afrikaans Proverbs and Their Meanings

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The word “proverb” (spreekwoord in Afrikaans) is derived from the Latin proverbium. Collins Dictionary defines it as a short sentence that people often quote to give advice, or one that says something about life.

Proverbs also tend to employ the same vivid imagery and metaphoric language common in children’s stories. So, perhaps they’re an adult throwback to children’s fiction—who knows?

Proverbs touch us on a very deep level, as they go beyond nationality, gender, race, religion, and time. In this way, they connect us to one another with their universal truths and wisdom. The Afrikaans proverbs I’m going to cover in this article are sure to ignite your imagination and make you feel more connected to Afrikaner culture.

Mother and Daughter Reading Together

Ma en dogter lees ‘n boek saam (“Mother and daughter reading a book together”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Why Use Proverbs in Afrikaans Conversations?
  2. The Difference Between Proverbs and Sayings/Idioms
  3. Afrikaans Proverbs and Meanings with English Equivalents
  4. Uniquely South African Proverbs
  5. Learn Afrikaans Proverbs Like a Pro at AfrikaansPod101.com!

1. Why Use Proverbs in Afrikaans Conversations?

Many proverbs are conversation tools that add character to a language, almost like adding spice to food. Throw a unique Afrikaans proverb into a conversation, and you could well pass for a native speaker!

Afrikaans proverbs can typically be used in both formal and informal settings, and parents often use them to explain ethics, morals, or other profound truths to their children.

Many similar proverbs appear in different languages. This is simply because cultures have cross-pollinated over the centuries with the gradual expansion of the world’s population.

First, we’ll take a look at those Afrikaans proverbs with English equivalents, of which there are plenty. Then, I will give a few examples of very unique Afrikaans proverbs with no English equivalents or approximations I can trace. (But if you know of an English approximate, or perhaps a similar proverb in your own language, please do share with us in the comments!)

Before we start, let’s quickly look at the difference between a proverb (spreekwoord) and an idiom or saying (idioom / sêding). These two are closely related, but are not the same in usage and meaning.

Two Girlfriends Chatting Outside.

2. The Difference Between Proverbs and Sayings/Idioms

This is not complicated, but on many sites, one is often confused with the other. A trait they share is the use of metaphoric language (i.e. imagery). Also, both proverbs and idioms evolve as languages evolve, so there’s rarely a single, permanent version of any specific idiom or proverb. 

They differ in the following ways:

A) Afrikaanse Sêdinge / Sêgoed / Idiome (“Afrikaans Sayings / Idioms”)
  • A saying always forms part of a sentence with a noun, proper noun, or pronoun that refers to a specific person, entity, and/or situation. So, idioms are not universally applicable
  • Often, different regions in South Africa have different idioms for the same thing. For instance, we have many different sayings for referring to a drunk person.

    In a rural town called Moorreesburg, Western Cape Province, the locals say: Hy/sy is ganspen. (Literally: “He/she is goose pen.”) 

    However, in Touwsrivier (also a small town in the Western Cape), we say: Hy/sy is kiepkop. In vernacular Afrikaans, a chicken is also sometimes referred to with an onomatopoeia: kiep or kiepie. This saying is closer to what we use in Gauteng Province: Hy/sy is hoenderkop. (Literally: “He/she is chicken head.”) It’s unclear where this idiom originated, but my guess is that it alludes to the movement of a chicken’s head when it walks—it doesn’t look very stable!

  • Example: Ons moes van aalmoese lewe. (“We had to live off charity.”)

    Van aalmoese lewe (“living off charitable offerings”) is a Dutch-based idiom meaning that someone is living in such extreme poverty that they have to depend on charity for survival. See below how this idiomatic expression differs from a certain proverb that also uses the word aalmoese.

B) Afrikaanse Spreekwoorde (“Afrikaans Proverbs”)
  • Even if it forms part of a sentence, a proverb can always stand alone as a complete sentence or statement.
  • It usually expresses a universally applicable piece of wisdom or sentiment.
  • Pronouns in proverbs can be adjusted to be gender-correct, but vernacularly, they’re seldom modified this way.
  • Proverbs in Afrikaans tend to show less regional diversity than idioms do. They’re understood almost everywhere in the country.
  • Example: Aalmoese gee verarm nie. (“Giving charitably won’t make you poor.”) This proverb reminds us that giving freely to those in dire need will not cost us too much, nor will it harm us—a universal truth.

3. Afrikaans Proverbs and Meanings with English Equivalents

Now that you’re familiar with the differences between proverbs and idioms, let’s go over the most popular and widespread proverbs in Afrikaans! 

1. Die appel val nie ver van die boom af nie. / “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Meaning: 

This is also a well-known proverb in English. It states that family members tend to share the same basic nature and/or traits.

Use: 

In Afrikaans, one uses this phrase to comment on any situation where a child displays the same characteristics or skills as one or both of their parents. It’s most often said in a positive sense, and it can be used for either gender.

Example Sentence: 

Sy is ‘n skrywer, net soos haar pa. Die appel val nie ver van die boom af nie.
“She is a writer, just like her dad. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Trees with Fruit on an Apple Farm

Die appel val nie vêr van die boom af nie. (“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”)

2. ‘n Voël verander van kleur maar nie van veer. / “A leopard doesn’t change its spots.”

Lit. Translation: 

“A bird changes its color but not its feathers.” 

Alternative: 

‘n Jakkals verander van haar maar nie van streke nie. / “A fox changes its fur but not its tricks.”

Meaning: 

This expressive proverb means that even when people appear to have changed, their basic character is likely still intact. One’s true character will always show, no matter how hard one tries to hide it. The absolute truth of this proverb is debatable, because people can and do completely change, when they must. But this usually takes great effort and is not the norm.

Use: 

This proverb is mostly used when a person displays tenacious moral flaws. Picture this scene: A girl broke up with her boyfriend because he repeatedly lied to or cheated on her. The boy begged her to take him back with earnest promises to change his ways. All went well for a while, but he was soon lying and cheating again. In this instance, the proverb could be used as a comment that says it all, or it could serve as cautionary advice from a concerned parent or friend.

Example Sentence: 

Wees net versigtig om weer daardie man te vertrou. ‘n Voël verander van kleur maar nie van veer.
“Just be careful trusting that man again. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.”

Orange Feather

‘n Voël verander van kleur maar nie van veer. (Literally: “A bird changes color but not feathers.”)

3. Die skoenmaker se kinders loop kaalvoet. / “The cobbler’s children are the worst shod.”

Lit. Translation: 

“The shoemaker’s/cobbler’s children walk barefoot.”

Meaning: 

Like its English counterpart, this proverb refers to the rather ironic phenomenon where people who excel in their profession are sometimes unable to (or simply won’t) extend their services to their children. Think of the shoemaker whose children don’t wear good shoes (or any shoes at all). Or the car mechanic whose daughter’s vehicle always needs repairs. In the movie business, this is sometimes called “vocational irony.” 

Some interpreters feel that the proverb refers to bad parenting, but I don’t agree. Unless the children are clearly in a bad way (which should then be reported to the appropriate local authorities), who really knows what is going on in another’s household?

Use: 

Imagine you’re a teacher who often organizes outings for your class. One of your pupils, the son of a dentist, is repeatedly unable to join, usually because of dental problems. You could then comment on the situation using this proverb.

Example Sentence: 

Die tandaarts se seun kon weereens nie saamkom op die uitstappie nie as gevolg van tandpyn. Lyk my die skoenmaker se kinders loop kaalvoet.
“The dentist’s son could not join us on the excursion, again due to a toothache. It seems the cobbler’s children are the worst shod.”

Two Children's Feet with Flowers

Die skoenmaker se kinders loop kaalvoet. (Literally: “The shoemaker’s children walk barefoot.”)

4. Wie nie waag nie, wen nie. / “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Lit. Translation: 

“Those who don’t dare, don’t win.”

Meaning: 

Just like the English version, this Afrikaans proverb reminds us that nobody can expect to win or succeed in life without sometimes pushing their own boundaries. It’s an encouragement to be bold and to act despite feeling afraid.

Use: 

Imagine this scenario, for instance: Your Afrikaans friend is offered a well-paid job where they’ll be expected to do work that will challenge him to up his skills. Soon after accepting the offer, however, and even before starting, he confesses to you that he wants to quit because his courage is failing. You could then say this proverb to encourage him to be more daring.

Example Sentence: 

Gaan vind eers uit wat die werk behels, dalk is dit nie so moeilik as wat jy dink nie. Onthou, wie nie waag nie, wen nie.
“First go find out what the work entails; perhaps it is not as difficult as you think. Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Cat Throwing the Shadow of a Lion.

Wie nie waag nie, wen nie. (Literally: “Those who don’t dare, don’t win.”)

5. Een swaeltjie maak nie ‘n somer nie. / “One swallow does not make a summer.”

Meaning: 

This proverb was appropriated from English and apparently first encountered in early glossaries, such as Richard Taverner’s transcription of the Latin proverbs of Erasmus (circa 1539). It alludes to the migratory return of swallows in early summer. In the olden days, when the swallows returned, people saw it as a sign that summer had started. However, sometimes there were “false alarms,” typically when only one swallow was spotted. The proverb came to mean that a single good sign doesn’t necessarily indicate a trend.

Use: 

It’s used to caution against blind or excessive optimism after a windfall. Or, as Erasmus put it: “It is not one good qualitie that maketh a man good.”

Example Sentence: 

Ons het goeie verkope gehad hierdie week, maar onthou—een swaeltjie maak nie ‘n somer nie. Dit gaan tyd neem vir die besigheid om regtig te floreer.
“We made good sales this week, but remember—one swallow doesn’t make a summer. It will take time for the business to really flourish.”

A Swallow Perched on a Twig

Een swaeltjie maak nie ‘n somer nie. (“One swallow does not make a summer.”)

6. Wat jy saai sal jy maai. / “As you sow, so you shall reap.”

Meaning: 

This well-known proverb is based on the hermetic principle that what you think, say, or do always returns to you in some form or another. The principle is similar in all religious traditions, but the proverb itself is found in the Christian Bible. 

Use: 

Just as in English, this proverb is used to comment on or warn about one’s behavior. Picture, for instance, that you find out your teenage son is considering cheating on his girlfriend. You might have a talk with him about morals and ethics, gently reminding him that what he sows, he will eventually reap.

Example Sentence: 

Moenie ‘n verneuker wees nie, my kind, dit maak mense seer. En onthou, wat jy saai sal jy maai. Dis hoe die lewe werk.
“Don’t be a cheat, my child, it hurts people. And remember, as you sow, so you shall reap. Life works that way.”

A Hand Sowing Seeds in the Soil

Wat jy saai sal jy maai. (“As you sow, so you shall reap.”)

7. Skoonheid vergaan maar deug bly staan. / Approximate: “Beauty is only skin-deep.”

Lit. Translation: 

“Beauty fades but virtue endures.”

Meaning: 

This proverb sings the praises of inner virtue over outer appearance, or the value of inner, more enduring character qualities over the visible, transient ones.

Use: 

In practical terms, the proverb is used as a comment, warning, or advice when a person is blinded by the outer beauty of someone or something. This commonly happens when we become infatuated with a person or an object! 

For instance, imagine you’re a car aficionado and a friend asks for your advice about buying a new car. He’s smitten by the latest body style of a certain sports car, and you realize that he wants to purchase it impulsively. However, as the expert, you know that it won’t be a good buy for him. That would be the perfect time to use this proverb.

In Afrikaans, deug (“virtue”) is sometimes replaced with liefde (“love”), in which case it extols the virtues of choosing a life partner mostly for their inner beauty.

Example Sentence: 

Daardie is ‘n mooi motorkar, maar dis nie ‘n baie praktiese een nie. Onthou, skoonheid vergaan maar deug bly staan!
“That is a nice-looking motorcar, but it’s not a very practical one. Remember, beauty fades but virtue endures!”

Beautiful Sports Car on the Road.

Skoonheid vergaan maar deug bly staan. (“Beauty disappears but virtue remains.”)

8. Haastige hond verbrand sy mond. / Approximates: “Haste makes waste.” AND “More haste, less speed.”

Lit. Translation: 

“The hasty dog burns its mouth.”

Meaning: 

This is a reminder to not hurry things unnecessarily, as you can end up spoiling them for yourself. It’s similar to the English proverb that warns against doing jobs hastily, because this could cause mistakes and unnecessary loss.

Use: 

This one is often used by parents during mealtime! In this case, it means exactly what it says: don’t eat too fast or the hot food will burn your mouth. It’s often used in other contexts too. For instance: your Afrikaans friend has booked a holiday weekend at a beautiful location and is tremendously eager to be off. She announces that she’s going to drive there at top speed, which you know will be unsafe. You might decide to use this proverb to remind her to drive at a sensible speed.

Example Sentence: 

Daar is gewoonlik verkeerskameras op daardie pad. En dit reën, so oppas. Haastige hond verbrand sy mond.
“There are usually traffic cameras on that road. And it’s raining too, so be careful. The hasty dog burns its mouth.”

Small Dog Running

Haastige hond verbrand sy mond. (“The hasty dog burns its mouth.”)

9. Aanhouer wen. / Approximate: “Practice makes perfect.”

Lit. Translation: 

“One who persists wins.”

Meaning: 

This proverb encourages us not to give up on our goals or to quit working toward them when the going gets tough. It reminds us that it’s the tenacious person who will eventually get what they want. 

Use: 

This is one of the best Afrikaans proverbs to use when someone feels discouraged in their endeavors, or if they just don’t feel like continuing. It’s similar to the English approximate in that it encourages persistence, albeit with a different emphasis. Literally, Aanhouer wen encourages someone who feels discouraged and tired by their efforts to keep going, while the English proverb encourages persistence in order to reach a high standard.

Imagine your daughter wants to improve her performance in athletics, but feels discouraged by her slow progress and therefore wants to quit practicing. That’s when you would give her a hug and remind her (with this Afrikaans proverb) that persistence will bear fruit.

Example Sentence: 

Ja, oefening is nie altyd lekker nie, my kind, maar onthou—aanhouer wen.
“Yes, practice is not always pleasant, my child, but remember—the one who persists wins.”

Athlete on Track Shouting in Victory with Arms Raised

Aanhouer wen. (“One who persists, wins.)

10. Approximate: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.”

Lit. Translation: 

“From procrastination comes cancelation.”

Meaning: 

This proverb is a warning against procrastination. We’re all familiar with the dynamic—the longer you put off doing something, the more likely you are not to do it at all!

Use: 

The proverb is pretty straightforward and can be used in any situation where this reminder is appropriate. For instance—New Year’s resolutions! Who hasn’t promised themselves that they will lose weight, spruce up the garden, or write a book, only to reach the end of that year without having reached any goals due to procrastination? Use this proverb to remind yourself or someone else why it’s better to ditch this bad habit.

Example Sentence: 

Laat ek tog gaan oefen. Want regtig, van uitstel kom afstel!
“Let me go and exercise. Because really, from procrastination comes cancelation.”

Bored-looking Teenage Boy with Glasses

Van uitstel kom afstel. (Literally: “From procrastination comes cancelation.”

11. Elke hond kry sy dag. / “Every dog gets its day.”

Meaning: 

According to the Collins Dictionary, this proverb means that everyone will be successful or lucky at some point in their life. It has interesting origins, not as benevolent as the dictionary definition suggests. The proverb alludes to a pack of dogs that was allegedly loosed upon Greek playwright Euripides by a vengeful enemy in 405 BCE. The dogs mauled and killed the writer. The proverb came to mean that even the lowliest person will eventually get their revenge over their most powerful enemy. 

Use: 

It’s often used when we want to comfort a friend who’s down on their luck, whether in serious or trivial matters. For instance, if someone has lost a competition or didn’t get a job they applied for, you could use this proverb to cheer them up. It’s also sometimes used to say that a person will be avenged if they suffer something they didn’t deserve, such as when they’re unfairly fired or implicated in a crime they didn’t commit.

Example Sentence: 

Hy voel baie kwaad en verneder oor hy uit die span geskop is na vals beweringe van dwelmgebruik. Maar hy troos homself met hierdie wete—elke hond kry sy dag.
“He feels very angry and humiliated because he was kicked off the team due to false allegations of drug use. But he comforts himself with this thought—every dog gets its day.”

Basset Sitting on a Barstool Next to a Table with a Woman Who's Embroidering

Elke hond kry sy dag. (“Every dog gets its day.”)

12. Elke boontjie kry sy loontjie. / “You get what you deserve.”

Lit. Translation: 

“Every small bean gets his little due.”

Meaning: 

If the literal translation doesn’t make much sense, that’s because this popular proverb is based on old Afrikaans folklore. The story is called Little Bean, Straw, and Ember and it tells us that one day, these three friends went for a walk in nature. They reached a stream to cross, and Straw generously offered to lie down and form a bridge that the other two could safely use. Little Bean went first and crossed the stream easily. Unfortunately, Ember burnt Straw, so both of them collapsed into the stream. Little Bean found this hilarious and laughed uncontrollably. In fact, he laughed so hard that he popped open! The moral of the story is that he got his due for mocking his friends in their misery.

Use: 

This is mostly used as a comment when we notice that someone, according to our judgment, gets what they deserve. For instance, a large company is exposed for poor environmental health and safety practices. At first, it seems they’re getting away with it, but then you read in the newspaper that someone has sued them and won a large settlement. This is when you could mutter this proverb to yourself or air it in a conversation to express your opinion. You could also use it to comfort a friend who has fallen victim to unfair treatment.

Example Sentence: 

Toemaar, ou pêl, moenie te sleg voel nie. Elke boontjie kry sy loontjie.
“Don’t worry, old pal, and don’t feel too bad. They will get what they deserve.”

Note: 

In this case, the English version is closer to an idiom than a proverb because the pronoun “you” is often replaced with other pronouns or nouns.

Green Beans, String Beans

Elke boontjie kry sy loontjie. (Literally: “Every bean gets his dues.”)

13. Die gras lyk altyd groener aan die ander kant van die draad. / “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

Meaning: 

This well-known proverb refers to our tendency to compare our situation with others’, and then conclude that they have it better than we do, even when they really don’t. It’s not so much envy as it is the assumption that we’re worse off than others, making us wish we were on their side of the proverbial fence.

Use: 

Picture this scenario: Your Afrikaans colleague is not terribly unhappy at work, but she’s restless and bored in your department. She’s always looking longingly at colleagues in a different department who work outside of the office, thinking that they seem to have a better time. Therefore, she wants to ask for a transfer. However, you know that all is not as it seems in the other department, so you use this proverb to warn her against taking rash action.

Example Sentence: 

Die gras lyk altyd groener aan die ander kant van die draad, Sandra. Jy moet mooi dink oor ‘n oorplasing.
“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, Sandra. You need to think very carefully about a transfer.”

Fence in a Field with Green Grass on One Side

Die gras lyk altyd groener aan die ander kant van die draad. (“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”)

14. Oos, wes, tuis bes. / “There’s no place like home.”

Lit. Translation: 

“East, west, home is best.”

Meaning: 

This proverb reminds us of the joys of having a good home. It implies that, no matter how far and wide we travel, nothing compares to being home, a place we love returning to.

Use: 

It’s used to describe a feeling of satisfaction upon arriving home after a long holiday or trip. It can also refer to the place where you were raised, or any place you fondly recall as “home.” You could use this proverb with good effect if, for instance, you were invited to a class reunion in your hometown and were asked to give a short speech. It would make a great opening line! 

Example Sentence: 

Goeienaand, Klasmaats van ’88. Wat kan ek sê—oos, wes, tuis bes.
“Good evening, Class of ’88. What can I say—east, west, home is best.”

Three Hands Holding Paper Figures of a Family Setup - a House, Family Members, and a Car

Oos, wes, tuis bes. (Literally: “East, west, home best.”)

15. Waar daar ‘n rokie trek, is daar ‘n vuurtjie. / “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

Meaning: 

This is another well-known proverb, and it means that if rumors are circulating about someone or something, there’s always some truth to them.

Use: 

The absolute truth of this proverb is debatable, because really—do we ever get the full picture via rumors? We love to gossip, unfortunately, which distorts or takes away from the truth. So, use this proverb sparingly if you’re dealing with negative stories. 

The proverb can be used positively too, though. For instance, your Afrikaans friend whispers that she heard along the grapevine that a mutual friend has gotten engaged, but she’s not sure. If you don’t know either, this proverb could be a good reply, accompanied by a happy wink.

Example Sentence: 

Ek weet nie, maar jy weet mos hoe die spreekwoord gaanwaar daar ‘n rokie trek, is daar ‘n vuurtjie.
“I don’t know either, but you know what the proverb says—where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

A Lit Match with Flame and Smoke

Waar daar ‘n rokie trek, is daar ‘n vuurtjie. (“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”)

16. Jy kan ‘n perd na die water toe lei maar jy kan hom nie maak drink nie. / “You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.”

Meaning: 

This one means that guidance has its limits, and that you cannot force anyone to take an opportunity or advice offered them.

Use: 

It’s mostly used as a comment during conversation. For instance: Your friend was looking for a specific garden tool and you told him which shop stocks them. Later you hear that he has not found the tool, but he didn’t take your advice either. You could then use this proverb as a remark.

Example Sentence: 

Ek het hom vertel waar daardie gereedskap te koop is. Ag wel, jy kan ‘n perd na die water toe lei maar jy kan hom nie maak drink nie.
“I told him where those tools are sold. Ah well, you can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.”

Horses Drinking Water at a Pond on a Farm

Jy kan ‘n perd na die water toe lei, maar jy kan dit nie maak drink nie. (“One can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.”)

17. Wanneer die son sak in die weste is die luiaard op sy beste. / Approximates: “A young man idle, an old man needy.” OR “A lazy youth, a lousy old age.”

Lit. Translation: 

“When the sun sets in the west, the lazy bum is at his best.”

Meaning: 

This is a reference to dusk, which signals the end of the day—supposedly a lazy person’s favorite time of day, because now they can rest legitimately. Of course, it’s the end of work for many people.

Use: 

Parents use this proverb to teach or warn their children not to be lazy. In conversation, it’s a reference to idleness or laziness—oftentimes our own, even if rest is well-deserved! For instance, if you feel exceptionally tired after hard work and just want to stretch out in front of the TV with a glass of wine, you could exclaim this proverb with a smile to mildly deprecate yourself.

Example Sentence: 

Ek het nie lus om kos te maak vanaand nie; gee my net ‘n goeie fliek en wyn! As die son sak in die weste, is die luiaard op sy beste.
“I don’t feel like making supper tonight; just give me a good movie and wine! When the sun sets in the west, the lazy person is at his best!”

Lazy Guy Sleeping on Couch

Wanneer die son sak in die weste is die luiaard op sy beste. (“When the sun sets in the west, the lazy bum is at his best.”)

18. Die oggendstond het goud in die mond. / Approximate: “The early bird catches the worm.”

Lit. Translation: 

“The break of dawn has gold in its mouth.”

Meaning: 

This personification of dawn is the antidote to the laziness referenced in the previous proverb, as it extolls the virtues of getting up early for work. The reasoning is that this will help you perform better, because most people tend to feel more energetic and motivated in the morning—gold. If you get up early, you’ll also have time to do more work—more gold!

Use: 

It’s used as a comment to remind us of the above. If, for instance, a manager wants to motivate his staff to come in earlier for work on a specific day, he might use this proverb.

Example Sentence: 

Waarom begin ons so vroeg Maandagoggend? Oggendstond het goud in die mond, Kollega.
“Why are we starting so early on Monday morning? Break of dawn has gold in its mouth, my colleague.”

Dawn Breaking Over a Corn Field

Oggendstond het goud in die mond. (Literally: “Break of dawn has gold it its mouth.”)

19. Goedkoop koop is duurkoop. / “If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.”

Meaning: 

This proverb warns against the pitfalls of shopping like a miser, unless you’re very sure that you’re getting reasonable quality. We tend to get what we pay for! This is not always true, though; not all inexpensive products and services are of poor quality, nor does ‘expensive’ necessarily translate to ‘excellent quality.’ But, in general, a dodgy purchase could mean you’ll soon have to replace it with a better one, or pay for repairs! This would then cost you a lot more than if you’d been less stingy in the first place.

Use: 

The proverb is often used as a warning when someone is about to make a bad purchase to save money. Imagine this scenario: Your friend needs a new cell phone, but she’s saving for a vacation and therefore doesn’t want to buy her preferred (but expensive) brand. Instead, she’s considering another, much cheaper but unknown and slightly suspect brand. In this case, you could use this line to caution her.

Example Sentence: 

Daardie foon lyk aanloklik, maar oppas. Goedkoop koop is duurkoop.
“That phone looks appealing, but beware. If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.”

Female Buyer at Counter of a Shop

Goedkoop koop is duur koop. (“If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.”)

20. Honger is die beste kok. / “Hunger is the best sauce.”

Lit. Translation: 

“Hunger is the best cook.”

Meaning: 

This proverb means that if a person is hungry, they’re less likely to be finicky about the food they eat.

Use: 

It’s often used as a playful comment when children with a difficult palate eat all their food because they’re hungry. Imagine being grateful that your offspring is so hungry after a day of energetic play that, for once, they don’t complain about what’s on their plates! That’s when you would use this proverb with a smile.

Example Sentence: 

Wel, dit wys nethonger is die beste kok!
Literally: “Well, this just shows—hunger is the best cook!”

Family at Dinner Table Eating

Honger is die beste kok. (“Hunger is the best chef.”)

21. ‘n Halwe eier is beter as ‘n leë dop. / Approximate: “Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.” 

Lit. Translation: 

“Half an egg is better than an empty shell.”

Meaning: 

This Dutch-derived proverb advises that sometimes, it’s better to cut your losses and take what you get rather than not getting anything. It doesn’t mean exactly the same thing as its English approximate, which advises that sometimes it’s wiser to take a sure thing today than to gamble on a better thing tomorrow. The Afrikaans proverb is more explicit about why—taking a gamble means you could end up with something worthless!

Use: 

Imagine this scenario: Your friend has booked an exclusive sea holiday for three weeks, and he’s been looking forward to it very much. However, before he’s due to leave, the booking agent calls and admits to having made a big mistake that reduces your friend’s holiday period by half. He decides not to shop for other holiday packages at such short notice, though, because the amended booking is now offered to him at a greatly discounted price. In your conversation on the topic, he uses this proverb to explain his decision.

Example Sentence: 

Dis nie ideaal nie maar dit is steeds ‘n wegkomkans en ek kry darem groot afslag. ‘n Halwe eier is beter as ‘n lëe dop.
“It’s not ideal, but it is still a getaway and I am getting a large discount. Half an egg is better than an empty shell.”

Hands Breaking Open an Egg into a Bowl

‘n Halwe eier is beter as a leë dop. (“Half an egg is better than an empty shell.”)

4. Uniquely South African Proverbs

Some proverbs are unique to a language, and Afrikaans has a few great, very expressive ones. Here are a few Afrikaans proverbs and sayings you won’t find in English!

