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The 200+ Best Afrikaans Words for Beginners

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After the alphabet, mastering Afrikaans beginner words is the best place to start your Afrikaans learning journey. (Don’t have the Afrikaans alphabet under the belt yet? No problem! You should find this article and the free downloadable Guide for Beginners very useful.) Learning beginner words is essential in building vocabulary for basic communication.

If you’re busy trying to get your foot in the door and learn the basics of Afrikaans, then this is your one-stop vocabulary list for the most important Afrikaans words for beginners! For your convenience, we’ve grouped them into the main word types and included a few sample sentences to illustrate their use.


The Letters ABC on a Notebook with a Pencil.

Begin Afrikaans leer met eenvoudige woordeskat. / “Start learning Afrikaans with simple vocabulary.”

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Selfstandige Naamwoorde / “Common Nouns”
  2. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Byvoeglike Naamwoorde / “Adjectives”
  3. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Voornaamwoorde / “Pronouns”
  4. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Telwoorde / “Counting Words”
  5. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Werkwoorde / “Verbs”
  6. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Bywoorde / “Adverbs”
  7. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Voegwoorde / “Conjunctions”
  8. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Lidwoorde / “Articles”
  9. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Voorsetsels / “Prepositions”
  10. Let AfrikaansPod101 Help You Learn Even More Afrikaans!

1. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Selfstandige Naamwoorde / “Common Nouns”

Nouns are the words we use to identify people, places, animals, and things. Beginners should focus on learning the Afrikaans words for the most familiar people as well as the most common places and items.

Fun Fact: Do you know the longest Afrikaans noun in existence? Nobody will blame you if you don’t—it’s 136 letters long and not commonly used at all!

Tweedehandsemotorverkoopsmannevakbondstakingsvergaderingsameroeperstoespraakskrywer-spersverklaringuitreikingsmediakonferensieaankondiging roughly translates to: “issuable media conference’s announcement at a press release regarding the convener’s speech at a second-hand car dealership union’s strike meeting.”

A Red Classic Sports Car.

Die langste aangetekende woord in Afrikaans het te doen met ‘n persverklaring oor die uniestaking van tweedehandse-motor handelaars. / “The longest recorded word in Afrikaans is about a media release dealing with the union strike of secondhand-car dealerships.”

Note: The following nouns are all in the singular form, except for a few irregular nouns that remain identical for the plural and singular forms.


Selfstandige Naamwoorde / “Common Nouns”
AfrikaansEnglish
Mense en Familie / “People and Relatives”
vrou, man, kind, babawoman, man, child, baby
mamom
padad
seun, dogter, meisieson / boy, daughter, girl
ouma, oupagrandmother, grandfather
oom, tannie

Note: These nouns are the names we call our parents’ siblings

They’re also casual forms of address for Afrikaans people a lot older than us, even when we’re not related. This is a sign of respect towards older folks. The younger generation doesn’t care much how you address them, but, especially in more formal situations, it would be prudent to wait for an invitation before using people’s first names.
uncle, aunt / auntie
Liggaamsdele / “Body Parts”
lyf / liggaam, kop, hare, oorbody, head, hair, ear
oog, neus, mond, tandeye, nose, mouth, tooth
arm, hand, vinger, naelarm, hand, finger, nail
been, voet, toonleg, foot, toe
Tyd / “Time”
uur, minuuthour, minute
dag, week, maand, jaarday, week, month, year
Beroep / “Profession”
baas, werkerboss, worker
dokter, verpleegkundigedoctor, nurse
onderwyser, polisiebeampteteacher, police officer
Alledaagse Items  / “Everyday Items”
pen, papier, potlood, boekpen, paper, pencil, book
selfoon, rekenaarcell/mobile phone, computer
huis, stoel, tafel, bedhouse, chair, table, bed
bord, mes, vurk, lepelplate, knife, fork, spoon
klere, broek, hemp, rok, jas, skoen/eclothes, pants, shirt, dress, jacket, shoe/s
Kos en Drank / “Food and Drink”
vrug, groente, vleis

Note: Vleis and groente are irregular nouns that remain the same for the singular and plural forms.
fruit, vegetable, meat
brood, suiker, eierbread, sugar, egg
pap, sous, kaas, pastacereal / porridge, gravy, cheese, pasta
water, koffie, tee, melk

Note: Melk is an irregular noun as it remains the same for the singular and plural forms. Also, the Afrikaans waters (“waters”) is not a plural, but a mass name describing a big expanse of water. It’s a rather poetic term not commonly used in the vernacular.

