Thanks for All

How to say thank you in south africa

  1. Home
  2. Misc. Thanks
  3. How to say thank you in south africa
How to say thank you in south africa
August 31, 2018 Misc. Thanks No comments

Isn’t it slightly annoying when you hear someone foreign talk about a ‘South African’ accent? We hate to break it to you lot, but you’re going to have to be way more specific. Which of the 11 South African languages are you talking about?

Add that to our three capital cities, and you realise that we are country that believes ‘more is better.’ This is a wonderfully diverse nation. Yet we’d bet our last rand that there are virtually no people who can speak a little bit of every language. This is where we come in…

We’ve accumulated a very brief phrase guide for all South African languages. As a bonus, there’s even a small crash-course in South African sign language too. Knowledge is power, so get ready to stock up your arsenal:

Hello, Please and Thank you in 11 South African languages:


How many people speak Afrikaans?

Although it is widely spoken across almost all of Mzansi, it is only the second-most popular with an estimated 6.9 million speakers spread across the country.

Most popular area?

It is densely popular across the Northern and Western Capes. However, there are plenty of Afrikaners in every state.

Please: Asseblief
Thank You:Dankie


How many people speak Ndebele?

Little over one million people speak South Africa’s smallest minority language.

Most popular area?

The Northern border of Gauteng and Mpumalanga is effectively the only place you will hear the Ndebele tones

Hello: Salibonani
Thank You: Ngiyabonga

Northern Sotho

How many people speak Northern Sotho?

Up to 9 million South Africans can understand Northern Sotho, with more than half of that number who are officially fluent in it.

Most popular area?

Limpopo hosts the majority, but there are Northern Sotho communities dotted around in Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

Hello: Dumela (singular) / Dumelang (plural)
Thank you: Ke a leboga: (I thank you) / Re a leboga (we thank you)


How many people speak Sotho?

The national language of Lesotho has been embraced by 5.6 million South Africans

Most popular area?

Bordering Free State is home to nearly all of these speakers, with Gauteng and the Eastern Cape homing a small contingent of those who know the language.

Hello:Lumela, or Dumelang
Please:Ke kopa hore o
Thank You:Ke a leboha haholo


How many people speak Swazi?

If you were paying attention with Sotho, you’ll realise that Swazi also borrows its name from a neighbouring country. South Africa is home to approximately 2.4 million Swazi speakers.

Most popular area?

Next to the border of Swaziland is Mpumalanga, where Northern and Eastern regions have a large number of Swazil linguists.

Hello:Sawubona (actually translates to ‘do you see me’.)
Please: Ngiyacela
Thank You:Ngiyabonga


How many people speak Tsonga?

Roughly three million South Africans speak or at least understand parts of Tsonga.

Most popular area?

It’s a common language used in Mpumalanga, and in Eastern parts of Limpopo

Hello:Xewane, or Ahee (to reply)
Please:Ndza Kombela
Thank You:Ndza Nkhensa


How many people speak Tswana?

Census information estimates that 4.1 million people talk this Bantu language.

Most popular area?

North West Province has the monopoly of Tswana linguists, with 63% of the population able to speak the mother tongue of bordering Botswana.

Hello: Dumela
Please: Tswee-Tswee
Thank You:Ke a Leboga, or Ke Itumetse


How many people speak Venda?

They are the second-smallest minority language in the country, with just 1.2 million speakers. That’s 2.2% of the population.

Most popular area?

Northern Limpopo. In fact, the language is as good as exclusive to this province.

Hello:I nhlikanhi, or Ndaa to a male and Aa to a female
Please:Ndi khou tou humbela
Thank You:Ndo Livhuwa, or Ro Livhuwa


How many people speak Xhosa?

The 2011 census estimates that 7.6 million people speak this language. That’s 18% of SA.

Most popular area?

It is highly popular in the Eastern Cape, and also frequently spoken in the Western Cape and Free State.