22. Stille waters, diepe grond—onder draai die duiwel rond. 

Lit. Translation:

“Still waters, deep ground—underneath (the water) the devil circles round.”

Meaning: 

This means that a demure, coy demeanor, especially in a group, can be misleading and hide a naughty or suspect character. There’s no easily traceable approximate in English, and it’s noteworthy that the Afrikaans proverb doesn’t mean the same as “Still waters run deep.” The latter implies that a quiet manner sometimes hides a passionate or profound nature, whereas the Afrikaans version suggests that a very quiet, demure behavior is suspect! 

Use: 

This proverb is most often used in jest to tease shy people. For instance, your new secretary rarely speaks during meetings or work-related social events. This could be a good line to tease her with if you want to draw her out and help her relax. 

It’s sometimes also used as a comment when someone, regularly considered shy and proper, suddenly acts wildly out of character, or is at the center of a controversy or scandal. Or, it can serve to caution a friend if you feel they are dealing with a seemingly decent but definitely suspect person.

Example Sentence: 

Hoe praat jy dan so min, Rita? Jy weet wat die spreekwoord sê: Stille waters, diepe grondonder draai die duiwel rond!
“Why don’t you talk more, Rita? You know what the proverb says: Still waters, deep ground—underneath (the water) the devil circles round!”

23. Agteros kom ook in die kraal. 

Lit. Translation: 

“The ox bringing up the rear also gets into the kraal.”

Meaning: 

Even those lagging behind eventually reach their goal. The proverb is also sometimes a kind reminder that no one is a complete loser in every area of life.

Use: 

This is used as an encouraging comment when, in any situation, you see someone struggling to keep up with the group, but you have confidence that they’ll eventually make it. Or, use it when they do catch up! For instance, your family goes hiking, but your overweight son is battling a bit on the trail, so he keeps lagging behind. Eventually, he catches up with everybody else. You can then use this proverb to congratulate him, together with a huge smile and a cool drink!

Example Sentence: 

Aaah, kyk wie is hier! Agteros kom ook in die kraalgeluk, Boet!
“Aaah, look who’s here! The ox bringing up the rear also gets into the kraal—congratulations, Boet!”

Note: 

Boet is a popular and casual nickname, close in meaning to the English slang term “Bro.” The female equivalent is Sus, used the same way as the English “Sis.” It’s not exclusively used among family, but Afrikaans parents like calling their offspring Boet or Sus.

Lips with Lipstick being Applied.

Oulap se rooi maak mooi. (“A penny’s red makes pretty.”)

24. Oulap se rooi maak mooi

Lit. Translation:

“A penny’s red makes pretty.”

Meaning: 

Oulap is an old Afrikaans word for a penny, which is a unit of currency (low in value) used in some Western countries. In South Africa, the penny is no longer used as a monetary unit, but the proverb endures. It means that great improvement can be made with only a small adjustment, specifically regarding appearance. 

Use: 

Use this proverb as a compliment or comment in any appropriate situation. It’s very often used to compliment or refer to a woman who looks better with a little bit of makeup on. It’s also used when something, such as a room, looks prettier after colorful items (oftentimes red ones) have been added.

Example Sentence: 

Sy lyk baie goed met daardie lipstiffie aan. Oulap se rooi maak mooi!
“She looks very good with that lipstick. A penny’s red makes pretty!”

25. Die deler is so goed soos die steler.

Lit. Translation: 

“The one who shares in the loot is the same as the thief.” 

Note: 

In Afrikaans, the adjectival phrase, so goed soos, has two meanings: “as good as” and “the same as.”

Meaning: 

This proverb reminds us that if we are aware of a criminal act but consciously choose to profit from it anyway, we are morally as guilty as the person who committed the crime.

Use: 

It’s often used as a teaching tool by parents and teachers, or to comment on any situation where this truth is applicable. Suppose you find your five-year-old daughter enjoying mysteriously obtained candy with her friend. It turns out that the friend had nicked the candy from the local supermarket. Upon discovering this, you could use this proverb as a teaching tool during a very stern conversation with both about the criminality of thievery!

Example Sentence: 

Die deler is so goed soos die steler, my kind. Jy kon vir Theo gesê het om die lekkergoed te gaan teruggee; jy moes nie saam geëet nie! Dis verkeerd, ons maak nie so nie.
“The one who shares in the loot is the same as the thief, my child. You could have told Theo to return the candy, and not have shared it with him! That’s wrong, we don’t do that.”

Fox

Jakkals trou met Wolf se vrou. (“Jackal marries Wolf’s wife.”)

26. Jakkals trou met Wolf se vrou. / Lit. “Jackal marries Wolf’s wife.”

Meaning: 

In South Africa, we often comment with this proverb during a so-called sunshower. This occurs when it rains while the sun is not behind the clouds, and in South African English, we call this phenomenon a Monkey’s Wedding. However, few know what this proverb really means. For this, we again have to look at an Afrikaans fable, this one featuring Jakkals (“Jackal”) and Wolf (“Wolf”) as main characters.

In South African folklore, Wolf was Jackal’s uncle, and he and his pretty wife were also Jackal’s godparents. Then, Jackal fell in love with his godmother and proceeded to woo her, which was improper as it broke the unspoken societal laws of the bush. A nephew and a godmother were two things that just didn’t belong together—similar to the pairing of sunshine and rain, which almost appears unnatural. So, originally, this proverb referred to anything that went strongly against the societal norms of the time.

Use: 

Its original use is completely outdated in modern, vernacular Afrikaans. In fact, I have never heard it being used this way. It’s still a popular comment when a sunshower takes place, though.

Example Sentence: 

Kyk buitekant! Jakkals trou met Wolf se vrou.
“Look outside! It’s a Monkey’s Wedding.”

Three Glasses of Wine with Grapes

Goeie wyn het nie ‘n krans nodig nie. (“Good wine doesn’t require a wreath.”)

27. Goeie wyn het nie ‘n krans nodig nie. 

Lit. Meaning: 

“Good wine doesn’t require a wreath.”

Meaning: 

This proverb means that quality is self-evident; it doesn’t need to be praised or advertised. It’s apparently derived from a time when it was customary for travelers’ lodges to hang a wreath outside their doors to indicate the availability of wine. Over time, the places with good wine became so well-known and popular that they didn’t need to hang out a wreath any longer. 

Use: 

This is a rarely used proverb, mostly used to comment on excellent food or drink presented in a simple style or in a laid-back, unassuming setting. Imagine, for instance, you’re with friends in a low-budget restaurant where you get served a particularly superb wine. If someone mentions their surprise over this, you could comment with this proverb.

Example Sentence: 

Ja, hierdie is ‘n besondere wyn in ‘n onwaarskynlike plek. Maar dis soos hulle sê: goeie wyn het nie ‘n krans nodig nie. 
“Yes, it’s an exceptional wine in an unlikely place. But, as they say: good wine doesn’t need a wreath.”

28. Die kok is verlief.

Lit. Meaning: 

“The cook is in love.”

Meaning: 

The proverb originated when people were served food that was too salty. In modern Afrikaans, however, it refers to any slightly botched dish. The inference is that the cook must have been distracted because they’re in love, which is why they made mistakes while cooking!

Use: 

Use this as a lighthearted comment during a meal if there’s clearly something wrong with the food, but you don’t wish to make a big fuss of it.

Example Sentence: 

Ja, die kok is verlief, dis duidelik. Maar dis nie ‘n probleem nie, die kos smaak nie te sleg nie!
“Yes, the cook is in love, that’s clear. But it’s not a problem, the food doesn’t taste too bad!”

Owl Sitting on a Tree Stump

Elkeen dink sy uil is ‘n valk. (“Everyone sees his owl as a falcon.”)

29. Elkeen dink sy uil is ‘n valk.

Lit. Translation: 

“Everyone sees his owl as a falcon.”

Meaning: 

This proverb means that parents want to see their children only through rose-colored lenses, probably endowing them with characteristics they don’t really have. For instance, owls can fly, but not as high as falcons do. They’re also shy night-prowlers, whereas most falcons soar during the day.

Use: 

This is often a self-deprecating comment parents make when they notice they’ve expected too much of their offspring. However, unless you’re very close to the parents, never use this proverb sarcastically or to describe children’s lesser accomplishments—the parents may never speak to you again!

Example Sentence: 

Elkeen dink sy uil is ‘n valk, nè? Maar ek is steeds trots op my uiltjie, sy het tweede gekom in die kompetisie.
“Everyone sees their owl as a falcon, don’t they? But I am still proud of my owlet; she came second in the competition.”

30. Vat jou goed en trek, Ferreira.

Lit. Translation: 

“Take your stuff and leave, Ferreira.”

Meaning: 

This proverb commands that you “take your stuff and leave,” simple as that! It has an interesting, if rather cruel, backstory dating back to 1872 on a wealthy Western Cape Province farm close to Somerset West. The farm belonged to Willem Adriaan Van Aardt, who had a daughter called Ada. Ada, a music student, was a vivacious girl known for her fine sense of humor and excellent singing voice. Annie Malony was her piano teacher. The two were firm friends and were always called upon at social gatherings to provide musical entertainment.

By age 17, Ada was extremely popular with everyone in the area and obviously had many suitors. One of the most persistent was Jannie Ferreira, son of neighboring farmer Mr. Stephanus Ferreira. Jannie had a birth defect (an ungainly gait), but this didn’t stop him from pestering the girl. He clearly didn’t want to get the hint that she was not interested in a relationship with him.

Out of frustration with his obtuseness, Ada started penning down her feelings in verse, including the line: Vat jou goed en trek, Ferreira. (“Take your stuff and leave, Ferreira.”) She showed her writings to Annie, who immediately set it to a catchy polka tune. 

At the next large social gathering, to which Jannie was also invited, the two performed the song together. After that evening, Jannie stopped visiting her—he’d finally gotten the message. However, the tune was so infectious that it quickly became popular in the region, and it later spread to all parts of the country. To this day, it’s a well-loved folk tune of the Afrikaans people; you can listen to it here.

Use: 

This proverb is most often used as a comment, or to tell someone to leave in a jocular manner. Or you could say it to mean “Get lost!” For instance, you and your friends are discussing the COVID-19 virus. You could then use this proverb to indicate you wish the virus would leave. 

Example Sentence: 

Gelukkig het ons vinnig entstof ontwikkel en kon ons vir die virus sê, vat jou goed en trek, Ferreira!
“Fortunately, we quickly developed a vaccine and could say to the virus, take your stuff and leave, Ferreira!”

Fireplace with Wood and Ash

As is verbrande hout. (“Ash is burned wood.”)

31. As is verbrande hout.

Lit. Translation: 

“Ash is burned wood.”

Meaning: 

As has two meanings in Afrikaans: “burned wood” and the conjunction “if.” The proverb literally clarifies which as you’re talking about. 

Use: 

It’s most often used in reply to a worry pot who always makes suppositions or raises objections, usually starting their sentences with As … (“If …”) or Maar wat as … (“But what if …”). Using this proverb, you indicate to them that there’s no way of telling if their fears are going to materialize, but that it’s reasonable to expect the best outcome. Ergo, they can stop worrying! Use it with a friendly tone and a smile, not as a sharp retort.

Example Sentence: 

Ja Marie, en as is verbrande hout. Ons het seker gemaak die erf is veilig vir kinders, Vriendin, so jy kan maar ophou bekommerd wees.
“Yes, Marie, and ‘as is verbrande hout.’ We made sure the yard is safe for children, my friend; you can stop worrying.”

5. Learn Afrikaans Proverbs Like a Pro at AfrikaansPod101.com!

Which of these Afrikaans proverbs resonate with you the most, and why? Let us know in the comments! 

While learning these proverbs in Afrikaans will certainly impress the locals, there’s a lot more to discover about the language and culture of the Afrikaner people. 

At AfrikaansPod101.com, we can help you understand Afrikaans easily with our hundreds of recorded videos, our podcast, these vocabulary lists, and more. With our help, you’ll be able to use the proverbs correctly and speak like a native in no time!

Also, gain the skills you need to decipher Afrikaans proverbs yourself with the multiple tools available to you upon subscription, such as the Afrikaans Key Phrase List and the Afrikaans Core 100 Word List. Also, keep your Afrikaans online dictionary close for easy translation! 

If Afrikaans vernacular is important to you, then take a look at the following pages as well:

  1. The Best Afrikaans Internet Slang and How to Use it!
  2. How To Say “Hello” in Afrikaans Like a Native Speaker!
  3. How To Say “Thank You” in Afrikaans

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Die Moederstad – Visit Cape Town and Lose Your Heart

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I love Cape Town (Kaapstad). Truly, this entire article can be summed up with the following quote, attributed to world-explorer Sir Francis Drake when he visited the Cape (circa 1580):

“This Cape is the most stately thing and the fairest Cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.”

This is no exaggeration. I’ve visited some of the most beautiful cities on earth, but Cape Town and the Cape remain incomparable.

Join me to learn why there’s something for every traveler to love and enjoy here, and discover even more great reasons to visit Cape Town yourself. 

 Note: We natives refer to Cape Town and the surrounding area (sometimes the Western Cape Province, too) as “the Cape.”

We also call the city die Moederstad (“the Mother City”), but this lady is not only maternal and welcoming. She’s also mysterious, exciting, a bit dangerous, and always drop-dead, mind-bogglingly gorgeous, as you’ll discover! In this article, I will give you some basic tourist tips and discuss a few favorite personal haunts. Lastly, I’ll touch on the overly touristy spots that those looking for something different could probably avoid.

Welcome to the city of my heart!

Sunset Over Iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town

Sonsondergang oor ikoniese Tafelberg, Kaapstad
(“Sunset over iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town”)


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Table of Contents
  1. A Quick Cape Town Travel Guide
  2. Cape Town Travel Guide
  3. BONUS – Emergency Travel Phrases & Vocabulary from AfrikaansPod101!

A Quick Cape Town Travel Guide

First, a few fast facts and travel tips to get the journey started.

History / Geskiedenis

  • In the early fifteenth century, the first Western visitors to the southernmost coast of Africa were from Portugal: Bartholomew Dias and, later, Vasco Da Gama.
  • Cape Town was founded over a century later on April 7, 1652. This is the date when Jan Van Riebeeck, a colonial administrator from Holland, took over the proto-port from Autshumao. Autshumao was the leader of the Khoi group who had been supplying passing ships with meat and fresh water for decades. The Dutch intended for the Cape to be a supply station for ships en route to or from the East. This was called the “Spice Route.”
  • The indigenous Khoi people gave the Cape its very first name: “Hoerikwagga,” which means “mountain in the sea.” They called the Cape Peninsula (the southernmost part of Cape Town) ‘||Hui ! Gais.’ This toponym means “where clouds gather.”
  • Other names include “Cape of Storms” (allegedly what Dias called it) and “Cape of Good Hope” (apparently the name later bestowed by Portugal’s King John II, because its discovery was a good omen to him.)
  • Different theories are circulating as to why Cape Town is called the Mother City. The most popular explanation is that it’s the oldest city in South Africa, and therefore the “mother” of all cities in the region. 
  • Clouds often did (and still do) gather like a blanket over Cape Town’s most iconic landmark: Tafelberg, or “Table Mountain.” It was the Portuguese explorer António de Saldanha who baptized it Taboa da caba (“Table of the Cape”).
  • Simon Van Der Stel later took over from Van Riebeeck as governor of the Cape. He had grape vines brought from Europe and founded the region’s wine industry.

Old Map of Africa with Compass

Ou kaart van Afrika met kompas
(“Old map of Africa with compass”)

Language / Taal

English is the most spoken, but second language of most Capetonians. The majority of the city’s population speaks either Afrikaans or Xhosa as their first language. Most locals will easily understand you if you address them in English, but to really connect, be sure to master some Afrikaans.

Climate / Klimaat

Someone asked the other day about the best time to visit Cape Town. I replied that any time is perfect. Really, it is! The city is a unique experience and primary destination for globetrotters, irrespective of the season. 

Cape Town’s climate is Mediterranean, so you can expect relatively mild and pleasant weather throughout the year. It gets somewhat wet and stormy during the winter months of June through September, but if you don’t like weather extremes, you’ll love Cape Town’s generally temperate climate.

Summer in Cape Town (October through February) tends to be dry with the occasional very hot day, but the humidity remains pleasantly low. From spring through midsummer, a very strong, dry wind sometimes blows from the Southeast. This wind is often referred to as the Kaapse dokter (“Cape doctor”), as it’s said to clean away all pollution and dust, thus “healing” the city’s atmosphere.

Umbrella and Autumn Leaves in the Wind

Sambreel en herfsblare in die wind
(“Umbrella and autumn leaves in the wind”)

To avoid the wind, March through May are the best months. For a pleasant summer visit, the best months would be October through February, which is the traditional tourist season.

What to Wear / Wat Om Te Dra

Like London in the U.K., Cape Town can experience the proverbial “four seasons in one day,” especially during fall and spring (April-May and September-October respectively). So, it’s a good idea to pack for layered dressing. Swimmers and surfers, keep in mind that the ocean water temperatures range between 13 °C (55 °F) and 17 °C (63 °F).

Also, bring your camera as a primary accessory! A smartphone camera won’t do justice to this ridiculously photogenic city.

Surfer in the Waves

Branderplankryer in die golwe
(“Surfer in the waves”)

Currency & Ways to Pay / Geldeenheid en Betaalwyses

The ZAR, or “Rand,” is South Africa’s currency. Most retailers accept credit and debit cards, and EFTs are often accepted too. However, you should still keep cash handy in your wallet for visits to the city’s famous flea markets, and for service tips.

Public Transport, Rental Cars & Tour Buses / Publieke Vervoer, Huurmotors en Toerbusse

If your holiday goal is to sightsee and explore, having your own vehicle is almost mandatory. We have several rental car and rental scooter companies, of which the bigger, international brands offer the best service. South Africans drive on the left side of the road in right-hand-drive cars. GPS is generally very reliable, so it’s easy to personalize your travel routes.

The signature-red, City Sightseeing hop-on, hop-off tour buses are a good option for exploring the main attractions of the city. These open-top buses offer different types of tours at very reasonable prices. Although they run only during the tourist season, they are popular for good reason, so book your trips ahead.

Tourist on a City Sightseeing Bus

‘n Toeris op ‘n rooi City Sightseeing bus
(“Tourist on a City Sightseeing bus”)

The city’s public transport network comprises local bus services, trains, and taxi minibuses. However, using public transport is probably more for the young and adventurous! If it’s your only option, that’s fine. But in that case, be extra-vigilant about your personal safety and that of your possessions, and try not to use it alone.

My CitiBus is the city’s comfortable and modern bus service, originally conceived to handle the increased transportation needs of the 2010 Fifa Soccer Cup that we hosted. Several buses run on numerous routes and connect with the other transport services. Download the CitiBus app onto your phone for easy access to route schedules.

The private car-taxi services, including the likes of Uber, are generally great alternatives.

Safety Tips / Veiligheidswenke

Some sites (and expats!) will have you believe that Cape Town is one of the most dangerous places on earth—and yes, crime statistics are high. However, criminal activities tend to be concentrated in certain areas and the majority of travelers are untouched by them. No different than most other first-world cities. 

That said, taking precautions is always wise, so keep the following tips at the forefront of your mind wherever you find yourself: 

  • Keep your valuables locked up wherever you stay
  • When shopping or sightseeing, remain vigilant and keep your cellphone and wallet hidden on your person. 
  • Unless you’re young and built like a wrestler, don’t venture out on foot and alone after dark, especially in the CBD.
  • Always enter the poorer areas only with a resident.
  • When withdrawing cash at an ATM, never ask for or accept help from anyone other than a bank staff member.
  • If you’re alone, avoid using any public buses, trains, and minibus taxis after sunset. Only use these as part of a group of three or more. Singles and couples would be better off using a car taxi service such as Uber.
  • Here are some crime hot spots to avoid.

Plugs, Etc.

The country’s standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Bringing a standard travel adapter is advisable.

Now, let’s dig into why every travel-lover should visit Cape Town at least once in their lives!

Changing Cubicles on Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town

Aantrek-hutte op Muizenberg Strand, Kaapstad
(“Changing cubicles on Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town”)


Cape Town Travel Guide

She’s not a quick study, Cape Town. It would be best to visit for a month or longer, or to decide beforehand on specific tourist activities if you plan on a shorter stay (two weeks or less). 

Everybody loves and needs food, though, so let’s start with eateries.

A. “EATING OUT” / UITEET

Foodies and visitors usually find the city’s food scene to be extremely alive (and themselves thoroughly spoilt for choice). Cape Town is called the Culinary Capital of South Africa, as it boasts the most winners of prestigious local and international awards! The following restaurants in Cape Town have been tried and tested, and have some of the best offerings in the city. However, this list is far from exhaustive. If food is your focus, Cape Town is the place to visit!

A.1 Fine Dining

Fine dining is expensive and bookings are usually mandatory. That said, our fine dineries tend to be much cheaper than in other world-cities! In Dubai, for instance, you could easily pay between four to seven times the amount you would pay for a comparable meal in Cape Town.

The following restaurants offer unforgettable culinary experiences:

  • Probably the most prestigious eatery in the city, The Test Kitchen (or TTK) doesn’t sport a conventional luxury look. But trust me—the unconventional aesthetics and equally unique cuisine will simply blow your mind. The restaurant and its owner/chef, Luke Dale-Roberts, have raked in several prestigious excellence awards over the past decade. 
  • Award-winning La Colombe is another must-visit fine dinery. Situated in the breathtakingly beautiful Constantia wine estate, this understated eatery elicits rave reviews for its eclectic cuisine and excellent service. It’s an unforgettable experience that some prefer over that of the TTK.

Crab Dish, Seafood

Crab dish, seafood

A.2 Family and Other / Gesin en Ander

Cape Town also has a large number of less expensive and more inclusive, but equally enchanting, restaurants. 

  • One of the best-kept secrets in town is probably an Italian restaurant called Magica Roma. Hidden in the corner of the Town Square in Pinelands, this laidback and unpretentious restaurant serves simply the best Italian food in the city, if not the province. And it’s all dished up with a large dollop of warm Italian hospitality—patrons tend to spend hours here! Magica Roma is insanely popular, so bookings are essential.
  • Want to take the family out for lunch in a beautiful setting? You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more perfect spot than the Blue Water Café on Imhoff’s Farm near Kommetjie. Take your freshly prepared meal (from organic, local produce) outside to enjoy spectacular views of the valley.
  • South Africans are “java-philes” of note; we city-dwellers practically run on caffeine! No surprise then that Cape Town sports one of the world’s most wonderful coffee shops: the renowned Truth Coffee Roastery. Photographers alert—the gorgeous steampunk interior is a visual feast!

Barista in the Truth Coffee Roastery, Cape Town

‘n Barista in die Truth Coffee Roastery, Kaapstad
(“Barista in the Truth Coffee Roastery, Cape Town”)

A.3 Wine Farms / Wynplase

South Africa is an old and internationally renowned producer of top wines. So, naturally, many of our wines have won prestigious excellence awards over the past century. Wine connoisseurs are undoubtedly familiar with the Western Cape Province wine route, a worthy experience to be had outside of Cape Town.

However, the most established wine farms are situated right within the city. Many of them feature restaurants and wine tasting venues in stunning natural surrounds—a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with friends. Spoil yourself with a visit to the completely breathtaking Groot Constantia, the oldest wine-producing estate in the country. Another place worth visiting is Steenberg Wine Farm. Steenberg also features a five-star hotel and a golf course for an all-round luxury experience.

Many tourists opt for an organized wine-tasting tour, even though it’s tough to single out the best tasting rooms. Our wine is popular for good reasons.

Now that the tummies and taste buds have been seen to, let’s investigate some ways to spend your Cape Town holiday.

B. OUTSIDE IN NATURE / BUITE IN DIE NATUUR

Numb with jetlag? Start your stay with a refreshing walk!

Beach, Shallow Water, Sunset

BEACH, SHALLOW WATER, SUNSET

B.1 Beaches / Strande

Cape Town beaches are generally excellent for strolling or jogging. The stunning Clifton and Camps Bay beaches are close to the CBD and are popular spots for locals, too. 

Swimming is allowed at most beaches, but the water tends to be cold and sometimes there are sharks. Attacks are extremely uncommon in our oceans, but if you cannot tolerate the thought of taking the chance, Fish Hoek is a family-friendly beach with restaurants and shark nets. To surf in the waves or simply splash in a tidal pool, the most popular beaches are Muizenberg and Glencairn. St. James is another picturesque swimming beach, complete with changing rooms.

B.2 Free Walking Tours / Gratis Loop-toere

Every day of the year, irrespective of the weather, walkers head out for a 90-minute adventure on foot that starts at the Motherland Coffee Company in St. George’s Mall, CBD. The walks are ideal for getting a cursory glance of Cape Town’s urban beauty and history. No bookings are required for groups of less than ten. Simply pitch up to enroll for one of the several Free Walking Tours with the organizers under the green umbrellas, and be sure to tip.

B.3 Hiking or Strolling in the Gardens / Stap Deur Die Tuine

Cape Town has a great number of gardens and nature reserves, ideal for a gentle stroll, a serious hike, or a leisurely picnic.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town

Kirstenbosch Nasionale Botaniese Tuin in Kaapstad
(“Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town”)

  • Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

    Visiting this internationally renowned botanical garden should be a priority—it is simply incomparable! Situated along the eastern side of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch is a feast of botanical diversity and beauty, ideal for hiking, strolling, and/or picnicking. Expect to pay a conservation fee.
  • Table Mountain National Park

    This location offers a good selection of hiking trails of varying difficulty. One of my personal favorites is Table Mountain itself, starting at Rhodes Memorial to Devil’s Peak (not for beginners). Or tackle the easier, 7km (4.3-mile) walk on the Newlands Forest Contour Path loop, also starting at the memorial. Silvermines, in the center of the Peninsular mountain chain, offers different walking experiences, so expect to completely forget you’re in a city! Entry to Table Mountain trails is free, but a conservation fee is charged per person at Silvermines.

Fynbos in Cape Point Nature Reserve

Fynbos in Kaappunt Natuur Reservaat
(“Fynbos in Cape Point Nature Reserve”)

  • Cape Point Nature Reserve

    This reserve is also part of the Table Mountain National Park, but it deserves its own mention. It’s excellent for longer but smooth hikes or a shorter, steep climb, with killer views of the southeastern corner of the Cape Peninsula. It can get chilly quite quickly here, so bring a sweater. Also, make sure to drive to the reserve via Chapman’s Peak and Scarborough for spectacular scenery along the coastline.
  • Table Mountain Cableway Ride

    I planned to mention this excursion under the “Give These A Miss” heading, because the waiting lines for a ride are insanely long, even with a pre-booking. However, the views of the mountain are such a wonderful experience once you’re inside the car. Also, at over 3500 feet above sea level, the summit makes for unparalleled, leisurely viewing of the city and surrounding areas. Make sure to book tickets through the correct site online, and use the MyCitibus service to avoid a long walk from the parking lot to the entrance.