The use of the plural for tee (“tea”) is also uncommon.
water, coffee, tea, milk
Plekke en Geboue / “Places and Buildings”
land, stad, dorpcountry, city, town
huis, tuiste, tuinhouse, home, garden
kerk, skool, winkelchurch, school, shop
Diere / “Animals”
kat, hond, voëlcat, dog, bird
slang, muis, perdsnake, mouse, horse

A Black-and-White Cat Playing with Feathers.

Die kat speel. / “The cat is playing.”

Got these easy Afrikaans words for beginners? Great! If you’re keen to speed up your learning, then also take a look at this article: Learn the 100 Most Common Nouns in Afrikaans.

Now for a few sentences with nouns and other basic Afrikaans words for beginners:

  • My vrou is mooi. / “My wife is pretty.”
  • Hy is ‘n dokter. / “He is a doctor.”
  • Dit is ons huis. / “This is our house.”
  • Die kat speel. / “The cat is playing.”

2. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Byvoeglike Naamwoorde / “Adjectives”

In sentences, adjectives are used to tell us more about the nouns. Adjectives possess a few characteristics:

  1. They can add color and vibrancy to otherwise bland language. 
  2. Sometimes, they’re simply informative and descriptive so as to assure accuracy and understanding.
  3. Another feature is that they have degrees of comparison. For example: vinnig, vinniger, vinnigste / “fast, faster, fastest.”
  4. In a sentence, they usually appear…
    …in front of a noun, which makes them attributiewe byvoeglike naamwoorde / “attributive adjectives.” (E.g. Dit is ‘n vinnige trein. / “It is a fast train.”)
    …or after the linking verb, which makes them predikatiewe byvoeglike naamwoorde / “predicative adjectives.” (E.g. Die trein is vinnig. / “The train is fast.”)

Note: Did you notice how the Afrikaans adjective modifies, depending on its position in the sentence?

An Express Train Entering a Station.

Die trein is vinnig. / “The train is fast.”

For the purpose of this article, we’re only listing adjectives in their predicative form. This means that if you want to form a “beginner” sentence, you can simply insert any of the following adjectives after the linking verb is.

Byvoeglike Naamwoorde / “Adjectives”
AfrikaansEnglish
vriendelikfriendly
nors / onvriendelikgrumpy / unfriendly
oulikcute
goedgood
slegbad
vlakshallow
diepdeep
stadigslow
vinnigfast
hardhard OR loud
sagsoft
soetsweet
positiefpositive
negatiefnegative
grootbig
kleinsmall
mooipretty
lelikugly
maklikeasy
moeilikdifficult
bangscared / afraid
kortshort
vetfat
maerthin
rykrich / wealthy
armpoor
slimsmart
domstupid
meermore
minderless
blou, geel, rooi (All colors are adjectives, only occasionally nouns.)blue, yellow, red
helder clear / bright
snaaksfunny
moegtired
boon top
onderunder / below
agter behind
lanklong
suiwerpure

Here’s what predicative adjectives would look like in beginner Afrikaans sentences.

  • Die water is suiwer. / “The water is pure.”
  • Ons reis is lank. / “Our journey is long.”
  • Die grap is snaaks. / “This joke is funny.”

A Young Child Laughing with Abandon.

Die grap is snaaks. / “The joke is funny.”

Ready to speak and write more descriptively? That’s great! Be sure to take a look at The Essential Afrikaans Adjectives List for more inspiration. 

3. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Voornaamwoorde / “Pronouns”

Most languages have different types of pronouns, which are substitutes or “place keepers” for articles and nouns. Without them, a language would sound clumsy, because you would repeatedly be using articles and nouns (such as “the boy”, or the boy’s name—Aiden, for instance) in sentences. Pronouns allow you to sometimes replace “the boy”, or “Aiden”, with “he”, and to refer to Aiden’s possessions as “his”. 

So, to be clear—in this example, “he” and “his” are two of the three types of pronouns in English.

Because pronouns are so common, have an important syntactic purpose, and are usually not that complex to learn, we’ve included them in our list of basic Afrikaans words for beginners. Also, take a look at this Best List of Must-Know Afrikaans Pronouns!

In the list below, we’ve differentiated between different types of pronouns, as this information is good to know from the onset.

3.1 Persoonlike Voornaamwoorde – Voorwerp/ “Personal Pronouns – Subject”

Note: Personal pronouns are the subject in sentences, or, in other words—they perform the action as indicated by the verb.

To illustrate with a simple English sentence: “He helps me”.

He = personal pronoun, subject (performing the action.)
me = personal pronoun, direct object (‘receiving’ the action.)

AfrikaansEnglish
ekI
u – singular and plural formalyou
jy – singular informalyou
hyhe
syshe
ditit
onswe
julle – plural, informalyou
hullethey
  • Ek eet. / “I eat.” OR “I am eating.”
  • Sy is welkom. / “She is welcome.”
  • Dit styg op” / “It’s taking off.”

Suitcases Stacked by an Airport Window, with a Plane Taking Off in the Background.

Dit styg op” / “It’s taking off.”

3.2 Persoonlike Voornaamwoorde – Onderwerp/ “Personal Pronouns – Object”

The object pronouns, as the name indicates, serve as the object in a sentence. Or, in other words, it indicates the person or object who ‘receives’ or upon whom an action is performed, so to speak. 

To use our previous example sentence: “He helps me“.

He = personal pronoun, subject (performing the action.)
me = personal pronoun, direct object (‘receiving’ the action.)

AfrikaansEnglish
myme
jou – singular informalyou
homhim
haarher
dit 

Note: When this refers to something or someone, it’s a personal pronoun. However, like in English, it’s also used to refer to natural or other phenomena such as rain, snow, wind, haunting, etc. Then it’s called an onpersoonlike voornaamwoord (literally: “impersonal pronoun”). Such as in the sentence: Dit spook (literally: “It is haunting”) or Dit reën (“It is raining”).
it
julle – plural, informalthem
hulleme
  • Dit pla my. / “It bothers me.”
  • Die man soen haar. / “The man kisses her.”
  • Sy kul ons. / “She is cheating us.”

A Young Man Kisses a Girl Lovingly on the Forehead.

Die man soen haar. / “The man kisses her.”

3.3 Besitlike Voornaamwoorde / “Possessive Pronouns”

As the name suggests, these pronouns indicate possession. Some are modified depending on their position in a sentence, but we will not be looking at any modifications here.

AfrikaansEnglish
mymy
jou – singular, informalyour
u – singular and plural, formalyour
syhis
haarher
onsour
julle – plural, informalyour/s
hulletheir
  • Vra sy ma. / “Ask his mom.”
  • Dis haar boek. / “It’s her book.”
  • Hulle kos is lekker. / “Their food is tasty.”

A Smiling Chef Preparing a Vegetable Dish.

Hulle kos is lekker. / “Their food is tasty.”

3.4 Aanwysende Voornaamwoorde / “Demonstrative Pronouns”

These pronouns are used to indicate something specific in a sentence. Beginners only need to master one.

AfrikaansEnglish
dié

Note: This can be a pronoun OR an article, depending on whether it’s used with a noun. Often, die is pronounced with emphasis when it’s used as a pronoun.
this
  • Dié is mooi. / “This is pretty.”

