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Archive for the 'Afrikaans Phrases' Category

Afrikaans Filler Words to Make You Sound Like a Native

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Very few people can talk without using filler words or phrases, which would sound a little unnatural, like a speech that’s been rehearsed from a script. Lexically, pause fillers are words, phrases, or sounds without meaning, despite being so commonplace in the vernacular of probably every language.

Let’s have a brief look at their function in speech before proceeding to discuss some of the most common Afrikaans filler words.

A Man Talking with Letters Coming Out of His Mouth.

Filler words are commonplace in the vernacular of probably every language.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. The Purpose of Filler Words in Afrikaans
  2. 11 Types of Useful Afrikaans Filler Words and How to Use Them Correctly
  3. Learn Afrikaans Filler Words with Ease on AfrikaansPod101.com!

1. The Purpose of Filler Words in Afrikaans

One of the most common and useful functions of filler words is to let the other person know that you haven’t finished talking. Imagine if, every time you paused to find the right word or the best way to phrase your next thought, you were interrupted because the other person thought you were done! 

So yes, while filler words may have little semantic value, they definitely serve a linguistic purpose and should not be thought of as extraneous or superfluous—unless someone has developed the habit of overusing them. 

The most common Afrikaans filler words resemble those in English, as you’ll see. Some of them are called “hesitation forms,” but they all have several purposes

Here are some other common uses for conversation filler words in Afrikaans: 

FunctionExample
They serve as speech fillers when one needs to think before commenting or gather their thoughts.Reg, so, um…ek sal maar begin.
“Right, so, um…I’ll just begin.”
They can also indicate feelings such as discomfort, shyness, unease, or amazement. In addition, they can even include sounds like clearing the throat, coughing, or inhaling and exhaling loudly.Ek…uh…wil net sé…um…dat…uh…ek van jou hou.
“I…uh…just want to say…um…that…uh…I like you.”
They’re used when: 
  1. the speaker wants to be polite by giving listeners time to process a complex message or explanation, or 
  2. a topic needs to be approached with delicacy
  1. En…uh…dis belangrik om hierdie punt te verstaan. 
    “And…uh…it’s important to understand this point.”

    So…um…daardie geld wat jy my skuld…” 
  2. “So…um…about that money you owe me…”
They’re also used when a listener wants to indicate that they’re paying attention, or that they empathize/sympathize with the speaker.Sjoe! Ja-nee ek sien wat jy bedoel. 
“Whew! Yes, yes, I see what you mean.”
They sometimes indicate that a person is lying and seeking confirmation from the listener. However, this doesn’t mean that most people who inject their speech with fillers such as “you know” or “Know what I mean?” are liars. These fillers could also just be speech habits and may be used without thought.So…jy weet…ek het net…soos in…verby die winkel geloop toe die venster sommer van self gebreek het! 
“So…you know…I was just…like…walking past the shop when the window just broke by itself!”
They often serve as interjections to enhance the meaning of what’s being said.Sjoe, maar haar rok was mooi!
“Wow, but her dress was stunning!”
They’re sometimes eloquent emotional utterances unique to a language, which, at least to native speakers, simply don’t need an explanation.Ai tog! Die trein is alweer laat! 
“Oh no! The train is late again!”

A Young Woman Talking with Her Friend.

Sjoe, maar haar rok was mooi! (“Wow, her dress was stunning!”)

One study showed that women use more fillers than men do. But this is only so until the age of 23, after which the gender difference disappears. The researchers also found that conscientious people tend to use more filler words than other people do.

What are the most unusual filler words in your native language? Tell us about them in the comments!


2. 11 Types of Useful Afrikaans Filler Words and How to Use Them Correctly 

In this list of Afrikaans filler words, you’ll see that some of them have distinct meanings while others are simply used as conversation filler words in Afrikaans.  

#1


AfrikaansLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Uhm / Ah / Uuuuh“Um” / “Ah” / “Uuuuh”
These are basically hesitation sounds that are also found in English, and they’re used the same way as their English equivalents. They often reflect delays in response or speech and occur because the speaker:
    ❖ is at a loss for words or needs to think before commenting,

    ❖ needs the listener to truly understand and/or hear what they’re saying, or

    ❖ is feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed, self-conscious, uncertain, or overwhelmed.
Ek dink jou horlosie is dalk…uhm…in die badkamer? Ek weet nie eintlik nie. 
“I think your watch is perhaps…um…in the bathroom? I don’t really know.”

Ah, dankie vir die kompliment! 
“Ah, thanks for the compliment!”

Laat ek aan ‘n ander voorbeeld dink. Uuuuhm… 
“Let me think of a different example. Uuuuhm…”

A Man and Woman Doing Work Together.

Laat ek aan ‘n ander voorbeeld dink. Uuuuhm… (“Let me think of a different example. Uuuuhm…”)

#2

AfrikaansLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Ag“Oh” / “Aw” / “Ah”
Similar in sound to the German “ach,” this is one of the most versatile and popular fillers in Afrikaans that native speakers pepper their speech with. It can depict different emotional states. 

Ag is often used with ja (“yes”) and nee (“no”), depending on the context.
    ❖ Most often, we use it when we want to indicate that something doesn’t matter or it doesn’t matter that much. It’s regularly used with another popular filler: sommer (“just” / “just because”). In fact, in many contexts Ag is short for: Ag, dit maak nie saak nie. (“Oh, it doesn’t matter.”)

    ❖ It’s also popularly paired with the filler tog or toggie to indicate low- to medium-level frustration. This is close to the Yiddish “Oy vey” in meaning and doesn’t have an English equivalent. 

    ❖ It can also denote strong emotions, such as the speaker’s frustration and annoyance with something, or their despondency, disappointment, or resignation. It could also indicate the empathy or sympathy of a listener.

    ❖ We prolong either the “a” or the guttural “g” when we want to express that we find something utterly cute, cuddly, and/or adorable. In this sense, it’s similar to the English “Aaaaw.”
Ag, sit sommer die tasse daar neer. 
“Ah, just put the bags over there.” 
    → In the sentence above, Ag is used in conjunction with sommer to imply that the speaker doesn’t really care where you put the suitcases.

Ag toggie! Hierdie bottel is te moeilik om oop te maak! 
“Bah! This bottle is too difficult to open!” 
    → Learn more variations of Ag tog under #10 below.

Ag, moenie jou daaraan steur nie.  
“Oh, don’t let it bother you.”

Ag nee man, dis sommer nonsens.  
Lit. “Oh no, man, that’s just nonsense.”

Ag, wat kan mens doen. Niks. 
“Ah, what can one do? Nothing.”

Ag jaaaa, daar was nooit regtig twyfel oor die wedstryd se uitkoms nie. 
Approx: “Ah yes, the outcome of the match was never really in doubt.”

Kyk hierdie gemmer katjie. Aaag, hoe oulik!  
“Look at this ginger kitten. Aaaw, how cute!”

A Couple Meeting Guests with Luggage at Their Front Door.

Ag, sit sommer die tasse daar neer. (“Ah, just put the bags over there.”)

#3

AfrikaansLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Ja-nee / Ja-ja, okay / Jaaaa“Yes-no” / “Yes-yes, okay” / “Yeah”“Indeed” / “I hear you” / “Right”

These expressions are among the most common Afrikaans filler words and are usually used to indicate agreement with what is being said, but there are exceptions to the rule. Because they are fillers, their exact connotations are not definite and they can therefore be adapted to other uses, depending on how the speaker chooses to employ them. Below is a description of their most common, conventional usage.
    Ja-nee – This unique, apparently contradictory Afrikaans filler word is an interjection that generally indicates agreement with what is being said. It most often serves only as a soothing “conversation noise”, but that depends on the volume of delivery! The louder the utterance, the more emphatically the speaker is in agreement with what is being said.

    Ja-ja – This filler usually indicates unambiguous affirmation or agreement. Occasionally, it can be used to express annoyance/boredom with what is being said and might be used to move the conversation along.

    Okay – This is used in exactly the same way as the English word “okay”.

    Jaaa – This extended ja serves the same purpose as ja-nee and ja-ja, indicating that the person is listening with interest and is in agreement with the speaker. However, it can also be used to express a kind of “told you so” attitude, discernible when the speaker raises their voice on the last “a”.

Ja-nee, daar is g’n twyfel nie. Hy is die skuldige. 
“Yes, there is no doubt. He is the culprit.”

Ja-nee, jy praat die waarheid, suster! 
“Yes, you are speaking the truth, sister!”

Ja-ja, jy’t dit reeds gesȇ. Wat nog? 
“Yes, yes, you’ve already said that. What else?”

Okay, ek sien nou wat jy bedoel het.  
“Okay, I see now what you meant.”

Jaaa, jy wou mos. 
Approx. “See, that’s what you get.”

Two Young Women Chatting Animatedly.

Ja-nee, jy praat die waarheid, suster! (“Yes, you are speaking the truth, sister!”)

#4

AfrikaansLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Jy weet / In elkgeval / Ek bedoel“You know” / “Anyway” / “I mean”

While these words might appear to be quite specific when it comes to their meaning, they’re really no more specific than any other conversation filler words in Afrikaans. Because of their non-specificity, they’re quite versatile; therefore, any conventions I mention are descriptive rather than prescriptive—they point to a common usage, not a rule. 