C. OTHER

Here are a few more attractions in Cape Town for tourists to enjoy. I’ve included locations for lovers of history, art, and culture, so let’s dive in! 

C. 1 History / Geskiedenis

If you’re after the history of the city, don’t miss out on the following museums:

  1. District Six: This museum shows the poignant history of a suburb and how apartheid (Literally: “separated-ness”) destroyed a once vibrant, multi-racial community. Bring tissues.
  2. Robben Island Prison: This is a well-known Unesco World Heritage site that preserves the history of those who spent time incarcerated in this political prison. Its most famous previous resident was President Nelson Mandela. It tends to be busy during the tourist season, but is historically significant.
  3. Heart of Cape Town Museum: A rather unknown gem, this interactive museum celebrates the day medical history was made: the first heart transplant ever.
  4. Castle of Good Hope: Situated in the CBD, this museum showcases the country’s shared heritage and hidden histories. It also houses the South African Military Museum.

Entrance to Robben Island Prison

Ingang van Robbeneiland Gevangenis
(“Entrance to Robben Island Prison”)

C.2 Visual Art / Visuele Kuns

As with food and wine, Cape Town is synonymous with the fine arts. Many of the country’s great artists have made this their home, and there’s plenty going on in the art scene.

  1. Salt River and Woodstock Street Art

    Nope, I’m not going to start this list with the famous Zeitz MOCAA that opened its doors recently. First, go feast your eyes on Cape Town’s own street gallery in the erstwhile-industrial Salt River, or at Woodstock Exchange in Albert Rd. close by. These cultural assets can be enjoyed for free during a leisurely stroll by yourself, or as part of a guided tour.
  1. Iziko South African National Gallery

    For an informative journey through the history of South African and African art, this is your gallery. It’s situated in the beautiful Company Gardens in the CBD.
  1. Norval Foundation Art Museum

    The Foundation calls itself a “centre for art and cultural expression.” Book off a whole morning or afternoon for this trip to the Constantiaberg amphitheater, and view twentieth and twenty-first-century art in the most stunning surroundings.
  1. Zeitz MOCAA – Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

    This one is still on my to-do list, but it’s worth mentioning. The art museum opened three years ago to great acclaim, as it’s one of its kind on the African continent. If online reviews are to be believed, it’s the pinnacle of African art. But some of my local artist friends were unimpressed with the museum’s offerings; they also thought the entrance fees were exorbitant for what you get. However, this costly non-profit venture is still pioneering, so I’m hoping for a pleasant surprise when I do visit. Some say it’s worth going for the architecture alone!

C. 3 Township Tours / Township Toere

A Township Shop in South Africa

‘n Township winkel in Suid Afrika
(“A township shop in South Africa”)

I’ve given this a heading of its own because it is simply a must-have experience. It’s most suitable for the discerning traveler who loves pushing personal boundaries, or for those wanting to add heart and enduring memories to their visit.

Cape Town is a glittery lady who can easily seduce visitors into believing that her identity comprises only glamor, opulence, and natural beauty. However, townships have not left the landscape of South African cities and towns, even after nearly three decades of democracy. A “township” is dictionary-defined as “…a suburb or city of predominantly black occupation, formerly officially designated for black occupation by apartheid legislation.” 

However, these communities are vibrant and inspiring in unique and surprising ways. So, for a day, leave your Vuitton bag at the hotel, slip on your most well-worn trainers, and head out on a township tour. Or even spend a night. You will not only support a local entrepreneur, but you’ll also get to have a down-to-the-bones experience of the city’s sad underbelly. Think meaningful paradigm-shift. 

Note: Never enter a township except in the company of a resident or tour guide, and remain mindful of the tour etiquette and rules. These will be spelled out at the start to ensure that visitors remain sensitive to the needs and boundaries of the residents. The tours are also perfectly safe if the rules are adhered to—we have never had a criminal incident reported on one of these.

Give These A Miss / Vermy Hierdies

Some places are tourist hot-spots and they offer relatively the same experiences as other world cities, or they’re over-commercialized. Still not horrible to visit, the following venues might be more suitable to include in a winter trip itinerary.

Victoria Wharf on the V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

Victoria Wharf on the V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

  • V & A Waterfront: This is a shopper’s heaven, with several designer offerings. Take a champagne-tour out on a boat to escape the bustle, or get on the Cape Wheel for a unique view of the city. But avoid it like a pest if you hate crowds, as it’s a very commercialized and insanely busy venue during the tourist season. 
  • Food Markets: Not every local or visitor will agree with me on this one! And yes, to be fair, the food markets—such as Old Biscuit Mill (where TTK is situated) and Oranjezicht City Farm Market—are atmospheric and fantastic for finding fresh food and goodies. However, as far as market experiences go, they’re not super-unique and tend to be constantly congested.
  • Bo-Kaap District: I’m on the fence about this one too, because I love photographing the erstwhile slave-quarter and quaint houses painted in the Malaysian style. If unique cuisines are an interest of yours, then the Cape Malay food in the restaurants will delight you. It’s a very small area and perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s perfect for the historian, photographer, and architectural tourist, though.
  • Century City & Canal Walk Shopping Centres: Although modern and impressive, these enormous shopping malls are very commercialized and always overcrowded.
  • Simon’s Town, Kalk Bay, and Muizenberg: I know, it looks like I’m contradicting myself! As mentioned earlier, Muizenberg has lovely swimming beaches. However, the three suburbs tend to be extremely populated during the tourist season. Out-of-season, you’ll find lovely nooks with local produce and bric a brac here, so don’t scratch this one off the to-do list completely.
  • Artscape theatre complex: This location is good for watching performances of the big names in local talent, but somewhat imitative of the European scene. You should instead seek out the smaller venues (many are add-ons to restaurants), especially for comedy or live music performances, if this type of entertainment is what you’re after.

BONUS – Emergency Travel Phrases & Vocabulary from AfrikaansPod101!

Of course, I want you to have a brilliant South African experience. So, here is a list of essential travel vocabulary and phrases:

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Goeiedag!
Goeienaand!
Good day!
Good evening!
Totsiens.Goodbye.
Baie dankie.Thank you very much.
Ja/nee, dankie.Yes/no, thank you.
Asseblief.Please.
Verskoon my.Excuse me.
Waar is die kleedkamer / toilet, asseblief?Where is the changing room / toilet, please?
KaartjieTicket
VervoerTransport
VerblyfAccommodation
PolisiePolice
Kan jy my help, asseblief?Can you help me, please?

Hopefully this article was educational and interesting. Do you have any questions? Let us have them in the comments below! Or even better—share your experiences with us if you’ve visited Cape Town before.

At AfrikaansPod101.com, we can help you understand Afrikaans easily with our hundreds of recorded videos, audio lessons, and themed vocabulary lists.

Also, before you hop on a plane to the Moederstad, be sure to arm yourself with some words and phrases from our Afrikaans Key Phrase List and the Afrikaans Core 100 Word List. Remember to keep your Afrikaans online dictionary closeby for easy translation!

Supplement your knowledge about the country and the Afrikaners even more with these blog posts:

Enroll now for a free lifetime membership at AfrikaansPod101.com. Hope to see you when you visit Cape Town!

About the author: Christa Davel is a bilingual (Afrikaans and English) freelance writer and journalist, and is currently based in Cape Town.

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The Top English Words Used in Afrikaans – and More!

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Imagine getting this message from your South African friend:

“Hey! Come jol with us on Saturday afternoon; we are going to gooi something lekker on the braai. The party will be under the lapa.”

Do you have any idea what this message means? Let us know in the comments! At AfrikaansPod101.com, we love hearing your thoughts and opinions, so feel free to weigh in. 

But if you’re not really sure what your friend just invited you to, no worries. That’s ‘Afrikaan-lish,’ or rather, a blend of Afrikaans, English, and even one word appropriated from one of South Africa’s other languages!

Woman Talking on Megaphone

The example used above illustrates how languages cross-pollinate and influence one another. This is important, because nowhere in South Africa is Afrikaans spoken in complete isolation from English. 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. It’s Important to Learn English Words in Afrikaans
  2. Afrikaans Words Used in English
  3. Learn Much More Than English Words in Afrikaans with AfrikaansPod101!

It’s Important to Learn English Words in Afrikaans

If you’re serious about learning nuanced Afrikaans in order to sound like and understand native speakers, it’s necessary to also study the phrases and vocabulary taken from other languages. Because the Afrikaans meanings are sometimes different from those in the original language, you’ll miss important clues about a conversation’s context if you’re not familiar with them.

Afrikaans is influenced by many languages. However, for the purpose of this article, we’ll be focusing on English influences on Afrikaans (and vice-versa). Afrikaans can be a fun language to learn—it is very descriptive and has real heart!

So, let’s start with a list of English words used in Afrikaans. They are organized into different categories, but take note that it’s not a simple classification.

Woman Learning with Tablet

1 – Loanwords

Scholars and linguists often debate the acceptability of some loanwords. However, loanwords are an integral component of nearly every major, internationally spoken language. Over time, these words become more incorporated into the general vernacular of the host language and become standardized. A great example is the word charcuterie (French for “cold, cooked meats”), which is accepted and commonly used in both English and Afrikaans. 

There are plenty of English loanwords in Afrikaans; the list we’re providing is not exhaustive.

Standardized Loanwords:

The following examples are English loanwords that appear in Afrikaans dictionaries. Their use is accepted in any context (i.e. formal and informal) and they generally retain their original English meaning. 

  • Chop-chop
  • Denim 
    • In English, this word only refers to the material that garments (such as jeans) are made of. In Afrikaans, it refers to both the material and the garment “jeans.”
  • Garage 
    • Refers to both fuel stations and the place we leave our cars for the night.
  • Muffin

Boy Eating Muffins

Die seun geniet die muffin. (“The boy enjoys the muffin.”)

  • Robot 
    • This refers not only to a machine resembling a human being in appearance and/or function; in Afrikaans, it is also the word for “traffic light.”
  • Speaker (in Parliament)
  • Township 
    • In South African English, this refers to a city or suburb that was specifically designated for people of color under the country’s previous dispensation.
  • Whiskey

Non-Standardized Loanwords:

You won’t get struck by lightning if you pepper your Afrikaans with these, but it would be better to limit their use to casual and informal conversations.

  • Awesome
  • Cool
  • Funky
  • Great
  • Gross
  • Panties
  • Punk
  • Savvy
  • Scary
  • Selfie
  • Sexy
  • Tissue 
  • Rocker 

Rockers Band

Die rockers geniet hulself vanaand. (“The rockers are enjoying themselves tonight.”)

2 – Anglicisms

An Anglicism is any word or language construction that another language borrows from English. 

It’s easy to confuse them with loanwords, as there is only one important distinction: an Anglicism is a language construct that’s directly taken from English, which looks and sounds like Afrikaans but actually distorts the Afrikaans idiom. This means that Anglicisms unnecessarily replace perfectly good Afrikaans words or phrases, and their use is therefore not really acceptable in formal or academic conversations. (That said, they are so commonplace in colloquial Afrikaans that many native speakers don’t even know they’re using Anglicisms!)

ANGLICISMSCORRECT AFRIKAANS
DOEN – “DO” / “DOES”
Sy doen haar ma ‘n guns.
“She does her mom a favor.”
Sy bewys haar ma ‘n guns.
Ek wil niks met hom te doen hê nie.
“I don’t want anything to do with him.”
Ek wil niks met hom te make hê nie.
Ons rugbyspan doen goed hierdie seisoen.
“Our rugby team is doing well this season.”
Ons rugbyspan vaar goed hierdie seisoen.
A: Hou die kind van vrugte?
B: Ja, hy doen!

A: “Does the child like fruit?”
B: “Yes, he does!”
Hou die kind van vrugte? Ja, hy hou daarvan!
Jou hare is mooi gedoen!
“Your hair is done prettily!”
Jou hare is mooi opgeknap!
Sy kan doen met ‘n haarsny.
“She can do with a haircut.”
Sy het ‘n haarsny nodig.“She needs a haircut.”
Dit sal doen, dankie.
“That will do, thank you.”
Dit sal voldoende / genoeg wees, dankie.
Die katjie kan nie sonder sy kombers doen nie.
“The kitten cannot do without its blanket.”
Die katjie kan nie sonder sy kombers klaarkom nie.
GAAN – “GO” / “GOES”
Wat kan verkeerd gaan?
“What can go wrong?”
Wat kan skeefloop / verkeerd loop?
Die kinders gaan vir die roomyskarretjie.
“The children go for the ice cream car.”
Die kinders pyl / storm op die roomyskarretjie af.
Hulle gaan sonder koffie vir Lydenstyd.
“They go without coffee for Lent.”
Hulle bly sonder koffie vir Lydenstyd.
Sy het vir my gegaan in die publiek!
“She had a go at me in public!”

Note: Do you spot the two Anglicisms here?
Sy het my ingevlieg / ingeklim in die openbaar!
HARDE – “HARD”
Hierdie is die harde feite.
“These are the hard facts.”
Hierdie is die moeilike / nugter feite.
Hulle het ‘n harde lewe.
“They have a hard life.”
Hulle ly ‘n swaar lewe.
My sensei is ‘n harde leermeester. 
“My sensei is a hard master.”
My sensei is ‘n veeleisende leermeester.
Die afskeid is hard op almal.
“The departure is hard for everyone.”
Die afskeid is moeilik vir almal.
Die dief is met harde arbeid gevonnis.
“The thief was sentenced to hard labor.”
Die dief is met dwangarbeid gevonnis.
Die Covid19 pandemie is baie hard op almal.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is very hard on everyone.”
Die Covid19 pandemie is baie swaar vir almal.
Hy het hard geval.
“He fell hard.”
Hy het hom disnis geval.

Two People Sparring in Karate Gis

My sensei is ‘n veeleisende leermeester. (“My sensei is a hard taskmaster.”)

HET – Approximate: “HAS” / “HAVE”
Het jy dit in jou?
“Do you have it in you?”
Sit dit in jou?
Hy het wat dit vat vir hierdie posisie.
“He has what it takes for this position.”
Hy is geskik vir hierdie posisie.
IN – “IN”
Een in ‘n miljoen
“One in a million”
Een uit ‘n miljoen
Ons gaan trek in twee maande se tyd.
“We’ll be moving in two months’ time.”
Ons gaan binne twee maande trek.
Die vliegtuig is in.
“The plane is in.”
Die vliegtuig het aangekom.
Julle is in vir moeilikheid. / Julle soek vir moeilikheid.
“You’re looking for trouble.”
Julle gaan aan die pen ry. / Julle gaan in die moeilikheid beland.
Maak jou versoek in skrif.
“Make your request in writing.”
Stel jou versoek skriftelik.
Kom in!
“Come in!”
Kom binne!
Hou my ingelig asseblief.
“Keep me informed please.”
Hou my op hoogte, asseblief.
MERK – “MARK”
Hy’t sy merk gemaak in die lewe.
“He made his mark in life.”
Hy het homself onderskei in die lewe.
Zuma is ‘n gemerkte man.
“Zuma is a marked man.”
Zuma is ‘n gebrandmerkte man.
Daardie is goeie merke vir die eksamen.
“Those are good marks for the exam.”
Daardie is goeie punte vir die eksamen.
PART – “PART”
Hy speel ‘n part in die onlangse politieke drama.
“He plays a part in the current political drama.”
Hy speel ‘n rol in die onlangse politiek drama.
Dis goed in parte.
“It’s good in parts.”
Dis gedeeltelik goed.
Die parte vir my motorfiets is skaars.
“The parts for my motorbike are rare.”
Die onderdele vir my motorfiets is skaars.
Apart daarvan is sy ‘n oulike vrou.
“Apart from that, she’s a nice woman.”
Afgesien daarvan is sy ‘n oulike vrou.
SIEN – “SEE”
Hy sal nog die dag sien dat …
“He will see the day that …”
Hy sal nog die dag belewe dat …
Laat ek sien.
“Let me see (about that).”
Laat ek dink daaroor. Gee my tyd.Lit.
“Let me think about that. Give me time.””
Dis ‘n moeilike situasie. Kan sy dit sien?
“It’s a difficult situation. Can she see that?”
Dis ‘n moeilike situasie. Kan sy dit verstaan / begryp?
Sy wou my nie sien nie.
“She didn’t want to see me.”
Sy wou my nie ontvang nie.
Ek gaan die bestuurder sien.
“I’m going to see the manager.”
Ek gaan die bestuurder spreek.
OPTEL – “PICK UP”
Jy het Afrikaans vinnig opgetel.
“You picked up Afrikaans quickly.”
Jy het Afrikaans vinnig aangeleer.
Die bul tel gewig op.
“The bull is picking up weight.”
Die bul sit lyf aan.Literally: “The bull puts on some body.”
Sal jy die kinders optel by die skool?
“Would you pick up the kids from school?”
Sal jy die kinders oplaai by die skool?
PUNT – “POINT”
Dis waar tot op ‘n punt.
“That’s true up to a point.”
Dis waar tot ‘n mate.
Maak ‘n punt daarvan ….
“Make a point of it …”
Stel jou dit ten doel
Sy sien my punt.
“She sees my point.”
Sy sien my standpunt in.
Dialoogvoering is haar sterk punt.
“Dialoguing is her strong point.”
Sy munt uit in dialoogvoering. / Dialoogvoering is haar talent.
Jy rammel, kom tot ‘n punt.
“You’re rattling on, get to the point.”
Jy rammel, sê wat jy wil sê.Literally:
“You’re rattling on, say what you want to say.”
STAAN – “STANDS”
Hy staan uit in sy musiekklas.
“He is standing out in his music class.”
Hy blink uit in sy musiekklas.Literally:
“He is shining out in his music class.”
Sy kan die reuk nie staan nie.
“She cannot stand the smell.”
Sy kan die reuk nie verdra / verduur nie.
Sal jy staan vir die Parlement?
“Would you stand for Parliament?”
Sal jy jou verkiesbaar stel vir die Parlement?
Die opvoering was uitstaande.
“The performance was outstanding.”
Die opvoering was uitstekend.
VAL – “FALLS”
Ons planne het deurgeval.
“Our plans fell through.”
Ons planne het in duie gestort.
Val vir versoeking
“Falls for temptation”
Swig voor die versoeking.

A Girl being Tempted with a Slice of Chocolate Cake

Sy wil swig voor die versoeking. (“She wants to fall for the temptation.”)

ANGLICISMS – Other phrasesCORRECT AFRIKAANS
Die emmer skop
“Kick the bucket”

This saying means something or someone has died.
Lepel in die dak steek.
Literally: “Stick the spoon in the roof.”
Ek verwag hulle nou enige minuut.
“I am expecting them any minute now.”
Ek verwag hulle enige oomblik.
Hulle gaan ‘n dans hou.
“They’re going to host a dance.”
Hulle gaan ‘n dansparty hou.
Hy studeer wet.
“He’s studying law..”
Hy studeer regte.
Ek woon twee deure van hom af.
“I live two doors from him.”
Ek woon twee huise van hom af.
Daar is ‘n sterk familie ooreenkoms.
“There is a strong family resemblance.”
Daar is sterk familietrekke.
Ons finansiële posisie is goed.
“Our financial position is good.”

(Not to be confused with the accounting term “financial position.”)
Ons geldelike omstandighede is goed.
Die gemors is haar fout
“The mess is her fault.”
Die gemors is haar skuld.
Sy spel is uitstaande.
“His playing is outstanding.”
Sy spel is uitstekend.
Sy is af siek.
“She’s off sick.”
Sy is afwesig as gevolg van siekte.
Die tyd hardloop uit.
“Time is running out.”
Die tyd word min.
Dit spreek nie rerig die probleem aan nie.
“That doesn’t really address the problem.”
Dit hanteer nie werklik die probleem nie.
Ek skrik my byna dood.
“I nearly died with fright.”
Ek skrik my boeglam.
Bloed is dikker as water.
“Blood is thicker than water.”
Die hemp is nader as die rok.

Two Men in a Basketball Game

Hy speel uitstekend. (Literally: “He is playing outstandingly.”)

Afrikaans has a lot of Anglicisms! As said, they remain a point of contention among linguists. Now that we’ve covered just a few phrases, here are some individual Anglicized words you should know. 

ANGLICISMS – Other VocabularyCORRECT AFRIKAANS
addisioneel (“additional”)bykomend
admireer (“admire”)bewonder
akkommodasie (“accommodation”)verblyf
akkommodeer (“accommodate”)insluit; inneem; aanpas
aktiveer (“activate”)ontketen; aan die gang sit; veroorsaak; aansit
analiseer / analise (“analyze” / “analysis”)ontleed / ontleding
area (“area”)gebied
arrestasie (“an arrest”)inhegtenisname
detail (“detail”)besonderhede
braaf (“brave”)dapper
valstande (“false teeth”)kunsgebit
opbottel (“to bottle up”)opkrop

A Large Resort with a Pool

Vakansie veblyf (“Holiday accommodation”)

3 – Loan Translations

A common mistake is to label any Afrikaans word that sounds English as an Anglicism. But it’s important to remember that Afrikaans and English share the same Indo-European or West-Germanic roots. Therefore, some words sound and look like Anglicisms but are actually legitimate, native Afrikaans vocabulary. We call these “loan translations,” and they are often derived from French or Dutch. 

AFRIKAANS LOAN TRANSLATIONSIMILAR IN ENGLISH
Evalueer“Evaluate”
Assesseer“Assess”
Filosofie“Philosophy”
Intervensie“Intervention”
Boekmerk“Book mark”
Broodlyn“Bread line”
Piesangrepubliek“Banana republic”
Diefwering“Burglar proofing”
Kougom“Chewing gum”
Middeljarig“Middle-aged”
Maalvleis“Minced meat”
Rommelverkoping“Jumble sale”
Woefkardoes“Doggy bag”
Sleng“Slang”

Minced Beef

Hierdie is lae-vet maalvleis. (“This is low-fat mince.”)

Afrikaans Words Used in English

This will be fun! 

South African English expressions are as peppered with Afrikaans loanwords, loan translations, interjections, and slang as the other way around. Most Afrikaners are bilingual, especially city-dwellers. 

The following list is not exhaustive, but we have included the most popular Afrikaans loanwords that South African English speakers use. 


AFRIKAANS USED IN ENGLISHMEANING
AfrikaansThis is the language of the Afrikaner people from South Africa.
ApartheidLiterally: “Apart-ness”

This refers to the very strict racial segregation policies as enforced by the previous South African regime.
Ag manLiterally: “Aw man”

This is a common interjection that can depict…almost any mood! 
BiltongApproximate: “Beef jerky”

This is dried meat, usually beef though it can also be ostrich or game. It is a very popular snack among South Africans.
BoetLiterally: “Brother”

This is often a casual term of endearment among close male friends. However, in certain situations, it can be seen as patronizing. Don’t ever address your boss as Boet, for instance!
BoerLiterally: “Farmer”

This usually refers to an Afrikaans-speaking South African, usually Caucasian and sometimes politically conservative and racist.
BoereworsLiterally: “Farmer’s sausage”

This is a unique South African sausage we love to cook over the coals.
Braai“Barbeque”
DoosLiterally: “Box”

If the speaker uses this word to refer to another person, it’s an Afrikaans expletive that means the same as “idiot,” “twat,” or “prat,” but more vulgar. It is added here for identification purposes only—it’s not to be used in polite, respectful, and civil conversation!
DofLiterally: “Dim”

This is a derogatory pronoun that describes a slow-witted person.
Dop / DoppieLiterally: “Screwtop”

This is slang for an alcoholic drink. 
DroëworsLiterally: “Dried sausage”

This refers specifically to dried boerewors, a cousin of the Portuguese chourico or the Polish cabanossi. However, it’s only made with beef, ostrich, or game, not pork. 
FynbosLiterally: “Fine bush”

This flowery plant family is found only in South Africa, mostly along the coast of the Eastern and Western Cape provinces. The “fine” refers to the shape of the leaves.
Ja“Yes”
JolThis means the same thing as “play,” but it usually refers to having fun.
KraalThis refers to an African rural village or an enclosure for cattle.
KoeksistersLiterally: “Cake sisters”

This is a traditional, very popular Afrikaans confectionary that comprises pieces of twisted, deep-fried dough that’s been dipped in syrup. 
KoppieLiterally: “Cup” or “Small head”

It means “cup” / “small head” only in Afrikaans. Yet, in both Afrikaans and English, it also refers to an African monadnock, or a low-ish hill.
LekkerThis is a slang interjection that means “tasty,” “good, and “nice.”
MieliesThis is corn on the cob or maize. It’s traditionally steamed or boiled as is, and enjoyed with salt and some butter.
RooibosLiterally: “Red bush”

This is an indigenous shrub from the fynbos family. Its leaves are used to brew a very popular tea with many health properties.
RondavelThis is a round hut with a thatched roof.
Trek“Haul”
VeldIt is very close in meaning to “field” but it also refers to African vegetation.
VoetstootsLiterally: “Push with foot”

This is a term used in business that means “as is.” It usually implies that there’s no guarantee, and can sometimes also mean “no returns.”
YstervarkiesLiterally: “Iron piglets”

These are very similar to lamingtons and are a huge favorite at the tea table.

Corn on the Cob or Mielies

Ons eet mielies vir aandete vanaand. (“We’re having mielies for supper tonight.”)

Well, that’s about it! We hope you learned a lot and enjoyed this article. Can you now translate the text your imaginary South African friend sent you? Write your interpretation in the comments below!

When studying any language, it’s important to learn and recognize its most commonly used loanwords.

For instance, the word lapa in the message is a Sotho loanword commonly used in many of South Africa’s languages, including Afrikaans and South African English. It refers to a building construction described by one manufacturer as “a timber frame crafted from African hardwood poles supporting a genuine and fully thatched roof.” Lapas come in different shapes and sizes, and many Afrikaners’ homes have one close to the outside pool. It usually forms part of the entertainment area. 

Because a lapa is mentioned, this indicates that the event will be held exclusively outside. This could be important info depending on the season, because it could hint that the weather will be cool and you should dress warmly. 

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We provide topic-related, culture-specific Afrikaans vocabulary lists (like this 100 Core Afrikaans Word List) as well as easily accessible lessons that introduce vocab in both writing and audio recordings. This ensures you learn the language as it’s pronounced by native Afrikaans speakers.

You’ll also gain access to the following, and so much more:

The value is simply unbeatable!

If you’re serious about your learning, we have several learning options to suit your pocket and your language learning needs. Take a look at our three different learning plans, each one affordable while still providing great value for your money. 

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A South African Culture Guide for Students of Afrikaans!

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In dictionaries, “culture” is defined as the ideas, customs, and social behaviors of a particular society or group of people. These different cultures were all shaped, over many centuries, by people’s shared experiences as natives of a specific country. 

What is South African culture like? This is not an easy question to answer! Not surprising, really—looking at our demographics, we see that the official South African population comprises approximately 60 million people with very diverse origins, languages, cultures, and religions. For instance, we have 11 official languages!

What is your country’s culture like? Share with us in the comments.

