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The Best Guide to Easy Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners

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If you’re still wondering why you should learn Afrikaans, consider this—according to a recent poll, Afrikaans is the third most spoken language in South Africa, and close to half a million South Africans speak it outside of the country’s borders. Also, consider this article for more reasons to study this interesting language!

Ready to dip your toes into the deep and refreshing waters of Afrikaans? Start strong by learning the most important Afrikaans phrases for beginners, all compiled in this handy guide from AfrikaansPod101.

A Nurse Talking with an Elderly Patient

Mense voel gemakliker wanneer jy hulle taal praat. / “People feel more comfortable when you speak their language.”

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Basic Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners: Social Etiquette
  2. Easy Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners: Greetings and Introductions
  3. Basic Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners: On the Move
  4. Basic Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners: In Shops and Restaurants
  5. More Essential Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners
  6. Formal vs. Informal Speech for Afrikaans Beginners
  7. Easily Learn Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners at AfrikaansPod101.com!

1. Basic Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners: Social Etiquette

I’m going to start with the most common Afrikaans words and phrases for beginners that will ensure a positive response from native speakers. These phrases specifically oil the gears of civil, friendly conversation, so they’re important to know. Why not memorize them straight away? (You could use this free audio lesson, too.)

A Couple being Welcomed to an Upscale Restaurant or Hotel by the Concierge or Head Waiter

Gebruik goeie Afrikaanse beginner frases in enige situasie. / “Use good Afrikaans beginner phrases in any situation.”

In South Africa, using the following phrases is considered good social etiquette. One could view them as pleasantries, or “polite social remarks,” as the Merriam-Webster Dictionary would have it.

You’ll notice that they’re very similar to the pleasantries used in other Germanic languages.

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Baie dankie.Meaning: “Thank you very much.”
Literally: Many thank you.
Dankie.Meaning: “Thank you.” 
Nee, dankie.Meaning: “No, thanks.”
Ja, dankie.Meaning: “Yes, thanks.”
Plesier!Meaning: “Pleasure!”

Informal
Dis ‘n plesier.

NOTES: This, and the previous pleasantry, are the Afrikaans responses to any form of dankie (“thank you”).

The Afrikaans equivalents of “You’re welcome,” “It’s nothing,” and “No problem,” are adapted from English. However, Dis ‘n plesier is one of the oldest recorded responses to Dankie.
Meaning: “It’s a pleasure.”







Formal and semi-formal
Asseblief

NOTES: Like native English speakers, Afrikaners use “please” and “thank you” often because it’s considered a show of respect. This is important, especially when dealing with strangers.

More important than that, though, is your tone of voice and body language

You will be forgiven if you forget to say “please” or “thank you” to a stranger, as long as you’re addressing them calmly and with an appropriate level of friendliness while maintaining eye contact. (No need to stare like a psycho! Simply being friendly and sincere will do.)
Meaning: “Please” 
Verskoon my. / Ekskuus.

NOTE: Like in English, these polite terms are used to attract someone’s attention.
Meaning: “Pardon me.” / “Excuse me.”

Formal
Jammer! / Askies!

NOTE: These can be used in lieu of Verskoon my or Ekskuus, somewhat like the British habit of apologizing for just about everything!
Meaning: “Sorry!”


2. Easy Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners: Greetings and Introductions

First impressions matter! Boost yours enormously by fluently greeting, introducing yourself, and saying goodbye with these basic Afrikaans phrases for beginners.

Three People in the Workplace Greeting One Another

Maak ‘n goeie indruk op jou Afrikaanse kollegas met jou Afrikaanse taalgebruik. / Approximate: “Impress your Afrikaans colleagues with your good grasp of the language.”

Many of these greetings can be used on their own in both informal and formal situations. (Read on for more information about formal forms of address!)

Now, let’s look at these easy Afrikaans beginner phrases for greetings and introductions.

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Haai! / Hallo!Meaning: “Hi!” / “Hello!”

Very casual
Haai daar! / Hallo daar!Meaning: “Hi there!” / “Hello there!”

Very casual
Goeiemore / Goeiedag / Goeienaand, Meneer Smit.Meaning: “Good morning / Good day / Good evening, Mister Smit.”

Formal
Goeiemore / Goeiedag / Goeienaand, Bernard!Meaning: “Good morning / Good day / Good evening, Bernard!”

Informal
Wat is jou naam?Meaning: “What is your name?”

Semi-informal and informal
Aangename kennis, my naam is Carol.Meaning: “Pleased to meet you; my name is Carol.”
Literally: Pleasant acquaintance; my name is Carol.

Formal and semi-formal
Goeienaand. Ek is Carol.Meaning: “Good evening. I am Carol.”

Informal and semi-informal

A Couple Meeting in the Street

Goeiemore! Hoe gaan dit? / “Good morning! How are you?”

In many cultures, inquiring about someone’s well-being is part of the greeting ritual. It’s the same in Afrikaner culture—we consider it polite and appropriate to ask someone how they’re doing when we’ve greeted them. 

Depending on how well we know each other, the reply can be contextual, detailed, and personal, or it can simply be an affirmation that everything’s fine. 

Here are the best Afrikaans beginner phrases for asking after someone’s well-being. We have also included phrases you could use in reply to these questions. 

    → Want to work on your pronunciation and build your vocabulary? Great! Check out this fantastic resource that’s completely free.

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Hoe gaan dit?Meaning: “How are you doing?”
Literally: How goes it?

Informal
Goed, dankie!Meaning: “Doing well, thank you!”
Literally: Good, thank you!

Informal
Hoe gaan dit met jou?
Meaning: “How are you doing?”
Literally: How goes it with you?

Formal and semi-informal
Dit gaan goed met my, dankie.Meaning: “I’m doing well, thank you.”
Literally: It goes good with me, thank you.

Formal and semi-informal

3. Basic Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners: On the Move

Are you a traveler planning to visit one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world? Great! For a better travel experience in South Africa, we recommend arming yourself with these Afrikaans phrases for beginners.

Cape Town, V&A Waterfront, South Africa

Waar is die winkels? / “Where are the shops?”

Note: In all these phrases, the nouns can be replaced as needed. For instance, in the question Waar is die winkels? (“Where are the shops?”), the specific article and the noun—die winkels (“the shops”)—can be replaced with the unspecific article ‘n (“a”) and any appropriate noun.

  • ‘n hospitaal / “a hospital”
  • ‘n petrol stasie / “a gas station”
  • die polisie stasie / “the police station”
  • ‘n taxi / “a taxi”
  • ‘n bus / “a bus” 

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Links
Regs
Reguit
Voor
Agter
Langs / Bo op
Left
Right
Straight
Ahead / Before
Behind / After
Next to / On top of
Ek is hier.Meaning: “I am here.”
Ons het geland. Meaning: “We have landed.”
Hy vertrek nou.Meaning: “He’s departing soon.”
Literally: He departs now.
Ek is van België af.Meaning: “I am from Belgium.”
Literally: I is from Belgium of.
Ek is op die lughawe.Meaning: “I am at the airport.”
Literally: I am on the airport.
Waar bly jy?Meaning: “Where do you stay?”
Literally: Where stay you?
Ek bly in die Mount Nelson Hotel.Meaning: “I’m staying at the Mount Nelson Hotel.”
Literally: I stay in the Mount Nelson Hotel.
Ons gaan strand toe.Meaning: “We’re going to the beach.”
Literally: We go beach to.
Waar is die winkels?Meaning: “Where are the shops?”
Literally: Where is the shops?
Ek soek ‘n apteek.Meaning: “I’m looking for a pharmacy.”
Literally: I seek a pharmacy.
Asseblief wys my op die padkaart.Meaning: “Please show me on the roadmap.”
Waarheen gaan hierdie trein?Meaning: “Where is this train going?”
Literally: Whereto goes this train?
Hoe laat vertrek ons?Meaning: “What time are we leaving?”
Literally: How late leave we?
Hoe laat arriveer ons?Meaning: “What time will we arrive?”
Literally: How late arrive we?
Die vlug is vertraag.Meaning: “The flight has been delayed.”
Literally: The flight is delayed.
Op watter dag?Meaning: “On which day?”

4. Basic Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners: In Shops and Restaurants

Shopping and eating are two inevitable activities, no matter where you find yourself. Here are the best phrases in Afrikaans for beginners who plan to eat out and rummage through flea markets and shops.

Three Ladies Enjoying a Meal at an Outdoor Restaurant

Die kos is heerlik. / “The food is delicious.”

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Ek het ‘n bespreking.Meaning: “I have a reservation.” 
Het julle ‘n tafel oop?Meaning: “Do you have a table available?” 
Literally: Have you a table open?
Die spyskaart, asseblief?Meaning: “The menu, please?”
Bedien julle wyn?Meaning: “Do you serve wine?”
Literally: Serve you wine?
Enige vegetariese disse?Meaning: “Do you serve vegetarian dishes?” 
Literally: Any vegetarian dishes?
Ek is allergies vir ___.Meaning: “I am allergic to ___.”
Ek wil hierdie hê, asseblief.Meaning: “I want this, please.”
Literally: I will this want, please.
Ek wil water hê, asseblief.Meaning: “I want water, please.”
Literally: I will water want, please.
Die kos is heerlik.Meaning: “The food is delicious.”
Dankie, dit was lekker.

NOTES: This phrase can be used not only to praise food, but also when an activity or experience was enjoyable. Lekker is a common slang word that’s used to indicate approval and enjoyment.

When dining in a formal context, however, only use this word to praise the food.
Meaning: “Thanks, that was nice.”
Literally: Thanks, that was tasty.
Die rekening, asseblief?Meaning: “The check, please?”
Ek wil betaal.Meaning: “I want to pay.”
Literally: I will pay.
Neem julle kredietkaarte?Meaning: “Do you take credit cards?”
Literally: Take you credit cards?
Het jy kontant?Meaning: “Do you have cash?”
Literally: Have you cash?
Hoeveel kos dit?Meaning: “How much does this cost?”
Literally: How much costs this?
Jammer, dis te duur.Meaning: “Sorry, that’s too expensive.”

