How to Say “Thank You” in 8 South African Languages

Thank You” in 8 South African Languages

South Africa is a home for people from immense languages and cultures living peacefully with each other. The South African constitution has given all tribes equal rights including those who speak unofficial languages. Therefore, learning a bit about their languages will show how you appreciate their multilingual environment.

If you are planning to travel to South Africa whether as a holiday or business trip, you will most probably ask someone walking in the street for help like giving directions or recommendations. Thus, you have to learn how to show gratitude for their help in their own languages.

In fact, South Africans appreciate their languages and love throwing more than one word in their local dialects when they speak to strangers. Thanking them in their languages will show a great degree of respect and appreciation for their culture and language.

South Africa has more than thirty-five indigenous languages. Learn, in this blog, how to say “thank you” in the following 8 official South African languages:

  • Zulu
  • Ndebele
  • Afrikaans
  • Xhosa
  • Venda
  • Sesotho
  • Swati
  • Tsonga

Let’s point out how to say “thank you” in each language.


The Zulus represent the largest group of the population with about 11 million people. Zulu is a Southern Bantu language and the most broadly spoken language in South Africa. More than 50% of the South African population can understand it.

The Zulus use the word “ngiyabonga” to say “thank you” and “ngiyabonga kakhulu” to say “thank you very much” and you have to reply saying “kulungile” which means “it is OK” or “it is all right”.


Southern Ndebele or Transvaal Ndebele belongs to the Nguni group of Bantu languages. Most South Africans who speak Ndebele live in Mpumalanga Province, Gauteng, Limpopo and the Northwest.

The Ndebele people say “ngiyabonga” to mean “thank you”. Use “kulungile” in reply to mean “it is OK”.


It is a West Germanic language that stemmed from the Dutch colonization and continued to evolve adopting words from the Khoisan languages and German. It is considered the third most widely spoken native South African language with a population of about 7 million people.

If you want to say “thank you” in Afrikaans, use the word “Dankie” and respond to it by saying “Nie te dankie” which means “you are welcome”.


The Xhosa-speaking population are the second largest ethnic group in South Africa with 18% percent of the total population. You can say “ndiyabulela” to mean “thank you very much” or enkosi to mean “thank you” in Xhosa and their response is “wamkekekile” which means “welcome”.


Venda belongs to the Bantu languages and is regarded as one of the official languages of South Africa. Most Venda speakers live in Makhado Local Municipality, Thulamela Local Municipality, Musina Local Municipality, and Mutale Local Municipality.

In Venda, “ndo a livhuwa” and “ro livhuma” mean “thank you” and their response is “No tanganedziwa”.


Southern Sesotho is spoken as a first language by approximately 4 million people living in South Africa. Although Sesotho may sound complicated to strangers, it is characterized by its melodic flow when spoken fluently. Just listen to native speakers and enjoy the beauty of the language. In Sesotho, you can say “Kea leboga” to mean “thank you” and its reply is “O amohetswe” or “Tswee tsweee”.


It is a Bantu language with about 2.4 million speakers and is officially called “Siswati”. It consists of four dialects referring to the four administrative regions of the country which are HhohhoLubomboManzini, and Shiselweni.

“Thank you” in Swati means “Ngiyabonga Ngiyabonga kakhulu” and you should reply by saying “Wemukelekile”.


The Tsonga people include many ethnic groups such as Shangaan, Thonga, and Tonga. Tsonga language, known also as Xitsonga, belongs to the Niger-Congo languages branch of the Bantu group. You can express gratitude in Tsonga by saying “Ndzi khense ngopfu” meaning “thank you so much” and respond with “Hami amukela”.

The Final Take

Although English is widely spoken in South Africa, having an idea about the languages spoken there is an advantage if you wish to travel across the country. Moreover, having an awareness of the social dynamics rooted in the country is essential to show your respect and appreciation to its people.

Afrolingo is an accountable language translation agency in South Africa that has in-country professionals who deliver timely, high-quality, and cost-effective translation and interpretation services in most of the languages spoken in South Africa. Talk to us today!