At AfrikaansPod101.com, we celebrate diversity because we understand that global citizenship is real! Developed countries, in particular, are melting pots of many nationalities and cultures. We tailor our lessons and our teaching approach accordingly. 

With that in mind, let’s delve into the culture of South Africa together!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. The Importance of Understanding Afrikaans Culture in South Africa
  2. Afrikaans Culture in South Africa – It’s Complicated
  3. South African Culture
  4. Traditional Holidays
  5. Immerse Yourself in South African Culture with AfrikaansPod101!

1. The Importance of Understanding Afrikaans Culture in South Africa

Having a grasp of the diversity of South African culture is key to having a good experience when you visit! An overview of the Afrikaans culture in South Africa will go a long way toward helping you understand our people as a whole. There are plenty of overlaps among our numerous cultures. It is the different South African cultures that make up our unique Rainbow Nation, a group identity that South Africans are still busy whittling into shape.

Knowing the quirks particular to a nation’s people is similar to getting to know another person well while building a relationship with them. Therefore, applying good relationship skills to this process will foster exactly that—good relationships. Here’s why this is important globally:

  1. As mentioned, we often find plenty of similarities among our cultures. These similarities emphasize the common bonds we all share. In turn, this makes for a sense of global community and is important for such things as trade, tourism, and survival (as the recent COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated).
  1. Still, our cultures are also very different from one another. Differences keep us and the world interesting and unique. But even more importantly, learning how to deal with them in relationships builds character! For instance, when differences are very pronounced, do we exercise our “better angels” of patience, respect, acceptance, and tolerance, or do we lapse into an easier (but ultimately alienating) “us vs. them” narrative?
  1. Embracing your own culture gives you a sense of identity and a place in the world.

2. Afrikaans Culture in South Africa – It’s Complicated

What is Afrikaans culture? Well, the answer is not as simple as many sources (such as this Wikipedia page) would have us believe. Ask any Afrikaans-speaking South African how they would characterize an “Afrikaner,” and the replies will vary greatly depending on who you’re talking to.

The simple definition involves only one criterion. It posits the Afrikaans language as the touchstone of Afrikaner culture and nationality. By estimation, over five million people in the country speak the language as their mother tongue.

People Holding Each Other’s Wrists in a Circle of Unity

But not all South Africans agree with this simplistic view. Hundreds of thousands of South Africans who speak Afrikaans as a first language (especially from the Northern and Western Cape provinces) describe themselves only as “Coloreds,” or people of color. You will be hard-pressed to find any of them identifying as Afrikaners.

South Africa’s political history is the backdrop to this attitude. It is most often the politically conservative natives who prefer to define Afrikaners as a group of one ethnicity (Caucasian/White), and of Dutch origin. Many South Africans of all races and languages find this definition limiting and offensive. 

This is because its criteria are antiquated. They date back to an era early in the twentieth century, when a group of Afrikaans-speaking, white settlers finally took rule of the country. This group referred to themselves as Boere (“Farmers”), collectively the proud Boerenasie (literally: “Farmer nation”), and they remained in rule for almost a century. Yet, those who now call themselves the Boerenasie comprise only a small group of conservative, openly racist, white, Afrikaans-speaking nationals.

Children of Different Ethnicities Standing Together

Many disillusioned Afrikaners (mostly younger and white) vehemently oppose this myopic view of their nationality. The white Afrikaners’ political history is neither a pleasant nor a flattering one, and many white Afrikaans natives choose to distance themselves from it.

This drives to the heart of a complex, painful matter—national identity, with Afrikaans as its symbol. The topic is also one of great reach and depth, which is beyond the scope of this article. 

So, for brevity’s sake, we’re going to focus on only one criterion for Afrikaans culture: the language!

3. South African Culture

Let’s start by qualifying that a large portion of South African society is Western-based and heavily influenced by European and American cultures, irrespective of our language or ethnicity. This means that most South Africans observe Western customs and habits, and our basic societal structures are similar to those of many Western countries.

The culture is also shaped by South Africa’s social structures and people’s living conditions—the largest part of which is unfortunately still abominable. But as humans do everywhere in the world, we strive to overcome our circumstances by finding beauty in the rubble and hope despite adversity. 

3.1 Family

Family of Four Watching TV Together on the Couch

In South African culture, family life can vary from one household to another. But one thing is for sure: Afrikaners are big on family, no matter what size or shape it takes!

Hierarchy is important in the more conservative homes. The man is head of the house, even if he’s not the primary breadwinner. Also, children are expected to respect adults and their elders, an expectation that is often enforced with strict discipline. Corporal punishment is (fortunately) unlawful. 

In the cities, this family model tends to be more fluid and the hierarchy more relaxed. Many women have also become breadwinners out of necessity, and women’s rights in the country are of the most progressive in the world.


3.2 Religion

Young Man with Bible on His Lap Praying in Church

The South African Constitution, globally considered one of the most progressive and liberal constitutions, guarantees everyone the freedom to practice any religion.

Christianity is our country’s main religion, with the three top denominations being the Protestant Dutch Reformed Church, the Zion Christian Churches, and the Catholic Church.

Other religions include Islam, Hinduism, African Traditional Religion, and Judaism. In the last national census that included religion, approximately five million South Africans described themselves as “non-religious,” and over three million stated no religious affiliation.

Those Afrikaners who are religious tend to be Christian, and their faith often has great prominence in their lives.

3.3 Social & Work

Mixed Ethnicity Young People Having A Good Time

Afrikaners have a distinct basic temperament that underpins all their behavior. Drawing on their inherited Dutch heritage, this collective character tends to be pragmatic with a down-to-earth, courageous approach to life. Sometimes this approach comes across as blunt, or even tactless—no pussyfooting for this lot! 

Almost paradoxically, Afrikaners are also kindhearted, generous, accepting, and community-builders. Especially in rural areas, we take care of one another and often participate in charitable community work. The plight of children, in particular, gets a lot of attention in the non-profit sector. 

 Our British heritage ensures that, while socially polite and welcoming, we are private and take time to warm up to strangers. When you become part of our circle, however, you’ve made friends for life (and some very loyal ones, too!).

South African culture in the workplace is defined by Afrikaners’ willingness to pull their weight. That colleague always leaving the office last on a Friday afternoon? Probably an Afrikaner. Most are known to be reliable, loyal, and hard workers, and we value the same in employers and employees alike.


3.4 Art

Pablo Picasso famously said: “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” 

Art is “untrue” in that it is simply an image of the world, and not the world itself. Yet, like a mirror, it does reflect our world accurately and truthfully back to us. Some South African artists give a voice to what urgently needs fixing in their communities or personal lives, while others showcase the ideal and our country’s beauty.

– Painters and Sculptors

One such artist is Afrikaans-speaking painter and sculptor Willie Bester from the Western Cape. He turns items sourced from rubbish dumps, which he sees as symbolic of his community, into messages of hope and love. Some of his pieces also take the form of bleakly beautiful reminders of the still-unredeemed.

From the previous century, Maria Magdalena (Maggie) Laubser was an Impressionist painter and printmaker, also hailing from the Western Cape province. Her artworks, initially criticized, eventually became widely accepted and internationally acknowledged for their often pastoral beauty.

Canvas with Paint, Paint Brushes and Palette

– Music

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer called music the “food of the soul.” He probably didn’t mean elevator music, but even this must touch the soul in an enigmatic way or it wouldn’t exist! 

In Afrikaans culture, music is important. Over the decades, Afrikaans music has evolved to become a platform of political activism, but it tells so much more about us than our political battles. 

Our collective musical oeuvre boasts multiple genres, some of which are rather innovative.

Some Afrikaans rappers are quite controversial. The most prominent is probably one of South Africa’s most famous exports: Die Antwoord. This male and female hip-hop duo were previously married and have a child together. Their musical style was described as revolutionary when they first broke into the hip-hop scene via YouTube in 2010. Their songs’ lyrics, often a mix of English and Afrikaans, are angry, explicit, and vulgar, and their videos are filled with disturbing and dystopian imagery. Reactionary art cannot get more in-your-face than this, so be warned—this is not for the faint-hearted!

Rapping is not renowned for its gentle tunes and lyrics, but that doesn’t mean the genre is always harsh. For instance, Die Happy Song (“The Happy Song”) from renowned Afrikaans Capetonian rapper, Hemelbesem (literally: “Heaven Broom”), really warms the heart. It addresses social issues of very poor communities, but with a hopeful angle.

Opposite on the shock-value spectrum is Spoegwolf (literally: “Spit Wolf”), an alternative rock band that made national music history in 2019 by becoming the first South African artists to reach #1 on the Apple Music Album charts. Don’t let the sometimes-rowdy tunes fool you—the lyrics, which are mostly pure Afrikaans, raise the spirit and nourish the heart while keeping it real.


– Acting and Directing 

South Africa has produced a good number of Hollywood screen-successes over the years. Some notable names include Charlize Theron, Trevor Noah, and Lesley-Ann Brandt, all of whom speak fluent Afrikaans!

Gorgeous ex-model Lesley-Ann Brandt boasts an impressive on-screen repertoire, including roles in big productions like the TV series Spartacus. This former Capetonian’s most famous performance so far was as Mazikeen, a feisty demon-with-a-heart in the hugely popular FOX TV series Lucifer.

Retro Movie Reel

An actress-producer who needs no introduction is Academy Award-winning Charlize Theron, originally hailing from Benoni, Gauteng province. This versatile artist is as comfortable in action-hero gear as she is in serious character roles. In 2003, she won the Best Actress Oscar for portraying the U.S. serial killer Eileen Wuornos in Monster, and she was nominated for another one for her role in North Country (2005). She also owns a production company and is currently one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses.

Primetime Emmy Award-winner Trevor Noah is another internationally renowned South African export. Originally from a very poor community near Johannesburg, Trevor beat the odds and rose to fame for his remarkable talents as a satirist and comedian. He was performing to full-house international audiences long before he took over as host on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show in 2015, a position he still held at the time of this writing.

Also worth mentioning are two former South African directors, Gavin Hood (Academy Award-winner) and Neill Blomkamp (Academy Award nominee). Gavin gained fame for directing the movie Tsotsi, based on the novel with the same title by S.A. playwright, Athol Fugard. In 2005, this film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for a Golden Globe the following year. 

In 2009, Neill directed the critically acclaimed sci-fi film District 9, an adaptation of his earlier short film Alive in Joburg. The film was nominated for the Academy Award Best Picture in 2010.

– Literature

Afrikaans is an expressive, deeply emotional language that can really stir the heart. If your aim is to learn a people’s true spirit, mastering their language and reading their literature is one of the best ways to do so.

South Africa boasts two Nobel Prize-winning English authors. But we also like to brag about our other internationally acclaimed authors who write (or wrote) mostly in Afrikaans.

Bookshop with Bestseller Stand in the Foreground

Some notable wordsmiths include:

  • Deon Meyer, an ex-journalist who is making it huge as a fiction writer with his politically based thrillers. His work has been translated into many other languages and provided the fodder for at least one movie and a TV series.
  • Marita Van Der Vyver, also an ex-reporter, first wrote books for young adults before winning several awards for her first adult novel, Griet skryf ‘n sprokie (“Griet Writes a Fairy Tale”).
  • Ronelda Kamfer is a young poet from Cape Town who has already won several prestigious national awards for her work.
  • Adam Small was a 20th- and 21st-century political activist, writer, and poet whose work beautifully and poignantly captured the Colored people’s struggle for democracy. Also having won prestigious awards, Small’s work has been translated into 20 different languages, and even posthumously this writer has a cult following. 

If you’re a serious student of Afrikaans, make reading Afrikaans literature your aim! And allow AfrikaansPod101 to help you get there, starting with the Afrikaans alphabet, of course.

3.5 Food

A Selection of Foods including Nuts, Eggs, and Fish

Eating is a universally wonderful activity that unites communities. South Africans love to gather outdoors (we have a fantastic climate for this) and around a fire. South African cuisine is exceptionally diverse—we’re not called the Rainbow Nation for nothing! 

Of particular interest is the South African-made sweet liquor concoction called Amarula Don Pedro

Don Pedro cocktails allegedly hail from Blouberg Strand (“Blue Mountain Beach”), Cape Town. They were first mixed in the 70s, by chef Danny Ferris of the Bellinzona restaurant. Legend has it that Danny was inspired by a Scottish whiskey maker during a trip to Scotland, who added a shot to ice cream as part of a whiskey-tasting demonstration. Most South Africans know and love Don Pedro cocktails, especially for dessert. The recipe involves a decadent mix of whiskey, double cream, and ice cream. In recent years, whiskey is sometimes replaced with locally brewed Amarula, a creamy dessert liquor.

South African culture and food go hand in hand, so let’s have a look at a few more signature dishes:

  • Braais (“Barbeques” – Nope, it’s not quite the same!)
  • Bobotie (A Malay-based curried mince dish.)
  • Boerewors (Literally: “farmers sausage” – a traditional South African sausage we love to barbeque.)
  • Biltong en droë wors (Droë wors = “dried sausage.” English approximate for biltong = “jerky beef.” However, we make biltong with beef, game, or ostrich meat. Fish biltong is called bokkoms.)
  • Koeksisters or koesisters (Literally: “cake sisters” – a confectionary of deep-fried dough that’s sometimes braided, dipped in sweet syrup.) 
  • Malvapoeding (Literally: “marshmallow dessert” – somewhat similar to the beloved British sticky toffee pudding, but some say it’s better.)
  • Melktert (Literally: “milk tart” – a creamy cinnamon pastry or confection, very similar to the British custard pie or the Portuguese pastéis de nata = “cream puffs”.)
  • Pannekoek (Literally: “pancake” – similar to the French crêpe, but usually served with cinnamon-sugar and a dash of lemon juice.)
  • Potjiekos (Literally: “little-pot food” – similar to stew, but different.)


4. Traditional Holidays

What a country’s people commemorate says a lot about their culture. As is the case with most developing countries in the world, South African history and culture are darkly dappled, marked with both glorious victories and horrible battles lost. However, we still love to commemorate how strong we are and how far we’ve come.


Beautiful African Woman in Traditional Gear.

5. Immerse Yourself in South African Culture with AfrikaansPod101!

We take pride in presenting you with culturally relevant, up-to-date Afrikaans lessons with many free resources.

These include:

Choose the enrollment option that best suits your needs and join us immediately for a language learning experience like no other! 

About the author: Christa Davel is an experienced bilingual (Afrikaans and English) freelance writer and editor, and is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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The Best South African Foods (With Recipes To Try!)

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Food, food, food—who doesn’t love it?

Eating not only sustains us, but it’s also one of the most pleasant and gratifying sensory experiences we can engage in. No wonder enjoying meals together is a favorite occasion around the world. 

South Africans are no different, of course. Our cuisine is diverse and we love getting together to eat, drink, and enjoy each other’s company. So, join us now for a wonderfully tasty investigation into South African foods!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Why Should You Know About South African Foods?
  2. South African Foods
  3. Typical But Lesser-Known Afrikaans Foods
  4. Afrikaans Food Vocabulary & Phrases
  5. Get Cooking in Afrikaans with AfrikaansPod101!

1. Why Should You Know About South African Foods?

Traveling, working, or planning to stay? After learning our language, few things would prepare you better for this adventure than getting to know our country’s people! This needn’t be a difficult task—studying our cuisine, for instance, can be helpful. It certainly depicts something about our collective identity and temperament.

    A. South African food is just as diverse as the country’s people. We house more than eleven nationalities in our Rainbow Country, which makes for a smorgasbord of variety. Never a dull moment!
    B. Our food also tends to be exceptionally rich in flavor, and sometimes very spicy. Some of the Malay- and Indian-influenced dishes, in particular, are not afraid to burn! Are we a “spicy” lot as a people? Well, looking at our history, we probably are. However, it’s also noticeable that, in our relatively short history, South Africans have never had it easy. At any given time, a part of the population was suffering some gruelling hardship or another, and today the country is still in the process of fixing that. Our history caused us to be tenacious, strong-willed, and highly opinionated. This means that we sometimes polarize. Our cuisine reflects this!
    C. That said, we’re not a bunch of fire-eaters at heart. Despite our occasional wildness, we ultimately prefer temperate to terrible. Looking at South Africa’s political history, for instance, it’s clear that we tend to avoid cataclysmic, all-destructive revolutions (sometimes just barely, but still!). Perhaps, due to the inhumane Boer wars with their concentration camps as well as British Field Marshal Kitchener’s ‘scorched-earth policy,’ we collectively abhor utter destruction. Our democracy and rectification of social injustices are still works in progress, but we’ve always been able to avoid becoming a truly demolished nation. So, while often strong and adventurous, our cuisine is not a difficult taste to acquire. You’re guaranteed to be won over by most of the flavors and textures—just as you will be by the country’s people!
    D. Need an easy conversation-starter with your Afrikaans friends? Well, South African food is it. Especially if you’ve tried some of our dishes and can praise their excellence, you will win over many a host’s heart with sincere compliments. Read on til the end for vocab and phrases that will impress your Afrikaans friends (or your AfrikaansPod101 tutor!).

As mentioned, South African cuisine is marked by its vast variety of influences. This is due to the many nationalities that have found their home in our country over the centuries. However, we won’t try to cover every culinary influence in this article; rather, we’ll focus on the main staples and a few lesser-known Afrikaans dishes.

2. South African Foods

Each population group’s cuisine has its distinct flavors and delicacies. Over time, many of these have cross-pollinated to become collective property.

The pre-colonial South African diet was mainly characterized by cooked grains, fermented milk, and stewed meat, supplemented by vegetables and fruit. These dietary trends have not disappeared and still form the base of countless South African recipes. Yet, one thing is sure: any South African foods list would be remiss if it omitted braaivleis (“barbeque meat”) and grain-based pap (“porridge”)!

A Group of People Having a Braai or Barbeque

Suid Afrikaners is lief vir braai! (“South Africans love barbequing!”)

Braai-ing (“barbequing”) doesn’t need any introduction, as it’s a common cooking method worldwide and is discussed on nearly every website dealing with South African foods. Not to downplay its significance, though! For us, to braai together is as much a social custom as it is a way to prepare food. Read about the history, rituals, and paraphernalia of the Afrikaner barbeque on Wikipedia’s informative page

Our braaivleis (“barbeque meat”) is almost always accompanied by pap and gravy or tomato relish, but that’s not the only way we enjoy it.

2.1 Pap (“Porridge” / “Grits”)

Very similar to American grits, the well-loved South African food pap still graces many tables in a great variety of dishes. Made of maize meal (or cornmeal), it’s usually white in color with a stiff and fluffy (or runny and soft) texture, and it’s a satisfying accompaniment to…well, almost any food. 

South Africans love pap. We have it…

  • …with sugar, milk, and a small lump of butter for breakfast.
  • …as a fermented drink popularly called mageu.
  • …in a delectable, enigmatic paptert (“porridge pie”), another braai side dish.
  • …as an accompaniment to kaiings (leftover pork-meat or sheep’s tail fried until crispy—to die for!).

Yes, pap is quite versatile in its utility. And these are only a few of the recipes we’ve created over the centuries!

A Glass of Milk

Thick, fermented drink being poured in a glass

Pap Recipes

Want to make this simple South African dish at home? 

Watch slick food vlogger Funi teach the ins and outs of cooking this traditional, authentically South African food. 

Also consider this easy recipe for a deliciously cheesy paptert, which is often a serious rival for the meat at braais! It’s not only moreish, but also very filling—so try to keep those portions small. 

Or try out this recipe for an uncommon but tasty and attractive treat: the spicy pap bake. Replace the tinned chakalaka relish (another traditional South African food) by making your own. Siba Mtongana is the queen of chakalaka with this recipe, but it’s best to omit the tinned baked beans for the pap bake recipe. Warning: This is a pretty spicy dish! Obviously, you can adapt the spices to taste.

But hey, we’re not done with maize yet! Read on for another creative use of this vegetable under the Typical Afrikaans Dishes heading below. Next, though, is another traditional, wildly popular South African food that nearly every culture in the country has adopted and adapted: potjiekos (literally, “small-pot food”).

2.2 Potjiekos (“Small-Pot Food”)

South Africans love to gather around a fire for social meetings. And when we’re not braai-ing (“barbequing”), we make a potjie. To qualify as authentic potjiekos, this dish must comply with four rules: 

  • it must be prepared in a cast iron pot;
  • it must be cooked on the glowing embers of an outside fire; 
  • it only gets stirred right before serving; and
  • it usually takes a loooong time to cook (we’re talking hours here!).

A Pot beside A Fire

‘n Potjie op die kole (“a little pot on the embers”)

As to what you want to cook in that pot—it’s entirely up to you! As said, different cultures have appropriated this cooking method; in some rural communities, this is how meals are prepared every day.

Over the years, some very outlandish potjies have seen the light of day, but the traditional ones are meat-and-veg dishes. And none can beat them!

Potjie Recipes

Potjiekos is a versatile dish, but it’s especially superb for cooking traditionally tough meats. The meat in these recipes will not only melt in your mouth, but also be juicier than you’ve ever enjoyed it.

For the basics on how to properly cook potjiekos, visit the informative Taste of Africa site. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the method—preparing food like this is an art! Still, we recommend you give it a try as this dish will likely steal your heart. 

Wow your large family with this traditional lamb potjie in a tomato base. Slowly cooking the meat brings out its natural flavor and sweetness, which is deliciously conferred to the rest of the ingredients. Even the most stubborn, anti-vegetable carnivores are guaranteed to gobble up the veggies! The lamb can be replaced with mutton, but the meat’s cooking time will likely be longer.

Indian cuisine exerts a large influence on South African foods, as over a million Indians have made South Africa their home. That’s why we think you should consider this Indian-style recipe for a chicken curry potjie. Cooking this way allows for optimal development of all the flavors from the fragrant Indian spices. But this isn’t the only thing behind this dish’s seductive powers. Cooking in cast iron pots lends the ingredients a unique and recognizable flavor—you may never want to eat chicken any other way again!

Lots of Spices

speserye om by ‘n potjie te voeg (“spices that can be added to a potjie“)

For an unusual pairing of seafood and chicken, consider this Surf and Turf potjie. The dish is prepared with rice already added and makes for a complete and devastatingly flavorsome meal.

Remember the outlandish versions we mentioned? Well, the following recipe is definitely so for traditional potjie-lovers, who are all carnivorous. Yet we added it to this recipe list because it’s guaranteed that vegetables have never tasted this good. Try local braai-master Jan Scannel’s vegetarian curry potjie to enchant your taste buds.

A Spicy Dish being Cook

tradisionele potjiekos (“traditional potjiekos“)

Since this site is about Afrikaans, let’s now look at a few dishes the Afrikaners love in particular. We’re big on pap and potjiekos, of course, but the following dishes are unique to Afrikaner tables.

3. Typical But Lesser-Known Afrikaans Foods

Searching the Internet for Afrikaans foods draws up many lists that tend to comprise the same fare. Glance here, for instance, to get a pretty comprehensive list of South African foods. But there are plenty of traditional South African dishes that are rarely heard of outside the country. For example, a dish that’s not often mentioned but still commonly loved is melkkos (“milk food”).

3.1 Melkkos (“Milk Food”)

Melkkos is said to have developed from a thick Malaysian drink called bubur lambuk (“special porridge”), which is traditionally enjoyed to break the Islam fasting month of Ramadan. The Cape-Malays call the drink “boeber.” Traditionally made with sago, vermicelli, and sugar, it’s flavored with cardamom, cinnamon, and rose water. Similar drinks and puddings are popular around Asian and African countries, India, and other regions.

Melkkos

Geur melkkos met kaneelsuiker. (“Flavor melkkos with cinnamon sugar.”)

In Afrikaner homes, though, this dish is prepared a lot more simply. Melkkos is a hugely comforting and satisfyingly sweet, creamy porridge without any religious significance. Originally served as a dessert or pudding by the Afrikaner Boere (“Farmers”), it later became a meal in its own right. Kids adore it, and it’s relatively quick and easy to make.

Melkkos’ taste and creamy texture is very similar to the well-known (and beloved!) melktert (“milk tart”). Melktert, however, is not runny, is usually served cold, and tends to be much sweeter than melkkos. It’s also served as a dessert or tea-accompaniment rather than a meal.

This is an easy melkkos recipe you can make at home, just as it’s made and served in most Afrikaans homes. Adjust the amount of sugar and cinnamon to taste.

The next item on our South African food list is a very popular and commonly enjoyed Afrikaans tea with some superhero health properties.

3.2 Rooibostee (“Red Bush Tea”)

Fynbos or “fine bush” is a vegetation unique to South Africa, found mostly in the Western and Eastern Cape regions. Fynbos has a large degree of biodiversity, with rooibos (“red bush”) being a member of one of its plant families.

Rooibos leaves are used to make an herbal tea characterized by a beautiful red color (hence the name), and a distinct, sweet flavor. 

We love this beverage not only for its tastiness, but also because it’s very healthy. In fact, few things soothe colic-y and allergic babies as well as black rooibostee (“red bush tea”)! It’s high in antioxidants and there’s even evidence that it’s good for heart health (though more clinical study is needed).

Red Bush Tea

Rooibos tea leaves

Rooibostee is prepared like any other tea, by steeping it in just-boiled water for a few minutes. It’s taken with or without milk and sugar or honey and lemon.

However, it’s also a firm winner as an iced tea! Look, for instance, at this recipe with spices and fruit juice, ingredients which add to the tea’s health properties. Kids love its smooth, sweet taste and it’s certainly a perfect replacement for sugar-loaded fizzy drinks. Experiment by adding fresh herbs (mint is a favorite) or fruit (such as apples) to a pot of hot rooibostee. Let it cool down, refrigerate, and enjoy!

Rooibostee is also used to flavor food and it’s become a gourmet favorite of late. For very healthy snacks, for instance, try this delicious rooibos gummy recipe. Or change breakfast forever with this rich but super-healthy overnight rooibos and yoghurt chia porridge.

But that’s not all, folks! Your skin loves this tea, too. Rooibos extract forms the basis of a popular local skincare product that caters especially for sensitive skin. However, you can make your own rooibos toner in a jiffy! Brew some as usual and allow it to cool down, decant it into a clean container, and there you have it: soothing, brightening skin toner for daily use. Keep it in the fridge and prepare a fresh batch every week.

A Smiling Woman

Hou jou vel gesond met rooibostee. (“Keep your skin healthy with rooibostee.”)

Rooibostee is particularly excellent for soothing acne and brightening a dull complexion. If the toner forms a reddish film when dry, just rinse your face with water before moisturizing. 

Do you have raccoon-eyes due to stress or after a too-long night? No problem! Soak two cotton pads with the refrigerated tea, squeeze out any excess, and place them on your closed eyelids for a few minutes. You won’t believe the difference! 

Another of the tea’s uncommon uses is making rooibos wine. Here, its wood replaces oakwood during the maturation process of the wine. It gives red wines a very unique, but distinctly rooibos, flavor.

3.3 Soet Mieliebrood / “Sweet Cornbread”

Nope, we haven’t forgotten the promised maize/corn recipe! 