These particular Afrikaans filler words are often used at the beginning of a sentence, especially when one is introducing a new topic, wanting to change the topic, or wanting to expand upon something that is currently being discussed
    Jy weet can also be replaced with Weet jy(?). The latter, although framed as a question, is usually rhetorical. 

Introducing a new topic 
Jy weet, ek het nou net ‘n wonderlike idee gehad. 
“You know, I’ve just had a wonderful idea.”

Changing the topic 
In elkgeval, kom ons praat liewer oor jou.  
“Anyway, let’s rather talk about you.”

Expanding on the topic 
Ek bedoel, hy was reeds daar. Hoekom kon hy nie die pakkie vir my gaan haal nie? 
“I mean, he was already there. Why couldn’t he fetch the package for me?”

#5

AfrikaansLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Rerig?! / Werklik / Sjoe / Wow“Really?!” / “Truly” or “Really” / “Whew” or “Phew” / “Wow”

These are filler words in Afrikaans that we use in two ways—either as a response to indicate reactions like amazement and disbelief or to indicate strong agreement with what is being said. They’re often used on their own to mean that we almost can’t believe what we’re hearing.
    ❖ The exclamation Sjoe! has no direct English translation. The closest approximation would be “Phew!” or “Whew!”

    Wow, as one of the conversation filler words in Afrikaans, serves the same semantic purpose as in English. 

They’re also used as interjections in speech to emphasize what is being said.

Rerig?! Jy’t die lotto gewen?  
“Really?! You won the lotto?”

Werklik, hy was darem baie ongeskik met my. 
“Truly, he was very rude towards me.”

Sjoe, maar dis warm!  
“Phew, but it’s hot!”

Wow, kyk daai groot vis! 
“Wow, look at that big fish!”

A Young, Surprised-looking Boy Saying Wow!

Wow, kyk daai groot vis! (“Wow, look at that big fish!”)

#6

AfrikaansLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
So / Reg “So” / “Right”

These two Afrikaans filler words usually precede a statement, and might be used prior to making an announcement (or after). For instance, one could say it while waiting for the members of a meeting to be seated. 

Reg…dit lyk my almal is nou hier. Kom ons begin. 
“Right…it looks like everyone is here. Let’s begin.”

So, wat het jy vandag gedoen? 
“So, what did you do today?”

#7

AfrikaansLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Wel / Hmm“Well” / “Hmm”

Much like their English equivalents, these Afrikaans conversation fillers often precede a statement of disagreement. 

Wel, ek weet nie of ek saamstem nie. 
“Well…I don’t know if I agree.”

Hmm. Dink jy rerig hy kon so-iets doen? 
“Hmm…do you really think he could do something like that?”

A Pretty Young Woman Looking Doubtful.

Wel, ek weet nie of ek saamstem nie. (“Well…I don’t know if I agree.”)

#8

AfrikaansLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Jis / Demmit / Vervlaks“Geez” / “Dammit” / “Darn it”

These Afrikaans exclamations are as close to swearing/cursing as you can get without actually doing so. An interesting fact is that swearing can reduce pain. That’s not to say that you should swear often, because then it actually loses its ability to reduce pain! Perhaps, using exclamations like these would be a useful compromise for those who can’t abide with swearing.

Jis, ek is nou so kwaad! 
“Geez, I’m so angry now!”

Demmit, ek kan nie hierdie bottel oopmaak nie! 
“Dammit, I can’t open this bottle!”

Vervlaks! Ek het my masker by die huis vergeet! 
“Darn it! I forgot my mask at home!”

#9

AfrikaansLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Né / Ja, né / Kan jy dit glo?“Right” / “Agreed” / “Can you believe it?”

These Afrikaans filler words are used to request confirmation of agreement from the listener, or to confirm agreement with the speaker. They’re often placed as tags at the beginning or end of a sentence, but can also be used on their own. 
    can be used to request or confirm agreement

    Ja, né is used in response to something that the listener agrees with and is quite emphatic. 

    Kan jy dit glo? (“Can you believe it?” / “Unbelievable!”) Despite the fact that it’s phrased as a question, it is rhetorical and used more like a statement than a question. A person might shake their head in disbelief when using this remark. 

A: Die water is koud, né? 
A: “The water is cold, right?”
B: Dit is koud, ja. 
B: “It is cold, yes.”

A: Ai, die land se administrasie is in flenters. 
A: “Oi, our country’s administration is in shambles.”
B: Ja, né. 
B: “Agreed.”

A: Het jy gehoor van daardie man wat gister deur die kinderbende beroof is? 
A: “Did you hear about that man who was mugged by a gang of children yesterday?”
B: Ja, ek het. Kan jy dit glo? 
B: “Yes, I did. Can you believe it?”

#10

AfrikaansLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Ag tog / Ai tog“Oh dear” / “Oh shame” / “Oh my goodness”

Of all the expressions in this list of Afrikaans filler words, I think the function of expressions using tog is the most difficult to pin down. The word tog has so many semantic variants, it would be pointless to try and list them all here. Fortunately, if you would like to investigate this rather unique Afrikaans filler word further, there are resources out there that can help. 
     Ag tog and Ai tog are interchangeable. They are simply variations of each other. 

Ag tog, ek het vergeet om die kliënt te bel! +”Oh dear, I forgot to call the client!”

Ai tog, daardie buurman se hond blaf al weer die hele dag lank! 
“Oh my goodness, that neighbor’s dog has been barking all day again!”

Two of the three interjections I’m going to discuss next also contain –tog. However, they’re grouped together because of their similarity in meaning.

A Frustrated Business Woman Talking Over the Phone.

Ag tog, ek het vergeet om die kliënt te bel! (“Oh dear, I forgot to call the client!”)

#11

AfrikaansLiteral TranslationEnglish Equivalent
Foeitog / Shame / Siestog“Oh dear” / “Oh shame” / “Oh my goodness”

These three words mean more or less the same thing and are used interchangeably. Ag is often added, especially when the object under discussion is particularly small and/or vulnerable.
    ❖ The interjections foeitog and siestog are similar in meaning and can be used to express sympathy, adoration, and affection. It can also be used to ask for pity or understanding.

    ❖ The interjection “shame” is used similarly to British English, such as, “Oh (what a) shame”, which expresses a mix of pity and sympathy. It also denotes affection.

Foeitog, die arme kind het nog nie ontbyt gehad nie! 
“Oh shame, the poor child hasn’t had breakfast yet!”

Foeitog, gee die arme man nog ‘n kans, asseblief! 
“For pity’s sake, give the poor man another chance, please!”

Ag siestog! Is die hondjie nie te oulik nie vir woorde nie?! 
“Oh my goodness! Isn’t the puppy too cute for words?!”

Shame, hy sukkel om sy gesondheid te herwin na hy COVID gehad het. 
Approx. “Poor man, he’s battling to regain his health after contracting COVID.”

A Smiling Boy Holding a Cute Black Puppy.

Ag siestog! Is die hondjie nie te oulik nie vir woorde nie?! (“Oh goodness! Isn’t the puppy too cute for words?!”)

I’m sure you’ll find these common Afrikaans filler words very useful. They’ll help you to hold a conversation in Afrikaans and make your speech sound a lot more natural!

3. Learn Afrikaans Filler Words with Ease on AfrikaansPod101.com!

Which of these Afrikaans filler words do you think you’re most likely to use? Are any of them similar to filler words in your own language?

At AfrikaansPod101.com, we can help you understand Afrikaans easily with our fun and practical learning materials, such as recorded videos and free vocabulary lists. With our help, you’ll be able to use the phrases correctly and speak like a native in no time.

Also, decipher Afrikaans phrases yourself with the multiple tools we make available to you upon subscription, such as the Afrikaans Key Phrase List and the Afrikaans Core 100 Word List. And make sure to keep your Afrikaans online dictionary closeby for easy translation! 

If Afrikaans vernacular is important to you, then take a look at the following blog posts:

  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

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

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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The 30 Best Afrikaans Love Phrases for All Occasions!

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L’amour, die Liebe, die liefde, любовь (lyubov’)…all of these mean “love.” 

Love is a universal language spoken mostly with the heart, but what a wonderful thing to express in any language!

Therefore, it makes sense that when people study to acquire a new language, one of the first things they learn (not long after hello and goodbye) is “I love you.” For some, being able to communicate with someone they love is their reason for learning the language in the first place! 

If you’re wondering how to say “I love you,” in Afrikaans, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve compiled for you a collection of Afrikaans love phrases you can use to express your feelings in no uncertain terms. Better still? It’s all framed in the context of a short, romantic story. Enjoy!

But before we continue—what is “love” in your native language? Tell us in the comments, please!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Pick-up Lines and the First Flush of Love
  2. Love Phrases for Long-Term Relationships
  3. Must-Know Love Quotes and Phrases
  4. Learn Afrikaans Phrases to Charm the Love of Your Life at AfrikaansPod101!

Two Hands Shaped in a Heart, Held against the Sun

Liefde verander alles! / “Love changes everything!”

1. Pick-up Lines and the First Flush of Love

The hero of our story is named Jeffrey, and when Jeffrey moved to South Africa he was quite lonely at first. Therefore, he asked his Afrikaans friend Willem to take him to a good social venue where he might meet some nice single ladies.

