Kirundi basic phrases

In Burundi, Kirundi is mainly spoken, with French as the main business language. Swahili is also spoken. So, I googled Burundi and they basic words came up. Thought I should share with you!

Amahoro! X

Kirundi basic phrases

Basic vocabulary

Oya – no
Ego – yes
Ingo – come!
Cane – much, many, a lot, very (Ndashonje cane – I’m very hungry)
Gose (gose cane) – many, much (stronger than cane)
Buhorobuhoro/bukebuke – slowly
Mpore! – attention!
Bangwe! – stop!
Kira! – Bless you!
Kaze! – welcome! (often used “Karibu!” – swahili expression)
Amahera/amafranga – money
Sindabizi – I don’t know
Ndibaza – maybe
Neza – good
Imodoka – a car

Greetings

Bwakeye / Mwaramutse – hello, good morning!
Mwiriwe – good afternoon/evening
Ijoro ryiza – good night
Turabonaye / Nakagaruka – see you later
N’agasaga – see you, good bye
Urakomeye? – how are you? (reply: ego/ndakomeye = I’m well)
Amakuru? – What’s news?
Amahoro – peace, widely used as greetins (reply: n’amahoro)
Genda n’amahoro – go (be) in peace
Urugendo gwiza! – Have a good journey!

Expressing gratitude

Urakoze – thank you (addressing one person), murakoze (more than 1 person)
Urakoze cane – Thank you very much

Other useful expressions

canke – or
hehe? – where?
aha – here (Ni aha – It’s here)
kuki? – why?
kuko – because
ninde? – who?
ryari? – when?
canecane – particularly, especially
ejo – tomorrow, yesterday (depends on the context)
vuba – soon
Amahera angahe? – How much does it cost?
Jewe nitwa – my name is
Ndashonje – I’m hungry
Ndanezerewe – I’m not happy
Ndihuta – I’m in hurry
Mfise itiro – I’m tired/I want to sleep
Ndarushe – I’m tired
Ndarwaye – I’m sick/ill
Nta mahera nsigaranye – I haven’t got any money
Ntabara – Help!
Ndaje – I’m coming!
Ndashaka – I want/I would like
Mpa… – give me…
Urabesha, arabesha – you lie, he/she lies
Ikitabu – a book
Ishule – school
Isoko – market
Itabi – tobacco, cigarettes
Ingoma – a drum/a kingdom

Food

umukate – bread (Swahili)
muceri – rice
ibiraya – potatoes
amata – milk
amavuta – butter, cooking oil
inyama – meat
inkoko – chicken
amagi – eggs (sing. igi)
ivyema – peanuts
urubu – yoghurt
ubuki – honey
ifu – flour

Fruits

ivyamwa – fruits
igisaga – bananas (sweet)
inanasi – pineapple
umucungwa – orange
itunda (pl. amatunda) – “Japanese” fruit (fruit de Japon)
ivoka (pl. amavoka) – avocado

Vegetables

imboga – vegetables
ibitoke – bananas (plantains)
ibiharage – beans (sing. igiharage)
ishu – cabagge
umuhiti – cucumber
isarata – salad
inyanya/itomati – tomato

Drinks

amazi – water
inzoga – beer / used also for alcoholic drinks in general
ikawa – coffee
icayi – tea
fanta – all sorts of fizzy drinks (coke, fanta, sprite,..)
urwawa – banana wine
impeke – sorghum beer (home made)
kanyanga/rutuku – prohibited locally brewed spirit (made of manioc)
umunanasi/umuraha – pineapple spirit

Dishes, cuttlery

ikiyiko – spoon
imbugita – knife
ifurshet – fork
isahan – plate/dish
icupa – bottle
urupfunguruzo – bottle opener
ikirahuri – a glass

Animals

inka – cow
imfizi – bull
ishuri – young bull
impene – goat
intama – sheep
inkoko – hen, chicken
ingona – crocodile
imvubu – hippo
akayabo – cat
imbga – dog
inkende – monkey
isato – python

Persons

jewe – me
wewe – you
twebwe – we
izina (pl. amazina) – name
umuntu (abantu) – a person
umwana (abana) – child
umugore (abagore) – woman
umugabo (abagabo) – man
umuhungu (abahangu) – boy
umukobga (abakobga) – girl
umuzungu (agazungu) – white man (a European)
umuzungukazi – white woman
umwirabure – an African (a black person)
umwami (bami) – king
umugenzi (abagenzi ) – friend
umurimyi – a villager/a farmer
umutama – old man/wise man
umutamakazi – old/wise woman
umushingantahe – a notable
umwigisha – a teacher
umwigishwa – a pupil/a student
Imana – the God

Landscape & weather

ikiyaga – lake
umusozi (pl. imisozi) – mountain, hill
urizi (inzuzi) – river
ikibuye (ibibuye) – rock
ibarabara – path/road
izuba – Sun
ukwezi – Moon
imvura – rain
ikivura – storm

Numbers

igiharuro – number
isinzi – a big number (10 000 etc.)
1 – 10

1 = rimwe kimwe umwe
2 = kabiri – bibiri – babiri
3 = gatatu – bitatu – batatu
4 = kane – bine – bane
5 = gatanu – bitanu – batanu
6 = gatandatu
7 = indwi
8 = umunani
9 = icenda
10 = icumi
11 – 20

11 = cumi nu rimwe
12 = cumi nu kabiri
13 = cumi nu gatatu
14 = cumi nu kane
15 = cumi nu gatanu
16 = cumi nu gatandatu
17 = cumi n’indwi
18 = cumi n’umunani
19 = cumi n’icenda
20 = mirong’ibiri
30 = mirong’itatu
40 = mirong’ine
50 = mirong’itanu
60 = mirong’itandatu
70 = mirong’indwi
80 = mirong’umunani
90 = mirong’icenda
100 – 900

100 = ijana
200 = amajana abiri (pl. “amajana”)
300 = amajana atatu
400 = amajama ane
500 = amajama atanu
600 = amajama atandatu
700 = amajama indwi
800 = amajama umunani
900 = amajama icenda
over 1000

1000 = igihumbi
100,000 = iraqi/ilaki

Days

kuwambere – Monday
kuwakabiri – Tuesday
kuwagatatu – Wednesday
kuwakane – Thursday
kuwagatanu – Friday
kuwagatandatu – Saturday
kuwamunga – Sunday (also used kuwa imana, i.e. God’s day)

Time

umwaka (pl. imyaka) – year
uyu munsi – today
ejo – yesterday, tomorrow (depends on context)
ubu – now
ubunyene – right now
hanyuma – later, after
buhoro – slowly
vuba – soon (tuzobonana vuba – see you soon)
umusi, kumurango – day
mwijoro – night (Ijoro ryiza – good night)
munkoko – morning, dawn
umugoroba – evening (umugoroba mwiza = have a nice evening!)

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4 Comments

  1. December 28, 2013 / 6:51 pm

    thank you for this website with out it i wouldn’t know much of my own language.

  2. Mike
    May 29, 2015 / 5:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing. My neighbor/friend is a refugee from Burundi, and this will help me communicate with him!

  3. June 19, 2015 / 12:57 pm

    Thank you! I am living in So. Cal. looking for Kirundi tutor. Are you or do you know someone locally I can barter with? Murakoze! Valerie

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