A guide to useful phrases in Cape Verde

Newspapers and official correspondence in the Cape Verde Islands are still written in Portuguese, a reminder of the islands’ colonial past. But there’s also a local language – Cape Verdean Creole – based on a mix of Portuguese and African words.

It’s used on a daily basis by islanders and is believed to have come into being when the Portuguese brought West African slaves over to the archipelago to trade. The Creole can vary from island to island – there are certainly differences between Barlavento islands where Sal and Boa Vista are located and Sotavento islands.

Common Cape Verdean Creole phrases

Good morning – Bon dia
Good afternoon – Bon tarde
Good evening – Bon noite
How are you? – Kuma ku bu sta?
How are you (informal)? – Kuma?
Fine, thank you – Sta bom, obrigado
What is your name? – Kuma ku bu nome?
My name is – Nha nome i
Please – Di fabur
Thank you – Obrigado
You’re welcome – De nada (or) i ka nada
Yes – Sim
No – Nao
Excuse me (getting attention) – Consensa
Excuse me (begging pardon) – Diskulpa
I’m sorry – Diskulpa
Goodbye – Tchau
Goodbye (informal) – Ami na bai
I can’t speak creole [well] – N’ka ta papia kriol [bem]
Do you speak English? – Bu ta papia inglés?
Does anyone here speak English? – Algin li ta papia inglés?
Help! – Ajuda!
Look out! – Quidado!
How did you sleep? – Kuma ku bu mansi?
I slept well, thank you – N’mansi bem, obrigado
Good night (to sleep) – Feliz noite
I don’t understand – N’ka persibi (or) N’ka intindi
Where is the toilet? – Nunde kasa de banho?


One – Um
Two – Dus
Three – Tris
Four – Kuatru
Five – Cinco
Six – Seis
Seven – Seti
Eight – Oito
Nine – Nove
Ten – Des

Out and about

How much is this? – Es i kantu?
I want to buy this – N’misti kumpra es
It’s expensive – I caro
It’s cheap – I baratu
I would like – N ta gostaba
Can you recommend a… – Bu pode rakumenda un…
Do you want – Bu kre
I am sorry – Diskulpa
I have lost my friend – Dja N perde nhas amiga
I forgot my money/key – N diskise di nha dinheru/txabi
I have missed my train/plane – Dja N perde avion/konboiu
What should I do? – Kuzé ki N ta faze?

Eating out

I am hungry – N’tene fome
I am thirsty – N’tene sai de iagu
I want to eat – N’misti kume
I want to drink – N’misti bibi
I’d like food (please) – Patin bianda (di fabur)
I’d like water (please) – Patin iagu (di fabur)
I’d like a drink – Patinbibi

Food and drink terms

Cachupa A traditional stew made with beans, mashed corn and vegetables, including tomatoes and yams, and seasoned with bay leaves, pimento and garlic. Cachupa rica is cooked with meat or fish.

Aguardiente Traditional sugar-cane rum. Aquardiente is also used to make an alcoholic beverage called grogue, which comes in different flavours and is served all over the islands – try the delicious Orange Grogue.

Doce de Papaya Given the abundance of papayas that grow on the islands, they’re often used in homemade desserts. As well as papaya, you’ll find coconut, mango and other tropical fruit. There are also chocolate and coffee puddings to enjoy.

To find out more about food and drink in Cape Verde, read our article Cape Verdean Food – A Guide to Island Cuisine.