But…he wondered how he would approach these local Afrikaans ladies to begin with. Online, he’d tried searching for things like ‘Afrikaans love phrases,’ but there were a lot of options and they didn’t really look like good pick-up lines. He was glad that Willem would be coming along to act as his ‘wingman.’

A. Keeping it Simple

The two of them were sitting at the bar when Jeffrey noticed a very attractive Afrikaans woman chatting with her friends. She shyly glanced his way every now and then, and he thought she looked approachable, but he still wondered what he should say to her. What would be a good Afrikaans pick-up line? He knew these could sometimes be cheesy and annoying, no matter which language you speak! Also, he wasn’t sure if there was a specific way to address an Afrikaans woman or not.

Young Woman in a Red Dress Holding a Drink with a Young Man in the Background Looking at Her

Wat sal ‘n goeie “pick-up line” in Afrikaans wees? / “What would be a good Afrikaans pick-up line?”

Eventually, he asked Willem for advice, saying, “I checked online but I didn’t know which line to choose. Can you help?”

Willem explained with a smile that there were many colorful (albeit rather lewd) Afrikaans pick-up lines online, and it was definitely not advisable to use any of those. Most Afrikaans ladies like to be courted in a more romantic, old-school kind of way—they prefer a gentleman’s approach.

“Keep it simple, be polite, and be straightforward,” Willem advised him. 

Jeffrey asked for some examples of lines he could use and Willem thought for a bit, searching for the best lines of those he knew. Here are some polite but casual pick-up lines that Willem considered:

Hello. My naam is Jeffrey. Mag ek vir jou ‘n drankie koop?

Hello. My naam is Jeffrey. Gee jy om as ek by jou aansluit vir ‘n drankie?  
“Hello. My name is Jeffrey. May I buy you a drink?”

“Hello. My name is Jeffrey. Do you mind if I join you for a drink?”
One might be tempted to think that the above lines are quite formal, but what makes them casual is the pronoun used. In Afrikaans, if you were going to be formal, you would use the pronoun u instead of jy or jou

Let’s have a look at the same pick-up lines, but using the formal pronoun u
  • Hello. My naam is Jeffrey. Mag ek vir u a drankie koop? (“Hello. My name is Jeffrey. May I buy you a drink?”)

  • Hello. My naam is Jeffrey. Gee u om as ek by u aansluit vir ‘n drankie? (“Hello. My name is Jeffrey. Do you mind if I join you for a drink?”)

This is a very formal way of talking and would seem out of place in a bar. For more information about this and other pronouns in Afrikaans, have a look at this article
Because they are in a bar and the setting is pretty informal, a slightly more flirtatious approach might also be suitable. No person is immune to sincere compliments! However, it would be best to read the situation and say what feels natural, because pick-up lines can be very cheesy, as I mentioned earlier.
Haai daar. Jy’s wraggies baie mooi. “Hi there. You are really beautiful.”
Dame, ek dink jy’s baie mooi en ek wil graag vir jou ‘n drankie koop.“Lady, I think you’re very attractive and I’d like to buy you a drink.”
Gee jy om as ek hier sit? Jy’t my voete onder my uitgeslaan…“Do you mind if I sit here? You’ve knocked me off my feet…”
Jammer as ek pla, maar ek wil net vir jou sê – jy slaan my asem weg!“Sorry if I’m bothering you, but I just want to tell you—you take my breath away!”
Jy maak my knieë lam. Gee jy om as ek hier sit voor ek omval?Literally: “You make me weak in the knees. Would you mind if I sit here before I fall?”
Wraggies, jy lyk bekoorlik. Mag ek vir jou a drankie koop?“Really, you look enchanting. May I buy you a drink?”

Young Man and Woman Laughing and Flirting.

Jy slaan my asem weg! / “You take my breath away!”

Willem decided to stick to the polite but simple, straightforward approach, and suggested to Jeffrey that he say: 

Hello. My naam is Jeffrey. Mag ek vir jou ‘n drankie koop? (“Hello. My name is Jeffrey. May I buy you a drink?”)

After practicing this line a few times, Jeffrey made his approach and delivered it to the beautiful woman at the bar. She did not seem offended, which was a good start, at least.

Jeffrey found out that her name was Charlize. He bought them more drinks and they chatted for almost an hour until she took a break to ‘powder her nose.’ He took the opportunity to hurry back to Willem and told him that it was going really well. He also wanted to know how he could tell Charlize that he really liked her and wanted to get to know her better. In his head, Willem quickly ran through all the Afrikaans love phrases that he could think of: 

Ek weet ons het nou net ontmoet, maar ek is reeds mal / gek oor jou.“I know we’ve only just met, but I’m already mad about you.”
Jy’s regtig cool! Ek hou van jou!1“You are really cool! I like you!”
Hey, dit was nou lekker om met jou te gesels. Ek wil jou graag weer sien. Kan ek jou selnommer kry, asseblief? “Hey, it was nice to chat with you. I would really like to see you again. Could I have your cell number, please?”
Ek dink jy is great en ek het jou geselskap baie geniet vanaand. Ek wil jou graag weer sien.1“I think you are great and I enjoyed our conversation a lot tonight. I’d like to see you again.”

1) Both Afrikaans and English are spoken by a large portion of the population in South Africa. This means that even older folks mix the languages vernacularly. This “cross-contamination” is considered normal, and it’s usually suitable in casual, informal situations.

They were all good options, but in the end, Willem decided on a different one. He whispered it into Jeffrey’s ear and told him that this line was sure to win Charlize over. Jeffrey practiced it a few times, then went over to her again. When he delivered his line, she burst into laughter and blushed. 

“Wait! What does My hart pomp tjoklit vir jou mean?” he asked her nervously. This was, of course, the line he had quoted.

She laughed again and told him that it means: “My heart is pumping chocolate for you.” When she saw how embarrassed he was, she assured him that it was quite a common, cute expression in Afrikaans. She just hadn’t expected it from him. Actually, it was quite sweet, she said, giving him a light kiss on the cheek to make him feel better. 

Jeffrey glared at Willem, who grinned from ear to ear and gave him an encouraging thumbs-up.

Couple Enjoying Drinks, Man Typing the Woman's Number into His Cell Phone.

Ek wil jou graag weer sien. Kan ek jou selnommer kry, asseblief? / “I would really like to see you again. Could I have your cell number, please?”

By the end of the night, Jeffrey and Charlize were quite comfortable with each other and she liked him enough to give him her number. They went on a few dates after that and Jeffrey’s feelings for her deepened. He went to Willem again to ask him for advice on how to tell Charlize that he wanted to take the relationship to the next level…

B. Taking it to the Next Level

Despite the fact that he and Charlize had been together for some months, Jeffrey had not yet learned how to say “I love you,” in Afrikaans. He was a naturally cautious fellow, but now he was ready to commit to a more serious relationship with this pretty, wonderful woman.

Young Couple Cooking Together

My lewe is soveel beter vandat ek jou ontmoet het. / “My life has been so much better since I met you.”

Once again, he turned to the web for insight. This time, he actually found some pretty good answers, but he still decided that he’d best ask Willem for ideas anyway. 

When Willem heard that Jeffrey was getting serious about Charlize, he was happy for his friend and searched through his inner library of romantic expressions in Afrikaans to find just the right one for his friend to use. It was not an easy choice, because there are many, as you can see below:

Sal jy my meisie wees?

Note: 

This “asking out” question most often serves as a formality to seal a relationship. It denotes commitment, exclusivity, and the status of being a couple. Usually, it’s preceded by the Afrikaans love phrases in this column.

However, in many modern relationships, especially among the younger generation, this step is skipped. After a few romantic dates and declarations of mutually passionate feelings, it’s assumed that you’re together as a couple.
“Will you be my girlfriend?”
Ek het romantiese gevoelens vir jou.“I’ve got romantic feelings for you.”
Ek is verlief op jou.“I am in love with you.”
Jy’t my hart heeltemal verower. 

(The word jy’t is a contraction of jy [“you”] and het [“have”]).
“You’ve conquered my heart completely.”
My lewe is soveel beter vandat ek jou ontmoet het.“My life has been so much better since I met you.”
Jy is die godin van my hart.“You are the goddess of my heart.”
Jy is kosbaar vir my en ek gee om vir jou.“You are precious to me and I care about you.”
Jy is die enigste vis in die see vir my.“You are the only fish in the sea for me.”
But what if the roles were reversed? Are there specific Afrikaans love phrases for her when it comes to asking someone to take it to the next level? The answer is “Yes!” Charlize would be able to say most of the phrases above in the exact same way, except for the gender-specific ones, of course. Let’s have a quick look at a few alternative phrases that Charlize could use.
Sal jy my kêrel wees?“Will you be my boyfriend?”
Jy is die ridder van my hart.“You are the knight of my heart.”
Jy is my held.“You are my hero.”
You’ve probably noticed that we haven’t yet looked at how to say “I love you,” in Afrikaans! It’s simply: Ek het jou lief. / Ek is lief vir jou.