Hello:Mholo, or Mholweni
Please: Ndiyacela
Thank You:Enkosi


How many people speak Zulu?

Roughly 10 million people speak it as a first language, but up to 50% of South Africa understand Zulu phrases

Most popular area?

Clue in the name. Most speakers live in KwaZulu-Natal, but this has also spilled over into a large Zulu-speaking contingent in Gauteng

Thank You:Ngiyabonga

Read:Apparently, only three people can speak SA’s oldest language: ‘N uu’

How many people speak English in South Africa?

  • Less than 10% of South Africans speak English as a first language
  • The 2011 census of South African Languages accounted for 4.8 million fluent English speakers.
  • The language is only popular in city metropolises (Cape Town, Johannesburg).

And, in South African Sign Language?

  • Between 700,000 – 2,000,000 people have mastered the basics of SASL


Please and Thank You: (From 3:31)

Tags:AfrikaansIsiZululistsNdebeleofficial languagesXhosa

When traveling to a new country, it's easy for things to become lost in translation. That fact is especially true in Africa, where there are between 1,500 and 2,000 recognized languages.

As a first step transcending the language barrier in Africa learning to say a few words in the native tongue will help. African societies are typically both polite and respectful, and so being able to say "thank you" is key when it comes to making new friends and establishing a good rapport with the local people. 

Since most African countries are multilingual, it's always best to use the country's official language if you're unsure about a local dialect. Where there are multiple official languages or an unofficial language that is still widely used, this guide will include these translations as well; however, this list is by no means exhaustive. 

Africa is an adventure so preparing ahead will ensure a great trip. Or as journalist Brian Jackman put it “Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it?"


  • Portuguese: Obrigado (Thank you, when speaking to a man)
  • Portuguese:  Obrigada (When speaking to a woman)


  • Setswana: Ke a leboga
  • English: Thank you 

Burkina Faso

  • French: Merci 
  • Mossi: Barka
  • Dyula: I ni che


A collection of useful phrases in Zulu, a Bantu language spoken mainly in South Africa. If you can provide recordings, corrections or additional translations, please contact me. Key to abbreviations: frm = formal, How do you say in Zulu? ukusho kanjani ngesiZulu? Reply to thank you, Uyamukelwa (sg).

Useful South African Phrases

South Africa has 11 different national languages – English is the most commonly spoken language in official and commercial public life but only the sixth most spoken language in terms of numbers.

Zulu is normally spoken in the Durban area whilst Xhosa is spoken by the locals in Cape Town. Also bear in mind that Afrikaans was regarded as the language of the old oppressive Nationalist Government pre-1994 and therefore even trying to say a few words to the locals in this language may be regarded as offensive. Best advice is to keep to English if the person is a complete stranger.

Here are a few useful words you may encounter in South Africa. You will be a bit of a big deal if you say ‘hello’ in Zulu:


Aikona – Not on your life
Aita (pronounced ‘ai-tah’) – A greeting
Akubekuhle (pronounced ‘aako-beck-hoole’) – Meaning cheers, to cheers a drink or thanks in Zulu
Arvie (pronounced ‘rve’) – Afternoon


Babbelas (pronounced ‘bub-elaas’) – Hangover
Biltong – Dried, seasoned meat, similar to jerky
Bioskoop – Cinema – “We want to go to the bioskoop tonight”
Biscuit – Used as a term of affection – “Claudia, you biscuit!!”
Boer – Afrikaans word for farmer
Bokkie – A small buck, or affectionate name for a female (my bokkie)
Bra – Afrikaans word for male friend – “dude” in English
Bru – Male friend
Braai – A BBQ


Choc – Township slang for a 20 Rand note
Chow – Means eat
Cozzy (pronounced cozzie) – Swimming/bathing costume



Dik bek – Sulking/pouting
Doss – Nap
Dorpie – A town small in size


Eina! (pronounced ‘a-na’) – Ouch!
Eish! (pronounced ‘aysh’) – A phrase of exclamation – “Eish! I am so tired”