5. More Essential Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners

Here are a few good emergency and survival phrases to memorize!

A Boy Urgently Needing to Go to the Bathroom

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

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Waar is die toilet?

NOTE: This is okay to ask in casual situations. However, if you’re in more polite or formal company, you might want to use kleedkamer (“restroom”) or badkamer (“bathroom”) instead of toilet (“toilet”).
Meaning: “Where is the bathroom?”
Literally: Where is the toilet?
Praat jy Engels?Meaning: “Do you speak English?”
Literally: Speak you English?
Ek praat nie Afrikaans nie.Meaning: “I don’t speak Afrikaans.”
Literally: I speak not Afrikaans not.
Ek verstaan net Engels.Meaning: “I only understand English.”
Literally: I understand only English.
Ek verstaan nie.Meaning: “I don’t understand.”
Literally: I understand not.
Ek verstaan.Meaning: “I understand.” 
Ek weet nie.Meaning: “I don’t know.”
Literally: I know not.
Ek weet.Meaning: “I know.”
Sê weer, asseblief?Meaning: “Say again, please?”
Skryf dit neer, asseblief.Meaning: “Write it down, please.”
Ek het verdwaal.Meaning: “I’m lost.”
Literally: I have lost.
Kan jy my help?Meaning: “Could you help me?”
Literally: Can you me help?
Help my, asseblief.Meaning: “Help me, please.”
Dis dringend.Meaning: “It’s urgent.”

6. Formal vs. Informal Speech for Afrikaans Beginners

Need to become acquainted with formal Afrikaans for an upcoming meeting with VIPs? No problem!

Four People in Office Attire

Formele aanspreekvorme is steeds belangrik in sommige werksopsette. / “Addressing people formally is still important in some work settings.”

Formal Afrikaans is indicated by the use of a single formal pronoun. Especially in cities, the use of the formal pronoun is not that prevalent—unless:

  • you’re meeting with government dignitaries, officers of the law, etc. (in other words, people whose official rank demands a level of formality and a respectful demeanor);
  • you’re meeting someone senior to you at work for the first time (unless they introduce themselves by their first name); or
  • you’re meeting elderly Afrikaners for the first time, irrespective of their status or rank.

In these instances, you would always use the formal Afrikaans pronoun, and you could add the person’s title and surname if you happen to know them. You would also use the title and surname of these people if you need to indicate who you’re talking about in conversation, as in:

Ek wil graag vir President Ramaphosa ontmoet.
“I would like to meet President Ramaphosa.”

Other appropriate titles include: 

  • Professor (“Professor”)
  • Dokter (“Doctor”)
  • Dominee (Approximate: “Pastor” / “Preacher”)

And more common formal forms of address include:

  • Meneer (“Mr.” / “Mister”)
  • Mevrou (“Mrs.” / “Madam”)
  • Mejuffrou / Me (“Ms.” / “Miss”)
  • Dame (“Lady”) – if you don’t know their marital status

Social etiquette requires that you either wait for an invitation to address the person by their first name, or until you are told to drop the formal speech.

A lot of information? Don’t worry! Most of these pertinent phrases in Afrikaans for beginners can be used with the following pronouns:

Informal PronounsFormal Pronoun
jy / jou (“you” / “your”)U (“you” / “your”)
    → For a more in-depth look at Afrikaans pronouns and how we use them, also check out this article.

Kissing Lipstick Marks with KISS Written Across Them: Keep It Simple, Silly

Keep It Simple, Silly!

Tip: As a student, always remember the KISS rule. If you ever feel stuck in or overwhelmed by the intricacies of your studies, go stand in front of the mirror and remind yourself (nicely and kindly!) to “Keep It Simple, Silly!” Then give yourself an encouraging smile!

Seriously though—simple is good. It’s a wise learning strategy to master the simple basics first; that way, you’ll be laying a sound foundation for more complex, difficult content. 

Also, nobody’s expecting you to be perfect! Afrikaners tend to be a nice crowd; we won’t call the Grammar Police if you make any kind of mistake while trying to speak Afrikaans. In fact, we’re much more likely to be impressed and pleased that you’re making an effort to learn our language, no matter how simple your speech.

7. Easily Learn Afrikaans Phrases for Beginners at AfrikaansPod101.com!

Which of these Afrikaans phrases for beginners do you think you would be most likely to use? 

At AfrikaansPod101.com, we can help you understand Afrikaans easily with our hundreds of recorded videos and other useful study tools (such as these vocabulary lists). With our help, you’ll be able to use each of these phrases correctly and speak like a native in no time.

You can decipher Afrikaans phrases for beginners with the multiple resources we make available to you upon subscription, such as the Afrikaans Key Phrase List and the Afrikaans Core 100 Word List. Also, keep our Afrikaans online dictionary closeby for easy translation.

Still hesitating? Don’t! Subscribe now. You will be very happy you did.

About the author: Christa Davel is a bilingual (Afrikaans and English) writer currently living in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s been writing for InnovativeLanguage.com since 2017.

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