The expression that Willem eventually suggested to Jeffrey was a combination of two of the expressions above. He suggested that Jeffrey say: Jy’t my hart heeltemal verower. Sal jy my meisie wees? (“You have conquered my heart completely. Will you be my girlfriend?”)

Young Couple Holding Hands in Front of a Wooden Wall

Ek is lief vir jou. / “I love you.”

Jeffrey took Charlize out on a romantic date and, just after their first glass of wine, he asked her the question. Charlize went quiet and Jeffrey wondered, for a moment, if Willem had tricked him again. But it turned out that Charlize was choking back happy tears. When she felt okay to speak again, she softly told Jeffrey that she felt the same way about him. Below are some Afrikaans love phrases for her that she could choose from as a reply.

In Afrikaans, like in English, if you want to repeat a sentence or phrase back to someone, all you have to do is add the word ook (“too” / “also”) to what they said.
Ek het gevoelens vir jou. (“I have feelings for you.”)Ek het ook gevoelens vir jou. (“I also have feelings for you.”)
Ek is verlief op jou. (“I am in love with you.”)Ek is ook verlief op jou. (“I am also in love with you.”)
Jy is die enigste vis in die see vir my. (“You are the only fish in the sea for me.”)Jy is ook die enigste vis in die see vir my. (“You are also the only fish in the sea for me.”)

Now that you know how to reciprocate what someone has said to you in Afrikaans, can you figure out how Charlize replied to Jeffrey after he said, Jy’t my hart heeltemal verower? It should be quite easy.

If you guessed that Charlize added ook to her sentence, then you were correct: Jy’t ook my hart heeltemal verower. Ek sal jou meisie wees. (“You have also conquered my heart. I will be your girlfriend.”)

Dejected, sad Young Man Sitting on the Floor in a Station

Verwerping is soms baie moeilik om te hanteer. / “Rejection is sometimes very difficult to handle.”

C. Rejection

Sadly, things don’t always work out the way we hope they will when we ask someone to take it to the next level. Sometimes we discover that they don’t feel the same way, or that they’re not ready for an exclusive commitment yet. Happily, Jeffrey did not have to experience this, but what if Charlize had said no? How would she have phrased her rejection? 

In Afrikaans, we make use of double negatives in order to negate an expression. To learn more about the grammar behind this, have a look at this article. What it means, in short, is that you add two negating words to the sentence, not unlike you would do in some English slang. For example: 
  • “I didn’t do nothing.”
  • “I ain’t got no money.” 
In Afrikaans, we often use the double nie to express negation. Below are examples of what Charlize could have said, had she rejected Jeffrey’s proposal: 
Sal jy my meisie wees? (“Will you be my girlfriend?”)Jammer, ek wil nie. Ek hou baie van jou maar ek is nie gereed vir ‘n vaste verhouding nie. (“Sorry, I don’t want to. I like you a lot but I am not ready for a steady relationship.”)
Ek is verlief op jou. (“I am in love with you.”)Jammer, ek is nie verlief op jou nie. (“Sorry, I am not in love with you.”)
Ek het gevoelens vir jou. (“I have feelings for you.”)Jammer, ek het nie dieselfde gevoelens vir jou nie. Maar kan ons vriende wees? (“Sorry, I don’t have the same feelings for you. But can we be friends?”)
Or, you could give a generic negative reply:

Jammer, maar ek voel nie dieselfde oor jou nie. (“Sorry, but I don’t feel the same way about you.”)

Tip: If you’re the one doing the let-down, then remember to do so gently and with respect and kindness. Rejection can be very hard to take, especially in matters of the heart. It would be best to stick with the Golden Rule—do to others as you would have them do to you!

Couple Standing Face to Face, Holding Hands, Man Talks Kindly to Sad Woman at Airport

Jy beteken die wêreld vir my. / “You mean the world to me.”

2. Love Phrases for Long-Term Relationships

If you, like Jeffrey, have experienced luck in love, then it’s time to learn some additional love phrases in Afrikaans you can use to strengthen and progress your relationship. 

A. Phrases that help to keep a relationship strong:

Now that Charlize had agreed to be Jeffrey’s girlfriend, they were entering into a phase of the relationship where Jeffrey no longer had to woo her—but there was still work to be done. 

I don’t know if you agree with me here, but I think that if we want a relationship to work, we have to put some effort into it. Fortunately, Jeffrey was the kind of person who did like to put effort into his relationship. Part of this included studying Afrikaans in his spare time. Naturally, he spent a lot of his study time researching romantic expressions in Afrikaans!

He found that Charlize was a very kind and considerate girlfriend and often did nice things for him, so one of the first things he learned to say was:

  • Baie dankie. Ek waardeer alles wat jy vir my doen. (“Thanks a lot. I appreciate everything you do for me.”)

Sometimes he also wanted to tell her that he appreciated her for who she was, and not just for the things she did. So he learned to say:

  • Jy beteken die wêreld vir my. (“You mean the world to me.”)

Older Couple Working in the Garden, Man Giving the Woman a Yellow Flower

Baie dankie. Ek waardeer alles wat jy vir my doen. / “Thank you. I appreciate everything you do for me.”

And then, of course, there were those occasions when, no matter how considerate he was in general, he did something that required an apology. So he learned to say: 

  • Ek het ‘n fout gemaak; ek is jammer. (“I made a mistake; I’m sorry.”)

Charlize, it turned out, was also a very wise person, and he began to find that he really valued her input when it came to making decisions. He also cared about what she wanted, and for this reason, he learned how to say:  

  • Wat dink jy hiervan? (“What do you think about this?”)
  • Wat is jou opinie? (“What is your opinion?”)
  • Wat verkies jy? (“What do you prefer?”)

And then, of course, Jeffrey often used those two absolutely essential words in Afrikaans culture: 

  • Asseblief. (“Please.”)
  • Dankie. (“Thank you.”)

This article explains exactly how to use these terms correctly in Afrikaans!

Charlize was also very good at using expressions like these and, despite the ups and downs that all relationships go through, they found that their relationship grew from strength to strength.

Man Proposing to a Woman on a Bridge

Sal jy my vrou wees, asseblief? / “Will you be my wife, please?”

B. Popping the Question

Two years after their first meeting, Jeffrey decided he was ready to pop the question! He had been studying Afrikaans almost daily, so he was pretty sure he knew how to ask Charlize to marry him, but he checked his books anyway. This was not the kind of thing you wanted to make a mistake with. He found some great expressions: 

Sal jy my vrou wees, asseblief?“Will you please be my wife?”
Sal jy met my trou, asseblief? “Will you please marry me?”
Ek wil my lewe saam met jou deurbring.“I want to spend my life with you.”
Ek wil saam met jou oud word. “I want to grow old with you.”
The following two expressions are not actually marriage proposals, but they would definitely make any marriage proposal that much more meaningful and beautiful. 
Ek het jou lief bo alles en almal.“I love you above everything and everyone.”
‘n Lewe sonder jou is vir my ondenkbaar.“A life without you is unimaginable for me.”
As uncommon as it is in Afrikaans culture, it’s not unheard of that the woman might pop the question. So, if Charlize had wanted to be the one proposing, are there similar Afrikaans love phrases for her that she could have chosen from? The fact is that all of the above phrases can be used by both men and women, except for the first one. If she had been the one proposing, Charlize would have said: 
Sal jy my man wees, asseblief? “Will you please be my husband?”

One night, Jeffrey took Charlize out on a romantic adventure that included a day of fun, outdoor activities together, dinner at a fancy restaurant, and eventually a romantic stroll on a beautiful, moonlit beach. While they were walking along quietly on the wet sand, he suddenly stopped in front of her, dropped to one knee, and held up a small box that contained a gorgeous engagement ring. (Afrikaans girls tend to like old-style marriage proposals, remember!)

Two Hearts Drawn in the Sand on the Beach at Sunset.

Ware liefde hou vir ewig. / “True love lasts forever.”

Combining two of the phrases he had learned, he said earnestly: “Charlize, ek wil saam met jou oud word. Sal jy met my trou, asseblief?” (“Charlize, I want to grow old with you. Please, will you marry me?”)

Of course, Charlize said ja (“yes”)!

C. Terms of Endearment

Another way of saying “I love you,” in Afrikaans, without actually using those words, is to use terms of endearment. During their engagement, Charlize and Jeffrey grew even closer and Charlize often used Afrikaans terms of endearment when talking to him. Jeffrey soon found himself beginning to emulate her. 

In English, people use terms of endearment like “darling,” “baby,” or “honey.” Afrikaans people use these too, but they are spun in a uniquely Afrikaans way. It’s not easy to find a direct English translation for some of these; hence the literal translations that I have added. You’ll see that they have a very distinct character! 

  • my liefling (“my darling”) Lit. “my loveling”
  • my skattebol (“my darling”) Lit. “my treasure ball”
  • my skatlam (“my darling”) Lit. “my treasure lamb”
  • my skat  (“my treasure”)
  • my liefste (“my beloved”)
  • my enigste (“my only”)
  • my lief (“my love”)

Other expressions Charlize sometimes used were: 

  • my lam (“my darling”) Lit. “my lamb”
  • my ander helfte (“my other half”)

Charlize and Jeffrey were still young and in a relatively new relationship, so they wouldn’t have used the following terms of endearment (except perhaps in a jocular way). However, for older people who have been in a relationship for a while and who have a strong sense of familiarity with each other, these are very common: 
ou ding / my ou dingLit. “old thing” / “my old thing”
my ou man / my ou vrou“my old man” (also husband) / “my old woman” (also wife)
The use of ou in these phrases denotes both age and a sense of fond familiarity. A similar convention occurs in English when a speaker affectionately refers to their aging pet dog as, “my old doggie,” for instance. In this case, “old” carries connotations similar to those that the word ou does in Afrikaans when used as part of a term of endearment. However, make sure you’re using it in an appropriate context, meaning only with people you know very well.