Fundi – Expert – ‘umfundisi’, meaning teacher or preacher


Gatvol – Fed up, had enough
Gooi (pronounce ‘g’ as a rolling ‘gggg’ almost like a cat purring) – Chuck or throw something


Howzit – How’s it going? How are you?
Hundreds – Excellent – “I am hundreds”


Indaba – From the Zulu language meaning ‘a matter for discussion’ or widely known in South African English as conference


Laaitie (pronounced as ‘lighty’) – A young person, usually a young male such as a younger brother or son
Laduma! (pronounced ‘la-do-ma’) – It thunders in Zulu – used when a goal is scrored in South African soccer matches
Larney – Fancy/designer
Lekker – Great/tasty


Makarapa – A modified, decorated miners’ helmet used by South African soccer fans


Padkos – Food for the road/journey


Robot – Traffic light
Rondavel – Free-standing round building which usually has a thatched roof


Sangoma – South African traditional healer
Siff – Used in South African English to discribe disgusting, horrible or ugly – “This milkshake is siff!”
Skinner – Gossip
Slap chips – French fries
Slip slops – Flip slop sandals
Spaza shop – Convenience store
Sosatie – A kebab on a stick


Tekkies – Evil spirit
Toyi-Toyi – South African Zulu for protesting and dancing in the street
Tsotsi (pronounced ‘tzotzi’) – A person who does no good, gangster, layabout
Tune – To give a person lip – “Don’t you tune me bra”


Veld – Bush/grassland
Voetsek (pronounced ‘fot-sek’) – Go away/buzz off
Vuvuzela (pronounced ‘voo-voo-ze-la’ ) – Setswana for a stadium horn, used by soccer fans during matches in South Africa


Yebo (pronounced ‘Yeahbaw’) – Yes in Zulu


how to say thank you in south africa

thank you for being so generous
Thank you mom for your support
thank you for response
Okay thank you very much
handwritten interview thank you letter
Child thank you wording
i want to thank you for the best day of my life
Executive thank you letter after interview

Director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, a squad of 31 players and 20 management headed to Japan before a cheering crowd of approximately 2000 people after a week of media, public and private engagements in Johannesburg.

They were officially seen off on their expedition by the Minister of Sport, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, before the 25-hour journey to Seki, where the squad will be based before moving to Kumagaya for the match against Japan a week today.

“Each time the Springboks win the Rugby World Cup, they bring confidence to the entire country.

“We want them to be the first team to win the RWC on three different continents and we wish them well for the tournament in Japan,” said Minister Mthethwa.

“We’d like to say ‘thank you to South Africa’ for the support and best wishes they have shown the Springboks this week,” said Erasmus.

“It has been a busy week and a tiring one at times to be honest. The boys had two hard field sessions as well as morning to night activities with our commercial partners, media and public.

“The support people have shown to the team has been really humbling and inspiring. We’re just a rugby team that is going out there to do our best on the rugby field but we know that when the Springboks are doing well it gives the country a lift or, at least, I hope it does.”

The week started with the public naming of the squad live on national television before an excited public audience at Multichoice City.

The entire squad was available for interview by a 70-strong media corps and press conferences and one-on-one media engagements have followed.

The team attended a glittering farewell banquet hosted by principal team partner MTN as well as breakfast hosted by FNB.

The squad was also dispatched to visit the offices of sponsors across Johannesburg in a concerted effort to show its appreciation of the support the team has received.

“It has been great to be able to interact with so many people and show our real appreciation of their support. We don’t normally get the time to do this kind of thing but it was important for us to really show people that appreciate their support,” said Erasmus.

“To have so many people behind us, really gives the boys a lift but, I’ll be honest, the expectations make me nervous. But this is our job and when we are in Japan we’ll be focused on the main thing, the rugby.”

