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Updated by Joanna James on Dec 22, 2020
Headline for Top 7 Sri Lankan Phrases worth Knowing – An amazing, unique language
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 7 Sri Lankan Phrases worth Knowing – An amazing, unique language

You can use English in Sri Lanka to communicate with the locals without any issue, but you'll be able to be more friendly with them if you use some 'Sinhalese' phrases. Sinhala (the official language of Sri Lanka) is an interesting language to learn, and it's also useful when in the country.


Hello – 'Ayobowan'

This is the most important and basic phrase you'll have to learn. 'Ayobowan' means 'Hello', and even when you first step into Turyaa Kalutara Hotel, this will be how the receptionist will greet you with a pleasant smile. Even if you go to a shop or a restaurant, may simply say 'Ayubowan' and the locals will be delighted to hear it from you.


Thank You – 'Isthuuthi'

How to say 'Thank You' in Sinhalese? You just have to say 'Isthuuthi' with a smile on your face. If you want to say 'Thank you very much' then, the Sinhalese phrase would be 'Bohoma Isthuthi'. This will help you a lot to show your respect when a local lends you some help. Use this phrase when a waiter serves you food, or a local shows you directions to get to a certain place. They'll be happier!


Please – 'Karunaakara'

Sri Lankans are very polite and gentle. Don't forget to add 'Karunarakara' (please) at the end of whatever command you give someone. For example, if you want one spoon of sugar more, you can say that and add 'karunakara' instead of please at the end. This is how you win the hearts of the locals.


I don't understand – 'Mata therenne naha'

'Naha' means 'No' in Sinhalese. If you don't understand what someone says to you, just say 'mata therenne naha', so that the speaker will either tell that to you in English or try to slow down a little bit. If someone keeps on talking to you in Sinhalese, you may kindly ask 'oyata English katha karanna puluwanda?' which means 'Can you speak in English?' This will be useful for you especially at shops and markets.


How much is this – 'Meka kiyada?'

This is another phrase that you'll find very useful when you are shopping in Sri Lanka. This will help you not just to know the price of a specific product, but also to start negotiating with the vendor (if you are at a market).


How are you? – 'Oyata kohomda?'

This is one way through which you can touch the hearts of the locals. Instead of asking 'How are you?' when you visit the local villages, ask 'oyata kohomada?' You will be answered with 'hondin innawa' which means 'doing good' with a nice smile. In the same way, if somebody asks you the same question, you may too reply with 'hondin innawa'.


Wait a minute – 'Poddak inna'

During your stay at one of the Kalutara beach hotels, what if you want to tell someone that you need a little time more? How to say that? Just say 'poddak inna' which means 'wait a minute'. You may even tell this to the tuk-tuk driver who has already arrived at the hotel, but you are not ready yet.

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