Us Afrikaners love our regular family dinners as well as watching major sports events together, and this almost always calls for a braai (“barbeque”). Rugby or football matches mysteriously seem much enhanced by braaivleis (“barbeque meat”) and this bread! A staple of authentic South African cuisine, it’s definitely for the sweet-toothed and makes an extremely popular pre-meal snack to soak up the (inevitable) alcohol in the stomach.

Soet mieliebrood (“sweet cornbread”) is close, but not 100% similar, to its American cousin with the same name.

Many other South African cultures have appropriated this easy bread recipe. This particular one is for baking in the oven, but seasoned braai-chefs love to bake it directly on the coals.

Corn

 Corn on the cob

4. Afrikaans Food Vocabulary & Phrases

Now that you’re good and hungry for the must-try South African foods we covered, it’s time to take the next step. The following vocab and phrases will enhance your Afrikaans delivery in restaurants and at parties. 

4.1 South African Food Vocabulary

  1. bobotie
  2. biltong (approximate: “beef jerky” – dried beef)
  3. beskuit (“rusks”)
  4. boerewors (literally: “Boere sausage”)
  5. frikkadelle (“meat balls”)
  6. hoenderpastei (“chicken pie”)
  7. koeksisters (literally: “cake sisters” – sweet, syrupy pastries)
  8. malvapoeding (literally: “marshmallow pudding” – cake-like dessert with sweet sauce)
  9. pampoenkoekies (“pumpkin fritters”)
  10. skilpadjies (literally: “small tortoises” – minced lamb’s liver wrapped in caul fat, barbequed)

4.2 South African Food Phrases

Waiter Offering Something to a Couple in a Restaurant

in die restaurant (“in the restaurant”)

4.2.1 In the restaurant

  • Mag ek die spyskaart sien, asseblief? (“May I see the menu, please?”)
  • Het julle ‘n wynlys? (“Do you have a wine list?”)
  • Wat kan jy aanbeveel? / Wat stel jy voor? (“What do you recommend?”)
  • Ek verkies vegetariese kos. (“I prefer vegetarian food.”) 
  • Brand hierdie baie erg? (“Does this burn a lot?” / “Is this very spicy?”)
  • Watter dis is julle spesialiteit? (“Which dish is your specialty?”)
  • Wat is julle spesiale dis vir vandag? (“What is your special dish of the day?”)
  • Ek sal die wildsvleis probeer. (“I will try the game meat.”)
  • Ek wil hierdie een hê, asseblief. (“I want this one, please.”)
  • Kan ons apart betaal, asseblief? (“Could we pay separately, please?”)

4.2.2 At a party or private dinner

  • Hierdie dis is fantasties! (“This dish is fantastic!”)
  • Die slaaisous is heerlik. (“The salad dressing is delicious.”)
  • Het jy koljander hier bygevoeg? (“Did you add coriander to this?”)
  • Mag ek die sout kry, asseblief? (“May I have the salt, please?”)
  • Ek sal die Merlot neem, dankie. (“I will have the Merlot, thank you.”)
  • Nie vir my nie, dankie; ek bestuur. (“Not for me, thank you; I’m driving.”)
  • Mag ek nog kry, asseblief? (“May I have more, please?”)
  • Jy kan maar skep, ek is mal hieroor! (“You can dish up [a lot], I am crazy about this!”)
  • Komplimente aan die kok! (“Compliments to the chef!”)
  • Die maaltyd was werklik besonders, baie dankie. (“The meal was truly remarkable, thank you very much.”)

Supplement these with this list of Afrikaans compliments!

5. Get Cooking in Afrikaans with AfrikaansPod101!

We hope you’re salivating after reading this blog post. What do you think would be your favorite South African food? Or have you had the pleasure of tasting some traditional dishes already? Let us know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this article, consider signing up immediately to learn about much more than just South African cuisine. 

With over a decade of experience, we draw on our expert knowledge of online language learning techniques to offer you a unique learning space. Thousands of Afrikaans lessons are available at your fingertips, with free resources such as apps for Android, iPhone, iPad, and Kindle Fire

With AfrikaansPod101, you can also create your own collection of vocab lists, learn the Afrikaans alphabet, and so much more!

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Don’t hesitate—enroll now!

About the author: Christa Davel is a bilingual (Afrikaans and English) freelance writer and journalist, and is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Your Easy Guide to Understanding Afrikaans Grammar

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Before we delve into this Afrikaans grammar guide, let’s get this out of our systems: Grammar in any language is a strange bird. Look at this joke in English, for instance:

Question: What is the longest sentence in the English language? 
Answer: “I do.”

Did you get it? If you didn’t and you’re an AfrikaansPod101 Premium PLUS student already, why not ask your tutor?

Male Hands in Handcuffs

If you’re not a member (or a punster), let me explain. “Sentence” means two things in English. This is how the online dictionary defines it:

A “sentence” is:

1. a set of words in most languages that is complete in itself, usually containing a subject and a clause that states something about the subject (A clause is a phrase or a part of a sentence.)

2. the punishment assigned to a defendant found guilty by a court, or fixed by law for a specific offence

Punning is the art of using an alternate meaning of a word in a comical way. This joke would not be funny if you didn’t know the second meaning of “sentence.”

But that’s not all—context is important too. So how does “I do” relate to a long prison sentence? Well, it’s simple, because there’s only one place where you would commonly use those words in relation to a lengthy commitment. Fortunately not for all, but for some, that’s marriage!

Male and Female Hands Together, Showing Wedding Bands

Yes, it’s not simple. Some students compare grammar to math and music studies—quite complex! So, for your convenience, we’ve compiled this free online Afrikaans language grammar guide. Study these principles thoroughly and you will get well ahead on your journey to learn Afrikaans.

Context can only be understood if you know a country’s culture and language well. For this, you’ll need to have the basics of the language’s grammar under your belt! 

The grammar of most languages can be subdivided and explained under two headings: lexicology and syntax.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Afrikaans Grammar: “Lexicology” / Woordleer
  2. Afrikaans Grammar: “Syntax” / Sintaksis
  3. AfrikaansPod101 – Your Excellent Afrikaans Grammar Companion!

1. Afrikaans Grammar: “Lexicology” / Woordleer 

Afrikaans is a West-Germanic language, very closely related to Dutch. These are the basics of its lexicological complexities.

1.1 “NOUN” / NAAMWOORD

DefinitionJust like in English, a naamwoord most often indicates something you can perceive with any one of your senses. These also include abstract things.
How to IdentifyTo spot a noun, ask the following questions:

a) Can I use it with an article, or lidwoord, such as ‘n (“a”) or die (“the”)? 

b) Does it have a plural form?

c) Can I turn it into a diminutive?

If you answer yes to these questions, then it’s a noun!
ExamplesJust like English nouns, Afrikaans nouns decline for number. Different from English, they also inflect for diminutives.

‘n rok / “a dress”
‘n rokkie / “a little dress”
die rokke / “the dresses”
Main Sub-categories
  • Soortnaam / “Appellative” or “Common/concrete noun”

    These are things you can count, such as: stoel (“chair”), Arabier (“Arab”),  waterdruppels (“water drops”), motorkar (“motor car”).

  • Abstrakte naamwoord / “Abstract noun”

    These include abstract things you cannot touch, such as: liefde (“love”), gedagte (“thought”), ideologie (“ideology”).

  • Massanaam / “Uncountable/mass noun”

    These are things you cannot count, such as: goud (“gold”), water (“water”), musiek (“music”), or hout (“wood”).

  • Maatnaam / “Noun of measurement”

    These are words that indicate the measured amount of a mass noun, such as: kilogram goud (“kilogram gold”), druppel water (“drop of water”), sakvol hout (“bagful of wood”).

  • Eienaam / “Proper noun”

    An eienaam can be the name of a specific person, place, publication, organization, brand, and so forth. These sometimes don’t take plural forms, and they can be categorized as: persoonsnaam (“personal names”), pleknaam (“name of a place”), organisasienaam (“name of an organization”), and so on.

  • Kollektiewe selfstandige naamwoord / “Collective noun”

    These nouns represent groups, such as: gehoor (“audience”), koor (“choir”), span (“team”).

  • Saamgestelde selfstandige naamwoord / “Compound noun”

    These are made up of two or more nouns, such as: waterbottel (“water bottle”), seekos (“seafood”), roomys (“ice cream”).

  • Werkwoordelike selfstandige naamwoord / “Verbal noun” 

    These nouns are derived from verbs, such as: die besluit (“the decision”), ‘n aanval (“an attack”), ‘n gebou (“a building”).

Water Droplets on Wood

WATERDRUPPELS OP HOUT (“WATER DROPS ON WOOD”)

1.2 “VERB” / WERKWOORD

DefinitionVerbs usually depict some sort of action, including abstract actions.
How to IdentifyTo identify a verb, ask the following questions:

a) Can I use a pronoun, such as “he,” “she,” or “we” (hy, sy, or ons), in front of it? Or, in other words, can someone or something perform this action?

b) Can it take a past tense form?
ExamplesAfrikaans verbs conjugate for tense, mood, and voice, but not for noun, pronoun, or number. So, we don’t worry about subject-verb agreement in Afrikaans. 

Here, we’ll discuss only the basics of tense conjugation. For more details, take a look at this article: All About Verb Conjugation in Afrikaans.
    Present Tense: Unlike English verbs, Afrikaans verbs conjugate exactly the same way for every pronoun and number in the present tense.

    Examples:
    Hy / Sy vlieg. (“He / She flies.”)
    Ons lag. (“We laugh.”)
    Julle bly. (“You stay/remain.”)
    Die honde blaf. (“The dogs bark.”)
    Past Tense: Afrikaans verbs typically conjugate with an auxiliary verb of time: het (“have” / “has”), which is used in front of a deelwoord (“past participle”). The latter is formed by adding the prefix ge- to the infinitive verb. Again, this conjugation remains the same for all of the pronouns.

    Examples:
    Hy / Sy het gevlieg. (“He / She flew.”) OR (“He / She has flown.”)
    Ons het gelag. (“We laughed.”) OR (“We have laughed.”)
    Julle het gebly. (“You stayed/remained.”) OR (“You have stayed/remained.”)
    Die honde het geblaf. (“The dogs barked.”) OR (“The dogs have barked.”)

    Future Tense: For the future tense, the auxiliary verb of modality (also called a modal verb) sal is used the same way as “will” (i.e., with the infinitive verb).

    Examples:
    Hy / Sy sal vlieg. (“He / She will fly.”)
    Ons sal lag. (“We will laugh.”)
    Julle sal bly. (“You will stay/remain.”)
    Die honde sal blaf. (“The dogs will/would bark.”)
    Historic Present Tense: This tense is sometimes used to describe something that happened in the past, but the verb remains in the present tense. Then we use the word toe (approximate: “when”).

    Example:
    Toe ek opstaan, glimlag hy vir my. (Lit. “When I stand up, he smiles at me.”) 

    It would not be incorrect to change it to the past tense, though.
Main Sub-categories
  • Oorganklike hoofwerkwoord / “Transitive main verb” 

    These verbs are identified when there is an object in the sentence. 

    Example:
    Hy drink koffie. (“He drinks coffee”). 
    “Coffee” is the object.

  • Onoorganklike hoofwerkwoord / “Intransitive main verb”

    These verbs are identified when there’s no object in the sentence. 

    Example:
    Ons slaap. (“We sleep.”)
    Sy lag spontaan. (“She laughs spontaneously.”) 

    Note: spontaan (“spontaneously”) is an adverb.

  • Hulpwerkwoorde / Lit: “Helping Verbs”

    These include two types of auxiliary verbs: the auxiliary verb of time het (“has”) and auxiliary words of modality, or modale hulpwerkwoorde. The latter category includes: sal, wil, moet, and probeer (“shall,” “will,” “must,” and “try”). 

    Example:
      Present: Die honde probeer blaf. (“The dogs try to bark.”)
      Past: Sy het gevlieg. (“She flew.”) / Ons het gelag. (“We laughed.”).
        ♦ Note: het is an auxiliary verb of time.
      Future: Julle sal bly. (Lit.: “You shall stay.”)
        ♦ Note: sal is not considered an auxiliary verb of time, but rather one of modality.

  • Koppelwerkwoorde / “Linking Verbs 1”

    In Afrikaans, we differentiate between two types of linking verbs. 

    Koppelwerkwoorde link the subject to a quality. Again, these remain unchanged for every pronoun and number. 

    Example:
      Present: Sy is mooi. (“She is pretty.”) / Ons is moeg. / (“We are tired.”)
      Past: Sy was mooi. (“She was pretty.”) / Ons was moeg gewees. (“We were tired.”)
        ♦ Note: gewees can be omitted for the past tense.
      Future: Sy sal mooi wees. (“She will be pretty.”) / Ons sal moeg wees. (“We will be tired.”)
        ♦ Note: the auxiliary verb wees is never omitted for the future tense.

  • Skakelwerkwoorde / “Linking Verbs 2”

    The second type of linking verb usually links auxiliary verbs with main verbs.

    Example:
      Past: Sy het net gelag. (“She just laughed.”)
      Future: Julle sal kom bly. (Lit.: “You will come stay.”)

A Woman Laughing

SY HET NET GELAG (“SHE JUST LAUGHED”)

1.3 “ADJECTIVE” / BYVOEGLIKE NAAMWOORD or ADJEKTIEF

DefinitionThese types of words modify or describe nouns.
How to IdentifyTo identify an adjective, ask the following questions:

a) Can I use the word in front of a noun?

b) Will it still say something about the noun if I use it after a linking verb (koppelwerkwoord)?

c) Does the word have degrees of comparison?
Examples1. In front of a noun: ‘n Gelukkige man (“a happy man”) / ‘n Opgewonde kind (“an excited child”)

2. After a linking verb / koppelwerkwoord: Hy is gelukkig. (“He is happy.”) / Die kind is opgewonde. (“The child is excited.”)

3. Degrees of comparison: Gelukkig, gelukkiger, gelukkigste (“Happy, happier, happiest”) / Opgewonde, meer opgewonde, die mees opgewonde (“Excited, more excited, the most excited”)
Main Sub-categoriesLike in English, there are two types of adjectives. The classification is based on their position in a sentence relative to the noun.
  • Attributief / “Attributive” – The attributiewe byvoeglike naamwoord (“attributive adjective”) stands in front of the noun.

    Example:
      Die mooi vrou (“The pretty woman”)

  • Predikatief / “Predicative” – Usually, the predikatiewe byvoeglike naamwoord (“predicative adjective”) stands after the koppelwerkwoord (“linking verb”).

    Example:
      Die vrou is gelukkig. (“The woman is happy.”)
Of course, you can use both types in the same sentence: Die mooi vrou is gelukkig. (“The pretty woman is happy.”)

Pretty Woman Laughing

DIE MOOI VROU IS GELUKKIG. (“THE PRETTY WOMAN IS HAPPY”)

1.4 “ADVERB” / BYWOORD

DefinitionThe adverb describes the verb or verbal clause in a sentence.
How to IdentifyWhich word says something about what happens or what is being done? The adverb should answer questions such as, “How?” “When?” “Where?” or “How much?”

Some adverbs have degrees of comparison.
Examples
  • Ons baklei nooit. (“We never fight.”)
  • Die kinders speel buite. (“The children play outside.”)
  • Sy ma is baie oud. (“His mom is very old.”)
Main Sub-categoriesAs you probably noticed in the examples, there are several types of adverbs. Following are the four main categories:
  • Bywoorde van tyd / “Adverbs of time”
    • gister, vandag, more (“yesterday,” “today,” “tomorrow”)
    • Example: Jou pakkie kom vandag. (Lit.: “Your parcel arrives today.”)

  • Bywoorde van plek / “Adverbs of place”
    • daar, hier (“there,” “here”)
    • Example: Die potplant staan hier. (“The potted plant stands here.”)

  • Bywoorde van graad / “Adverbs of degree”
    • ver, lank, werklik, baie (“far,” “long,” “really,” “very”)
    • Example: Die pad was lank. (“The road was long.”)

  • Bywoorde van wyse / “Adverbs of manner”
    • vinnig, stadig, hoog, hard (“fast,” “slow,” “high,” “hard”)
    • Example: Sy werk hard. (“She is working hard.”)

Tarred Road with Mountain on Background

DIE PAD WAS LANK. (“THE ROAD WAS LONG”)

1.5 “PRONOUN” / VOORNAAMWOORD

DefinitionA pronoun is a word that acts as a replacement for a noun in a sentence.
How to IdentifyAsk this question:

Can the word stand in place of the noun? In other words, does it refer to a person or a thing?
Examplesek, jy, hy, ons, dit, niemand, wie, hierdie, daardie (“I,” “you,” “he,” “we/us,” “it,” “nobody,” “who,” “this,” “that”)
Main Sub-categories
  • Persoonlike voornaamwoorde / “Personal pronouns”
    • Hy, sy, julle, ons (“he,” “she,” “you [plural],” “we”)
    • Example: Hy eet. (“He eats.”)

  • Onpersoonlike voornaamwoord / “Impersonal pronoun”
    • dit (“it”)
    • Example: Dit staan in die straat. (“It is standing in the street.”)

  • Besitlike voornaamwoorde / “Possessive pronouns”
    • Syne, hare, joune (“his,” “hers,” “yours”)
    • Example: Die tas is syne. (“The suitcase is his.”)

  • Vraende voornaamwoorde / “Interrogative pronouns”
    • Wie, wat, waar, wanneer (“who,” “what,” “where,” “when”)
    • Example: Wie is hierdie? (“Who is this?”)

  • Aanwysende voornaamwoorde / “Demonstrative pronouns”
    • Hierdie/dié, daardie (“this,” “that”). These function as determiners of the nouns.
    • Example: Hierdie is lekker. (“This is tasty.”)

  • Onbepaalde voornaamwoorde / “Indefinite pronouns”
    • Niemand, menige (“nobody,” “many”)
    • Example: Menige het opgedaag. (“Many came.”)

  • Betreklike voornaamwoord / “Relative pronouns”
    • Wie se, wie, wat (“whose,” “who,” “that”)
    • Example: Die vliegtuig wat nou opstyg is groot. (“The plane that is taking off now is large.”)

  • Wederkerige voornaamwoorde / “Intensive pronouns”
    • Myself, jouself, onsself (“myself,” “yourself,” “ourselves”)
    • Example: Jy vergeet van jouself op die verhoog. (“You forget yourself on stage.”)
    • Note: In sentences with these pronouns, the subject and the object are referring to the same person.

  • Wederkerende voornaamwoord / “Reciprocal pronoun”
    • Mekaar (“each other” / “one another”)
    • Example: Hulle het mekaar lief. (“They love each other.”)
    • Note: In sentences with this pronoun, the subject and the object are not referring to the same person.

A Couple Laughing at a Table

HULLE HET MEKAAR LIEF. (“THEY LOVE EACH OTHER.”)

1.6  “PREPOSITION” / VOORSETSEL

DefinitionPrepositions show a relationship between an object and another element in the sentence. It usually precedes the object of the sentence (which is a noun, a pronoun, or a clause/phrase with either). Prepositions indicate time or location, or introduce an object.
How to IdentifyAsk yourself if you can add an article and/or a noun after a voorsetsel (“preposition”).
Examplesonderaan, langs, agter, by, vir (“underneath,” “next to,” “behind,” “by,” “for”)
Main Sub-categoriesThere are three main types of prepositions.
  • Preposition of Time:
    • teen, voor, na, vandat, vanaf (“by,” “before,” “after,” “since,” “from”)
    • Example: Teen middagete was almal honger. (“By lunchtime everyone was hungry.”).

  • Preposition of Location:
    • op, teen, agter, bo-op, onder, binne in, van (“on,” “against,” “behind,” “on top of,” “under,” “right inside,” “from”). It is usually followed by an article and a noun, except in the case of proper nouns.
    • Example: Hulle is op die strand. (“They are on the beach.”) / Man van Atlantis (“Man from Atlantis”)

  • Preposition Introducing an Object:
    • vir, teenoor (“for/at,” “towards”)
    • Example: Ons lag vir die komediant. (“We laugh at the comedian.”)
Note: A common mistake is to label en (“and”) a preposition. “And” is a conjunction, because it joins words, phrases, and clauses. 

A Rear View of Couple Sitting on Deck Chairs on the Beach

HULLE IS OP DIE STRAND. (“THEY ARE ON THE BEACH.”)

1.7 “ARTICLE” / LIDWOORD

DefinitionArticles are short words that define nouns as nonspecific or specific. They are determiners that modify nouns.
How to IdentifyThere are only two articles in both English and Afrikaans: ‘n (“a”) and die (“the”). 
Examples‘n rekenaar (“a computer”)
die neef (“the cousin”)
Main Sub-categoriesTwo types of articles can be discerned:
  • Bepaalde lidwoord / “Definite article”
    • die (“the”) – This article modifies the noun to indicate only one, specific thing.
    • Example: Koop die rok maar nie die skoene nie. (“Buy the dress but not the shoes.”)

  • Onbepaalde lidwoord / “Indefinite article”
    • ‘n (“a”) – This article modifies the noun to indicate something general and non-specific.
    • Example: Dra ‘n rok, enige rok. (“Wear a dress, any dress.”)

Woman in Long Red Dress

DRA ‘N ROK, ENIGE ROK. (“WEAR A DRESS, ANY DRESS.”)

1.8 “CONJUNCTION” / VOEGWOORD

DefinitionA conjunction links words, phrases, and clauses, or ideas and thoughts—both literally, and in meaning.
How to IdentifyDepending on the conjunction, you could ask yourself this question: 

Can I discern two independent sentences by removing the conjunction?
ExamplesJan slaap terwyl ons werk. (“John sleeps while we work.”)
Patricia en Lukas was by die begrafnis. (“Patricia and Lukas were at the funeral.”)
Main Sub-categoriesUnlike in English, which categorizes conjunctions into three groups, Afrikaans categorizes them into only two groups. Some voegwoorde fall into both categories.

1. Neweskikkende voegwoord / “Coordinating conjunction”

These conjunctions join independent clauses, which are phrases that can function as sentences and still make sense when you remove the conjunctions. These conjunctions include: en, maar, want, of, dog, terwyl (“and,” “but,” “because,” “or,” “yet,” “while”).

Example: Hy slaap en ons werk. (“He sleeps and we work.”)

2. Onderskikkende voegwoord / “Subordinating conjunction”

This type of conjunction only joins dependent clauses. These are clauses that cannot function as a sentence, nor do they make sense when you remove the conjunction. These conjunctions include: hoewel, omdat, terwyl (“however/though,” “because,” “while”).

Example: Terwyl hy slaap, werk. (Lit.: “Though he sleeping was, were we working.”)

Sleeping Man

HY SLAAP EN ONS WERK. (“HE SLEEPS AND WE WORK.”)

1.9 “PARTICLE” / PARTIKEL

DefinitionParticles are short auxiliary words or parts of words that have no semantic meaning on their own. They modify nouns and verbs for negation, possession, comparison, etc.
How to IdentifyAsk yourself questions pertaining to the categories. For example: 

Is the word used to indicate negation? Is it used to indicate possession?
Examplesso…soos (“as”)
nie…nie (“not”)
se / (” ‘s “) – genitive
van (“of”)
Main Sub-categoriesMany of the following Afrikaans partikels are found in English, even though English doesn’t necessarily categorize them as such.
  • Ontkenningspartikel l “Negative particle”

    Afrikaans is known for its system of so-called double negation. It involves using the particle nie (“not”) twice to indicate negation. The two particles usually flank nouns, clauses, or phrases.

    Example: Ek is nie moeg nie. (“I am not tired.”) 

    The first nie is also an adverbial preposition.

  • Besitspartikel / “Genitive particle”

    These particles indicate possession, and include se and van (“genitive ‘s” and “of”).

    Example: Kieran se meisie is mooi. (“Kieran’s girlfriend is pretty.”) / Die meisie van Kieran is mooi. (“The girlfriend of Kieran is pretty.”)

  • Vergelykingspartikel / “Comparison”

    So…soos (“as…as”) are labeled specifically as particles in Afrikaans, and indicate a comparison between two things or ideas.

    Example: so vars soos ‘n oggendbries (“as fresh as a morning breeze”)

  • Deelpartikel / “Preposition”

    The preposition van (“of”) links words and phrases that indicate possession. 

    Example: Sewe van die nege vrouens is blond. (“Seven of the nine women are blond.”)

  • Infinitiefpartikel / “Infinitive particle”

    Om…te (“to + infinitive”) is always used with the base form of a verb to indicate the infinitive.

    Example: Hy sukkel om te loop. (“He struggles to walk.”) / Die kat is gelukkig om hierdie kos te eet. (“The cat is happy to eat this food.”)

  • Werkwoordpartikel / “Verb particle”

    These include op, af, uit, weg (“up,” “down,” “out,” “away”). Like in English, this particle modifies the verb.

    Example: Eet jou kos op. (“Eat up your food.”) / Hulle breek weg van die groep. (“They break away from the group.”) / Sy het haar kêrel afgesê. (“She broke up with her boyfriend.”) 

    Note: Uitmaak and its translation “made out” mean the exact opposite. In Afrikaans, it means that a couple plans to break up their relationship when you say: Hulle gaan uitmaak. However, in the translation “They will make out,” “making out” is an euphemism for sexual intercourse.

  • Graadpartikel / “Adverb particle”

    The particle te (“too”) modifies the verb to indicate excess. 

    Example: Dis te warm in die woestyn. (“It’s too hot in the desert.”)

Desert Dunes

DIS TE WARM IN DIE WOESTYN. (“IT’S TOO HOT IN THE DESERT.”)

1.10 “NUMBER WORDS” / TELWOORDE

DefinitionThese words indicate numbers or an amount.
How to IdentifyAsk yourself these questions:

a) Can I symbolize the word with numbers, like 1,2,3…? (With the exception of onbepaalde hooftelwoorde [“indefinite pronouns”].)

b) Can I turn the word into a rangtelwoord (i.e. ordinal number)?

c) Is it impossible to grade the word? (Number words cannot be expressed in grades. We cannot say, for instance, “one-er” or “one-est.” “One” is and can only be that—a single thing!)

d) Is this word indispensable in its modification of the noun? (A noun in a sentence will still “work” if adjectives are removed. However, most often, determiners such as numbers are indispensable to the meaning of the noun.)
Exampleself (“eleven”)
twee-en-twintig (“twenty-two”)
tiende (“tenth”)
massas (“masses”)
Main Sub-categoriesAll number words function as determiners of nouns (and not as adjectives).
  • Bepaalde hooftelwoord / Lit: “Definite cardinal-number word”

    These words denote quantity: een, twee, drie (“one,” “two,” “three”).

  • Onbepaalde hooftelwoord / Lit: “Indefinite cardinal-number word”

    These are also indefinite pronouns: hordes, massas, talle (“hordes,” “masses,” “many/countless”).

  • Bepaalde rangtelwoord / Lit: “Definite ordinal-number word”

    These words indicate rank: eerste, tweede, derde (“first,” “second,” “third”).