The Springboks’ final warm-up match before the Rugby World Cup begins, against Japan next Friday, is live on SuperSport 1 (kick off at 12h05 SA time).

Why say thank you? Well, we do it partly because we've been taught from a young age that it is the right thing to do. We learn to say thank you to those wh.

18 South African Slang Words And Phrases You Should Know

What do others give you?

The Practice:
Say Thank You.


What do you feel when someone thanks you for something? For a comment in a meeting, a task done at home, an extra step taken, an encouraging word.

You probably feel seen, appreciated, that you matter to the other person. Maybe a little startled, maybe wondering if you really deserve it, but also glad. Personally, this is how it is for me.

Turning it around, when you say "thank you" to someone, it's a small moment with big ripples: a confirmation of a deep and wonderful truth, that we all depend on each other, that we are all joined —across dinner tables and across the world—in a web whose threads are innumerable acts of giving.

For example, often when I eat a meal I’ll take a moment to imagine the details of how that tomato or rice was grown and then transported onto my plate, including the people who walked the fields to plant and eventually pick it, and the man or woman who drove the truck that carried it to the store where I bought it. Those folks do not know me, but they’re real people, working hard, hoping for a good life, worrying about the people they love, extending themselves in their jobs, giving me something extra, all this woven into the food that’s entering my blood, my bones: thank you.

You can’t possibly say thank you to everything you’re given. No one can. So, when you do say thanks, it’s a token of your appreciation for the larger whole, joining you with that whole. It will make you happy to open to the giving coming your way each day.

And in giving thanks to the people in your life, you open the door to receiving their thanks in turn. In your home or company, a nice circle, a step toward a culture of gratitude.


For starters, it's hard to give thanks if you're uncomfortable acknowledging that you have received something. Perhaps you don't want to feel indebted, or don't want to look needy. Maybe it's simply embarrassing. These feelings are normal - but they can sure get in the way of being thankful.

To deal with them, begin by naming them to yourself: squirmy . . . embarrassed . . . resentful . . . awkward . . . don’t want to owe anyone anything . . .  Hold them in a big open space of awareness, like dark clouds in a vast sky. Don’t fight them, but gently move your attention away from them, back to your breathing and to a basic sense of being alright as a body . . . bringing to mind a sense of being cared about by someone . . . recognizing some of your good intentions in life . . . knowing one or more benefits to you of saying thanks . . . knowing what the other person has given you . . . feeling a simple sense of appreciation . . . feeling that it’s alright to be thankful . . . making it OK in your mind to express  thanks.

And then be straightforward and simple, and say "Thank you" in whatever way is natural.

Many thank you's involve little things in the flow of life, like thanking someone for passing the salt at dinner. Let these small moments matter to you. Feel your thanks in your chest and throat. When you say your thanks, try to let them show in your eyes. Life is made up of moments, beads on a golden chain; what are you stringing together? As they say in Tibet: "If you take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves."

Also consider where you might have a backlog of thanks, perhaps for some big things. Like saying thanks to your parents or other relatives, to old friends and new ones, to teachers and coaches of all kinds. Thanks to lovers and mates, children, pets, neighbors - even people you've never met, even the whole natural world. A wonderful and powerful practice is to make a list of people you want to thank directly, and then gradually move through the list. You can also certainly offer thanks in your imagination, such as to people who are no longer living, to people far away, to groups of people, to specific animals or to nature in general, or to spiritual beings or forces if that is meaningful to you.

Throughout, it is very sweet to be thankful for the opportunity to give thanks.

Source: Ryan McGuire/Pixabay

how to say thank you in south africa

WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: 10 Different Ways to Say "Thank you!" In English! - Learn English Vocabulary

Here are a few useful words you may encounter in South Africa. (pronounced ' aako-beck-hoole') – Meaning cheers, to cheers a drink or thanks in Zulu.

how to say thank you in south africa
Written by Kerr
  • There are no comments. Write something. Be the first ...
Write a comment