Please note that, in Afrikaans, man can mean “man” or “husband” and vrou can mean “woman” or “wife,” depending on the context. If the speakers are married, then the words connote the latter meaning. 

Charlize and Jeffrey used these terms of endearment so often that they barely used each other’s names anymore. Everyone who knew them felt it was only right that they get married—they were so perfect for each other. Their wedding was something that everyone looked forward to.

Statue of Cupid, Roman God of Love

Ek het die skoot hoog deur! / Approximate: “Love hit me hard!”

3. Must-Know Love Quotes and Phrases

Many times, the words of a poet, songwriter, or novelist can perfectly capture how we’re feeling. Below are some Afrikaans love quotes translated in English, each one written from the heart and sure to capture that of your lover…

A. The Power of Beautiful Words

In a relationship, we often share with our partner lyrics from songs we like or lines from our favorite poems. One of Charlize’s favorite poems was called Erens is jy (“Somewhere you are”), from the anthology Eerste Gedigte (“First Poems”), and it was written by her favorite Afrikaans poet Antjie Krog. Charlize’s favorite lines from the poem were:

… as ek die dag my hand in joune sitsal ek my padkaarte bêre met die wete:my reis op soek na jou is nou verby.“… the day I put my hand in yoursI will put away my maps with the knowledge:my journey in search of you is now over.”

On the day of the wedding, Jeffrey stood in front of everyone and delivered his vows in Afrikaans with no mistakes at all. He knew that if he spoke his vows to Charlize in Afrikaans, they would be far more meaningful for her. After delivering his vows, he surprised everyone by clearing his throat nervously and then, in beautiful Afrikaans, recited a rendition of the poem his wife loved so much: 

Ek sit, hierdie dag, my hand in joune
en bêre my padkaarte met die wete:
my reis op soek na jou is nou verby.

“I put, this day, my hand in yours
and stash away my roadmaps with the knowledge:
my journey in search of you is now over.”

Love Letter and a Red Rose

Sonder jou liefde is die graaf te swaar vir my en val die geil reëns van die berge sonder doel. – D.J. Opperman.
“Without your love, the shovel is too heavy for me, and the abundant rain of the mountains falls without purpose.”

Charlize was deeply moved by his beautiful gesture and Jeffrey had to help her wipe away the tears there at the altar. Once she’d collected herself, the dominee (“pastor” / “minister”) married them and they kissed to raucous applause. 

Oh, and—all of this was 25 years ago. They are still happily married. 

B. Quotations that Inspire Love

If you wish to impress the Afrikaans person you love in the way that Jeffrey impressed Charlize, perhaps you’ll benefit from looking at these wonderful quotes from famous Afrikaans poets and singers.

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

~ D.J. Opperman
“without your love the shovel is too heavy for me and the abundant rain of the mountains fallswithout purpose.”
Ek stuur vir jou ʼn berggansveermits dese wil ek vir jou sêhoe diep my liefde vir jou lê

~ Boerneef 2
“I send to you a wild goose featherwith which I want to tell youhow deep my love lies for you”
vye word suur, maar die liefde, die liefde is soeter as vye

~ Breyten Breytenbach 
“figs turn sour, but love, love is sweeter than figs”
ek wil vir jou ʼn gewelhuisie bouin die boland van my hart……maar ek wil vir jou my lewe geein die wit afdophuisie van my hart…

~ André Letoit aka Koos Kombuis
Approximate: 

“I want to build for you a gabled housein the pastures of my heart……but I want to give you my lifein the white, dilapidated house of my heart…”
Die liefde is ʼn dubbeldoor—iets te wen en iets verloor.

~ Koos Du Plessis
Approximate: 

“Love is a contradiction—something to win and something to lose.”
Die liefde in my 

Die liefde in my
Dis altyd jy, net altyd jy,
die een gedagte bly my by
soos skadu’s onder bome bly,
net altyd jy, net altyd jy. 

Langs baie weë gaan my smart,
blind is my oë en verward
is alle dinge in my hart. 

Maar dit sal een en enkeld bly,
en aards en diep sy laafnis kry,
al staan dit winter, kaal in my,
die liefde in my, die liefde in my.

~ NP van Wyk Louw


“The love in me,
It’s always you, always only you,
this one thought stays with me
as shadows live under trees
always only you, always only you.

Along many roads my sorrow goes,blind are my eyes and confused
are all things in my heart.

But this one thing remains,
which is nourished from deep within,
even when it’s winter, naked in me,
the love in me, the love in me.”

Happy Older Couple

Ek kan my nie ‘n lewe indink sonder jou nie. / “I can’t imagine a life without you.”

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

4. Learn Afrikaans Phrases to Charm the Love of Your Life at AfrikaansPod101!

At AfrikaansPod101, we can help you understand Afrikaans easily with our hundreds of recorded videos, themed vocabulary lists, and variety of learning and study tools. With our help, you’ll be able to use the phrases correctly and speak like a native in no time!

Also, you can start deciphering Afrikaans phrases yourself with the multiple tools we make available to you upon subscription, such as the Afrikaans Key Phrase List and the Afrikaans Core 100 Word List. You should also make sure to keep your Afrikaans online dictionary closeby for easy translation! 

If Afrikaans vernacular is important to you, then take a look at the following pages on our website:

  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 I Love You in Afrikaans

Still hesitating? Don’t! Subscribe now, and you’ll be very happy you did!

About the author: Kurt Donald is an experienced writer and copy editor, and is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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All About How to Form the Negative in Afrikaans

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Negation is, very simply put, the so-called “negative form” in a language. We use it when we want to express the opposite of a positive or affirmative statement. What is the negative form in Afrikaans? Let’s dig in!

One of the most fascinating features of the Afrikaans language is its use of the double negative, which means that two negatives resolve into one negative. For instance, in English one would say, “He cannot speak Afrikaans,” and only use the word ‘not’ once. However, to express the negative in Afrikaans, we usually have to use the negating word twice:   

Sy kan nie Afrikaans praat nie.
Literally: “She cannot Afrikaans speak not.”

Young Woman Holding up Both Hands to Indicate No or Stop

The negating word in the example above is nie and, as you will have gathered, nie means “not.” It sounds like “knee” in English, but a bit shorter and sharper on the ‘ee’ (like the ‘i’ in it). Nie is equivalent to the German nicht and the Dutch niet, but it’s used differently, of course.

No one really knows where this practice of using the double negative originated. Some say it may have its roots in the French language, and others suggest that it may have been borrowed from the San languages of Southern Africa. Negating with a double negative can also be found in Middle English, such as in Chaucer’s work, who sometimes used a triple negative!

Double negation still appears in regional and ethnical dialects such as Southern American English, African American vernacular English, and various British regional dialects, according to Wikipedia. Think: “You don’t know nothing,” or “He didn’t go nowhere today.” Whatever the source may be, the double negative is not extensively employed and, especially in the dialects, its use is frowned upon by the purists.

British Flag in a Speech Bubble Shape.

Double negation also occurs in other Germanic languages, such as can be found in villages in the center of the Netherlands and in Low Franconian dialects in West-Flanders—and even then, it’s used differently. The way the negative form in Afrikaans is expressed remains unique.  

While using the Afrikaans double negative may seem strange at first, once you grow accustomed to it, it will start to feel quite natural. Learning how to use it isn’t difficult, either.

However, before we begin with that, let’s start with the exception to the rule of the double negative. This exception uses a form more similar to that of other languages and employs only one negation word.  

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. The Rule of “One Knee”
  2. The Rule of “Two Knees”
  3. Changing Meaning – Placement of the First Nie
  4. Adding Color with Adverbs and Adjectives that Express Denial
  5. Converting Instructions and Requests to the Negative
  6. Formal vs. Informal Imperatives
  7. Negating Compound Sentences
  8. Answers to Exercises:
  9. How Can AfrikaansPod101 Help You Learn the Negative in Afrikaans?

1. The Rule of “One Knee”

It may be a bit convoluted, but the mnemonic “one knee” should serve to remind you of the simplicity of singularity. The one nie is used only in straightforward, relatively simple sentences.

  1. The single nie is used mostly in simple statement sentences, including those with reflexive or transitive verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and pronouns.
  2. It’s used mostly in present tense sentences. With other tenses, the single nie works only when certain hulpwerkwoorde van tyd (literally: “auxiliary verbs of time”) occur.

Let’s take a closer look at what this means.

A.1 In Simple Statement Sentences

To state the negative in Afrikaans using simple statement sentences, we put only ONE nie (knee!) after the verb, at the end of the sentence. That’s it! It looks like this:

– Short statement sentences: 

  • Hulle sien nie. – “They don’t see.”
  • Die rekenaar werk nie. – “The computer doesn’t work.”