  • Onbepaalde rangtelwoord / Lit: “Indefinite ordinal-number word”

    laaste, soveelste (“last,” “umpteenth”)

1.11 “INTERJECTIONS” / TUSSENWERPSELS

DefinitionAn interjection is an utterance or exclamation that conveys a certain meaning or emotion.
How to IdentifyAsk yourself if the word can:
  • stand alone in a sentence, and
  • be followed by an exclamation mark.
There are some common interjections in every language, such as “Wow!”, and these are easily understood. However, every language also has culture-specific interjections, with nuances that won’t be easily discerned by a non-native speaker. It’s also difficult to describe their meaning to a non-native. Only by regularly practicing your Afrikaans with natives could you gain the subtler meanings of some interjections. (Others you may never fully understand!)
Examples
  • Eina! (“Ouch!”)
  • Sjoe! (Approximate: “Wow!”) This is commonly used in any situation that inspires awe.
  • Aitsa! (Approximate: “Wow! That’s great!”) This is used only if you’re impressed by something, usually positive. 
  • Haai?! (Approximate: “Huh?!”)
  • Siestog / Foeitog (Approximate: “It’s a shame”)
  • Awê (“Hi there”)
  • Aikona (“No”)
Main Sub-categoriesNone.

Woman Looking Amazed

SJOE! (“WOW!”)

Got it? Probably not, but don’t despair. No valuable discipline is ever gained overnight! 

Now let’s move on to the next point of basic Afrikaans grammar: how Afrikaans words get strung together into sentences.

2. Afrikaans Grammar: “Syntax” / Sintaksis

Syntax, which is the basic grammatical structure of sentences, can be a gruellingly complex subject in any language. Correct Afrikaans grammar largely depends on your ability to form sentences according to the proper structures and rules. However, the basics are fairly similar to English. 

Buckle up!

2.1 Enkelvoudige Sin (“Simple Sentence”) VS Saamgestelde Sin (“Compound Sentence”)

A) Simple sentences in both English and Afrikaans follow a simple Subject-Verb (SV) format. For example: Die kind eet. (“The child eats.”)

Notes: 

  • Simple sentences can have only one verb or gesegde. In Afrikaans syntax, single verbs and clauses are referred to as gesegdes (approximately: “clauses”). Read on for more about this.
  • Also remember: a gesegde comprising an auxiliary verb + main verb  = only one verb! 

B) Compound sentences always contain two verbs or gesegdes (“clauses”). For example: Die kind eet terwyl die hond blaf. (“The child eats while the dog barks.”)

2.2 Parts of Simple and Compound Sentences

Sentences consist of other parts, too. Very briefly, the following:

A) Enkelvoudige sinne / “Simple sentences”

1. Onderwerp (“Subject”)
Who or what performs the action in the sentence or phrase? The answer is always the subject. For example: Clint vlieg die vliegtuig. (“Clint flies the airplane.”)

2. Voorwerp (“Object”)
In a sentence, the object usually follows the subject (except in the passive voice). The object is that which the action is performed upon. For example: Clint vlieg die vliegtuig. (“Clint flies the airplane.”)

Note:

  • Direkte voorwerp / “Direct object”

    The direkte voorwerp (“direct object”) always follows the main transitive verb. For example:

      Vlieg (“fly”) = main verb
      Vliegtuig (“airplane”) = direkte voorwerp (“direct object”)

  • The indirekte voorwerp / “Indirect object”

    An indirekte voorwerp (“indirect object”) always follows a preposition. For example: Clint vlieg die vliegtuig vir Paul. (“Clint flies the airplane for Paul.”)

    The preposition vir is followed by Paul, the indirekte voorwerp (“indirect object”).

3. Gesegde (“Clause”)
As mentioned, all verbs and clauses are called a gesegde (approximate: “clause”) in Afrikaans syntax. They are sometimes referred to as a werkwoordstuk. (Lit: “verb piece”).

Example: Clint het die vliegtuig gevlieg. (“Clint flew the airplane.”)

    Het (“has”) = auxiliary verb of time
    gevlieg (“flew”) = main verb, simple past tense

(Refer back to Auxiliary Verbs of Time under the previous section for more information on the prefix ge-.)

Fighter Plane Pilot in the Cockpit

CLINT HET DIE VLIEGTUIG GEVLIEG. (“CLINT FLEW THE AIRPLANE.”)

4. Byvoeglike & Bywoordelike Bepalings (“Adjective and Adverbial Clauses”)

i) Byvoeglike Bepalings: In Afrikaans syntax, all adjective words or clauses are grouped under byvoeglike bepalings. Like in English, these describe nouns.

Example 1 [Single word adjectives]: Die honger kind eet die lekker kos. (“The hungry child eats the tasty food.”) 

Example 2 [Adjective phrases]: Die kind met die rooi trui eet die kos met baie kaas. (“The child with the red jersey eats the food with lots of cheese.”) 

ii) Bywoordelike Bepalings: All adverbial words or clauses are called bywoordelike bepalings in Afrikaans syntax. As in English, these describe actions or verbs. Adverbial words or clauses are divided into four groups: time, place, manner, and degree. 

Refer back to Bywoorde (“Adjectives”) under the previous section for examples of single words that fall into this category. Following are examples of adverbial clauses:

Example 1: Voor haar vertrek moet sy eers groet. (“Before her departure she must first greet.”) 

Here, the underlined = bywoordelike bepaling van tyd (“adverbial clause of time”).

Example 2: Hulle gaan oorslaap in die beste hotel. (“They are going to sleep over in the best hotel.”)

Here, the underlined = bywoordelike bepaling van plek (“adverbial clause of place”).

Couple Standing at a Hotel Reception

HULLE GAAN OORSLAAP IN DIE BESTE HOTEL. (“THEY ARE GOING TO SLEEP OVER IN THE BEST HOTEL.”)

B) Saamgestelde sinne / “Compound sentences” 

Compound sentences consist of two or more clauses or simple sentences with ideas that relate to each other. As mentioned, in Afrikaans syntax these always contain two gesegdes (“verbs” or “clauses”).

1. Neweskikkende sin / “Coordinating sentence”

Parts of sentences are grouped under this heading when they are of equal importance in terms of meaning. In Afrikaans, they also still make sense when the neweskikkende voegwoord (“coordinating sentence”) is removed, and can function as simple sentences.

Example: Jan wil skei maar Marta weier. (“John wants to divorce but Martha refuses.”) 

2. Onderskikkende bysin / “Subordinating sentence”

Compound sentences can also contain a main sentence and one or more subordinating clauses. The latter is identified by the fact that it doesn’t make sense when it stands alone. In such a case, the subordinating sentence or clause is called a bysin.

Example: Die man wat in die rooi sportsmotor ry, moet voor parkeer. (“The man who’s driving the red sports car must park in the front.”

Here, the underlined = Onderskikkende bysin.

Red Sports Car

DIE MAN WAT IN DIE ROOI SPORTSMOTOR RY MOET VOOR PARKEER. (“THE MAN WHO’S DRIVING THE RED SPORTS CAR MUST PARK IN THE FRONT.”)

2.3 Basic Word Order – STOMPI

Like most Germanic languages, such as English, Dutch, and French, the basic Afrikaans sentence follows the SVO pattern:

Subject: Ek
Verb: drink
Object: koffie

Translation: “I drink coffee.”

A Cup of Coffee with Coffee Beans

Obviously, things get more complex as you expand sentences. Throw adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, etc., into the mix, and you soon sit with a more difficult sentence pattern. 

For this, we have a rule-of-thumb in Afrikaans: the oft-quoted STOMPI rule. It’s beguilingly simple because almost every sentence will more-or-less follow this pattern. Stick to this pattern, and you’re very unlikely to mess up your word order.

Note: Only in much-extended sentences will you be able to apply the STOMPI rule completely. This topic is thoroughly covered in our Afrikaans Word Order article, so be sure to study that too.

STOMPI is the easy acronym we use, but since we’re dealing with grammar, that’s not the whole picture. This is because it actually includes two silent verbs, and therefore stands for:

Subject              Die reën
(V1) Verb 1        kom
Time                  soms
Object               vir die Kapenaars
Manner             saggies
Place                 oor die berge
(V2) Verb 2        gesluip
Infinitive             om verligting te bring.

Translation: “The rain sometimes sneaks quietly over the mountains for the Capetonians to bring relief.”

As you can see, this is a very long, descriptive sentence. The following one is simpler, but also correct.

Subject            Die reën
(V1) Verb 1      sluip
Time                soms
Object               –
Manner             
Place                oor die berge
(V2)                   
Infinitive            om verligting te bring.

Translation: “The rain sometimes sneaks over the mountains to bring relief.”

3. AfrikaansPod101 – Your Excellent Afrikaans Grammar Companion!

Well, this is a whopper of a double-cream, super-sized article that hopefully whet your appetite for more! Do you have any comments or Afrikaans grammar questions? Don’t be shy! Post them below.

Also be sure to enroll right away so you can immediately start with some Afrikaans grammar exercises. As you can see, there’s a lot to know. But relax—AfrikaansPod101 really does take the lead in Afrikaans learning.

We offer you several excellent Afrikaans learning tools to help you master the language easily and almost effortlessly. There are so many learning options available! 

Our well-researched tools include:

1. An extensive vocabulary list page, updated regularly.

2. A new Afrikaans word to learn every day. Master these words easily with our recordings and flashcards!

3. Access to numerous recordings, such as those in this Afrikaans Vocab Builder.

4. A free Afrikaans online dictionary.

5. An excellent 100 Core Afrikaans Words list!

Learn much faster with the help of a personal tutor, who will first let you take an assessment to personalize your training. From there, he or she will work one-on-one with you to help you reach your goals and overcome obstacles.

Happy learning!

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The Best Afrikaans Quotes About Life, Love, and More!

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Do you know what one of the best things about the Afrikaans language is? Its array of colorful sayings and quotes! 

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the best Afrikaans quotes on every aspect of life. You’ll recognize some of these Afrikaans quotes, as they have equivalents in English; others will be unfamiliar to you because they’re unique to Afrikaans. Let us know in the comments which of them have equivalents in your language!

At AfrikaansPod101, we aim to enhance your language learning experience at all times. Sayings and quotes are so particular to a language—knowing and using them will introduce you to Afrikaans and the Afrikaner culture in a unique, almost intimate way!

Are you ready to up your Afrikaans game? Let’s get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. A) Top 10 Afrikaans Quotes for Inspiration and Life
  2. B) Top Afrikaans Wedding and Love Quotes
  3. C) Top Birthday Quotes in Afrikaans
  4. D) Top Afrikaans Friendship Quotes
  5. E) Top Funny Afrikaans Quotes
  6. Good Ways To Use Afrikaans Quotes
  7. Make Use of AfrikaansPod101’s Lessons and Tools to Learn Afrikaans!

1. Top 10 Afrikaans Quotes for Inspiration and Life

You can derive a lot from learning the typical quotes and sayings that are native to your target language. The following Afrikaans quotes about life include admonitions, words of wisdom, and inspiration in equal measure. 

1. Dit is die klein jakkalsies wat die wingerde verniel.

Translation: “It is the small jackals that harm the vineyard.”

Meaning: 

Literally, the quote refers to small jackals stealing grapes from vineyards (which they love to do). The little scoundrels’ diet is omnivorous, meaning that they eat small animals as well as berries and other fruits. Obviously, their scavenging can do a lot of harm to a farmer’s vineyard. 

Underneath the literal meaning, this saying refers to the hidden harm caused by small irritations or problems in life if they’re left unattended. It infers that one should pay attention to those little niggles as they arise, instead of only focusing on the bigger problems.

A Bunch of Dark, Ripe Grapes

2. Wie heuning wil eet, moet steke verdra.

Translation: “Those who want to eat honey must endure the stings.”

Meaning: 

Literally, this quote refers to someone taking honey from a beehive and getting stung. That much is obvious. But the saying also states a universal truth: If you want to attain something good or sweet in life, you’ll need to tolerate some painful things in the process. This saying can be used to reframe a setback or an unpleasant experience at work, in relationships, or concerning important projects.

3. As die hemel val, is ons almal dood.

Translation: “If the sky falls, we’re all dead.”

Meaning: 

This quote uses a bit of humor to state the obvious about terrible calamity. It’s used as a slightly sarcastic retort in response to someone who’s always pointing out the negative in any situation.

4. Sukses is nie finaal nie, mislukking is nie fataal nie; dit is die moed om voort te gaan wat tel.

Translation: “Success isn’t final, failure isn’t fatal; it’s the courage to continue that counts.”

Meaning: 

The meaning of this inspirational quote is obvious: Don’t give up! Continue with what you started (including your Afrikaans language lessons!), because your persistence will pay off. Just imagine! With a good knowledge of Afrikaans, you can travel to the country and have a much richer experience.


Photo of Airplane Taking Off With Luggage in the Foreground

5. Om bymekaar te kom is ‘n begin; om saam te bly is vordering; om saam te werk is sukses.

Translation: “Coming together is a beginning; staying together is progress; working together is success.”

Meaning: 

The meaning of this Afrikaans quote is pretty clear, as it describes the different stages and inherent value of teamwork.

6. Soos ’n handvol vlieë.

Translation: “Like a handful of flies.”

Meaning: 

How useful is a handful of flies? Yes, precisely—unless you’re an entomologist, my guess is that a handful of these insects is pretty useless. You can use this saying to comment on something that’s useless to you, like this:

Hierdie mes is omtrent so bruikbaar soos ‘n handvol vlieë om sop mee te eet.
“This knife is about as useful as a handful of flies to eat soup with.”

7. ‘n Goeie gewete is ‘n sagte kussing.

Translation: “A good conscience is a soft pillow.”

Meaning: 

This quote refers to the easy sleep of someone with a good conscience. It praises the value of not suppressing your conscience (which would probably keep you awake all night if you tried ignoring it)!

Man Sleeping with a Calm Expression on His Face

8. Wees die verandering wat jy wil sien in die wêreld.

Translation: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Meaning: 

This quote is often erroneously attributed to Gandhi, the great world leader from India, but there’s no evidence that he actually said this. Rather, it appears to have come from a book written by a teacher named Arleen Lorrance, called The Love Project. The quote refers to people’s tendency to emulate others’ behavior. So, if you feel that the world needs more love and kindness, then be loving and kind! The world will soon follow.

9. Nou gaan die poppe dans.

Translation: Literally, “Now the dolls are going to dance.” / Equivalent, “Now the fat is in the fire.”

Meaning: 

When someone says this, it means that trouble is on the way! This trouble can be as innocuous as the disciplinary action mischievous school pupils can expect from their headmaster, or as serious as the fallout of one country declaring war on another. 

10. Kyk maar die kat eers goed uit die boom uit.

Translation: Literally, “First check out the cat from the tree.”

Meaning: 

This saying has nothing to do with felines, but pertains to decision-making. It’s a cautionary idiom, and is used to warn someone that they would be better off not acting impulsively. For instance, if your friend enthuses about a business opportunity that sounds too good to be true, this is what you would tell them!

Black and White Cat Sitting

2. Top Afrikaans Wedding and Love Quotes

Our list could never be complete without mentioning quotes in Afrikaans about love, relationships, and weddings.

Tip: Afrikaners tend to have romantic souls! So showing what’s going on in your heart will usually be appreciated and reciprocated.

11. Jy is my oogappel. / Jy is die appel van my oog.

Translation: “You are my eye-apple.” / “You are the apple of my eye.”

Meaning: 

This one is also well-known in English, and it means that you’re someone’s favorite person. One can use this saying at any stage of the relationship—read on for tips on how to use all of these phrases!

Happy Couple Cooking Together

12. My hart pomp tjoklits vir jou.

Translation: “My heart is pumping chocolate for you.”

Meaning: 

This is a humorous, casual way of indicating that you’re in love with someone. Instead of blood, your heart is pumping the candy of love: sweet chocolate. What a vivid image! This somewhat non-committal, but still loving, statement is suitable for use anywhere along the timeline of your relationship.

Tip: If you’ve been with the person for a while, then adding the adverbial time word steeds (“still”) after the verb pomp (“pump”) will be suitable. Like: My hart pomp steeds tjoklits vir jou. (“My heart still pumps chocolate for you.”)

13. Ek smaak jou stukkend.

Translation: Literally, “I taste you till you break.”

Meaning: 

This rather odd-sounding saying is another way of letting someone know you like them excessively, almost to the point of breaking! Think of a child who is so overwhelmed by their adoration of a toy that they hug it so tightly it gets crushed. 

No, we don’t literally break our loved ones in South Africa! This phrase simply expresses almost overwhelming feelings of adoration and admiration. Some say it means the same thing as “I love you,” but that is open to interpretation.

Happy Couple Hugging

14. Ou liefde roes nie.

Translation: “Old love doesn’t rust.”

Meaning: 

This quote means that if love is true, it endures eternally. Unlike most metals (a.k.a. superficial relationships), true love is long-lasting because it doesn’t degrade (i.e. rust) with age. 

This is what you can say of that couple who met and fell in love when they were young, but who were kept apart by circumstances. Then, they meet again when they’re older and find that their special connection is intact. In such a case, you would say that Ou liefde roes nie (“Old love doesn’t rust”).

It’s also a nice anniversary affirmation for a couple that’s been together for years and years. Especially, or maybe only, if it’s clear that they still love one another!

15. Ek was nie jou eerste liefde nie, maar ek wil beslis jou laaste wees.

Translation: “I wasn’t your first love, but I definitely want to be your last.”

Meaning: 

This quote is pretty straightforward, and it’s especially good for use among couples who are a bit older. But even if you and your partner are younger, you can use this phrase if you know they’ve been in love before. It’s a nice proposal quote, too.

Old Couple Playing on the Beach

16. Vriendskap in ‘n huwelik is die vonk wat ‘n ewige vlam aansteek.

Translation: “Friendship in marriage is the spark that lights an everlasting flame.”

Meaning: 

This quote is attributed to the writer and creator of The Happy Wives Club, Fawn Weaver. It’s self-explanatory and underscores the importance of marrying someone you can be friends with, too.

17. Hou jou hart vol liefde. ‘n Lewe daarsonder is soos ‘n sonlose tuin wanneer die blomme dood is. Die bewussyn van liefde en om liefgehê te word bring warmte en rykdom aan die lewe wat niks anders kan bring nie.

Translation: “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring.”

Meaning: 

This quote is attributed to author and playwright Oscar Wilde. He died lonely, so it’s poignant that he knew how important love was, but never got to fully experience it himself. This quote is great for wedding or engagement speeches, as well as a meaningful anniversary affirmation.

Couple Holding Hands in Front of a White Wall, Smiling at Each Other

18. As ek my lewe kon oorhê, sou ek jou vroeër wou vind.

Translation: “If I could repeat my life, I would want to find you sooner.”

Meaning: 

This is a bittersweet sentiment from someone who is regretful that they haven’t spent their whole life with the person they love. It implies that with their beloved, life is sweeter and better than ever before. It’s suitable as an intimate love message to the one you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, or even someone you’ve already been with for a long time.

19. Sonder jou liefde is die graaf te swaar vir my en val die geil reëns van die berge sonder doel.

Translation: Literally, “Without your love, the shovel is too heavy for me and the wanton rain in the mountains falls without purpose.”

Meaning: 

This beautiful line is from a poem called Dank (“Thank”), written by one of South Africa’s finest poets from a different era, D.J. Opperman. It expresses how the poet valued his wife’s love—his life would have been meaningless without it. How quietly passionate and intimate!

Couple in Love Laughing with Mountains in the Background

20. Liefde is ‘n beter onderwyser as ‘n sin vir verantwoordelikheid.

Translation: “Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty.”

Meaning: 

This is a quote from Einstein, taken from a letter he wrote. Biography writer Walter Isaacson used these letters to tell the story of the genius’ life in a book called Einstein: His Life and Universe

With this quote, Einstein was probably referring to something other than romantic love, but the principle still applies. Love will always be the most inspiring quality of any relationship, and it ensures we don’t miss the lessons we need to learn in life. And remaining in a relationship only because of a sense of duty will surely teach you how barren a loveless existence is.

Sometimes love comes to an end and you need to break up with someone. Here are some Breakup Quotes to consider—but we hope you won’t need to use or receive them often!

3. Top Birthday Quotes in Afrikaans

Birthdays are special. Make sure to enchant your Afrikaans friends with one of the best Afrikaans quotes for the occasion on their special day.

21. Mag jou lewe elke jaar beter wees.

Translation: “May your life get better every year.”

Meaning: 

This is a simple birthday wish that is universally useful. It expresses a positive and benevolent wish for someone to enjoy an exceedingly good life.

Friends at a Table Raising Their Wine Glasses in a Toast

22. Ek hoop hierdie verjaarsdag is net so wonderlik soos jy!

Translation: “I hope this birthday is just as wonderful as you are!”

Meaning: 

The meaning is pretty straightforward. This is a positive and uplifting birthday message for a friend, a family member, or any special person! 

23. Navorsing wys dat mense met die meeste verjaarsdae leef die langste.

Translation: “Research shows that people with the most birthdays live the longest.”

Meaning: 

Yeah well, duh…! This is a funny birthday quote in Afrikaans that could, for instance, be used in a speech before a birthday party.

24. Tel jou seëninge en nie jou plooie nie!

Translation: “Count your blessings and not your wrinkles!”

Meaning: 

Another fun birthday quote you can use to tease the birthday person! However, it’s best not to use this with a woman if you don’t know her well yet.

Three Older Woman and One Man Playing Cards while Laughing

25. Oudword is onvermydelik; grootword is nie!

Translation: “Growing old is inevitable; growing up is not!”

Meaning: 

Another lighthearted quote that invites you to enjoy life with the innocence of a child, no matter what age you are.

26. ’n Warm hart steek ander aan die brand. Dankie vir jou wonderlike hart!

Translation: “A warm heart ignites others. Thank you for your wonderful heart!”

Meaning: 

This is a flattering character testimonial that’s well-suited for a speech at a birthday party or as a message in a card. Use this only if the person is indeed inspiring and warm-hearted, of course.

4. Top Afrikaans Friendship Quotes

What would our world be without friends and friendship? Celebrate your Afrikaner friends with these Afrikaans quotes on friendship, or simply marvel in their wisdom.

Older Ladies in the Same Funny Clothes Having Fun Next to a Pool

27. Allemansvriend is niemandsvriend.

Translation: “Everyman’s friend is no man’s friend.”

Meaning: 

This is an admonition to strive for more than likeability in your relationships. Not every person will like you or want to be your friend—that’s just life! Authenticity and being who you really are, no matter who you deal with, is of the greatest importance if you want good outcomes in life.

28. As die berg nie na Mohammed wil kom nie, moet Mohammed na die berg toe gaan.

Translation: “If the mountain doesn’t want to come to Mohammed, Mohammed should go to the mountain.”

Meaning: 

This quote, which is also well-known in English, refers to humility and the necessity of sometimes giving in in relationships. Every friendship involves both giving and taking. In essence, this saying reminds us to not always take or be stubborn.

Hiker Standing with Spread Arms on a Mountain

29. Hulle breek nie brandhout van dieselfde tak nie. 

Translation: “They don’t make firewood of the same branch.”

Meaning: 

This Afrikaans quote refers to people who cannot stand each other, so it could be used to describe a friendship or relationship gone wrong.

30. Boontjie kry sy loontjie.

Translation: Literally, “Every bean gets his rightful dues.” 

Meaning: 

This somewhat gleeful quote simply means that what comes to you is probably what you deserve. It’s not always used in a positive sense, though, especially not in friendships. If someone has done you harm, for instance, and then harm comes to them in some way or another, you might use this saying to comment on the situation. 

31. ‘n Ware vriend stap in wanneer ander uitstap.

Translation: “A true friend walks in when others walk out.”

Meaning: 

Another well-known saying in English. Sometimes, friends walk away from you when things get hard. But the true friends remain by your side, which is what the quote refers to. The saying is popularly attributed to columnist Walter Winchell, yet a version of it was recorded as early as 1916 in an Atlanta magazine called The Presbyterian of the South.

Young Man Opening a Door and Waving Hello

32. ‘n Enkele roos kan my tuin wees; ‘n enkele vriend, my wêreld.

Translation: “A single rose can be my garden; a single friend my world.”

Meaning: 

This quote expresses the value of true friendship. It’s accredited to American author and motivational speaker Felice Leonardo “Leo” Buscaglia, also known as “Dr. Love.” It means that one doesn’t need a lot of friends to be happy in life. A single good friend can mean the world and make all the difference.

33. Vriendskap is die enigste sement wat die wêreld by mekaar sal hou.

Translation: “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.”

Meaning: 

Attributed to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, this quote expresses the superior value of true friendship. It suggests that the world would fall apart if it weren’t for friendships.

Two Happy Couples, with the Men Carrying the Women on Their Backs

34. Vriende is daardie rare mense wat vra hoe dit met jou gaan en dan wag om jou antwoord te hoor.

Translation: “Friends are those rare people who ask how (we) are and then wait to hear the answer.”

Meaning: 

This slightly adapted quote was said to be first uttered by Ed Cunningham, U.S. TV sports announcer and personality. It suggests that people who care really listen to one another.


5. Top Funny Afrikaans Quotes

Sometimes you need a funny one-liner to open a meeting or lighten the mood in a conversation! We’ve translated a few great quotes in the Afrikaans language that you can use to this effect.

35. Dis beter om stil te bly en dwaas voor te kom as om te praat en so alle twyfel te verwyder.

Translation: “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Meaning: 

This quote means that it’s better to keep quiet and only appear stupid than to say something that is actually stupid! It’s popularly attributed to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, but it more likely belongs to Maurice Switzer, who mentioned it in his book Mrs. Goose, Her Book (1906). Yet, a similar bit of wisdom was expressed much earlier in the Christian Bible, in Proverbs 17:28: “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

Young Man with His Forefinger in Front of His Mouth, Indicating: Keep Quiet

36. As ek ‘n tweegesig was, sou ek hierdie een gedra het?

Translation: “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

Meaning: 

A variation of this funny quote was apparently uttered by President Abraham Lincoln in a debate with Stephen Douglas, who accused him of being two-faced. Lincoln’s original retort was: “If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?” 

To be “two-faced” means that you’re being inconsistent in what you say and how you deal with people. This quote often refers to someone who adapts the truth to suit the company they’re in, a trait which makes you unreliable, or even dishonest.

The particular saying is self-deprecating (joking about your own looks!) and a marvelous retort to an unfair accusation of duplicity.

37. Wat het oor jou lewer geloop?

Translation: “What walked over your liver?”

Meaning: 

This is an original Afrikaans saying and a funny way of asking someone why they’re angry. Just as the heart is traditionally considered the “seat” of love, the liver is the “seat” of anger. If asked in a non-confrontational manner, it could ease the atmosphere and allow the angry person to blow off steam.

38. As een deur toegaan en ‘n ander maak oop spook dit waarskynlik in jou huis.

Translation: “If one door closes and another opens, your house is probably haunted.”

