Whether you are traveling to India or interacting with people, here is a list of extremely useful basic Hindi phrases. Whenever I travel or my coworkers/friends travel I prepare this very same list for them. I have found that these are the top phrases that can handle 90% of any native conversation you would need to have. Even with a travel phrase book, this list printed out can be a quick life saver.
In India, there are many different ways to say the same thing. This is due to regional, dialectal, situational and personal preferences. Even the pronunciations vary for the same words. The best advice I have from whenever I go to India is to relax and make an attempt. If you are far off base or use something incorrectly, the people are very helpful and will help you say it correctly. Two of my friends once had a 20 minute discussion on how I should say a simple phrase (no conclusion was ever made). The bonus is that, in the cities, most people speak at least basic English and truly appreciate you trying to speak their native language. To that point, I have compiled this list with the simplest and most widely used phrases to get you in good with the locals.
1) Hi / Bye
Namaste (nah-Mah-stay) or Namaskar (nah-Mahs-Kahr) / Alvida (Al-vee-dah)
2) Yes / No
Haan (Hahn) / Nahin (Nuh-heen)
3) Please / Thank you
Krpaya (Krip-ay-Yah) / Shukriyaa (shook-Ree-ya-ah)
4) Excuse me.
Kshama keejeeae (Kuh-shah-ma kee-jee-ay)
5) Where is . . .? (…the bathroom) …kaha hay? (kah-Ha Hay)
Toilet kaha hai? (Toy-let kah-Ha Hay)
The train station Steśan (stay-Sahn)
The bus station Bas ka aḍḍa (Bahs Kah Ahd-dah)
The police station Pulisa Steśan (Puh-lees-ah stay-Sahn)
The embassy Dūtāvāsa (Doo-tuh-vahs)
The hospital Aspatāla (Ah-spuh-tahl)
6) Take me to …
… Jaanaa hay. (Jah-ah-nah Hay)
7) Do you speak English? / I don’t speak Hindi.
Apko angrézee atee hay? (Ahp-koh ahn-Gray-zee Ay-tee Hay)
Mujhe hindī nahīn ātee hay. (Mooj-hah Hin-di nah-Hin Ay-tee Hay)
8) How much is this?
Yae kitna hay? (Yay Kit-nah Hay)
9) My name is… / What is your name?
Meraa naam …hay. (Mee-rah Nahm … Hay)
Aapka naam kyaa hay? (Ahp-kah Nahm Kee-yah Hay)
10) I need a doctor!
Mujhey Doctor kee zaroorat hay! (Mooj-hay Doctor Kee zah-roo-Rat Hay)
(TIP: For a larger Hindi phrasebook, check out: http://wikitravel.org/en/Hindi_phrasebook )
Now that you have the basics . . . get out there and meet some people!
The Cheat Sheet:
- Hi / Bye Namaskar / Alvida
- Yes / No Haan / Nahin
- Please / Thank you Kṛpaya / Shukriyaa
- Excuse me Kshama keejeeae
- Where is…? …kaha hay?
- Take me to…please. … Jaanaa hay.
- Do you speak English? Apko angrézee atee hay?
- I don’t speak Hindi. Mujhe hindī nahīn ātee hay.
- How much is this? Yae kitna hay?
- My name is… Meraa naam …hay.
- What is your name? Aapka naam kyaa hay?
- I need a doctor! Mujhey Doctor kee zaroorat hay!
Author: Robert J. Gorman, Jr.