– Statement sentences with a transitive verb and a pronoun:

Sometimes you need to be more specific and would then use a pronoun. In such a case, the One Knee rule applies mostly to statement sentences with transitive verbs in which the object is indicated with a pronoun. Read here all about Afrikaans pronouns!

  • Hulle waardeer haar nie. – “They don’t appreciate her.”
    Literally: “They appreciate her not.”
  • Sy eet dit nie. – “She doesn’t eat it.”
    Literally: “She eats it not.”
Young Woman Gesturing No for Dessert

– Statement sentences with an adjective and/or adverb:

Sometimes you need to be more descriptive in order to illuminate the subject or the action. Adding adjectives and/or adverbs won’t affect the One Knee rule.

  • Die nuwe rekenaar werk ongelukkig nie. – “The new computer, unfortunately, doesn’t work.”
    Literally: “The new computer works unfortunately not.”

A.2 Mostly in the Present Tense

As you may have noticed, these sentences are all in the simple present tense. In fact, this practice is not too dissimilar to negating the present tense verb in English by adding not

  • Hy sing. – “He is singing.” OR “He sings.”
  • Hy sing nie. – “He is not singing.” OR “He doesn’t sing.”
    Literally: “He sings not.”

Note: We don’t have a continuous tense in Afrikaans! Read all about Afrikaans tenses here.

In the Afrikaans past and future tenses, the One Knee rule applies only to very short, simple statement sentences with the following auxiliary verbs that indicate tense in Afrikaans. As mentioned, we call them hulpwerkwoorde van tyd.

Past Tense:      Hy was nie. – “He wasn’t.”
                         Hy wou nie. – “He didn’t want to.”
                         Hy het nie. – “He didn’t.”

Future Tense: Hy sal nie OR Hy gaan nie. – “He won’t.”

Women's Torn Jeans with Two Knees Showing

2. The Rule of “Two Knees”

Although things may seem to be getting a bit more complicated, there’s no need to panic about the negative form in Afrikaans! You simply need to remember to find the first part of the verb (whether it’s a base or an auxiliary verb) in the sentence, put a nie after it, and then put another nie at the very end of the sentence.

As we saw in the previous example, to negate very simply, we could say: Hy sing nie. (Lit. “He sings not.”) However, if we need to be more specific and have to introduce a direct or indirect object, the negation always doubles.

  • Hy sing (base verb) nie in Afrikaans (direct object) nie.
    “He doesn’t sing in Afrikaans.”
  • Hy sing (base verb) nie vir haar (indirect object) nie.
    “He doesn’t sing for her.”
Two Asian Girls and a Guy Singing Karaoke

When we use auxiliary verbs that indicate the past or future tenses, the negation also usually doubles:

  • Hy sal (auxiliary verb, future tense) nie sing nie.
    “He will not sing.”
  • Hy wou (auxiliary verb, past tense) nie sing nie.
    “He didn’t want to sing.”

What About the Be-Verbs?

In the present and past tenses, the be-verb is usually the main verb; in the future tense, the be-verb is an auxiliary verb. However, they all take the double negation.

Take a look at these negatives in Afrikaans:

Be-Verb Negation

PRESENT Tense Affirmative:
is (“is,” “to be”)

Die kat is oulik. 
“The cat is cute.”
PRESENT Tense Negation:
is nie (“is not”)

Die kakkerlak is nie o
ulik nie
“The cockroach is not cute.”
PAST Tense Affirmative:
was (“was”)

Die deur was toe. 
“The door was closed.”
PAST Tense Negation:
was nie (“was not”)

Die deur was nie toe nie
“The door was not closed.”
FUTURE Tense Affirmative:
sal wees / gaan wees (“will be,” “shall be”)

Die weer sal warm wees.
“The weather will be warm.”
FUTURE Tense Negation:
sal nie wees nie (“will not be”)

Die weer sal nie koud wees nie.
“The weather will not be cold.” 

Woman in Winter Gear Feeling Cold

3. Changing Meaning – Placement of the First Nie

While the rule remains true that one should put the first nie after the first verb in the sentence, sentences can sometimes become quite long and complex.

In terms of negation, this means that:

a) the first nie can be placed in various positions after the first werkwoord (“verb”) or hulpwerkwoord van tyd. (Lit. “auxiliary verb of time”); and

b) where one places it can change the meaning of the sentence. 

Consider the following sentence in the future tense: 

  • Sy gaan nie môre met haar nuwe bikini op die strand tan nie. 
    “She is not going to tan on the beach in her new bikini tomorrow.”

The entire sentence is negated because the nie is placed directly after what is, in Afrikaans, an auxiliary verb that indicates the future tense: gaan

  • Sy gaan môre nie met haar nuwe bikini op die strand tan nie. Sy sal iets anders dra.
    “She is not going to tan on the beach in her new bikini tomorrow. She will wear something else.”

In this case, the nie directly precedes “haar nuwe bikini” (her new bikini) and therefore negates only that phrase.

Young Woman in Bikini Sunbathing on the Beach
  • Sy gaan môre met haar nuwe bikini nie op die strand tan nie. Sy gaan elders tan.
    “She is not going to tan on the beach in her new bikini tomorrow. She will tan somewhere else.”

In this case, the nie directly precedes op die strand (on the beach) and therefore negates only that phrase. 

  • Sy gaan môre met haar nuwe bikini op die strand nie tan nie. Sy gaan iets anders doen as tan.
    “She is not going t tan on the beach in her new bikini tomorrow. She will do something other than tanning.”

In this case, the nie directly precedes the second verb “tan” (tan) and therefore negates only that action. 

It should be clear from the above explanations that one must be sure to place the first nie after the first verb in the sentence, and directly before the phrase or word one wants to negate. 

4. Adding Color with Adverbs and Adjectives that Express Denial

That said, negative sentences in Afrikaans do not always require for the word nie to be the first word of negation. Sometimes, to add a bit of color to your speech, you can use additional negation vocabulary in lieu of the first nie. This strengthens the tone of what you’re saying and makes it more specific and descriptive, like this:

Sy praat nooit Afrikaans nie.
“She never speaks Afrikaans.
“Lit. “She never speaks Afrikaans not.”
Die lesse is gladnie lank nie.
“The lessons are not long at all.
“Lit. “The lessons are not at all long not.”

These additional negation words are adverbs (bywoorde), adjectives (byvoeglike naamwoorde), and auxiliary verbs that express denial and, as you can see, they make the sentence a little more specific and descriptive. Just remember that you still need to add the nie at the end of the sentence! 

Here are some examples of auxiliary verbs, adverbs, and adjectives that can be used for denial. 

D.1 Woorde wat vir Ontkenning Gebruik Word / “Words that are Used for Denial”

AffirmativeNegative
enige (“any”) / een (“one”)

Daar is een oefening. 
“There is one exercise.”
geen (“no,” “none,” “not”)

Daar is geen oefeninge nie.
“There are no exercises.”
enigsins (“at all”)

Is dit enigsins moeite vir jou?
“Is it trouble for you at all?”
geensins (“by no means,” “in no way”)

Dit is geensins moeite nie.
“It is no trouble at all.”
êrens (“somewhere”)

Dit is êrens.
“It is somewhere.”
nêrens (“nowhere”)

Ek kan dit nêrens vind nie
“I can’t find it anywhere.”
iemand (“someone”)

Daar was iemand.
“There was someone.”
niemand (“nobody,” “no one”)

Daar was niemand nie
“There was no one.”
iets (“something”)

Die bobbejaan het iets oorgekom.
“Something happened to the baboon.”
niks (“nothing”)

Die bobbejaan het niks oorgekom nie
“Nothing happened to the baboon.”
ooit (“ever”)

Sal jy my ooit verraai?
“Will you ever betray me?”
nooit (“never”)

Ek sal jou nooit verraai nie
“I will never betray you!”
nog (“still”)

Ek kan nog die geraas verdra.
“I can still tolerate the noise.”
nie meer (“no longer”)

Ek kan die geraas nie meer verdra nie!
“I can’t stand that noise anymore!”
beslis (“indeed,” “definitely”)

Dit is beslis ‘n probleem.
“That is definitely a problem.”
gladnie (“not at all”)

Dit is gladnie ‘n probleem nie
“That is not a problem at all.”
al (“yet”)

Het hy al sy werk gedoen?
“Has he done his work yet?”
nog nie (“not yet”)

Hy het nog nie sy werk gedoen nie
“He has not yet done his work.” 
tog (“and yet”)

Daar was amper g’n reën nie; tog is die dam vol. 
“There’s been almost no rain, and yet the dam is full.” 
tog nie (“and yet not”)

Daar was baie reën; tog is the dam nie vol nie.
“There was a lot of rain, and yet the dam is not full.”
heeltemal (“completely”)

Ek is heeltemal verward.
“I am utterly confused.” 
nie heeltemal (“not completely”)

Ek is nie heeltemal verward nie
“I am not completely confused.”
iets (“something”)

Kan ek iets vir jou doen? 
“Can I do something for you?”
niks (“nothing”)

Ek kan niks vir jou doen nie. 
“I can’t do anything/can do nothing for you.” 
moet (“must,” “should”)

Jy moet my later bel. 
“You must call me later.”
moenie (“don’t”)

Jy moenie my later bel nie
“You mustn’t call me later.”