Meaning: 

This line makes fun of the cliché that when one opportunity is lost, another one appears. While true, clichés can sound insincere when you’re placating or consoling someone.

If a friend feels really stuck, trying to soothe them with words that don’t correspond to their current life experiences could alienate them, even if you mean well! Rather, spoil them with something you know they like (such as chocolate or a glass of wine), and just hang around as a friend. Using this funny saying could also help lighten the mood!

Spooky Old House

39. Wees lief vir jou vyande. Dit maak hulle so kwaad.

Translation: “Love your enemies. It makes them so (damned) mad.”

Meaning: 

This quote is attributed to a P.D. East from the book Of Wit N Humor by Vincent Thnay.

It’s a reference to the verses in all holy scriptures that teach us to forgive and love our enemies, so as to relieve ourselves of the burden of pain and/or guilt. The quote is obviously a humorous take on this truth!

40. Natuurlik praat ek met myself. Soms het ek kundige advies nodig.

Translation: “Of course I talk to myself. Sometimes I need expert advice.”

Meaning: 

This is a well-known quip that’s been doing the rounds. It’s unclear where the saying originated from, but it’s a good retort if someone complains about you mumbling to yourself.

41. Die pen is magtiger as die swaard en heelwat makliker om mee te skryf.

Translation: “The pen is mightier than the sword and considerably easier to write with.”

Meaning: 

Comedian Marty Feldman was the first to utter this silliness, which could underscore the need to negotiate first and fight later! However, the saying originally referred to the immense power of the word, which should not be underestimated.

Hand and Books of a Person Busy Writing

42. Te veel van ‘n goeie ding is fantasties!

Translation: “Too much of a good thing is fantastic!”

Meaning: 

The literal wisdom of this quote is debatable, but that probably depends on the context! It’s a celebratory remark that could be a reminder to enjoy life.

43. Hy is so skelm, hy bid onder ‘ n skuilnaam.

Translation: “He’s such a crook, he prays under a pseudonym.”

Meaning: 

This funny quote is pretty self-explanatory! However, don’t use it to describe someone whose favor you want to win or keep, unless they know you’re joking.

44. Ondervinding is iets wat jy eers kry nadat jy dit nodig het.

Translation: “Experience is something you only get after you need it.”

Meaning: 

A truthful observation about life and how experience is gained!

6. Good Ways To Use Afrikaans Quotes

This is not difficult to do! Show off your newly learned Afrikaans in the following ways:

1. Puzzle and/or impress your friends with these quotes on Facebook or Twitter. 

2. Create a graphic with a stunning photo and an inspirational quote for your desktop background. But post it on Insta first!

3. Use a suitable quote in a birthday or wedding card for your Afrikaans friend and make their day! Your gesture will show that you care enough to wish them well in their own language, which will be appreciated.

4. Combine creativity and Afrikaans—paint or draw a poster for your room or classroom with a suitable quote in Afrikaans.

5. Make your own learning tool! Create a video or other visual media (with one of the many apps available online), using all of these quotes plus your favorite images or footage! Playing this over and over again will help you learn and remember full Afrikaans sentences. There are countless possibilities.

6. Memorize the quotes and their meanings, and pepper your Afrikaans conversations with them! Using idioms will make you sound more like a native Afrikaans speaker.

7. Make Use of AfrikaansPod101‘s Lessons and Tools to Learn Afrikaans!

With more than a decade of experience behind us, we’ve taught thousands of satisfied users to speak foreign languages. How do we do this? First, we inject fun and ease into learning! 

With us, students are assisted as they master vocabulary, pronunciation, and conversation through state-of-the-art and fun online learning methods. 

A library replete with learning resources allows self-paced learning, in your own space at home! Our resources include thousands of video and audio recordings, culturally relevant lessons, and learning apps for your mobile devices. Each month, we add benefits with FREE bonuses and gifts to improve your experience. Our online Afrikaans Dictionary is indispensable and free!

Speed up your learning by enrolling in Premium PLUS, which will give you your own teacher! Our lively, friendly native-Afrikaans hosts will do an assessment test to determine your level, and then tailor lessons to suit your needs. 

Happy learning!

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Useful Phrases for Conducting Business in Afrikaans

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So, you’re dealing with an Afrikaans client and really want to impress them. Excellent! You can do this instantly by speaking good business language in Afrikaans! 

As you know, speaking someone’s native language is a speedy and easy way to gain their favor. To Afrikaans business owners, this could demonstrate that you’re serious about…well, business! It will also show that you’ve invested personal effort into the business relationship. 

Why not start straight away with our excellent video, “Learn Afrikaans Business Language in 15 Minutes,” featured at the beginning of this article? Or read our blog post about How to Find a Job in South Africa!

A Group of People in Business Gear, Sitting and Standing in the Glass Office

AfrikaansPod101 employs numerous means to support you while you learn business Afrikaans phrases and other important aspects of the language. Our lessons are culturally relevant, which should be important to you! Because knowing the details of Afrikaans culture can only benefit your business dealings with the natives. 

We meet you at your current level, so you never have to worry about falling behind. That said, our Premium PLUS option supplies a guided learning system to help ensure you don’t make a fool of yourself when meeting your Afrikaans business client. That’s our business—to make you shine in Afrikaans! 

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the most relevant and commonly used Afrikaans business phrases and vocabulary so you can easily find what you’re looking for. Most of these phrases can be used across all communication media: in person, or via phone, email, letter, text, voicemail, and so forth.

Let’s imagine a business meeting from the beginning…

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. The Meeting
  2. The Business
  3. Tips for Afrikaans Business Etiquette
  4. Why AfrikaansPod101 Can Really Boost Your Business!

1. The Meeting

Business Phrases

Following are some phrases you’re likely to use when setting up (and at the start of) a business meeting with an Afrikaans businessperson.

1.1 Making the Appointment

Afrikaans businesspeople are, as a rule, organized, and they value the same quality in others. Below are some business Afrikaans phrases you may find helpful when making an appointment. For the first two phrases, always remember to follow good phone etiquette for business.

A Man and Woman's Arms and Hands in a Handshake, While Exchanging Business Cards

Phone Calls

Let’s start with two basic phrases for phone conversations: how to make a call and how to answer one.

Making a call:

Goeiedag, Sanjay. Dis Seo-yun wat praat.“Good day, Sanjay. It’s Seo-yun speaking.”

Answering a call:

Goeiedag. Dis Seo-yun hier.“Good day. It’s Seo-yun here.”

Business Cards

Exchanging business cards in Afrikaans business settings is common during an initial meeting. Here’s how you can initiate a business card exchange:

Kan ons besigheidskaartjies ruil, asseblief?“Can we exchange business cards, please?”

Hier is my besigheidskaartjie.“Here is my business card.”

Setting Up Appointments and Keeping in Touch

Bel my gerus.“Feel free to call me.”

Kan ons dit telefonies bespreek?“Can we discuss this over the phone?”

Bel gerus my sekretaresse vir ‘n afspraak.“Feel free to call my secretary for an appointment.”
In Afrikaans, sekretaresse / “secretary” is used interchangeably with ontvangsdame / “receptionist.”

Ek wil graag ‘n videokonferensie reël.“I would like to organize a video conference.”

Hoe besig is jou skedule?“How busy is your schedule?”

Kan ons volgende week ontmoet?“Can we meet next week?”

Watter tyd sal jou die beste pas?“What time will suit you best?”

Ek stel voor ons ontmoet by die kantoor.“I suggest we meet at the office.”

Sal ek vir ons plek bespreek by die restaurant vir middagete?“Shall I book us a table at the restaurant for lunch?”

Daardie tyd pas my goed.“That time suits me well.”

Sal jy my jou adres gee, asseblief?“Would you give me your address, please?”

Ek sien uit na ons afspraak.“I’m looking forward to our meeting.”

1.2 The Greeting

Greeting someone is an important part of any business meeting, especially when you meet for the first time—you’ll be sizing each other up and forming all sorts of ideas! Now you can make a great first impression with these Afrikaans business phrases.

Smiling Woman in a Business Suit Shaking Hands with a Man
Aangename kennis. My naam is Sanjay Patel.“Pleased to meet you. My name is Sanjay Patel.”

Laat ek jou voorstel aan my vennoot.“Let me introduce you to my business partner.”
Vennoot / “business partner” can be replaced with kollega / “colleague,” and so on. This phrase can be used interchangeably with the next one.

Laat my toe om julle voor te stel.“Allow me to introduce you.”

Mevrou Van Heerden, ontmoet vir Morgan. Morgan, ontmoet vir Mevrou Van Heerden.“Mrs. Van Heerden, meet Morgan. Morgan, meet Mrs. Van Heerden.”
In Afrikaans business environments, always introduce the younger person to the older person first.

Goeiedag. Dis goed om jou te ontmoet.“Good day. It’s good to meet you.”
Use this phrase when you’re being introduced to another person.

Ons het al baie oor die foon gesels! Dis goed om jou persoonlik te ontmoet.“We’ve spoken a lot over the phone already! It’s good to meet you in person.”

Dis goed om jou weer te sien!“It’s good seeing you again!” 

Jammer ek is laat!“Sorry I am late!”

Also be sure to check out even more tips on How To Say Hello in Afrikaans Like a Native Speaker!

1.3 The Small Talk

Afrikaners are affable and friendly people by nature, so small talk is good! Asking questions concerning their wellbeing will make them feel like you’re interested in them. They will likely pay attention to what you share about your personal life, so make sure you take careful note of their details, too.

Group of Four in Business Gear Chatting in an Office Setting

Use the following questions to open a small talk conversation with an Afrikaans businessperson:

Gaan dit goed? / Hoe gaan dit?“Are you doing well?” / “How are you doing?”

Het jy ons maklik gevind?“Did you find us easily?”

Het jy goed gereis? / Hoe was jou reis?“Have you traveled well?” / “How was your journey?”

Is dit jou eerste besoek aan ___?“Is this your first visit to ___?”
In the blank, simply add the name of the country you’re inquiring about, if not South Africa.

Jy lyk goed!“You’re looking well!”
Like any other person, Afrikaners love compliments. However, keep these for when you know them a bit better, and only if you really mean it. Nobody likes false flattery.

Hoe gaan dit met jou familie?“How is your family doing?”
This is another question better left for later in the business relationship. Afrikaners will always appreciate you asking this as long as you’re sincere—family is big for Afrikaners.

Hoe was jou vakansie gewees?“How was your holiday?”
Asking questions based on your previous conversations with your client, or based on what you know about them, will show that you’re interested in them as a person, not just a business asset.

Sal ons begin? / Goed, laat ons begin.“Shall we start?” / “Okay, let us start.”

Ek het ‘n ander vergadering om een-uur, so…“I have another meeting at one o’clock, so…” 
This open-ended statement can be used on its own, since its implications are clear. Or, it can be paired nicely with the next sentence.

Sal jy omgee as ons begin?“Would you mind if we started?”

Sekerlik, kom ons begin.“Sure, let us start.”

1.4 The Parting

Obviously, etiquette at the end of a business meeting is just as important as at the beginning. Here are some phrases you might find helpful:

Baie dankie, dit was goed gewees om jou weer te sien.“Thank you very much, it’s been good seeing you again.”

Dankie vir jou tyd, ek waardeer dit.“Thank you for your time, I appreciate it.”

Dankie dat jy al die pad hiernatoe gekom het.“Thank you for coming all the way here.”

Hierdie was produktief gewees, dankie.“This was productive, thank you.”

Sal ons volgende week dieselfde tyd ontmoet?“Shall we meet again the same time next week?”

My sekretaresse sal jou kontak vir ons volgende afspraak, as dit reg is?“My secretary will contact you for our next appointment, if it’s okay?”

Ek waardeer jou moeite, baie dankie.“I appreciate your effort, thank you very much.”
This is also a good phrase for managing people. Sincere compliments are motivating!

Jobs

2. The Business

Despite their affable appearance, Afrikaners are private at heart. In fact, they tend to appreciate good, somewhat English manners that (at least initially) honor politeness and a certain social distance. 

Some of them can appear a bit gruff and unpolished in their manner, but more often than not, this tough exterior hides a sensitive and very loyal soul. Because of this “soft core,” so to speak, they tend to be careful—if not somewhat cynical—about business partners at first. 

But no worries, the secret into their hearts and pockets is pretty simple: be attentive to their needs, always be respectful in how you treat them, and consistently demonstrate honesty, reliability, and transparency in all business dealings. If, over time, they find that they can trust you, good business partners very often turn into friends. And you’ll find that you’ve made a friend for life!

Afrikaans businesspeople won’t expect from you what they don’t offer themselves. They tend to be extremely loyal to old and trusted business partners and clients, and they’re reliable, very hard workers themselves.

Two Men in a Business Suits Discussing Something in a Folder

Afrikaners are also tenacious and real problem-solvers. In fact, we have an old saying in Afrikaans: ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan, which means “A farmer makes a plan.” It’s a population trait—Afrikaners don’t give up, because they always make a plan! So, if you need to get things done properly in business and the workplace, appoint an Afrikaner.

When doing business in South Africa, also keep in mind that Afrikaners prefer to keep things simple and straightforward in business. Don’t mess with them, though; you’ll soon find doors closing not-so-quietly in your face. Trust is strictly earned, and it’s an expensive thing in the Afrikaner culture! Of course, every batch has some bad apples, but you’ll find that everywhere in the world.

2.1 The Business Talk

Man and Woman in a Business Meeting

Following are some Afrikaans business phrases you could find useful in any business setting.

Note that Ek / “I” can be replaced with other pronouns, such as jou (you, plural) / julle (you) / ons (we) / sy (she) / hy (he) / hulle (they).

Het almal ‘n kopie van die agenda?“Does everyone have a copy of the agenda?”

Wat dink jy hiervan?“What do you think about this?”

Ek stem saam.“I agree.”

Ek voel dieselfde.“I feel the same.”

Jy is heeltemal reg.“You are entirely correct.”

Jy kan dalk reg wees.“You may / could / might be right.”

My ervaring is dieselfde.“My experience is the same.”

Dis nie my ervaring nie.“That’s not my experience.”

Jammer, maar ek stem nie saam nie.“Sorry, but I don’t agree.”

Ek stem nie regtig saam nie.“I don’t really agree.”

Ek’s nie seker of ek saamstem nie.“I’m not sure that I agree.”

Dis ‘n uitstekende punt.“That’s an excellent point.”

Hierdie is net my opinie.“This is only my opinion.”

Hierdie is ‘n belangrike saak.“This is an important matter.”

Sal jy ‘n kompromie oorweeg?“Would you consider a compromise?”

Jammer om jou te onderbreek.“Sorry to interrupt you.”

Mag ek gou onderbreek, asseblief?“May I interrupt, please?”

Natuurlik, gaan voort.“Of course, go ahead.”
Combine this phrase with the next one, if preferred.

Wat wil jy sê?“What do you want to say?”

Verskoon my, as ek net gou eers hierdie punt kan maak?“Sorry, if I could just finish this point first?”

Dit is ‘n baie goeie voorstel.“It is a very good suggestion.”

Dis ‘n goeie offer.“It’s a good offer.”

Hierdie my beste offer.“This is my best offer.”

Ek voel sterk hieroor.“I feel strongly about this.”

Ek wil graag hieroor gaan dink, asseblief.“I would like to think about this, please.”

Dit klink goed vir my!“That sounds good to me!”

Enige verdere gedagtes of kommentaar?“Any other thoughts or comments?”

Dalk moet ons ‘n breuk vat?“Maybe we should take a break?”

Ons het hierdie reeds afgehandel.“We’ve dealt with this already.”

Is daar nog iets wat ons moet bespreek?“Is there anything else we need to discuss?”

Stem almal saam?“Do we all agree?”

2.2 The Management Talk

Two Women in a Meeting

If you’re a manager, treating subordinates fairly, respectfully, and transparently will score you a lot of points. Following are some handy phrases you can use as a manager (though you could also use any of the phrases from the previous section).

Ek het die verslag moreoggend nodig, asseblief.“I need the report by tomorrow morning, please.”

Dankie, dit lyk goed.“Thanks, this looks good.”

Wat stel jy voor?“What do you suggest?”

Asseblief maak vir ons ‘n afspraak met Meneer De Beer.“Please make us an appointment with Mr. De Beer.”

Kontak EdCon kantore vir ‘n vergadering volgende week, asseblief.“Contact EdCon offices for a meeting next week, please.”
Of course, you can replace the business name with one of your choice.

Asseblief kanselleer al my afsprake vir Vrydag.“Please cancel all my appointments for Friday.”

Sal jy vir ons koffie en tee reël, asseblief?“Would you organize tea and coffee for us, please?”

Hoe laat begin die vergadering?“What time does the meeting start?”

Bel vir Martie en vra of ons via Zoom kan ontmoet, asseblief.“Call Martie and ask if we could meet via Zoom, please.”

Bespreek vir my ‘n vlug Dubai toe, asseblief.“Book me a flight to Dubai, please.”

Is die “boardroom” voorberei?“Is the boardroom prepared?”
The official Afrikaans word for “boardroom” is raadskamer, but this is almost completely out of use. As a rule, we just use the English word.

Druk asseblief my notas uit.“Please print my notes.”

Dankie vir jou harde werk.“Thank you for your hard work.”


Businessman Giving a Presentation with a Whiteboard and Graph to Two Businesswomen

Essential Afrikaans Business Vocabulary

  • witbord / “whiteboard”
  • witbord pen / “whiteboard marker”
  • harde kopie / “hard copy”
  • voorlegging OR aanbedding / “presentation” (This is a noun, and what you would give to your boss or prospective client in the form of a document or PowerPoint presentation.)
  • aanbied / “present”
  • grafiek / “chart”
  • dagboek / “diary”
  • sakeonderneming / “business enterprise”
  • handel / “commerce”
  • verslag gee / “to report”
  • rapporteer aan / “report to”
  • adviseur / “adviser”
  • aanbeveel / “advise”
  • kontrak / “contract”
  • ooreenkoms / “agreement”

3. Tips for Afrikaans Business Etiquette

Friendly Businesswoman Reaching Out for a Handshake

Many business rules in South Africa are similar to those in most Western countries. However, there are still some culturally specific (and often unspoken!) ones that should be observed for optimal effect. Adhering to them could make the difference between a failed or successful meeting, so pay attention!

3.1 Dress and Hygiene

Depending on the nature of your business, we recommend dressing neatly and only semi-casually. 

Men, if you’re in white collar business, like finance, stick to the European dress-style and wear a modern suit. (If you’re going to meet with a person of great seniority, wear a tie. Otherwise, feel free to lose the noose!) 

Ladies, avoid deeply plunging necklines, micro miniskirts, or body-hugging gear. You really don’t want to look like you’re advertising something other than your business or products. No decent Afrikaner businessman respects that! However, there’s no need to be prudish either. Rather, think stylish, business-like, and classy, and apply makeup and perfume sparingly.

That said, if you normally wear traditional gear, such as a thawb and keffiyeh, there’s no need to change into Western-style clothing. We appreciate authenticity and openness over so-called political correctness, especially in business.

Good personal hygiene is important to Afrikaners, though. Smelling like you only bathe once a year, having oily, unkempt hair, and sporting filthy nails will not score you any points. And do brush your teeth before the meeting! Halitosis is never a deal-maker. Overall, it makes a good impression when your appearance shows that you take care of yourself, even if you’re dressed inexpensively. You don’t need to show off; you just need to be presentable by regular Western standards. To Afrikaners, a good appearance is a sign of respect to the person you’re meeting with.

3.2 Being Punctual

Be on time for the meeting, or even better, be five minutes early! Showing respect for another’s time is big for Afrikaans businesspeople. They will be punctual and expect the same of you. In case arriving on time is impossible, a text or call to inform them of the delay will be far more acceptable than making them wait for longer than a few minutes.

However, if they are not on time, and you haven’t received any notification of the delay, you’re very likely either dealing with a “bad apple,” or you’ve lost their respect or trust for some reason. It doesn’t need explanation that neither are good signs! Of course, sometimes faulty technology can be to blame, but the point is that notification of delay is basic Afrikaans business protocol for meetings.

3.3 General In-Meeting Etiquette

If you’re seated when they arrive, stand up (or at least get up halfway from your chair) for a formal handshake greeting. This is a sign of respect, especially upon meeting for the first time. 

If you’re meeting them for the first time, and they remain seated when you arrive, it could be a sign of arrogance or reservations about your business. This is especially true of hardened Afrikaans businesspeople. It’s not necessarily a bad sign, but you may have to read and assess the situation carefully before signing on the dotted line. Yet, as a rule, only bad-*ss gang leaders stay seated when a prospective client or business partner arrives for a meeting!

If you’re hosting the meeting, offer your right hand first for a handshake greeting. Keep your grip firm but not crushing—it’s not a Push Hands competition! If you are the guest, though, it’s better to wait for your Afrikaans client to offer their hand first. Remember to look them straight in the eye with a friendly smile for the duration of the handshake. 

3.4 What to Say and How to Say It

If the person you’re meeting for the first time has a military or professional title, like General, Doctor, or Professor, don’t be shy to use this (together with their surname) until they invite you to do otherwise.

Over-familiarity is never cool, especially in the beginning of your business partnership.

It’s best to address people much older or senior-in-rank as Meneer (“Mister”), Mevrou (“Mrs.”), or Mejuffrou (“Miss”) when you first meet them, especially at a formal event. Even if they’re being introduced to you by their first names, wait for them to give you permission to address them informally. This is just good manners and a sign that you respect their seniority.

And last but not least, gratitude is a wonderful attitude! Get the low-down on How to Say Thank You in Afrikaans in different contexts.

4. Why AfrikaansPod101 Can Really Boost Your Business!

We hope you learned a lot from our article about how to conduct business in Afrikaans, and that you found our collection of Afrikaans business phrases helpful. Do you have any questions? Let us have them in the comments below!

At AfrikaansPod101, we can help you understand Afrikaans easily with our hundreds of recorded videos, themed vocabulary lists, and much more. Speak like a native in no time!

Also be sure to arm yourself with the Afrikaans Key Phrase List and the Afrikaans Core 100 Word List to make a superb impression at your business meetings. Approach Afrikaans businesses with confidence and ease—you got this!

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The Best Videos to Learn Afrikaans on YouTube

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Hopefully, you’ve gathered by now that at AfrikaansPod101, we love to keep things easy and fun for our learners! We also don’t insist that you only stick to our site (which is crammed with a great amount of awesome goodies, of course!), but we encourage you to broaden your Afrikaans-learning horizons using one of the Internet’s top video-sharing platforms. In this article, we’ll show you the best channels to learn Afrikaans on YouTube.

Created in February 2005 by three guys, YouTube was bought over by Google just over a year later for more than a billion dollars, because people loved it. And we’re still loving it. As you very probably know, the site is still being kept alive by the people, for the people, and it’s choc-n-bloc full of entertainment, information, and education.

Girl in Front of Laptop with Earphones On

For your ease, we’ve selected what we think are among the best Afrikaans language learning YouTube channels (including our own!), as well as the most entertaining ones. Listening to Afrikaans as it’s being spoken by natives will train your ear to the way it sounds and speed up your listening comprehension progress.

For the more advanced Afrikaans students, we’ve found some wonderful videos outlining the history of Afrikaans and its many dialects, plus some awesome comedy to keep those belly-laughs coming. (If you’re really interested in learning about the history of Afrikaans by an English presenter, then this bonus by Langfocus is for you…)


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Learn Afrikaans – YouTube is Your Friend with These Top Videos!

As mentioned, there’s a large body of very useful resources on YouTube to help you perfect your spoken Afrikaans, especially. Let’s start with one of the most obvious…

Girl Singing with Earphones On

What sounds good, can play in the background of your life, and take your Afrikaans studies to the next level? Afrikaans music, of course! After our library of resources (many of which are free), music is one of the best free online tools for learning the language.

1. Afrikaanse Musiek / “Afrikaans Music”

Every parent and teacher knows this, and now even research has demonstrated that nothing alleviates the boredom of learning as much as music does. One South African teacher analyzed the lyrics of Afrikaans songs as poetry in her classroom, and found that her audience was not only a captive one, but that the music motivated both teacher and learners. This effect eventually led to creative and enhanced academic achievement. What a win-win! 

So, falling in love with Afrikaans music could be the start of a phenomenal love affair in your life. There’s lots of candy-floss (a.k.a light music) out there, and it’s okay if you prefer this. But there’s also a lot of stunning, artistic, and soul-touching music written in beautiful Afrikaans that you can savor. 

Following are some of the Afrikaans performing artists that our nation loves and can’t stop loving. Create your Afrikaans YouTube music playlist and put it on repeat!

1.1 Tasché – Die Een / “Tasché – The One”

In 2019, The Voice SA (and the rest of the country!) was conquered by a hugely talented singer and songwriter: Tasché Burger. Petite and pretty, the nineteen-year-old waitress was both the youngest contestant and the first woman to win this local talent show. To get there, she received a total of over ten million votes! Unsurprising, because Tasché’s perfect intonation and uniquely soulful performances that belied her young age elicited standing ovations from the audience. A full-time singer now, Tasché continues to create stunningly beautiful tunes. Enjoy her enigmatic style in this song she released after winning the competition that launched her career.

Silhouette of Couple Standing and Holding Hands

Link: Tasché – Die Een
Level: All Levels
How will this help? Tasché impresses not only with her singing talent, but also with her flawlessly pure Afrikaans accent. Want to speak Afrikaans in such a way that every native speaker will understand you? Memorizing these lyrics and copying Tasché’s pronunciation will help you get there.

Not all spoken Afrikaans dialects are easily understandable! Also, over the past two decades, not all, but many Afrikaans pop stars have adopted the mannerism of singing Afrikaans with an accent, one that almost nobody uses vernacularly. (This is clearly heard with words like my (“my”) and jy (“you”)—you’ll spot them quickly.) Deviating from this peculiar, rather pretentious convention makes Tasché a welcome breath of fresh air in our music industry.

She furthermore takes Afrikaans classics to new heights with her empathic style, so don’t miss out on these stunning renditions of Hillbrow and Lisa Se Klavier.

Keyboard of a Piano

1.2 Koos du Plessis – Kinders van die wind / “Koos du Plessis – Children of the Wind”

It’s said that what Jacques Brel has done for French music, Koos du Plessis did for Afrikaans music. Also known as Koos Doep, he was a successful editor and journalist for prominent South African publications, but it was through music and poetry that he gave expression to his pensive and sensitive side. This enormously talented, somewhat melancholic artist died way too soon at the age of forty-five on January 15, 1984, in a tragic car accident. His legacy included only a single album released during his lifetime: Skadus teen die muur / “Shadows Against the Wall.” Three others were released posthumously.

The song Kinders van die wind (“Children of the Wind”) gained runaway success in 1979, when another local star, Laurika Rauch, introduced it to the South African public.

