Learn Kikuyu

This is a basic introduction to short common phrases used in the Kikuyu language that someone will encounter or use at any other time or hear being used. The translation is in the simplest form and grammatically correct, enabling anyone yearning to learn Kikuyu to find it very easy.


The Kikuyu language, unlike English, doesn’t have gender-defining pronouns such as she or he. Instead, it only identifies the first, second, and third person within a verb.

ndoka/ ndoka – I have come (first person singular)

tuoka/tuoka – we have come (first person plural)

woka – you have come (second person singular)

mwoka - you have come (second person plural)

oka/oka – he/she has come (third-person singular)

moka/Moka – they have come (third person plural)

In this example, oka is the verb's root, and then on it are person identifiers in either plural or singular. is for emphasis mostly, and many times in spoken form, it is omitted

Having put that emphasis, it is now easy to follow the given short statements and be able to know exactly the meaning. It’s fun and easy to learn.

It’s also good to understand the sounds of the vowels used in Kikuyu.

-        a =>like in arm

-        e => like in egg

-        i => like in in

-        o => like in opposite

-        u => like in ululation

-        í =>like in it

-        ú =>like in own/oat/oak/oath/

Practising the sounds beforehand will make learning easy. The two extra vowels are just i and u with apostrophes to indicate the sound difference.

Greetings in Kikuyu

English Kikuyu
Good evening.  (Evening greeting) Úhoro wa húainí (literally, how is your evening)
Good morning. (Morning greeting) Úhoro wa rúciní (literally, how is your morning)
Good afternoon. (Afternoon greeting) Úhoro wa míaraho (literally, how is your afternoon)
How are you?  Úhana atía
Reply to how are you: I am fine   ndí mwega
How are you today?  Úhana atía úmuthí 
Response: I am fine Ndímwega
(ndí indicates first person, and mw indicates the type of noun while ega is the root of the verb)
Have a good day.  Gía na múthenya mwega
I am doing great. Ndímwega
Hi/Hello.  (General greeting)  Úhoro
Nice to meet you.   Níndakena ní gúkuona
See you soon.  Tuonane ica ikuhí
See you later.   Tuonane mahinda mangí

Kikuyu Love Words and Phrases

English Kikuyu
I love you.     Níngwendete
I miss you.  Ndíriríirie gúkuona
Love you so much  Ngwendete múno
I want to see you.    Níndírenda gúkuona
I love you with all my heart.  Nwendete na ngoro yakwa yothe
I love you too.   Onanií níngwendete
I want to see you.   Níndírenda gúkuona
I like you.  Níndakwenda
You are beautiful. Wí múthaka
My love.   Mwendwa wakwa
You look beautiful.     Úthakaríte
My beautiful wife.   Mútumia wakwa kírorerwa
I miss you so much, darling. Ndírirírie gúkuona mwendwa
I need you.  Níngúbataire
You will miss me.  Níúkeriríria kúnyona
Goodbye, my love.   Mahinda mega mwendwa wakwa
See you tomorrow.     Tuonane rúciú
I will marry you.   Níngúkúhikia
I want some space.   Amba úhe kahinda
I need your love.   Níbatairio ní wendo waku
You are mine.   Wí wakwa

Directions in Kikuyu 

English Kikuyu
Where are you?     Wí kú?
Reply to where are you: Am in the school playing   Ndí cukuru ngíthaka
Where did you go? Úthire kú?
Response: I went to the market for shopping Nií thiire thoko kúgúra indo
Where do you live?  Úikaraga kú?
Response: I live in Thika town outskirts  Nií njikaraga nja wa taúni ya Thíka  
Where are you going? Wathií kú?/ úrathií kú?
Response: I am going for prayers in the church nií ndathií mahoya kanithainí/ nií ndírathií mahoya kanithainí
Where were you? Warí kú?
Response: I was in my room folding clothes Nií ndarí rumu yakwa ngíkúnja nguo

