Zulu/Lesson 1

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Lesson 1[edit | edit source]

This introductory lesson provides a simple conversation with a table of all the vocabulary used. Then the ways to say your name or the names of others is provided.

Hello[edit | edit source]

UPhilani ubingelela umngani wakhe, uNandi.

uPhilani: Sawubona Nandi.
uNandi: Sawubona Philani.
uPhilani: Unjani?
uNandi: Ngikhona (ngiyaphila), wena unjani?
uPhilani: Nami ngikhona (ngiyaphila). uhambe kahle.
uNandi: Ngiyabonga. Usale kahle.
isiZulu isiNgisi
Sawubona Hello
Unjani? How are you?
Ngikhona I'm fine
Wena You
Nami Also (and me)
Sala Stay
Hamba Go
Kahle well
Ngiyabonga Thank you.

The first exchange illustrates a fairly casual or familiar tone. It is both more formal and more polite to use the plural forms, e.g.:

uJacob: Sanibonani
uNjabulo: Yebo, sanibonani.
uJacob: Ninjani?
uNjabulo: Sikhona/Siyaphila, nina ninjani?
uJacob: Nathi sikhona/siyaphila.
isiZulu isiNgisi
Sanibonani Hello
Ninjani? How are you?
Sikhona/Siyaphila We're fine/well
Nina You (plural)
Nathi Also (and us)

It would normally be considered somewhat rude and abrupt to say goodbye just then. An exchange of pleasantries would normally follow such greetings, but in large cities, since people are often busy, this short conversation is sufficient.

A very polite way of saying farewell would be:

uJacob: Nihambe kahle.
uNjabulo: Nisale kahle.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Sanibona(ni) where the final ni may or may not be used

Introducing people[edit | edit source]

Philani introduces his friend Thabo to Nandi.

uPhilani: Nandi, Lo umgani wami, uThabo.
uNandi: Ngiyajabula ukukwazi!
uThabo: Nami, ngiyajabula ukukwazi!

Thabo introduces himself to Nosipho.

uThabo: Igama lami nguThabo!
uNosipho: Ngiyajabula ukukwazi! NginguNosipho.
uThabo: Ngiyajabula ukukwazi!
isiZulu isiNgisi
Igama Name
-mi my
Lo (Lona) This
Nina You (plural)
Ngiyajabula ukukwazi I'm pleased to know you.
Umngani Friend
Ngingu- I'm

The above table says that -mi means my but la- that is added to it is for agreement. Lami agrees with igama. The same is true for wami: the wa- agrees with umngani .

How are you?[edit | edit source]

Philani sees his friend Thabo in the street.

uPhilani: Sawubona Thabo!
uThabo: Yebo, sawubona Philani!
uPhilani: Unjani?
uThabo: Ngiyaphila, wena unjani?
uPhilani: Angiphilile.
isiZulu isiNgisi
Angiphilile I'm not well.

Surname[edit | edit source]

Nandi tells Thabo her surname.

Nandi: Isibongo sami uNdlovu.
uThabo: NgingowakwaKhumalo.
isiZulu isiNgisi
Isibongo Surname
Ngingowakwa- I'm of the family of

Summary[edit | edit source]

  • We can say hello: Sawubona, Sanibona or Sanibonani
  • Ask people how they are: Unjani?, Ninjani?.
  • Say how you are: Ngiyaphila, ngikhona, angiphilile.
  • Introduce yourself: Igama lami ngu-, Ngingu-.
  • Introduce others: Lo ngu-.
  • Say your surname: Isibongo sami, Ngingowakwa-.

Next step[edit | edit source]

Try the Exercise or go the next Lesson 2.