Note: Similar to the English “don’t,” this is the contracted form of moet nie (“do not”).
sal (“will,” “shall”)

Ek sal die boek later lees. 
“I will read the book later.”
sal nie (“will not”)

Ek sal die boek nie later lees nie
“I will not read the book later.”
gaan (“will”)

Ek gaan more studeer.
“I will study tomorrow.”
gaan nie (“will not”)

Ek gaan nie more studeer nie.
“I will not study tomorrow.”

Diploma Hat on Top of a Pile of Books, with a Scroll Next to It

5. Converting Instructions and Requests to the Negative

Giving instructions/commands and making requests are things that we often do, so it’s important to be able to convert these to their negative form. 

E.1 Giving Instructions and Commands

Converting instructions to their negative form is not that difficult. Have a look at this instruction and its negative form:

Instruction: Sit daar! / “Sit there!”
Instruction – Negative Form: Moenie daar sit nie! / “Don’t sit there!” (Literally. “Don’t sit there not.”)

As you can see, we added the word moenie to the instruction and then added nie at the end of the sentence in order to convert it to the negative form. The word moenie (“don’t”) is a contraction of the words moet (do) and nie (not)

In Afrikaans, when you add moenie to the sentence, you must then move the verb (sit, in this case) to the end and follow that with the ubiquitous nie.

A few more examples: 

Instruction – Positive FormInstruction – Negative Form
Staan op! 
“Stand up!”
Moenie opstaan nie!
“Don’t stand up!”
Lit. “Don’t up-stand not!”
Kom later terug!
“Come back later!”
Lit. Come later back! 
Moenie later terugkom nie! 
“Don’t come back later!”
Lit. “Don’t later back come not.” 
Gaan weg!
“Go away!”
Moenie weggaan nie! 
“Don’t go away!” 
Lit. “Don’t away-go not!”
Kyk daar! 
“Look there!”
Moenie daar kyk nie! 
“Don’t look there!”
Lit. “Don’t there look not!”

Two Young Women Pointing to Something on a Laptop Screen.

Did you notice that the verbs and adverbs got switched around in the negative? For example: 

Kyk daar became “Moenie daar kyk nie.”

Where the adverb usually follows the verb in Afrikaans affirmative expressions, the opposite is true of the negative. This is a rule you should take note of. This switching sometimes results in the formation of a compound verb. Consider this: 

Gaan weg!” becomes “Moenie weggaan nie!” and “Staan op!” becomes “Moenie opstaan nie!

EXERCISE I

Why not try to negate in Afrikaans yourself? Read the affirmative expressions, write your negative answers (using moenie) down somewhere, and check them against the list of answers at the end of this article. Don’t worry, you won’t have to combine any verbs and adverbs! 

Eet die kos! – “Eat the food!”
Drink jou medisyne! – “Drink your medicine!”
Sing hard! – “Sing loudly!”
Praat vinnig! – “Speak quickly!”

6. Formal vs. Informal Imperatives

While the rule is that you should add moenie to an instruction (also called an imperative) in order to make it negative, a formal, more polite imperative will get an asseblief (“please”). As soon as you do this, there is another set of rules that apply. Have a look at the following: 

Informal imperative: Moenie opstaan nie! / “Don’t stand up!”
Formal imperative: Moet asseblief nie opstaan nie. / “Please don’t stand up.”

As you can see, when you add asseblief to the negative sentence, you need to: 

  1. break the compound moenie into its component words moet and nie;
  2. put the asseblief (“please”) between the moet and the nie; and
  3. remember to add the final nie at the end! 

Here are some more examples using the same informal instructions as in exercise E.1, but now converted to formal imperatives.

Informal ImperativeFormal Imperative
Moenie later terug kom nie! 
“Don’t come back later!”
Moet asseblief nie later terugkom nie.
“Please don’t come back later.”
Moenie daar kyk nie! 
“Don’t look there!”
Moet asseblief nie daar kyk nie. 
“Please don’t look there.”
Moenie weggaan nie! 
“Don’t go away!”
Moet asseblief nie weggaan nie!
“Please don’t go away!”

EXERCISE II

Your turn again, if you’d like. Just as before, read the formal affirmative expressions and write the negative down somewhere. Then check them against the list of answers at the end of this article. 

Ry vinnig, asseblief. – “Drive fast, please.”
Loop vinniger, asseblief. – “Walk faster, please.”
Gooi die bal, asseblief. – “Throw the ball, please.”
Tel die vuilgoed op, asseblief. – “Pick the rubbish up, please.”

7. Negating Compound Sentences

Ek Sien Hom Maar hy Sien my Nie. - I See Him but He Doesn't See Me.

Quick grammar note: A simple sentence is one in which there is only a subject and a predicate, as illustrated by this sentence: 

Ek (subject) sien hom (predicate).
“I see him.”

Obviously, a compound sentence then contains more than one subject and more than one predicate. It consists of multiple clauses. Consider this compound sentence: 

Ek (subject) sien hom (predicate), maar hy (subject) sien my nie (predicate)
“I see him, but he doesn’t see me.”
Lit. “I see him, but he sees me not.”

When looking at compound sentences, an important point to remember is that if you’re negating the main clause, you should negate it as you would a standalone, simple sentence. Consider the following examples: 

Hy ry nie, want die verkeerslig is nie groen nie
“He’s not driving because the traffic light is not green.”
Lit. “He drives not, because the traffic light is not green not.”

Ek is nie fiks genoeg nie; dus sal ek nie aan the marathon deelneem nie
“I am not fit enough; therefore I won’t be participating in the marathon.”
Lit. “I am not fit enough not; therefore will I not in the marathon participate not.”

As discussed earlier, in compound sentences, we also only use negating words in the part of the sentence that we are negating

Have a look: 

Ek sal gaan stap as dit nie reën nie
“I will go for a walk if it doesn’t rain.”
Lit. “I will go walking if it not rains not.”

If only the main clause is negated, then we must put the first nie in the main clause and the second nie at the end of the sentence. Here’s an example: 

Ek het nie gedink dat jy my sal onthou nie
“I did not think that you would remember me.”
Lit. “I did not think that you me would remember not.”

8. Answers to Exercises: 

Converting instructions to the negative – Exercise I

Eet die kos! – “Eat the food!”Moenie die kos eet nie! – “Don’t eat the food!”
Drink die medisyne! – “Drink the medicine!”Moenie die medisyne drink nie! – “Don’t drink the medicine!”
Sing hard! – “Sing loudly!”Moenie hard sing nie! – “Don’t sing loudly!”
Praat vinnig! – “Speak quickly!”Moenie vinnig praat nie! – “Don’t speak quickly!”

Converting the polite affirmative to the polite negative – Exercise II

Ry vinnig, asseblief. – “Please drive fast.”Moet asseblief nie vinnig ry nie. – “Please don’t drive fast.”
Loop vinniger, asseblief. – “Walk faster, please.”Moet asseblief nie vinniger loop nie. – “Please don’t walk faster.”
Gooi die bal, asseblief. – “Throw the ball, please.”Moet asseblief nie die bal gooi nie. – “Please don’t throw the ball.”
Tel die vuilgoed op, asseblief. – “Pick the rubbish up, please.”Moet asseblief nie die vuilgoed optel nie. – “Please don’t pick up the rubbish.”

9. How Can AfrikaansPod101 Help You Learn the Negative in Afrikaans? 

We can assist you in learning Afrikaans negations in many ways! After all, that’s what we’re here for. Do you have any questions about the negative form in Afrikaans, or about these exercises? Please let us have them in the comments!

At AfrikaansPod101, we can help you understand Afrikaans easily with our hundreds of recorded video lessons, grammar and pronunciation guides, and these vocabulary lists.

Also, 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!

Also supplement your learning with these blog posts:

Enroll now for a free lifetime membership with AfrikaansPod101 to easily learn the Afrikaans negative form and so much more!

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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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. 

Learn Much More Than English Words in Afrikaans with AfrikaansPod101!

When you sign up for a Lifetime Account, you get multiple benefits immediately at your fingertips! You’ll gain access to thousands of lessons and tools tailored to meet you at your level of Afrikaans proficiency so you can start right away.

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. 

Happy Afrikaans 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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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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How Hard is it to Learn Afrikaans?

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This is not an easy question to answer! How hard it is to learn Afrikaans depends on a few things, really.

Afrikaans is the world’s youngest official language. Known as “Cape Dutch” or “Colonial Dutch” back in the day, Afrikaans was only considered a “real language” in the previous century. Over the years, it has been influenced by many other languages, including Arabic, French, and Russian. So it can appear pretty daunting to learn!

However, AfrikaansPod101 is an easy way to learn Afrikaans because we simplify the learning steps for you. We introduce many simple but effective ways to learn Afrikaans while having fun at the same time! And our blog posts are informative and culturally relevant, such as this one on Afrikaans Etiquette in South Africa, and this one on Learning Dates in Afrikaans.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. Is Afrikaans Hard to Learn?
  2. Reasons Why Afrikaans is Easy to Learn
  3. Reasons Why Afrikaans Can Be Difficult to Learn
  4. How to Learn Afrikaans with AfrikaansPod101 – Fast and Easy Ways at Your Fingertips!