3.5 Vraende Voornaamwoorde / “Interrogative Pronouns”

These pronouns appear most often at the start of a sentence, or alone as a question. Here are the beginner ones. 

They’re also referred to as “question words” and many of them start with “W”.

AfrikaansEnglish
Wat?What?
Wie?Who?
Waar?Where?
Wanneer?When?
Hoe?How?
  • Wat doen jy? / “What are you doing?”
  • Wie is dit? / “Who is that?”
  • Waar is die badkamer? / “Where is the bathroom?”

Public Restroom Signs.

Waar is die badkamer? / “Where is the bathroom?”

4. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Telwoorde / “Counting Words”

These words always have something to do with numbers. The only type of counting word we’re going to look at here is called bepaalde hooftelwoorde (approximate: “primary counting words”). These are basically the names of numbers.

When you’re studying a new language, numbers are important to learn right from the start. They’re used to indicate important things such as the date and time, age, quantity, and lots more!

The numbers one through ten are very easy Afrikaans words for beginners. However, if you’re looking to learn more about the subject, you might find this article helpful: The Best Tips About Afrikaans Numbers 1 – 30 and Beyond.

Telwoorde / “Counting Words”
AfrikaansEnglish
1. eenone
2. tweetwo
3. driethree
4. vierfour
5. vyffive
6. sessix
7. seweseven
8. agteight
9. negenine
10. tienten
  • Aiden het twee selfone. / Literally: “Aiden has two cell phones.”
  • ‘n Week het sewe dae. / “A week has seven days.”
  • Sy is tien jaar oud. / “She is ten years old.”

Odd Numbers 1— 9.

Ongelyke getalle / “Odd numbers”

5. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Werkwoorde / “Verbs”

Verbs, as you know, are the words that name the action or actions in a sentence. 

When learning a new language, these are crucial words to know and might possibly be the most difficult to learn. This is because verbs, being action words, also tend to be the ones that change according to tense. This change in verbs is called “conjugation”.

Grammar Tip: Conjugations also appear in Afrikaans, but fortunately, learning these tense-based adaptations of verbs is not that difficult. One of the reasons for this is that, in Afrikaans, the verb form does not change for different persons. We only use verb conjugations for time! 

Most languages share this feature. Conjugation often includes the following features:
  • the spelling of the verb changes completely, 
  • another word is added to the verb, or
  • the ending or beginning of the verb is altered.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll be looking at the different types of Afrikaans verbs, with a brief overview of how to use them in the present tense only. The present tense refers to actions taking place in the present, and in Afrikaans, it’s easy to learn. Unlike in English, there are no additional forms of the present tense (such as the present continuous tense, for instance).

What’s important is that the present tense refers to something that is always true or done on a regular basis. It’s also used for something that is occurring now.

Two Young Women Walking Arm-in-arm in the Snow.

Hulle loop. / “They are walking” OR “They walk.”

5.1 Hoofwerkwoorde  / “Independent Verbs”

These are the most commonly used verbs in the present tense.

AfrikaansEnglish
loopwalk (or run, for water)
staanstand
sitsit
lay
slaapsleep
droomdream
hardlooprun
drafjog
pakpack
studeerstudy
skryfwrite
tiktype
speelplay
werkwork
kryget / fetch
nooiinvite
swemswim
fliekmovie
kieschoose
mismiss
kuiervisit / hang out
betaalpay
helphelp
toertour
geegive
neem / vattake
blystay
gaango
reënrain
maakmake
praattalk
hou vanlike
vindfind
dinkthink
koopbuy
verkoopsell
bringbring
belphone
vraask
siensee
roepcall
weetknow
dinkthink
praattalk
geselschat
laglaugh
skreeshout
huilcry
waaiwave
kyklook
luisterlisten
eeteat
proeto taste
drinkdrink
herhaalrepeat
stuursend
  • Die man slaap. / “The man sleeps.”
  • Hy droom. / “He is dreaming.”
  • Hy . / “He lays (down).”

