The two most important words in the Amharic language

I thought you’d like to learn some basic Amharic since you are reading this blog.

Our friends who have visited us here in Ethiopia always ask us the same question: How do we say thank you in Amharic? And we always answer them: The word for thank you in Amharic is ridiculously long and difficult.


Let’s try that together:

A – MA – SE – GA – NA – LE – HU.

Yeah. Why, oh why, does thank you need to be so long?

So instead of going for the obvious thank you, I’d like you to instead learn two other essential Amharic words. Here we go:

  1. CHEGER YELLEM (or when you are talking fast: Chegerellem)

That is much more pleasant than amaseganalehu, am I right? Chegerellem just has this nice relaxed Italian clang to it. Chegerellem means ‘No problem’.

Here are some situations where you can use it:

You: Hi, Ethiopian person. I got you a present.

Ethiopian person: Wow. Thank you!

You: Chegerellem.


Ethiopian person: Sorry, I broke your bike.

You: Chegerellem.


Ethiopian person: Can I ask you to print me this?

You: Of course.

Ethiopian person: Really? Is it not too much to ask?

You: Chegerellem.

You can also say ‘Chegerito’ like my friend Lasse mistakenly or purposedly did. It is close enough, the message will go through.

  1. ESHI

This is probably the most important Amharic word. Why? You could basically just erase all the other words and have full conversations with Eshi. Eshi is in the African hall of fame of words. It means yes, of course, okay, alright, let us do that, sure okay, why not, and whatever is approriate in any context.

Just look at these examples:

You: I would like my fish without potatoes.

Ethiopian person: Eshi, eshi, eshi.


You: Let’s go.

Ethiopian person: Eshiiii


Ethiopian person: Chegerellem.

You: Eshi, eshi, eshi.


You: Can I make reservation for two?

Ethiopian person: Eshi
You: Eshi. Ciao.

So there you go. Next time you come to Ethiopia you can get far with these two words.

P.s. And if somebody is really rude to you you just say WUSHAAA (‘dog’) or if something is unbelievable you just roll your eyes and say NDEEEE or TONGY.

18 thoughts on “The two most important words in the Amharic language

  1. Wow!! Amsegnalhu so much 🙂 , please do you have any website that i can get more resources on this language?

    You break everything down perfectly well for beginners like me.


    1. Thank you Yusuf! I am not aware of any sites, I tried to look for them myself but didn’t find any useful ones.

  2. That’s hilarious, Laura. Amasegnalehu! I have always never understood the “Where…” sentence. There is a “word” they keep saying no matter the sentence, or so it sounds to me: yet-gnew. Anybody care to elaborate? Like “where are you?” where is it? Where is she? Where am i?

    1. Thanks Kimani! Hmm, could it be they have been saying ‘Yetno?’, meaning ‘Where?’. Or just ‘Yet?’. It is indeed a very common word! 🙂

    1. Hi Don! The official way is ‘Guadenjee’. Friend is guadanja and when you add the e-ending it is in a possessive form. Or you can say yeni guadenja which is a more official way (rarely heard). I don’t know slang words for friend, though.

  3. Awesome, I’m just beginning with the language but this confirms a lot – especially how an entire conversation can consist of eshi, eshi. And I’ll remember wushaaa for the next time I get used as an “accidental” spitoon by a guy who happens to have two pockets full of napkins and wandering hands.

    1. Haha! Glad you found the post and that you are learning Amharic. There are not that many resources available online, but some good books will get you far..they sell those at least in Addis Abeba.

  4. Hi !
    Nice page ! Only suggestion – the music clip at the end is not of Ethiopian music. It is surely Africa – but not Ethiopian. So, my suggestion is to replace it with something Ethiopian that fits the general spirit of the page.

    1. Dear Elias,
      That is such good feedback! I have replaced the original video with one of my favourite contemporary Ethiopian songs. I saw Yegna live in Bahir Dar and loved them.

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