1. Is Afrikaans Hard to Learn?

Hard for whom? 

If your own language has Germanic roots, then no, it’s not that difficult at all. In fact, you may find it much easier to master than other languages, in most respects. 

Afrikaans is the fourth most-spoken Germanic language in the world, preceded by English, German, and Dutch. It’s the majority language of Namibia and South Africa, estimated to be spoken by over 20 million people. This number includes second-language speakers.

Given Afrikaans’ roots, if you can speak Dutch, you’ll find that learning Afrikaans is quite a lot easier, too. The languages are very closely related, even though they differ in grammatical structure. Dutch is the older and, in some respects, more intricate of the two.

Dutch Cultural Symbols Shoes and Tulips

Let’s look at what makes Afrikaans hard to learn for so many people, and a few ways it might be easier than English.

2. Reasons Why Afrikaans is Easy to Learn

Compared to English and most other languages, Afrikaans is simpler in many ways. 

Here are some examples of things that make Afrikaans so easy to learn.

2.1 Inflections /Infleksies

Generally speaking, Afrikaans has fewer inflections than most European languages. According to Writing Explained, inflections are the changes made to verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc., depending on what is being expressed (number, gender, case, voice, and so on).

Young Smiling Male Student Learning Language in Front of Laptop with Earphones

These changes can be anything from a simple letter to a more complex affix. An affix is a morpheme (one or more letters) that you can add to a word to change that word’s meaning to some extent. Such as the genitive ‘s to indicate possession (“America’s finest”), the plural “s” to indicate numbers (“husbands”), the comparative “-er” to indicate degree (“faster”), and so forth.

The best-known difference compared to English is probably the fact that Afrikaans verbs don’t conjugate for subject. This is really super-uncomplicated and very easy to learn and understand!

Conjugations are a subset of inflections that occur only in verbs. Afrikaans is very simple that way because, irrespective of the noun, the verb remains the same. It only conjugates for tense, mood, aspect, and voice. 

Following are two examples of Afrikaans verb conjugation. You’ll see that the verb remains the same, irrespective of noun number and gender.

2.1.1 Verb Conjugations – Simple Present Tense / Werkwoord Verbuigings – Teenwoordige Tyd

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Ek isI am
Jy isYou are (singular)
Hy/sy isHe/she is
Julle isYou are (plural)
Hulle isThey are
Ons isWe are
Dit isIt is

2.1.2 Verb Conjugations – Simple Past Tense / Werkwoord Verbuigings – Verlede Tyd

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Ek wasI was
Jy wasYou were (singular)
Hy/sy wasHe/she was
Julle wasYou were (plural)
Hulle wasThey were
Ons wasWe were
Dit wasIt was

Afrikaans only has a simple past tense, a phenomenon not found in other Germanic languages. For instance, in English, we have “I was ill” and “I had been ill.” In Afrikaans, the past remains simple: Ek was siek.

2.2 Gender Classification / Geslag Klassifikasie

Just like English, Afrikaans nouns are not gendered. Therefore, there’s no noun classification or corresponding verb conjugation like in, for instance, French and Italian.

2.3 Definite & Indefinite Articles / Bepaalde & Onbepaalde Lidwoorde

Afrikaans is as easy as English regarding the use of different articles. (In fact, it’s a bit easier, because there’s only one indefinite article in Afrikaans.)

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Bepaalde lidwoorde: die/hierdie/daardieDefinite articles: the/this/that
Onbepaalde lidwoord: ‘nIndefinite articles: an/a
Note: The indefinite article ‘n ALWAYS gets written like this, even at the start of a sentence. In this case, the second word in the sentence (the noun it refers to) starts with a capital letter. 

Like this: ‘n Hond sit voor die deur.





A dog sits in front of the door.
Cute Puppy Sitting in Front of Blue Wooden Wall or Door

2.4 Questions Starting with a Verb / Vrae Wat Met ‘n Werkwoord Begin

Question words are pretty common in most languages, and Afrikaans is no different. However, sometimes questions that are about an action start with a verb instead of a traditional question word. English is more complex in this way compared to Afrikaans, as two or more verbs are needed: “Do/does” + Verb. 

In most instances, this is not the case in Afrikaans. Depending on what it is we want to say, only one verb is necessary in simple questions.

Afrikaans: Waai die wind?
English: “Does the wind blow?”

or

Afrikaans: Werk die plan goed?
English: “Does the plan work well?”

or

Afrikaans: Is die man siek?
English: “Is the man ill?”

or

Afrikaans: Was die maaltyd smaaklik?
English: “Was the meal tasty?”

Happy People at Dining Table, Making a Toast

2.5 Spelling / Spelling

Over the years, Afrikaans spelling has been adapted from Dutch and simplified. For instance: the Dutch mij (“me”) became my in Afrikaans. The pronunciation of zon (“sun”) became son in Afrikaans. English-speakers find many Afrikaans words intuitive and easy to learn.

Afrikaans does pose some challenges, however. So, why is Afrikaans so hard to learn despite the simpler aspects we covered above?

3. Reasons Why Afrikaans Can Be Difficult to Learn

First, let’s clarify this—no language is objectively easy to learn. Asking: “How hard is it to learn Afrikaans?” is the same as asking: “How hard is it to learn the piano?” Learning the piano may be comparatively easier than learning the oboe, for instance, but it still requires a lot of work and effort. If you want to become good at it, it’s going to take effort and commitment. 

At AfrikaansPod101, we know this, which is why we keep our lessons short and accessible—not to mention fun and tailored to your personal needs.

Let’s look at the ways in which Afrikaans is slightly more complex than other Germanic languages.

Asian Girl in Classroom Looking Unhappy

3.1 Afrikaans Negation / Afrikaanse Ontkennende Vorm

This is probably one of the better-known syntactic properties that poses challenges when learning Afrikaans: the so-called “double negative.”

Afrikaners need to make very sure that you get it when they say “No!” A simple word won’t do, nope; we have to repeat ourselves. The basic principle is this: Add a second ‘negation word’ in the final position. This means that a second nie (“no”) is added after the verb, noun, or clause.

Here are a few examples:

Afrikaans Ontkennende Vorm – Double NegativeEnglish
Ek drink nie alkohol NIE.“I don’t drink alcohol.”
Sy kan nie Afrikaans praat NIE.“She can’t speak Afrikaans.”
Hulle is nie so arm NIE.“They are not that poor.”
Wie het nie opgedaag NIE?“Who didn’t arrive?”
Moenie dit doen NIE!“Don’t do it!”

This rule doesn’t apply in simple statement sentences.

For instance:

Afrikaans Ontkennende Vorm – Simple NegativeEnglish
Ek drink nie.“I don’t drink.”
Sy praat nooit.“She never talks.”
Die kat hardloop nie.“The cat doesn’t run.”

Another way in which Afrikaans is slightly more intricate is the way nouns inflect for numbers.

3.2 Numbers / Syfers

In Afrikaans sentences, the noun inflects for numbers with a few suffixes, such as: “-s” / “-e” / “-te.”

AFRIKAANSENGLISH
Singular: meisieSingular: “girl”
Plural: meisiesPlural: “girls”
Singular: hondSingular: dog
Plural: hondePlural: dogs
Singular: koffiebekerSingular: “coffee mug”
Plural: koffiebekersPlural: “coffee mugs”
Singular: landSingular: “country”
Plural: landePlural: “countries”

3.3 Afrikaans Trilled “R” / Trillende Afrikaanse “R”

Learning to speak Afrikaans correctly comes a bit difficult for English-speakers. It’s easy to spot a non-native speaker by this one trait only: they battle with their Rs! 

Unlike the guttural R of the Dutch and the French, and the rolling R of the English, the Russian and Afrikaans trilling R is formed in the front of the mouth. This is done by pressing the tongue firmly against the little ridge behind the upper front teeth, like when you form a “t.” Then, air is pressed over the tip of the tongue so that the tongue trills. Not easy to master, but neither is it impossible!

What makes things even more complex is that phonology, or the way the Rs are pronounced, differs by region. Learn a bit more about that in this pronunciation article

But don’t despair. Like learning how to drive, cook properly, or fix a car, learning to speak Afrikaans just takes commitment and a bit of effort. And we have your back all the way!

Woman in Car with Driving Instructor

4. How to Learn Afrikaans with AfrikaansPod101 – Fast and Easy Ways at Your Fingertips!

We hope you enjoyed our article about the difficulties of learning the Afrikaans language! Do you feel more confident about learning now, or are there still some things you feel unsure about? Feel free to ask us in the comments!

Also, let us make it easier for you with our innovative approach to language-learning. You can expect the following when you enroll:

  • Many free online tools upon subscription to make your life easier while learning to speak Afrikaans. For instance, this free Afrikaans dictionary
  • Thousands of lessons tailored to meet you at your level of language proficiency, while giving you enough content to help yourself straight away, such as this free list of Afrikaans Key Phrases
  • Several learning options that suit your pocket and your language needs. For instance, fast track your fluency with access to your own online teacher.

Make your Afrikaans learning experience much easier today by enrolling with us at AfrikaansPod101!

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