Common Questions in Conversations in Gikuyu

English Kikuyu
How much? This phrase may take different forms depending on the type of noun used
Úigana atía? ( mútu--- flour, ‘’ucúrú---porridge)
Maigana atía? (maí---water, mata---saliva, maguta---oil)
Ríigana atía? (iria--- milk, ríera----- air, )
Rúigana atia? (ruo --- pain)
How are you feeling?  Úraigua atía?
Response: I am feeling dizzy  ndíraigua toro
How have you been?  Úikaire atía?
Response: I have been coping well ngoretwo ngíigua wega
What is your name?   Wítagúo atía?/ wítagúo ú?
Response: My name is Maina Kamau  Njítagúo Maina Kamau
What are you doing?     Úreka atía?/ úreka kí?
Response: I am milking nígúkama ndírakama
What are you cooking/eating? Uraruga kí/ úraría kí?
Response: I am cooking/eating ugali Ndiraruga ngima/ ndíraría ngima
Are you okay, dear?  Wí sawa mwendwa?
Response: I am fine darling ndímwega mwendwa
When are you coming?   Úroka rí?
Response: I am coming soonest possible   Ndíroka naihenya ota úría kwahoteka  
How was your night/day? Warara atia? (night) watinda atía?(day)
Response for how was your day?: my day was good/my night was peaceful  ndatinda wega(day)/ndarara an   thayú(night)
How are you doing?  Úhana atía?
Reply to Úhana atía?: I am doing great ndírí na úúru
How is your family?  Uhoro wa nyúmba yaku?
Response: My family is alright    Nyúmba yakwa ní njega
How was your day?  Múthenya waku úkúhanaga atía?
Response: My day has been good Muthenya wakwa uma mwega
What is wrong?  Níkí kíúru?
Response: Nothing, all is well  gútirí, maúndú mothe ní mega
What do you mean?   Úrenda kuuga atía?
Response: That’s how it is úguo níguo kúrí
How's the weather over there? Ríera ríhana atía kúu?
Response: It’s cloudy over here  Kwína matu gúkú
Have you gone to church?  Níuthiíte kanitha? 
Response: Already on my way ndi njíra ngíthií
What is this?   Níkí gíkí? 
Response: it’s a new year gift for you ní kíheo gíaku kía mwaka mwerú
What's going on? Níkí kírathií n mbere?
Response: policemen are chasing a thief borithi marateng’eria múici
Are you listening?   Níúrathikíríria?
Response : yes I am     íí níndírathikíríria
Have you heard? Níwaigua?
Response: No, please repeat Aca cokera ndagúthaitha
Can I go home? No nyinúke? 
Response: Yes, you may go  íí noúinúke
Can I ask something?  No njúrie úndú?
Response: wait a moment  eterera hanini
How is everything? Maúndú mahana atía?
Response: it’s alright, apart from the power that was disconnected mothe ní mega tiga thitima irengirwo
What’s your phone number? Namba yaku ya thimú níríkú? 
Response: zero one two four four nine six kíbúgú ímwe igírí inya inya kenda ithathatú

Everyday Conversations

English Kikuyu
Happy birthday múthenya mwega wa gúciarúo
Thank you       ní wega
I am sorry  níndahera
You are welcome. Wí múnyite úgeni
Me too! onanií
God bless you. Ngai akúrathime
May god protect you.  Ngai arokúgitíra
She is happy.  Ní múkenu
Please help me. Ndagúthaitha ndeithia
I don't know.  Ndiúí
I will come tomorrow.  Níngoka rúciú
Come here!   Úka haha!
Feel at home.  Wíigue wí múcií
Be blessed.   Rathimwo
I am coming soon. Níndíroka o naihenya
Excuse me.   Tebu/ ebu
Leave me alone.    Tigana nanií
It is okay.   Nowega
I am going home.   Níkúinúka ndírainúka
I don't want.   Ndirenda
Love is a beautiful thing. Nínyendete kíndu gíthaka
Let me try.      Reke ngerie
Welcome home.   Karibu múcií
I reached home safely. Ndakinyire múcií owega
God is good.      Ngai ní mwega
I don't understand.   Ndiranyita
We are happy to see you. Nítwakena ní gúkuona
I have it.    Níndakíenda/ níndenda úndú úcio
Rest in peace.      Koma thayú
I don't have money.  Ndirí na mbeca/mbia
I am done.  Nindaríkia
I am going to the shop. Ndathií nduka
Happy new year.  Mwaka mwerú mwega
Bad manners.   Mítugo míúru
Stop using your phone. Tiga kúhúthíra thimú yaku
I need a favour, please.  Ndírenda undeithie
I haven’t seen you for ages.   Ngwíriga tene
Great to see you again. Níúndú múnene gúkuona ríngí
I really appreciate it.     Níndakenio níkío
You made my day.   Niwanjaka úmúthí
No problem.   Hatírí na thína

What next?

This is just the beginning. You have to practice constantly to learn a new language, but it doesn't have to be complicated. The best trick is to master at least five Kikuyu words daily from the Kikuyu dictionary.

You can also improve your vocabulary by reading Kikuyu stories. Read the story of a Gikuyu Folklore, Múturi úgutura, written in Kikuyu and an English equivalent for reference.

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