A Man Sleeping in Bed.

Hy droom. / “He is dreaming.” OR “He dreams.”

5.2. Koppelwerkwoorde / “Linking Verbs”

Linking verbs are those words in sentences that join a subject with a specific word or phrase that gives more information about it (the subject). 

Linking verbs are easily confused with main verbs, but as I mentioned before, they are always followed by an adjective, i.e. a word or phrase that qualifies the subject in a sentence.

Koppelwerkwoorde / “Linking Verbs”
AfrikaansEnglish
isis
smaaktastes
klinksound
ruiksmell
lyklook
voelfeel
  • Sy lyk moeg. / “She looks tired.”
  • Die kos smaak fantasties. / “The food tastes fantastic.”
  • Ek voel goed. / “I feel good.”

A Young Man Laughing Heartily

Ek voel goed. / “I feel good.”

6. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Bywoorde / “Adverbs”

Adverbs are verbs’ best friends—they tell us more about them. 

Note: You’ll see that adjectives and adverbs have similar functions and that their differentiation depends on the presence of a main verb. Just like adjectives, adverbs add flavor and flair to language, as well as details to increase accuracy and specificity.

As you’ve already learned, the linking or be-verb (koppelwerkwoord) is / “is” in a sentence indicates that the following word (or phrase) could be an adjective because it qualifies the noun. 

Grammar Tip: If there’s no linking verb in a sentence, it indicates that you’re probably dealing with an adverb.

For instance:
  1. Adjective: Die man is vinnig. / “The man is fast.” – with the linking verb is (“is”).
  2. Adverb: Die man hardloop vinnig. / “The man runs fast.” – without a linking verb.
Did you notice that vinnig (“fast”) in the second sentence modifies the main verb (“runs”), and not the noun (“man”)? Important to note is that in English, this only applies to the simple present and future tenses—not the present continuous. We don’t have these types of time distinctions in Afrikaans.

In Afrikaans, we have different types of adverbs, of which the following will be good to know as beginner words in Afrikaans:

  1. Bywoorde van wyse – “Adverbs of manner”
  2. Bywoorde van plek – “Adverbs of place”
  3. Bywoorde van tyd – “Adverbs of time”
  4. Bywoorde van graad – “Adverbs of degree”

A Grandfather Walks Hand-in-hand with His Two Small Grandchildren in the Road.

Hulle loop stadig. / “They walk slowly.” OR “They are walking slowly.”

6.1 Bywoorde van Wyse / “Adverbs of Manner”

Adverbs of manner tell us more about the nature of common verbs.

AfrikaansEnglish
hardloudly / hard
sagsoftly
hooghighly
laaglow
wonderlikwonderfully
goedwell
slegbadly / poorly
heerlikApproximate: tasty, wonderful
vinnigfast
stadigslowly
bangscary
moegtiredly
  • Hy skryf goed. / “He writes well.”
  • Dit voel hard. / “It feels hard.”
  • Die pannekoek proe heerlik. / Approximate: “The pancake tastes wonderful.”

A Plate of Chinese Pancakes with Meat and Veg.

Die pannekoek smaak heerlik. / Approximate: “The pancake tastes wonderful.”

6.2 Bywoorde van Plek / “Adverbs of Position/Place”

As you can probably guess, adverbs of position tell us more about where an action takes place.

AfrikaansEnglish
buiteoutside
binneinside
oralseverywhere
hierhere
daarthere
  • Ons sit binne. / “We are sitting inside.”
  • Dit sneeu buite. / “It snows outside.”
  • Daar loop hy. / Literally: “There he walks.”

A Few Women Are Walking with Umbrellas in the Snowstorm.

Dit sneeu buite. / “It snows outside.”

6.3 Bywoorde van Tyd / “Adverbs of Time”

These adverbs will answer questions related to time, such as “When?” or “What day?”

