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The most important vocabulary to know during your trip in Sri Lanka

To enjoy your trip to Sri Lanka you don't need to possess incredible learning abilities in Sinhala or Tamil! You will be able to speak English. However, the Sri Lankan people will really appreciate it if you try to speak a few words of their language.

The official languages

With an alphabet comprised of 52 letters that don't correspond at all to our latin alphabet, Sinhala is one of the country's two official languages, along with Tamil. If you must choose to learn only one before your trip to Sri Lanka, it should be Sinhala. It is spoken by 75% of the population. You therefore have more chance to use it than Tamil, which is spoken by only 25% of Sri Lankans.

To be honest, learning either one of them is fairly complex other than the standard greetings and a few common words; it will be very difficult for you to learn much more.

Even by just knowing how to say "hello", "ayuboan" in Sinhala and "vanakkan" in Tamil, you will do an honour to your hosts, who will appreciate your having made the effort. Learning how to count can also be worthwhile, especially as it's not that difficult.

Getting to know Sri Lanka

Switching to English

It's only fair to tell you that even if you make all the effort in the world, it will be impossible for you to carry on an in-depth conversation in either Tamil or Sinhala. However, about 15% of the population speak English. This is the case for most of the people who come into contact with tourists. So you are in luck! You will be understood everywhere you go. So you will be able to make the most of these wonderful encounters, especially since the Sri Lankans are generally very welcoming. They love to chat with visitors and practice their English.

Basic expressions / Common Words

EnglishCinghalais
Good morning / Good eveningAyubowan / Suba rathiyak way va
How are you?Kohomada sahpa sah neepa ?
Fine, thank you, and you?Sanee-penn innava, istouti
I understand / I don't understandMaṭa taeraenavaā / Mata thayrennay nehe
SorrySamaāva
GoodbyeAyubowan
WelcomePaiḷaigaænaīmae
Thank you (very much)Bohoma istouti
Excuse meMaṭa samaāvaenana / karauṇaākara
My name is...Magae nama
No thank youNéhé istouti
Yes / NoOvou / Néhé
You're welcomeOyaāva saādarayaena paiḷaigananavaā

Commerce

EnglishCinghalais
How much is it?Kyede ?
It is very cheapEya laābha taiyaenanae
It is too expensive!Milavedi !
Can you lower the price?Oba aḍau mailaka haækai
I would like to buy ... this one!Mama mailadaī gaænaīmaṭa avaśaya
I like it / I don't like itMama ādarae / mama vaaira
MoneyMaudala
I'm just looking around.Mama haeāyananae

Transportation

EnglishCinghalais
I would like to go to ...Maṭa yanana kaæmatai...
PlaneGauvana yaānayaka
BoatBaeāṭaṭau
TrainDaumaraiya
TaxiTaækasai
BusBasa
I would like to rent ...Mama kaulaiyaṭa gaænaīmaṭa avaśaya...
MotorbikeYataurau paædai
CarMaeāṭara ratha
BikeBayaisaikalayaka

Directions

EnglishCinghalais
Where is ...? / How can I get to ...?Kaeāhaeda... ? / gaænaīmaṭa ākaāraya... ?
BankBaæṁkau
Train stationDaumaraiya sathaānaya
CentreNagara madhayayae
HotelHaeāṭala
HospitalRaeāhalae
Is it close / far?Samaīpa / daura ?
Straight aheadHaraiyaṭama idairaiyaena
Left / RightVama / ayaitaiya
North / South / East / WestUtaurau / dakauṇau / ya / kaeāhaeda

Numberssieben, acht, neun, zehn

EnglishCinghalais
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, tenEka, deka, tuna, hatara, paha, haya, hata, ata, navaya, dahaya
twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixtyVaisai, taisa, hataḷaisa, panahaka, haæṭa
seventy, eighty, ninetyHaætataǣ, asaū, anaū
One hundredSiya

Hours/Dates and daysDienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag, Sonntag

EnglishCinghalais
What time is it?Vaelaāva kaīyada ?
When?Kavadaā da ?
YesterdayIyae
Today (morning/midday/evening)Ada (ada udaǣsana / dahavala / savasa)
TomorrowHaeṭa
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, SundaySandaudaa, angaharauvaadaa, badaadaa, barahasapatainadaa, saikauraadaa, saenasauraadaa, iraidaa
I am here on vacationMaā naivaāḍauvaeya /saṁcaāraka
I am here for businessMama vaaeda sandahaa maa maehai / vayaapaara samcaaraya

Time to eat!

EnglishCinghalais
I am hungry / I am thirstyMaṭa baḍagainaiyai /maṭa taibahayai
EnjoyOyaagae ahaara vaela rasavaindainana
Cheers!Palavaenai haetauva !
It was deliciousEya itaā rasaya !
What can you recommend?Oba maeānavaāda raekamadaārau karananae ?
I am vegeterianMama nairamaāṁśa vaemai
Not spicy please (I don't like spices)Kauḷau baḍau taeārava
It's too hotE sandahaa baeahaea unausauma !
I am allergicMaṭa āsaātamaikayai
Sea foodMauhaudau āhaāra
PeanutsRaṭakajau
GlutenGalaūṭana
I would like...Mama kaæmataiyai
WaterJalaya
Tee / CoffeeTae / kaeāpai
Beer / WineBaiyara / vayaina
The bill, pleaseMaīṭa amatarava, karauṇaākara

Health / Emergency / Security

EnglishCinghalais
I need to see a doctor.Mama daeāsatara balanana ōnae
Call an ambulance / Call 911Vaedayavarayaekau amatanana / gailana ratha
Where is the hospital?raeāhala yanau ?
I do not feel very goodSanee-pa na-tha
It hurts hereMama maetana karadara
Where can I find the restrooms?Adaāḷa vaæsaikaiḷai kaeāhaeda ?
Help!Udava !
PolicePaealaisa
DangerAnataura
I'm lostMama ataramaṁ vaelaā

Other

EnglishCinghalais
Have a nice day !Sauba davasaka !
David Debrincat
459 contributions
Updated 26 October 2018

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