Laughing Woman with Closed Eyes and Hair Blown by the Wnd

Link: Koos du Plessis – Kinders van die wind
Level: All Levels
How will this help? Just like Tasché Burger’s voice, Koos du Plessis’ deep tones are wrapped around impeccable Afrikaans. His pure accent furthermore makes the lyrics easy to follow, so be sure to memorize them for those melancholy evenings to sing in front of the mirror. Also add sweet Sprokie vir ‘n Stadskind / “Fairy Tale for a City-Dwelling Child” (here are the lyrics) and lyrical As jy my kon volg / “If You Could Follow Me” (and here are the lyrics) to your repertoire of Afrikaans music.

1.3 Refentse – Sonvanger / Refentse – “Sun Catcher”

This melodic tune was written by one of South Africa’s most prolific songwriters and performers, Valiant Swart. In 2002, he dedicated the song to the mother of the genius singer-songwriter Johannes Kerkorrel, on the day of Kerkorrel’s funeral. (Sadly, this young artist committed suicide after a short but spectacularly influential career in the spotlight.)

A Man's Arm and Hands Holding an Electric Guitar

Enjoy this superb song as covered by Refentse Morake, another one of South Africa’s young stars with a remarkable story behind his rise to fame. A woman video-recorded him busking on a pavement in 2014, and the clip went viral on Facebook. A year later, Refentse was again singing in the streets, but this time in the town of Upington. This is where one of South Africa’s largest art and music festivals, the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (“Small Karoo National Arts Festival”) is held annually, attended by thousands. Refentse’s singing attracted the attention of well-established performers and serious music producers. The rest is, as they say, history, albeit one that sounds like a fairytale.

Young Woman Standing Outside with Outstretched Arms in the Sun

Link: Refentse – Sonvanger
Level: All Levels
How will this help? Again, this is one of the best samples of perfect Afrikaans pronunciation on YouTube. Refentse’s accent is also flawless, and the simple but elegant lyrics are easy to follow.

1.4 Other Afrikaans Singers

Singer Holding Mic Leaning Over His Swooning Audience

Also search for and enjoy the music of other artists on YouTube. All will enrich your musical repertoire in some way, while showcasing perfectly spoken Afrikaans. Here are some hits we recommend:

  1. Valiant Swart – Die Mystic Boer / “The Mystic Farmer”
  2. Coenie De Villiers – Windmeul van jou Hart / “Windmills of Your Heart” (An Afrikaans rendition of Michel Legrand’s “Windmills of Your Mind”)
  3. Koos Kombuis – Johnny Is Nie Dood Nie / “Johnny Isn’t Dead” (Tribute to Johannes Kerkorrel)
  4. Sonja Herholdt – Harlekyn / “Harlequin”
  5. Anton Goosen – Kruidjie-Roer-My-Nie / Lit: “Herb-Don’t-Stir-Me” (Afrikaans name for the honey flower or Touch-Me-Not)
  6. Johannes Kerkorrel – Hillbrow / “Hillbrow”
  7. Karen Zoid – As Musiek Begin Speel / “When Music Starts to Play”
  8. Elandré – Vuur Op Die Water / “Fire on the Water”
  9. Nianel – Magaliesbergse Aandlied / “Magalies Mountain Evensong”
  10. Andriëtte – Sewe Oseane / “Seven Oceans”
  11. Demi Lee – Jy Maak My Beter / “You Make Me Better”
  12. Riana Nel – Ewigheid / “Eternity”
  13. Jo Black – Die Vrou Wat Ek Liefhet / “The Woman That I Love”

2. Afrikaanse Films / “Afrikaans Movies/Films”

Who doesn’t love movies?! Did you know you can use the Afrikaans movies on YouTube to great effect in your Afrikaans learning?

Woman with 3-D Glasses On, Standing with a Bowl of Popcorn

Links: See list below
Level: All Levels
How will this help? Another way to not only learn the language, but also get a glimpse into the Afrikaner soul and society, is by watching movies. On YouTube, Afrikaans films don’t always have subscripts, but following the story and watching the actors’ mouths could help you derive the accurate meaning of words, as well as how they’re pronounced. Over time, the context will become clear. You’ll be surprised how much you unconsciously learn simply by observing the natives in their environment!

Settle on a couch in your pajamas (with a bowl of popcorn, of course!), and dig into these:

  1. Somer Son Die Movie / “Summer Sun The Movie” 
    (Note: X-Gen Afrikaners unashamedly pepper their speech with English vocabulary and phrases. We’re a very Anglicized/Americanized community, and by now, this convention is no longer frowned upon in most social circles. Save your very pure speech for business and/or when you need to impress someone with your good Afrikaans!)
  2. Seun Die Movie / “Son The Movie”
  3. Die Ontwaking (Film) / “The Awakening (Film)”
  4. Liefling Die Movie / “Darling The Movie” – This one is a musical with subscripts!
  5. Pretville Die Movie / “Funville The Movie” – Another musical.
  6. You Must Be Joking! 1986 FULL MOVIE HD – Leon Schuster. This one’s for fun! It’s mostly in English, but it showcases the talents of one of South Africa’s most beloved comedians. Learning what South Africans find funny could be a telling lesson into our former national character.
  7. Full Afrikaans Films – If you have a taste for retro, or would like to study what South Africa looked like before full democracy in 1994, take a look at this list. The quality of the recordings are not fantastic, but it could be an interesting lesson in social history.
Couple Chatting Inside a Cinema with a Movie Screen

3. For the Advanced Connoisseur

Don’t miss out on the wealth of other Afrikaans YouTube videos, though! 

Here are the ones we like the best. They are probably better suited to the more advanced Afrikaans learner, and showcase our beautiful country and the way Afrikaners live and love!

  1. Lifestyle show – Pasella TV. /  “For free TV”
  2. Documentary TV show – VoetsporeSA / “Footprints SA”
  3. Afrikaans advocacy channel – My Afrikaans / “My Afrikaans”
  4. Afrikaans variety show – KykNet / “JustLook”

4. Some Videos for Kids of All Ages

You’ll also find some Afrikaans YouTube channels with cute and helpful videos for children. These can also be put to good use by much older people who are just starting to learn the language.

4.1 Tel Tot Tien in Afrikaans – Balle / “Count to 10 in Afrikaans – Balls”

Child Playing with Balls

Link: Tel Tot 10 in Afrikaans – Balle
Level: Beginner
How will this help? Perfect for toddlers and other children who are just starting to learn how to count in Afrikaans. The video is also suitable for the absolute Afrikaans-beginner who has no prior experience speaking a Germanic language. Instructions are super-simple and the video allows plenty of time to practice saying the numbers one through 10. Obviously, repeating each one over and over again will cement it better in one’s memory.

The visuals also provide the numbers in the commonly used Hindu-Arabic numeral system. The presenter is a native Afrikaans speaker with a perfect accent.

4.2 ABC Rap Afrikaans / “ABC Rap Afrikaans”

As we mentioned earlier, music is an excellent way to learn new material. The brain processes music differently than speech, and singing tends to be much more fun too. Ask any toddler! We love this rapping video with its totally cute cast. 

Fun fact: a rapper in Afrikaans is a rymkletser, which literally translates as “rhyme babbler.” Very apt, don’t you think?!

Three Young Children Smiling

Link: ABC Rap Afrikaans 
Level: Beginner – Intermediate
How will this help? This very popular video offers the opportunity to, first of all, practice your listening skills. If you’re a complete beginner with no Afrikaans friends or tutors, understanding this one may prove a bit challenging. A complete neophyte will need someone to translate some of the vocabulary.

This song is just fun and entertaining! Each letter is matched with vocabulary and images for easier understanding, and to help enhance your pronunciation skills.

This song also showcases the particular dialect of the oldest form of Afrikaans, which is found almost exclusively in the Western Cape. Afrikaans pronunciation on YouTube tends to differ quite a bit this way.

4.3 Kuiken Storie Klein Hen | Sprokies verhale | Afrikaanse Stories / “Chicken Story Small Hen | Fairy Tales | Afrikaans Stories”

Looking for Afrikaans children’s stories? YouTube has them for you, because nothing beats listening to a good fairytale! We loved this one of the little chick, in particular, and the video also comes with a bonus! (Read on for more about that.)

Chicks on Straw

Link: Kuiken Storie Klein Hen | Sprokies verhale | Afrikaanse Stories | AFRIKAANS FAIRY TALES
Level: All Levels
How will this help? Remember the one thing most everyone loved as children? Yup, those bedtime stories narrated by our parents. This is part of learning to speak a language, and is called the Mother Tongue Technique. Be sure to spend lots of time listening to Afrikaans audiobooks or story videos like these; they’re invaluable tools!

This is also a great video for listening to Afrikaans phrases and pronunciation on YouTube, as presented by a talented narrator with a wonderfully clear Afrikaans accent. Even if you don’t completely understand the content yet, it’s worth spending time on. 

Beginners, see if you can learn the vocabulary just by listening and looking. Watch it a few times and take notes! 

Advanced learners, watch and listen a few times and then retell the story to a tutor or Afrikaans-speaking friend who can gauge your listening comprehension. Later, you could even retell it in Afrikaans! 

The title is a bit misleading, because the video also contains the well-known story of The Three Pigs. Nice bonus!

Now it’s time to look at a couple of AfrikaansPod101 videos, too.

5. AfrikaansPod101 YouTube Gratis Studieklasse / “Free Tutorials”

Most of Innovative Language Learning’s Afrikaans video tutorials follow the same format: they’re short in length, sweet and informative in content, and presented by a native Afrikaans speaker! And they’re all free. 

This means that nothing is stopping you from getting busy immediately! It’s possible to sound like you’ve lived among Afrikaners all your life by spending only a few minutes a day on our YouTube channel. 

Here are some of the most popular videos. Remember to watch them over and over again, and practice with our friendly tutors.

5.1 Stel jouself voor in Afrikaans / “Introduce Yourself in Afrikaans”

Smiling Young Guy with Blue Sweater, Sitting with Headphones On

Category: Afrikaans in Three Minutes – Introducing Yourself
Link: Introducing Yourself in Afrikaans
Level: Beginner / All Levels
How will this help? Let’s start at the very beginning: who are you? Learn step-by-step how to introduce yourself in any formal or informal situation, speaking correct Afrikaans from the very start. As you’ll see in the comments section, our students get A’s in language classes using our videos. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it? So, why not start right away?!

5.2 Hoeveel? / “How Much?”

Category: Afrikaans in Three Minutes
Link:  How Much?
Level: Intermediate or Beginners who know how to count in Afrikaans. (After enrollment, you could learn that here, quickly!)
How will this help? In some parts of South Africa, such as specific areas in the Western Cape, you will only be understood if you speak Afrikaans. For this, you’ll need at least the most basic vocabulary to get by, such as knowing how to ask for an item’s price in a shop. It’s also very important to address the locals in a friendly, respectful manner, if you want a good response. This is exactly what you’ll be learning with this video!

5.3 Leer Afrikaans in Twintig Minute / “Learn Afrikaans in 20 Minutes”

Category: Top Five Videos You Must Watch to Learn Afrikaans
Link: Afrikaans – Best of 2017
Level: Intermediate & Advanced
How will this help? If you urgently need a crash-course in anything from a few basics in Afrikaans to more advanced phrases, take your time to view this one a few times. It teaches you some must-know phrases and vocabulary, a few excellent language learning tips, plus dialogues to help you practice your listening skills. A quick bootcamp for Intermediate learners and a solid recap for Advanced learners. Let us know in the comments how this one helped you!

Don’t hesitate—join us now on AfrikaansPod101 for the learning adventure of a lifetime!

Which of these YouTube channels or videos are you most interested in watching, and why? Did we leave out any good ones you know about? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments! 

About the author: Christa Davel is a bilingual (Afrikaans and English) freelance writer and journalist, and is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Eleven Common Ways to Say Goodbye in Afrikaans

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Time to say goodbye? In Afrikaans, this can be just as difficult to do as in any other language. Because hey, who likes goodbyes?! Wishing friends and loved ones farewell is never pleasant nor easy, especially if the parting is permanent or long-term.

But even this depends on how you look at it. As Winnie the Pooh wisely says:

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Not all goodbyes are terribly hard or sad, though. In this article, AfrikaansPod101 will show you several ways to say goodbye in Afrikaans and how to use the right one for every occasion. 

As a complement, you can also learn How to Say Hello in Afrikaans in our dedicated blog post before continuing with this one. It’s super-easy! 

Like saying hello, saying goodbye in Afrikaans isn’t really that difficult to master. Most Afrikaans goodbyes are Anglicized, meaning they’re taken from the English language. Let’s dig in! Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE!(Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. How to Say Goodbye in Afrikaans
  2. Body Language and Gestures When You Say Goodbye in Afrikaans
  3. How AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Master Saying Goodbye in Afrikaans!

1. How to Say Goodbye in Afrikaans

Most Common Goodbyes

1. Totsiens / “Goodbye”

Totsiens is a contraction of Tot weersiens, which literally means “Till I see you again.” Of course, the implication is that you wish the person well until you see each other again.

Like its English equivalent, Totsiens is used on its own, and is a common way of indicating that you’re taking leave of someone’s presence. You can use it in both formal and informal situations, and it’s often used when you won’t be seeing that person for a long time. 

When addressing a boss or someone important, some Afrikaners like to add the person’s name, like this: 

  • Totsiens, Meneer De Beer. (“Goodbye, Mister De Beer.”)

This form of address is slightly more respectful than only using Totsiens, but it’s not by any means required for proper social etiquette. You won’t have committed an unforgivable social gaffe by omitting the person’s name.

Pretty Blonde Girl Waving Goodbye Next to a Blue Train

2. Baai! / “Cheers!”

Baai is used among people who know each other well—like family, friends, and close colleagues—because it’s super-informal and should be used mostly in casual situations. The word is a rather cheerful way of saying goodbye in Afrikaans, so it’s best not to use it for solemn or sad partings.

It’s common to say Baai! when you’re going to see or have contact with that person again soon, though you can also use it in other situations. For instance, you could say this when parting with a friendly shop assistant whom you just had a casual, friendly chat with. 

Afrikaners like chatting with everyone, especially in the rural areas of the country! We tend to be a bit more reticent and private in cities like Johannesburg and Pretoria, but even in those places, foreigners making friendly small talk with Afrikaners won’t be rebuffed. Cape Town, in particular, is known to be a very friendly city, so chat away when you visit there! Sincerity and politeness in your dealings with people are key, though.

Baai is a contraction of Koebaai, which is Afrikaans slang for “Goodbye.” (Check out some of the other cool Afrikaans slang words we use in South Africa!)

A fairly common, yet new, convention is to say Baai-baai-baai in a hasty, almost absent-minded manner. Heaven knows where this originated from. Alternatively, you could say Baai-baai! or Ba-baai, which are both translations of the English “Bye-bye!” Children often greet this way.

Boy and Girl Standing at a Door Waving Goodbye.

A variation of this goodbye is the English Ta-Ta! It could be derived from the English slang for “thanks, which is “Ta!” So, then it would be like saying “Thanks-thanks!” Anyway, this is a very casual, informal way to say goodbye in Afrikaans, most often used with babies and children. Smile widely and wave enthusiastically while saying this!

3. Sien jou later! / “See you later!”

Like its English equivalent, this Afrikaans goodbye phrase is fairly casual and normally used when the parting is temporary. You could use this when you’ve made a fixed appointment or have a date with someone, or when you know you’re going to see them later in class or at work, for instance.

This phrase is considered an Anglicism, and is almost always used among people who are of equal status. However, it wouldn’t be considered rude to say this to your supervisor or boss.

The nuance is very subtle, but young people—or other Afrikaners who know each other extremely well—won’t, as a rule, say goodbye in Afrikaans this way. It’s just a smidgen more formal and polite than other phrases, and more common among older folks living in rural areas. That said, there’s nothing wrong with saying bye in Afrikaans this way if you opt to do so!

A Girl with a Book and a Bag Waving Goodbye to Fellow Students.

4. Sien jou weer. / “See you again.” 

This one’s a variation of the previous greeting. It’s typically not used literally, though, meaning you don’t need to have a fixed date or appointment with someone to use this phrase. It’s more of a polite and friendly way for equals to part ways when they don’t know each other very well. 

For instance, you could confidently use this goodbye phrase with acquaintances in the workplace or when parting ways with someone you met at a party. It’s more of a polite conversation filler than a sincere wish.

Businessman Greeting a Woman with a Handshake.

The phrase is often used with the adverbial graag, like this: Sien jou graag weer. There’s no literal translation for graag in English. It adds a sense of willingness and eagerness to the phrase (such as “really” does, in English), and it could indicate that you mean what you say. Use this one with some care, though, as you don’t want to appear overly eager or needy.

5. Geniet die dag. / “Have a good day.”

This is another popular Anglicism, and it’s slightly more formal than the previous one. Often, the local dominee (“pastor”), apteker (“pharmacist”), or skoolhoof (“school headmaster”) will use it as a friendly, benevolent phrase to see people off with.

Woman in Green Top Waving Goodbye.

While a wave and a smile will do, this one can be accompanied by a handshake. It’s also common to combine it with Totsiens, as in: Totsiens, Magda. Geniet die dag! (“Goodbye, Magda. Enjoy your day!”)

A common variation is: Geniet jou dag. (Literally: “Enjoy your day.”)

6. Kyk mooi na jouself. / “Take care.”

Kyk mooi na jouself is used a little differently from the English “Take care,” even though it means the same thing. It’s seldom used as a stand-alone goodbye in Afrikaans, but rather gets used like this: Totsiens en kyk mooi na jouself, Magda. (“Goodbye and take care, Magda.”) 

Changing the word order is also acceptable, like this: Kyk mooi na jouself, Magda. Totsiens. (“Take care. Goodbye, Magda.”)

This is often used by someone who wants to express concern for the other person. A parent would say goodbye like this to their child who’s leaving for college in another city, for example. Or a caring colleague would say this to someone on sick leave. You could also round off a conversation with this phrase when visiting a friend, colleague, or loved one in the hospital.

Female Patient in Wheelchair Greeting Someone with a Handshake

7. Mooi loop! / Literally: “Walk well!”

This phrase is a more casual variation of the former Kyk mooi na jouself (“Take care”), and it’s a very typical Afrikaans saying. These days, it’s mostly used by older Afrikaners.

It can be used in any situation, and implies that you wish a pleasant journey for the other person. However, it’s not reserved only for people who are actually going on a journey!

Mooi loop! can be used as a stand-alone goodbye. However, it’s not really appropriate if the person you’re greeting is of much higher rank than you, or if your relationship with them is formal.

Pretty Woman Waving Goodbye

8. Goed gewees om jou te sien. / “Good seeing you.”

This colloquial goodbye phrase is pretty self-explanatory—use it when you want to indicate that an encounter with someone has been a pleasant experience. It can be used when meeting up with, or bumping into, an acquaintance or friend you haven’t seen for a long while. In such a case, you would probably add the adverb: weer (“again”), as in: Goed gewees om jou weer te sien. (“Good seeing you again.”) However, the additional adverb is completely optional.

Two Businesswomen Exchanging a Friendly Handshake.

This phrase can also be written in a thank-you note to the hosts after an event such as a wedding or school reunion. It can denote slight formality, but older, very polite or official Afrikaners often use it as a standard parting phrase.

9. Ek gaan nou loop. OR Ek loop nou. / “I’m leaving now.” OR “I’m out.”

There are two distinct ways of using this goodbye in Afrikaans. 

First, the positive scenario: 

Picture yourself at work after a long Friday at the office, or after an exhausting shift at the hospital. You’ve just gotten done with work and are free to go. That’s it! You grab your stuff and cheerfully announce your departure (to nobody in particular) with this phrase. Whoever hears it will perfectly get your mood and intention, and may even follow suit. This is a very casual phrase and most often followed by a friendly, if not absent-minded, Baai! or Totsiens!

Man Putting Jacket on to Leave Office Work

Then there’s the less positive scenario: 

You’re engaged in an argument with a friend or Special Person (SP), but it’s clear that the conversation is going nowhere. Perhaps one of you gives up and leaves with a curt, unfriendly: Ek loop nou. (“I’m out.”) Just like the English expression, the way you say it makes all the difference. We recommend that you don’t use this too often, though, as it can be somewhat passive-aggressive if you’re the stubborn, unrelenting one! 

10. Ek moet hardloop. / “I gotta run.”

Like its English counterpart, this phrase denotes a sense of urgency, and it could imply that you’re late for another appointment. 

It’s actually more of a statement than a real goodbye in Afrikaans! Therefore, it’s most often used with the prefix Dis laat (“It’s late”), as in: Dis laat, ek moet hardloop. (“It’s late, I must run.”)

However, Afrikaners sometimes use it as an out when we feel a bit stuck in a conversation or situation! You know, to escape from that person who seems unable to read your body language. Or from your slightly inebriated colleagues who don’t want to let you leave after a work party.

In these cases, a more serious phrase would be appropriate, such as: Ek moet gaan. (“I must go.”) If said with a tone of urgency and a glance at your phone or watch, it could be all you need to get away! Legitimate and useful, but don’t use it too often with people you care about. They might feel that you don’t have time for them.

This phrase is always used with Baai! or the slightly more formal Totsiens.

Businessman Looking at His Watch, Ready to Leave Work.

11. Vaarwel. / “Farewell.”

Vaarwel is no longer used in spoken Afrikaans, unless you’re on stage and wishing your beloved from another era a melodramatic goodbye. It means you’re never going to see that person again, but these days (fortunately), its use is pretty outdated. 

The word originates from a time when it was more common to say goodbye to people forever. Imagine a girl from the 1600s sobbing inconsolably on a harbor, while waving to her sailor lover on a ship that’s heading out toward new, uncharted worlds. It literally means the same as the English version: “Sail well.” The chances of their reunification were very slim, though, so saying Vaarwel usually meant goodbye forever.

Two Male Hands in a Handshake.

2. Body Language and Gestures When You Say Goodbye in Afrikaans

When you say goodbye, body language is just as important as the words you use.

A) Eye Contact, Smiling, and Keeping a Distance

Afrikaners like friendly people! But more than that, it’s important to remember that natural, spontaneous eye contact, in particular, is big among Afrikaners. It shows that you’ve got nothing to hide and are willing to allow other people to “read” you. 

Ferociously staring in a deadly eyelock is unnecessary, though. No need to impersonate Ghengis Khan or Derren Brown to show your sincerity! Afrikaners would find this inappropriate and scary. 

In the same vein, saying goodbye with eye contact that says “Helloooo Baby…” is not appropriate either. Maintaining eye contact for too long, or doing so in an intimate manner, will make Afrikaners feel uncomfortable. Unless you intend to seduce, of course! In this case, different etiquette will apply—seduction is an art best approached with circumspection. 

Afrikaners are a warm and friendly people, but we don’t like over-explicit sensual gestures in public, especially in more conservative communities and rural areas. We make reasonable allowance for couples in love, of course, but our manners in this regard are still rather British.

Beautiful Girl Looking Seductively Over Her Shoulder.

Afrikaners tend to be private people, even when you know them well. So keeping at least a meter (or three feet)’s distance when saying goodbye is a safe move. If they indicate that they want you closer for a bear hug or an air kiss, then fine, but it’s better for you not to initiate this yourself.

How you say goodbye in Afrikaans, concerning your gestures and actions, will definitely depend on how well you know the people.

B) Close Friends and Family

If you know the person very well, hugs are not only permitted when you say goodbye—they’re often required! This is especially true if the parting is going to be a long, sad one. Unless they’re family or your SP, don’t hug too tightly though. 

Kissing is also allowed, even on the lips, if you’re close. But then, only a peck. A kiss on the cheek is also appropriate for friends.

As a rule, Afrikaner men avoid public displays of affection, especially with other men. Most often, they will shake hands, just like they do when they first greet. That said, even men are known to briefly hug a close friend with a casual arm slung over the shoulders. Cameradie is important, especially if the goodbye is difficult.

Couple Saying Goodbye to Friends at Home, Men Shaking Hands

Fist-bump goodbyes are increasingly popular among young people and school kids, as is throwing the V-sign (or victory sign), with the fore and middle fingers raised in a fist. It’s also called the Peace Sign. However, this gesture is particular to a specific demographic. So, don’t use it with the bank manager, a police officer, or your boss, for instance. Unless they’re also a rapper, of course.

Young Rapper Showing the Victory Sign (also Called Peace Sign) with Both Hands

While we don’t like melodrama, we’ll understand if you’re too sad for a smile. A few tears are acceptable, even welcomed, but save the total breakdown for when you’re alone in private. Your Afrikaner friends will understand if you cry, and will try to console you—but they might feel a bit embarrassed, too. As mentioned, we don’t love public displays of strong emotion, as it makes us feel vulnerable.

Unless you’re very close! Then go ahead; a good bawling session will likely be infectious and solidify your bond even more. Make sure to keep the tissues close for everyone, though; your efficiency will be appreciated.

Couple Saying a Sad Goodbye at An Airport or Railway Station.

C) Informal and Formal Situations: Etiquette When Saying Goodbye to Women

Men, be respectful when you hug an Afrikaner woman who’s not your significant other. Be sensitive to the signals she sends you, and if she doesn’t indicate that it’s okay, or if you’re not sure, don’t reach for a hug at all! 

An air kiss by the ear or cheek while lightly touching her shoulder would probably be the safest option (if she’s a relatively close friend). You don’t want to look for trouble with her Afrikaner husband; they’re notoriously protective of their women! The best thing may be to just offer your hand for a handshake, regardless of the situation. Allow her to take the lead.

D) Informal and Formal Situations: Etiquette for Colleagues and Strangers

In most cases, a smile, eye contact, and a handshake would be appropriate and acceptable among Afrikaner men and women. Offer your right hand and keep a respectful distance.

If the person is senior to you, wait for them to offer their hand first, though. This is a sign of respect. Jutting your hand out first toward the CEO of your company or a dignitary, such as a cabinet minister, would be considered a bit too forward.

3. How AfrikaansPod101 Can Help You Master Saying Goodbye in Afrikaans!

We hope you enjoyed learning about how to say goodbye in Afrikaans with us. Are you ready to start practicing the vocabulary, or do you still have questions? Let us know in the comments!

AfrikaansPod101 takes the lead with many excellent Afrikaans learning tools to help you master the language easily and almost effortlessly. We have so many learning options for you! 

Our well-researched tools include:

1. An extensive series of vocabulary lists, updated regularly.

2. A new Afrikaans word to learn every day. Master these words easily with our recordings and flashcards!

3. Access to numerous recordings, such as this Afrikaans Vocab Builder.

4. A free Afrikaans online dictionary.

5. An excellent 100 Core Afrikaans Words list!

Learn much faster with the help of a personal tutor, who will first let you take an assessment to personalize your training.

These teachers are very helpful when you bump into challenges during your studies. Your very own friendly, Afrikaans-speaking teacher will be only a text away on a special app, anywhere, anytime. Using a guided learning system, which was developed by experts in language and online education, they’ll be giving you personal feedback and constant support so you can learn and improve quickly. You’ll also be tasked with weekly assignments in reading, writing, and speaking, to really hone your Afrikaans language skills. 

Don’t hesitate—enroll with AfrikaansPod101 now!

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