AfrikaansEnglish
vandagtoday
gisteryesterday
moretomorrow
nounow
danthen
laterlater
  • Ek werk vandag. / “I’m working today.”
  • Sy speel more. / “She’s playing tomorrow.”
  • Nou slaap die baba. / “Now the baby sleeps.”

A Sleeping Baby in Its Mother's Arms.

Nou slaap die baba. / “Now the baby sleeps.”

6.4 Bywoorde van Graad / “Adverbs of Degree”

These adverbs are often words that answer the question: “How much?” Just like in English, they indicate the intensity of an act. While you’re still mastering the basics of Afrikaans, you only need to know this one:

AfrikaansEnglish
baievery
  • DIe appel lyk baie goed. / “The apple looks very good.”

A Shiny, Red Apple with a Single Leaf.

Die appel lyk baie goed. / “The apple looks very good.”

7. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Voegwoorde / “Conjunctions”

As you know, conjunctions are the so-called glue-words in Germanic languages. Their purpose is simple; they combine words, phrases, clauses, and sentences. For the purpose of this article, we’ll only look at the basics.


AfrikaansEnglish
maarbut
enand
want / omdatbecause
ofor
  • Ek praat maar hy bly stil. / “I talk but he keeps quiet.”
  • Ons slaap of ons kuier. / “We sleep or we chat.”
  • Die weer is koud en nat. / “The weather is cold and wet.”

A Young Woman Dressed in Winter Gear, Standing in the Snow Shivering.

Die weer is koud en nat. / “The weather is cold and wet.”

8. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Lidwoorde / “Articles” 

Just like English, Afrikaans has only two articles—‘n (“a”) and die (“the”)—and in a sentence, they always take position ahead of a noun.


Die is a bepaalde lidwoord (“definite article”) that refers to something or someone specific. It’s used for both singular and plural nouns.
  • Die slim politikus / “The clever politician”
  • Die politikusse / “The politicians”
‘n is an onbepaalde lidwoord (“indefinite article”). It refers to a thing or person in general and always in the singular. Note that, in Afrikaans, this article remains a lower-case letter even at the start of sentences and phrases. The word that follows it is always written with a capital letter.
  • ‘n Slim politikus / “A clever politician”
  • ‘n Vorm / “A form”

9. Afrikaans Beginner Words – Voorsetsels / “Prepositions”

Prepositions are the last basic Afrikaans words for beginners that we’re going to look at. In a sentence, prepositions indicate the relative position of or the relationship between two separately expressed concepts

Note: They can indicate place and are therefore easily confused with adverbs of place, but don’t worry about that distinction too much at this point. Just learn the following, as they’re the most frequently used Afrikaans prepositions.  

Voorsetsels / “Prepositions”
AfrikaansEnglish
bo / bo-opon (top of)
onderunder
inin
uitout
  • Ek sit op die stoel. / “I’m sitting on the chair.”
  • Klim in die kar. / “Get in the car.”
  • Die lekkergoed val uit die blik uit. / “The candy falls out of the tin.”

A Woman Wearing a Large Hat, Sitting in a Beach Chair by the Seaside.

Ek sit op die stoel. / “I’m sitting on the chair.” OR “I sit on the chair.”

And that’s it, your list of easy Afrikaans words for beginners! 

10. Let AfrikaansPod101 Help You Learn Even More Afrikaans!

In this article on words in Afrikaans for beginners, you learned the core words you should know in a variety of categories. But don’t stop here! 

AfrikaansPod101 has so much more in store for you. 

When you sign up, you get instant access to tools like:

1. The Afrikaans Core 100 Word List

2. A new Afrikaans word to learn every day

3. An extensive vocabulary list library, regularly updated

4. A free Afrikaans online dictionary

5. Monthly video talks and shows to help you learn easier and faster, and stay motivated

Don’t hesitate to subscribe now! With our excellent Afrikaans word lessons for beginners, you’ll build a solid foundation to help you master the language and sound like a native in no time.

Before you go: How many of these words did you know already? Let us know 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. She’s been writing for InnovativeLanguage.com since 2017.

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