HomepageChapter 02 - Greetings and everyday expressions


Somali warmly greet each other with handshakes, but shaking hands with the opposite sex is avoided.

Somali people use sweeping hand and arm gestures to dramatize speech. Many ideas are expressed through specific hand gestures :

  • A swift twist of the open hand means "nothing" or "no".
  • Snapping fingers may mean "long ago" or and "so on".
  • A thumb under the chin indicates "fullness".
  • It is impolite to point the sole of one's foot or shoe at another person.
  • It is impolite to use the index finger to call somebody ; that gesture is used for calling dogs.


Peace be upon you. Assalam Alaikum.
Hello [= Is it peace ?] Ma nabad baa ? / Nabad miyaa ?
Hello [= It's peace (answer)] Waa nabad.
Good morning. Subax wanaagsan / Subah wanaagsan.
Have a good day. Maalin wanaagsan.
Good afternoon. Galab wanaagsan.
Good evening. Habeen wanaagsan.
What's the news ? Maxaad sheegtay ?
Tell me how things are ? I waraan ?
How's life ? Iska waraan.
How are you ? Sideed tahay ?
How are you ? (plur) Sideed tihiin ?
I'm fine. Waan fiicanahay.
Pleased to meet you. Waan ku faraxsanahay inaan ku barto.
I'm happy to be here. Waan ku faraxsanahay inaan halkan joogo.
I'm happy to see you. Waan ku faraxsanahay inaan ku arko.
Please. Min Fadlag.
Thank you. Mahadsanid.
Good bye. Nabad geeleyo.


Who ? Waa ayo ?
What ? Waa maxay ?
When ? Goormee ?
Where ? Xaggee ? / Xalkee ?
Why ? Sababtu waa maxay ?
How ? Sidee ?
How much ? Waa imisa ?
What happened ? Maxaa dhacay ?
How do you say _____ in Somali ? Sidee lagu yiraahaa _____ af Soomaaliga ?
What day is it ? Maalintu waa maxay ?
What time is it ? Saaxadu waa imisa ? / Saaxadu waa imisadii ?
What do you want ? Maxaad doonaysa ? / Maxaad rabtaa ?
This, what is it ? Waa Maxay waxani ?
Who are you ? Kumaad tahay ?
What's your name ? Magacagu wa maxay ?
My name's Joseph. Magacaygu waa Yusuf.
What's your family name ? Magaca rer kiina sheeg ?
My family name's Abdi. Magaca rer kayagu waa Abdi.
What's your phone number ? Nambarka telefoon kaagu waa maxay ?
What's your date of birth ? Goormaad dhalatay ?
Where do you live ? Halkee degan tahay ?
What's your address ? Adreskaagu waa maxay ?
What do you do (for a living) ? Shaqadaadu waa maxay ?
I'm a teacher. Macalin baan ahay.
What's your home town ? Magaaladeed deggan tahay ?
I live in Borama Boorama ayan deggan ahay.


Please, help me. I caawi, min fadlag.
I don't like it. Ma jecli sidaa.
I want to phone home. Agalka ayaan rabaa inaan la hadalo.
I want to go home. Waxaan doonayaa inaan guriga tago.
I'm hungry. Waan gaajoonayaa.
I'm thirsty. Waan oomanahay.
Where does it hurt ? Halkee ku xanuunaysa ?
I've got a headache. Madaxa ayaa i xanuunaya.
I've got a stomach ache. Caloosha ayaa i xanuunaysa.
I'm sick. / I don't feel well. Waan bukaa. / Waan xanuunsanahay.
I must go to the toilet. Musqusha ayaan rabaa inaan tago.

 5. ORDERS : 

Come here. Kaalay halkan / Halkan kaalay.
Come here. (to a child) Halkan imoow.
Look at me. I soo eeg.
Move. Dhaqaaq.
Don't move. Ha dhaqaaqin.
Follow me. I soo daba soco.
Come with me. I soo raac.
Stay here. Halkan joog.
Stay where you are. Joog halkaaga.
Wait here. Halkan igu sug.
Take me to Borama. Ii gee Boorama.
Be quiet. Aamus.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter Table of Contents

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional